ARCTIC SEA ICE –Polar Dawn-Dusk (Updated Friday)

There are still three weeks before the sun actually rises at the Pole, but the sky is already starting to brighten. Sunrises linger a long time when the day is six months long, and now is when we start to get our first peeks at the condition of the ice. Unfortunately we have already seen two cameras knocked out of action, and the other two have obscured lenses. However even with O-buoy 15 we have the ice-thickness data from co-located Mass-Balance Buoy 2015G up to February 17, and see the ice was thick and getting thicker when whatever-happened occurred.Obuoy 15 Thickness Feb 17 2015G_thick

My guess is that a pressure ridge piled up the ice, and buried the buoys. We’ll have to get a good satellite shot to see the condition of the ice in the area near 83.33N, 175.100W. There may also be some leads involved, which will be rapidly freezing over with temperatures well below the freezing point of salt-water.

The DMI Maps show high pressure again building north of Canada, but weakened by some Pacific air pulled north which develops a weak low pressure. The general south wind over Barents Sea has reversed to the north, but for the most part the Pole is gathering a new pool of coldness.

Though temperatures are colder they remain above normal. DMI3 0229 meanT_2016The ice-extent graph that people love to focus on remains well below normal. This may be a lot of fun over the next few weeks, especially if the winds remain north in Barents Sea, and ice slides south in that sea. In 2014 it led to a late maximum-ice-extent, which embarrassed a few who had proclaimed a record low extent too early. DMI3 0229 icecover_current_new (1)At this late date the small peaks and valleys in the graph don’t mean much, as they usually involve thin ice at the very edges. A large part of recent increases has been due to ice outside of the Arctic Ocean, in the Sea of Okhotsk off Russia’s east coast. Strong, very cold west winds have extended that ice far out to sea, yet it is for the most part a mere skim a foot  or two thick. Thickness 20160229 arcticictnnowcastSea-ice from Bering Strait gets shoved south down Russia’s east coast the same way ice gets swept south down the east coasts of Greenland and Labrador, but the Sea of Okhotsk is tucked away behind a string of islands, and is able to grow a brief skim of ice nearly every winter, which is usually gone by May. Perhaps it has an effect in terms of “albedo” equations, but I never can understand why it gets included in such equations while sea-ice off the east coast of the USA (For example in Delaware Bay last winter) isn’t. Also snow cover often isn’t included, especially when it is a here-today-gone-tomorrow snow over southern landscapes. It seems to me that if you are going to take the albedo effect seriously you need to include events over southern landscapes where the sun is especially bright.

I like to compare the above map of ice thickness with last year’s, at the same date, to see how the winter’s individuality has effected the growth of ice. In fact I’ll do so below.

2105 is to the left and 2016 to the right.

In a general sense it seems less ice has been exported from the Laptev and East Siberian side over to the Alaskan and Canadian side. More ice has been pushed north in Barents Sea, and Kara Sea has exported more ice than usual to the north, and has had the polynyas of open water usually seen on the coasts of the Laptev Sea, this winter.

What impressed me last year was how effective the “blob” was at sending milder water north to melt the thick ice north of Alaska from the bottom up. The reds and yellows in the above map looked like they could stand up to an onslaught, but didn’t. The maps below compare February 28 with September 9. (While much ice was melted, I should note some was pushed north.)

The question this year will be: Will the warm “Blob” persist? It does seem to be weaker, but waters up towards Bering Strait remain above normal.Sea Temps 20160226 sst.daily.anomThat backwards letter “C” of orange in the North Pacific, surrounding blue, is the signature of a warm PDO. I really flubbed my forecast, for I thought the warm “Blob” would be much briefer, and the PDO would have turned cold again by now. (That is what occurred in the past, but the past did not have a “Quiet Sun” throwing a wrench into the works.) I feel very reluctant to guess what the above map will look like a year from now, especially as the El Nina may very well collapse into a La Nina. Or will it?  Below is a graph of the PDO. That first peak was suppose to be the “spike”, according to me, and it was suppose to be back in the blue by now.PDO January 2016 pdo_short

You’d be amazed what a difference a cold PDO made, in terms of how much sea-ice melted north of Bering Strait, just before this warm period started in 2014.  If I get time I’ll post some maps later.  Oh heck, I’ll do it now. Left is September 9 2013, and right is September 9 2015.

In other words, keep an eye on the Pacific.

I hope to add more later.

*******

I think this may be an amusing melt-season, though hard to bear at first, for the Death-spiral crowd will see signs that will encourage them, and they’ll be in full chorus and likely call fellows like me all sorts of bad words, before things flip around and they have to take back what they said. That will be amusing, because nobody likes to take back what they say, and Alarmists are even worse than most.

One thing that should please Alarmists, and contribute to less ice in the Barents Sea, is that AMO, which has been wobbling like a top (likely because it is towards the end of its “warm” phase and about to become “cold”), has swung back strongly “warm”.AMO Februaty amo_shortThe AMO seems likely to remain “warm”, and be less of a “spike” than  the last warm spell, as there is no sign of it yet falling, using the above graph. But that is where it gets interesting, for this AMO is different. Just as the current El Nino is an El Nino Madoki  (“Madoki” is, I understand, a Japanese word that means “the same but different”), this stage of the AMO should likely be called an “Warm AMO Madoki”.

Joseph D’Aleo posted about this on his blog on the Weatherbell site. To simplify his more thorough explanation, a more usual and typical warm AMO has water temperatures describing the backwards “C” like this: AMO Warm SST Screen_Shot_2016_02_26_at_7_41_13_PM(1)Notice how warm it typically is south of Iceland. But the current reality shows it is cold south of Iceland:AMO sst Screen_Shot_2016_02_26_at_7_17_20_PM(1)Just to confuse things a bit more, there are differing ways of measuring the AMO. The grand old master of hurricanes, Bill Gray (now passing the baton on to Dr. Klotzbach) adds the factor of barometric pressure to sea surface temperatures, and while his graph usually is much like NOAA’s, recently it has plunged towards “cold” as NOAA spikes “warm”. (Just be wary about this, so you don’t get sucked into arguing about whether the AMO is currently warm or cold, when it is actually just two different ways of looking at the same thing and the same data.)AMO Gray Slide06(27)

In conclusion, I think we are seeing a new and different situation, likely brought on by the “Quiet Sun”. Just when we think we have the cycles figured out, a wrench gets thrown into the works. Perhaps a good analogy is the slosh a small child can get going in a bathtub by moving his butt back and forth. The slosh is very predictable, but when the mother’s footsteps approach the child changes the frequency of the butt-sliding, and the slosh is disturbed and will hopefully vanish, when the mother pokes her head in the door. Currently the “Quiet Sun” is altering the frequency of the “butt-sliding”. (Aren’t you glad to see science made so poetic?) In any case, I think few have a clue what will happen next, and we are in for some surprises.

One thing I will be watching for is much less sunshine up at the Pole. I noticed this last summer. Although most of the melt comes from underneath, it does make a difference if there is less sun and more snow at the top, especially in terms of “albedo”, which can effect the local air temperatures even on a sunny day.

Here is the February 26 (most recent) NASA map of sea-ice. What is interesting is the light orange line, which gives you an idea of how much the sea ice can expand in Barents Sea when the AMO flips (Also notice the now slightly above-normal ice across the globe in the Sea of Okhotsk; it was well below normal only a month or so ago.)

Sea Ice 20160226 CSIC_figure2

By the way, there is some concern about the accuracy of the NOAA and NASA maps:

https://rclutz.wordpress.com/2016/02/27/noaa-is-losing-arctic-ice/

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FRIDAY UPDATE  —Expect Whiplash—

Already I’m seeing some Alarmist “I told you so’s” as I peruse various websites, and I can’t say I see any reason to deny them their day in the sun. Their conclusions may be all wrong, but this is a very mild period we are experiencing, in terms or the world’s temperatures, and the levels of sea-ice are quite low in both hemispheres.  The “Sunshine Hours” site  produces some good graphs of sea-ice extent:

https://sunshinehours.wordpress.com/

The graph below shows that the combination of sea-ice in the northern hemisphere and southern hemisphere reached a record low  level briefly,  this winter.global_sea_ice_extent_zoomed_2016_day_61_1981-2010The low total was achieved because Antarctic ice dropped from record high levels last year. This may merely be due to the warming effect of the El Nino to the north, or it may be a more significant sign, and not of warming and a “Death Spiral” in the arctic.

I haven’t heard a good explanation, but for some reason when ice increases in the the Antarctic it tends to decrease in the Arctic, and vice versa. The fact the levels of ice in the Antarctic are dropping may be a sign of a flip about to occur to the north. This summer may be the last hurrah for the “Death Spiral” crowd, before the whiplash hits.

The Weatherbell site has a great selection of maps and graphs produced by Dr. Ryan Maue. A seven day free trial is available.   http://models.weatherbell.com/

One great graph is the graph of world temperatures created from the “intial” data used for model runs. It avoids all the silliness of “adjustments”, which corrupts other temperature graphs, because the models are based on actual data from actual weather stations, and they want to make sure that data is as accurate as possible, or else the model will screw up even more than chaos already causes it to. After all, a mere butterfly flapping its wings can have repercussions in the future, so the last thing they want to do before running a model is “adjust” reality. Therefore this graph is likely one of the most accurate we have, based on surface temperatures.

This graph is showing the current El Nino has the planet more than a degree above normal, which is a record for recent times. It is warmer than the 1997 El Nino.Record Surface warmth cdas_v2_tropics_2014

I will have my nose rubbed against this graph by certain people I debate, I’m sure. The thing of it is, a whiplash is liable to occur here as well, as we flip from El Nino  to La Nina. On his blog at Weatherbell Joe Bastardi raised my eyebrows by showing one of the better models was showing a flip of major proportions.

Nina to Nino 1 Screen_Shot_2016_03_03_at_8_33_32_AM

To tell you the truth, I think the model must be overdoing it. As I recall, the strongest La Nina we have on record is around -1.8.  If it really got to -2.64 we’d be in “unprecedented” territory.

Nina to Nino 2 Screen_Shot_2016_03_03_at_8_33_43_AM

Of course, even if a major La Nina caused world temperatures to drop two degrees, once the word “unprecidented” is involved the Alarmist will pull out their “cooling due to warming”  card. Let them. It is then they look particularly silly.

My suspicion is that the whiplash is due to the quiet sun, and isn’t “unprecidented” because it likely happened during the Maunder Minimum. However we have next to no records from that time, and some have the attitude that if it wasn’t recorded by modern gadgets it never happened.

I am thinking that the way this winter has flip-flopped to and fro between extreme mildness and extreme cold in my area (New Hampshire) this winter does have a sort of whiplash feel to it. I continue to be nervous about a final big blizzard, for the “Blizzard of 1888” occurred after a winter with many mild periods, on March 17.

The last “nudge” up at the Pole did bring some cold air our way, though a lot got shunted east into the Atlantic south of Greenland.  The cold air seems more broken into blobs as spring approaches. I think one is suppose to  speak of “shortening wavelengths,” but I liked the meteorologist Eliot Abrams’ way of called the blobs of cold”bowling balls”.

The DMI maps show cold is building again at the Pole, and according to my “nudge hypothesis” that means we should get a break from arctic outbreaks. It was 12°F yesterday morning and 17°F this morning  here, but by next Wednesday it is suppose to hit 60°F. (Nudge hypotheses verified.)

The wind has swung back around to the south in Barents Sea, but so far some sort of front seems to  have set up and prevented a true nudge from charging across the Pole.

Because the wind has swung around to the south, the sea-ice that was being spread out in Barents Sea is likely being all crammed back to the north. With sea water  and temperatures so cold up there, the actual amount of ice is likely the same, but the “extent” is less. DMI3 0304 icecover_current_new (1)

 

LOCAL VIEW –THE BALLET OF A BROOK–

It is Friday night, and after the week I’ve been through I’m ready to tell responsibility to go to hell. I figure that is OK, if I have done “responsibility” all week. It is Monday morning that winds you up in trouble, if you tell responsibility to go to hell..

Last week some of my excellent employees were unavailable for work, so I had to step in and cover for them. Considering they had recently covered for me, as I had a kidney removed, I am not about to whine much. But I will whine just a little bit, because being post-operative reminded me of something I’d nearly forgotten: This world doesn’t need me. I can kick back, and everything doesn’t collapse in a heap. I sort of liked kicking back, but last week I abruptly had to stop it.  My first real vacation in fifteen years was over.

Most people seem to need a vacation to recover from a vacation. They have no desire to return to the rat race, because they have fleetingly seen life can be much, much better. The revelation is downright traumatic, which is why they need another vacation. They need to reassess. They need to reevaluate what the hell they are suffering for.

It was different for me, because I was craving to get back to work. When the vacation is enforced, due to an operation, you are itching to get back in the saddle. Then, when you are allowed to again do the most simple things, such as sweep a powder of snow from steps, the joy you feel is all out of proportion to the magnitude of the task. Sweeping of the snow is no earth-shaking deed, yet you feel like singing the Hallelujah Chorus.

Yet I too had no desire to return to the rat race. There is something about calling our labor a “rat race” that demeans life. We are missing the point. We are missing the majesty.

When my wife and I started our Farm-childcare nearly a decade ago we hadn’t read “Last Child In The Woods” by Richard Louv or “Simplicity Parenting” by Kim John Payne. But we knew what they knew. Our society is missing the majesty.

It is bad enough when we turn our own lives into a rat race, but when we turn little children’s lives into rat races it is a bridge too far. It violates the sanctity of of an obvious and simple church called “Childhood.” Yet the most loving people do it.  Childhood is suppose to be a sanctuary, but parents and schoolmarms disturb the peace.

Six hundred toys is not peace; it is hectic. It isn’t loving, nor are ballet lessons after organized sports after classes after classes after classes before yoga sessions about serenity. Yet both parents work two jobs, and send innocents to Farm-childcares like mine from 7:00 AM until 6:00 PM, (most of a child’s waking hours), and suffer all this rat-race toil out of a love for those they abuse.

It is a love that is misguided. I am old, and if I am any sort of guide I need to say, “You should put my Farm-childcare out of business. Do you have any idea how much money you could save if you worked less, drove less, prepared your own food, and raised your own kids?”

My wife is usually the one who deals with our customers. I lack tact. But the fact I stay silent sometimes makes me feel like a Caspar Milquetoast.Boss census

Fortunately my wife is as radical as I am, and agrees children are better off being allowed the freedom to be young. If a child wants to spend time by a brook, rather than listening to the insipid prattling of elders about ballet, they may very well learn more about ballet from a brook, and more about beauty from a brook, and certainly receive more healing from a brook than all the king’s doctors and all the king’s psychologists can ever provide.

Brook IMG_1771

You complain God is silent, but heed you
The sweet music of a burbling brook?
Maybe you buy the video, and do
Your best to cure insomnia, and look
To screens to see blue waters play, and guide
Your children to bleak deserts waterless:
Sessions and sessions, all puffing your pride
When in fact you are deaf, or even less.

I tell you God’s not silent, but you must go
To an actual brook, and do a thing
Called “sit still”, unwax your ears, and then know
What children know. Dare you try listening?
Who made this rat-race, so sure to depress?
The silence of God gives you more, asking less.

ARCTIC SEA ICE –Barents Sea Bafflement–

With the arctic flow so meridional this year there have been a lot of surges of mild air up to the Pole, and the south winds have seemed to repress the formation of ice in Barents Sea. Not that it can’t turn around even at this late date in the winter. For example, look at the three NRL maps below, from the late winter of 2014, and focus in on Svalbard. The maps are from February 20, March 16 and April 4, and show that while the ice was melting away on the Pacific side, it was actually still expanding in Barents Sea.

Baffle 1 icen2014021918_2014022000_038_arcticicen.001Baffle 2 icen2014031518_2014031600_038_arcticicen.001Baffle 3 icen2014040718_2014040800_038_arcticicen.001

By April 18 the ice was starting to shrink in Barents Sea, but what blew me away back then was how the extent then fought back, as seen in Maps from May 21 and June 9. (Compare Barents Sea with how the ice vanished on the Pacific side.)Baffle 4 icen2015041718_2015041800_040_arcticicen.001Baffle 5 icen2014052018_2014052100_039_arcticicen.001Baffle 6 icen2014060818_2014060900_039_arcticicen.001

The situation arose in 2014 partly because a lot of ice (including our North Pole Cameras of that year) flowed south to the east of Svalbard, rather than through Fram Strait. But compare the June day above with our current February situation, below.

Baffle 7 icen2016022318_2016022400_041_arcticicen.001

You can see that in many ways there was more ice in Barents Sea that June than this February. The Alarmists are likely jumping for joy, as it will suggest to them that the “Death Spiral” is at long last upon us, and, because the world is ending, they will not have to get a Real Job. (I have great empathy with not wanting to get a Real Job, because I’ve been there and done that, 40 years ago.)

However before we jump to conclusions, lets compare the first map from February 2014 with our current map. So you don’t have to back track, I’ll do it below.

Actually Barents Sea doesn’t look all that different. The major things that jump out is that there is less ice south of Bering Strait and more ice off the Russian Pacific coast, plus less ice in the Canadian Saint Lawrence.

For all we know, looking at Barents Sea alone, we might see a replay of 2014. Or maybe not. Because my main feeling is that most honest people admit they are baffled about the reasons for the shrinking and growing of that ice.

One of the better things I’ve ever written involved asking for help, as I tried to figure out some answers to the Barents Sea Bafflement. It was actually published over on the WUWT site over two years ago, and got some flattering comments, and some interesting insights.

Author of its Own Demise – musings on the AMO

Yet here it is more than two years later, and I don’t feel I’ve done my homework. I am not much wiser.

Therefore I’ve started to poke about to see if there is any new stuff, any fresh discoveries concerning Barents Sea that a layman like myself can understand. One good site is “Science Matters” by Ron Clutz

https://rclutz.wordpress.com/

I’m starting to look back through his older posts, searching for stuff about Barents Sea, and I’m discovering he’s been able to find more free time than I, and also is smarter than I am and more able to decipher unintelligible papers. Among the papers I’ve bungled across is this one, wherein some fellows think it’s possible to forecast what sea-ice is going to do, over large areas of the Arctic Sea, by modelling how much ice there is at a certain time in Barents Sea. (Or that is what I got from the paper after a quick scan.)

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2015GL064359/full

One graphic from that study jumped out at me:

Baffle 8 1

What grabbed my attention was that string of buoys between the north coast of Norway and Svalbard. Cool! Wicked cool! (It is the yellow line on the above map.) That string of buoys measures all sorts of interesting stuff. The buoys measure the flow of Atlantic water into Barents Sea, and the salinity and temperature, and not just at the top, but right down to the bottom, where the flow is the other way.

What baffled me was why I hadn’t heard much about these buoys. It has gotten to a point where even taxi drivers know about the El Nino, and will chat with you about what the water temperatures are off Peru. There are entire websites about the temperatures of the El Nino or La Nina at various depths in the Pacific, but the North Atlantic is seemingly ignored. Have I failed to  pay attention? Or are the people who have the data being stingy with it?

Now, I can understand why certain scientists would want to keep the information gathered by those buoys unintelligible, but I want to have it made palatable to a layman like myself.  The AMO is about to flip back from warm to cold, and when this last happened we had none of our modern gadgets and gizmos, nor satellites, to watch the flip with. As the change occurs I have the sense something very, very wonderful is about to be revealed to us.

Because I run a Farm-childcare, I often am in situations where fellow human just don’t “get it”, (because they happen to be very young). I may say, “C-A-T spells ‘cat’ and B-A-T spells ‘bat’, so what will F-A-T spell?” and nobody can answer. The answer is very, very obvious to me, but not to the short people I’m with.

I think we are in the exact same situation, regarding the AMO and how it flips. The answer is glaringly obvious, but we just don’t see.

In 1950 Continental drift was glaringly obvious. The two sides of the Red Sea are a perfect match, like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, yet no one could see the fit until around 1960, when I was seven years old. In like manner something glaringly obvious is looking us in the face, right now.

I suppose I can understand why some lone individual drudging away in some obscure back-room of a college might want to get the credit for the eventual discovery.  Me too. We all want recognition. However the real Creator of what we are about to discover is not we peons, who love seeing the “why” in Nature. So perhaps we shouldn’t claim the credit, when we eventually comprehend what we will feel stupid for not figuring out earlier.

In any case, add “BSO”, which stands for “Barent Sea Opening”, to your Sea-Ice vocabulary, and find ways to make the data gathered accessible and intelligible to laymen. For the fact of the matter is this: The more minds you have working on a problem the more likely you are to solve it. And does it really matter who gets the credit?

It only matters if your focus is money. The problem with focusing on money, and hiding tidbits of truth because you fear some agent of industrial espionage will steal the envisioned “profit”, is that the benefit that might be gained, by sharing ideas, is lost. In fact the real profit is lost. Misers miss what matters.

The exchange of ideas that occurs on the web is beautiful, because most are not in it for the money. Most don’t make a cent. All they want is to see more clearly. For that reason, and not because I want to get rich (though wealth might be nice) I want to learn more and more about the Barents Sea. For, in the end, the real definition of wealth has less to do with income than either Capitalists or Communists ever can imagine, in their gnat-sized dreams.

I prefer to dream big, and exchange ideas with people who wander about the internet studying obscure topics like Sea-Ice and the BSO and the AMO, because they are interested in a non-obscure topic called Truth. Why?  Because the wealth that comes from such study is possessed of an Enormity that makes billionaires look like mice fighting over crumbs.

(Who would ever dream such a deep topic could come spinning off wondering about sea-ice? )

I hope to keep updating this post as I research Barents Sea. I’ll start another sea-ice post to continue my journaling of the Arctic Ocean’s daily doings, but have this post as a sort of notebook collecting any information I can about studies concerning Barents Sea. If anyone knows of good papers or sites, I’m all ears.

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Here is a paper I’m starting to look at. My initial impression is that they cannot see the forest for the trees, but it does do a good job of explaining that the Barents Sea currents are both complex and also variable.

http://web.gfi.uib.no/publikasjoner/rmo/RMO-2003-1.pdf

 

 

ARCTIC SEA ICE —SIBERIAN SURGE WIPES OUT CAMERAS–

This is just a quick note.

If you watch the ice north of Bering Strait and Wrangles Island during mid February you can see it surges to the west in a major way.  Here is another view of the same:

Unfortunately the sea-ice is likely getting crunched and heaped into jumbles. O-buoy 8b stopped reporting on February 17:Obuoy 8b missing latitude-2weeksAnd O-buoy 15 went silent on February 23:Obuoy 15 missing latitude-2weeksIt would be a sad loss to lose two of our four cameras even before the viewing season started, but it does give us an idea how stormy the winter has been at the Pole, and how mobile the ice has been.

These cameras are tough and built to float, so there is a chance they will be able to reactivate them. Keep your fingers crossed.

LOCAL VIEW –Leave It To Beaver–

It is winter vacation for the schoolkids, but not a vacation at our Farm-childcare, for the kids need something to do and there is no snow. All that is left of the little snow we have had this winter are some shady places where the snow was trodden down and compacted, turned to slush and refrozen,  and became the slick ice one has to be very careful about, when walking over. It is in the distance in the picture below, especially past the gate to the upper right. The amazing thing is that a year ago the snow was nearly up to the upper rail of the fence. What a difference a year makes! I had to snow-blow a path across this playground, last February, for the snow was over the smaller kid’s heads.Beaver 1 IMG_1711

The toddlers have no care, crossing the treacherous ice just through the gate to the upper right, because they haven’t far to fall, and wear such muffs of snowsuits that when they hit the ground it only makes a fluffy sound. Older people have farther to fall, and parents tend to be under-dressed because they are coming from work, and I noticed something funny, watching parents cross that particularly treacherous patch of ice, when they pick up their kids at the end of a long and hard work day. They take tiny, little steps, and walk with their arms out. In other words, they walk like a child just learning to walk. Meanwhile their own toddler is long past that stage. They charge across the ice like someone who learned to walk days and days and days ago, and for them it is great fun to fall down.

Older children, who have reached the vast age of six, tend to be more easily bored, and I have to figure out what to do with them, when there is no sledding, and no snow-forts, and no snow-man building. (The option of skating involves skates, which involves logistics I won’t bother go into, beyond saying I have been remiss.) In the end I have a bunch of kids roaming about a stark New England which is known for its rocks.

Beaver 2 IMG_1727If there is anything worse than falling on ice it is falling on rocks, and if there is anything worse than falling on rocks it is falling from rocks from a tree.Beaver 3 FullSizeRender

The risky behavior of kids doesn’t actually bother me all that much, because I figure part of childhood is to fall from various places, and back in my boyhood I felt a bit inferior because the other boys had gotten more stitches than I had. One reason I opened my Farm-childcare was because I felt sorry for modern children, who live a sort of virtual and bubble-wrapped existence, where the only time they are allowed outside it is into a concrete playground more befitting of a prison, or perhaps a kennel, than a childhood. My wife largely agrees with me, but beyond a certain point we do tend to differ. For example, she doesn’t like the idea of boyhood involving stitches. Or girlhood. And therefore the above pictures make me a little nervous. My wife might see some danger in them I don’t, and might even forbid my posting them on our childcare-Facebook-page, because she wouldn’t want parents to needlessly worry.

Apparently I am always causing parents needless worry. What I tend to say is that the worry is stupid. That is why it is called “needless.” However just when I am on the verge of telling a parent exactly that, my wife gives me a certain look, and sometimes a certain kick in the shins under the table. I then remember she is in charge of “Customer Relations.”  I head off to have fun with the kids, and she takes care of the diplomacy.

Actually it is a relief there is no sledding. Even if you take kids to a hill that is practically flat, kids somehow manage to make it dangerous. They will sled standing up, and then standing on each others shoulders. So actually a lack of snow is safer.

The problem is: What to do?  Kids make a lack of snow dangerous, as well.

What I do is refer to H.T. Webster, who was a fantastically popular American single-panel cartoonist who wrote his last cartoon the year I was born. (It strikes me as amazing that he is so unknown only a half century later. He belongs up there with Mark Twain.) If there is a situation you have trouble finding the words to describe, he likely has a cartoon that describes it. For example, what is wrong with a lack of snow?

Beaver 8 lifesdarkestmoment

My response to this dismal situation was to take the kids on a hike to a beaver pond I knew of out in the woods. After all, beavers are a good example, are they not? They display industry and other good qualities do they not?

Well, actually, back when I was young and a few still actually knew how to cut down a tree with an ax, if a chainsaw wasn’t available, one of the worst insults you could make to a man with an ax was that his chopping was “Beavering.”

Beaver 4 IMG_1747You see, the problem with cutting down a tree in this manner is that you really have no idea which way it will fall. (There are some examples of the tree falling on the beaver doing the cutting,  though such failures haven’t caused the extinction of the species.) (Nor will the examples of similar behavior, now being enacted in Washington DC, cause the extinction of the human race, though I sometimes think our population might decrease significantly.)

In the above case the beaver experienced a problem I have often seen humans with chainsaws experience. Even when humans cut correctly and employ ropes and “come-alongs”, they are dopes and try to fell a tree to the northwest when the wind is from the northwest and gusting, and the wind then gusts mightily and snaps ropes or rips pegs from the earth, and blows the tree to the southeast just far enough to become incredibly tangled to the branches of a tree to the southeast. Rather than a tree lieing flat on the ground you have created a “widow maker”.

(This is off topic, but I should confess that I know about this because I made this mistake,  and created a “widow-maker” back when I couldn’t make a widow, because I was unmarried and aged twenty.

After telling a wealthy customer I’d have their tree down in a jiffy, and waving bye-bye as they left to go shopping, a lone gust of wind blew the tree I was felling the wrong way. It fell much more steeply than the above example, and inclined over the customer’s patio at around a 45 degree angle. I had an hour to hide the evidence of my ineptitude, and, because I was young and stupid and desperate, I ran up the trunk with my chainsaw, cut the limbs keeping the tree from falling, and then, as it fell, reached out to another pine, and climbed down the other tree’s trunk. Then I cut like crazy, swept up the saw dust, and when my customer returned from shopping, all they saw was a nice and neat stack of logs. Live and learn…..but don’t forget to thank God you haven’t died in the learning.)

In the above example, the beaver saw the tree only just barely start to fall before getting snarled in the branches of a nearby tree. The rodent then probably swore a bunch of beaver curses, before going to cut an even huger tree. (Beaver only cut such big trees when they have exhausted the more choice species, which are poplar, birch and alder. The above tree was a beech, and the below example is an oak, which beavers rarely eat. Look at the chip the boy has in his hand. That is one bite, for a beaver.)Beaver 5 IMG_1751

If a beaver could take such a chunk out of solid oak, just think what a chunk it could take out of you, if you went wading into the water to cuddle with what you took to be an over-sized Micky Mouse. Beavers have killed dogs that went swimming into the water after them. This is important information to pass on to the young, even if my wife thinks it might be a bit too gruesome, and, because the young man in the picture had stated he wasn’t afraid of an over-sized mouse with a flat tail, I had told him the mouse could take a chunk out of him as big in the chip in his hand, which accounts for his expression. (My wife will deal with the diplomacy with the parents, later.)

There are no pictures from the beaver pond, because the mild winter has made the ice thin, and the kids had to follow me like duckings behind a mother duck, to stay on the safest ice. Of course, humans are not ducklings, and they strayed, and every bit of my attention was used up keeping them from walking blithely to places when they would plunge waist-deep in ice-water. They did see the amazing dam the over-sized mice made, and the amazing lodge (which I called an “igloo” of sticks and mud), but I lost about five pounds keeping them away from the places the currents (and the beavers) make the ice weak. Consequently, there was no time to take pictures.

My tougher friends tend to kid me and make me a bit defensive about the fact I am basically a baby-sitter.  (Calling me a “child-care professional” is like calling a garbageman a “sanitary engineer.”) And I confess I blush a bit when I am like a mother duck with a string of ducklings. It just doesn’t seem macho. James Bond never is caught dead in such situations. But it does help me to appreciate mothers. You can have no idea of the attention it demands, and the calories expended. But, unlike mothers, I go places that make mothers frown.

My poor wife has to put up with me.  She tells me I can’t post pictures of children playing with trees that could fall and crush them. She explains that just because I know that it is physically impossible for the tree to fall, the parents will not know that, and therefore I am not suppose to post pictures like the picture below.

Beaver 6 IMG_1752

All I can say is that I haven’t lost a kid yet. Furthermore, the kids experience childhoods as free as the one I long-ago experienced, and hopefully get a transfusion of freedom in their veins.  I figure America is finished, if we old coots can’t hand the baton of Liberty to a new generation.

Pray for me. Pray first that the accidents, that inevitably happen, only are the little ones, when they happen to me. And pray second that the so-called “liberals” don’t find out, for we know how “liberal” they actually are. Beaver 9 31

North Pole Camping at Barneo. Only $28,995.

Barneo jet over tent barneoicecampquarktile

Time is running out, if you want to get rid of me by sending me to the North Pole.

https://portal.quarkexpeditions.com/STW/STWProduct.aspx?Theme=QUARK&ProductCode=LND-BAR-5D2016

After all, what is a piddling $28,995 to a wealthy person like you? And there is always the hope I won’t come back, though the tour guide calls this “embracing the unexpected.”

http://www.polarcruises.com/arctic/ships/land-based-trips/north-pole-barneo-ice-camp-arctic/north-pole-express-barneo-ice-camp

Barneo route map. Map_NorthPoleExpressBarneoIceCamp

If you are a real tightwad, I suppose you can send me the cheap way, for only $18,995.

http://expeditionsonline.com/tour-148/north-pole-express-barneo-ice-camp

But you don’t really want to have people look at you and call you cheap, do you?

You had best hurry. Time is running out. Not only are all the vacancies filling up, but we all know the ice is melting away up there, and soon there will be none left to camp on.9605374252_a1551c2c48_c

http://www.icetrek.com/barneo-ice-camp.html

So please do not delay, and send your money to me swiftly.

For more on the topic of the Barneo camp, with some funny pictures,  you can check out the post I wrote last year on March 21:

https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2015/03/21/north-pole-sunrise-tour-now/

And here is a report I wrote about the 2014 season.

https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2014/04/13/%EF%BB%BFjets-landing-on-north-pole-ice/

And here is the report from last year, when the jets landing gear crumpled to get things off to an interesting start.

https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2015/04/13/jets-landing-gear-fails-at-pole/

By the way, they wont start actually building the camp up there for another month, I think. They like to wait until sunrise, which is March 22 at the Pole.

 

LOCAL VIEW –Children and Millstones and Fingerprinting–

I seem to have survived my operation, and am back to work. In fact having a kidney removed is not much different from having a tooth yanked: You are not much good just afterwards, but….you yet over it.

But perhaps, as you have body parts yanked and cut out and cast into the dumpster, you start to realize that the part of you that goes on is not the body. After all, if they keep chopping off parts of me, and I keep going on, eventually I won’t be bothered by various appetites, because there will be nothing left to get hungry.

I’ve reached the fourth quarter of my life, and, if you ever have played a grueling sport, you understand how surreal things get when you glance at the clock and see the time is running out. Cassius Clay (Mohammed Ali) described the fifteenth and final round of a boxing match as a “dream-land”. In a strange way it is similar to the dream-land children are in, as they just start life. The old are like the young, and their experience is a “second childhood”.

Of course, people who are stuck-in-the-middle miss the dream-land that both begins and ends life, and call themselves this boring thing called, “sensible.” (Yawn) Yet they argue like the dickens about the dream-land, even as they deny it is anything more than a dream.

One argument I’ve had to deal with, as I run a Farm-childcare, involves whether children are sinners or saints. For various reasons this is something that certain stuck-in-the-middle people feel is very important to decide. Their entire philosophies depend on deciding, for once and for all, what children are. Are children splendid and beautiful and pure, and so precious that we corrupted adults can only harm them, and therefore children must be handled with kid gloves?  Or are children basically little devils, seething with selfishness, brimming with “original sin”, who must be whipped into shape?

(Obviously this must be decided, if you are stuck-in-the-middle, for there is a difference between “kid gloves” and “whips”.)

For an old geezer like me the question is stupid. Children are neither saints nor sinners. For crying out loud, children are children. Have you no eyes?

However people stuck-in-the-middle demand answers to silly questions, and so I will heave a sigh and, pretending to be a wise yogi up on some cliff in the Himalayas, supply an answer to the question regarding whether children are sinners or saints, and the the answer is, (drum roll), “Both, but neither.”

If selfishness is wrong, babes are sinners, because they don’t practice self denial. For the small there is no distinction between want and need. When hungry, they make that fact known. It is ridiculous to imagine they worry like adults do, about whether their hunger is a need that nourishes, or a want that will make them fat and need to diet.

If disrespect-of-laws is wrong, again children are sinners, for the only way they can learn anything about the laws is to test the limits. This includes the Law of Gravity. It is ridiculous to feel you are harming a child by drawing the line and telling them where a limit is.

(In my profession it has become something of a joke how the “authorities” insist you must amend the way you treat children, and the following year they amend their own stupid  amendment. For example, ten years ago it was wrong to tell a child, “Get in the car.” That “stifled freedom”, and instead you were suppose to say “Would you like to get in the car?” Now the same “authorities” scold you, if you say “Would you like to get in the car?” because it burdens children with more responsibility than children can handle.)

In the end there is only one subject children are superior in. It is best described by witnessing a babe enter this world from between a woman’s thighs, be brought to her breast, and to see that the child never once asks to see his mother’s driver’s licence, or some other form of ID. Nor does the child ask for references. The child is born with faith.

Faith is a given. You don’t gain it; it is something you lose when it is shattered, and unfortunately in my business I’ve seen the shattered. Heroin is a serious problem in New Hampshire. Some mothers are too drugged to respond to their baby’s cries. Sometimes the mother is dead, as the baby cries. The result is small children with the hard eyes of bankers.

But even if heroin wasn’t the problem, there are plenty of other ugly things that mangle and claw the beautiful faith we are born with. Left to our own resources, we would all eventually prove scientifically that faith is stupid. The very thing we are born with would be proven to be unscientific. Speaking only for myself, I’d say this world was doing a very good job of making me scientifically unfaithful by the time I was twelve years old.

If the faith a child has in its mother is a good thing, and if a faith a employee has in a boss is a good thing,  and if the faith a citizen has in their government is a good thing, and if the faith a person has in their religion is a good thing, then it takes more than being left to your own devises. No infant can keep the faith without the mother being worthy of faith.

In other words, this cruel world will destroy our faith, unless older and wiser people keep the faith. People mock the idea of being “born again”, when religious fanatics speak of it, but it is a truism, because life is hard and cruel and tends to kill us, until we meet some person who keeps the faith, and restores our faith. To restore faith is indeed like being “born again”, for it restores us to the original situation, when we did not ask our mother for an ID and references, and simply trusted.

Life is a heck of a lot easier when you can trust. After all, hiring private detectives can get mighty expensive, when you distrust and have to make sure a person you need to trust isn’t sneaking about behind the scenes. Yet parents and the government do this to me, demanding I get a background check over and over to make sure I am not some sort of sexual predictor, though this is expensive. Fingerprinting alone costs me around a hundred dollars, and that is just the start.

I’m getting old, and this entire business of needing to pay to prove my innocence, or else be judged guilty, is getting old, as well. I know there are vile and sleazy people in the world, but must I be degraded? It sure looks like it. There have been so many scumbags that the innocent must pay.

There is scripture that states, “It would be better to be thrown into the sea with a millstone hung around your neck than to cause one of these little ones to fall into sin.” As far as I am concerned, that is enough. I don’t need the Federal Government to step in and fingerprint me.