I have never been good at chit-chat, as my family had the good sense to be dysfunctional, and we skipped all the humdrum banality of yawningly dull niceties, such as Christmas cards, gossip, and staying-in-touch. My brothers, sisters, cousins, nieces and nephews find sea-ice pretty boring,  and I don’t blame them. (Heck if I can explain why I myself find it so engrossing). The last thing I would want to do is belabor the subject, at a reunion, if we ever bothered to have such a thing as reunions. Nor would they be so rude as to belabor me with the idiotic stuff they are interested in. That is the whole thing about being dysfunctional. I get to focus on sea-ice, and they get to focus on their stuff, and we don’t get in each others way.

My wife’s family is totally different. They are functional.  Oh lord, are they ever functional! I groan, when I hear I must attend some barbecue. Sometimes I need a chart,  just to know who half the people are. And very seldom is even a single person interested in sea-ice.

When I bring up the subject of sea-ice at such a barbecue I feel like the guy in the movie “The Graduate” who says what is important is plastics.

Therefore I tend to zip my lip, and let the other person be the fool. My wife doesn’t approve of this. She feels I should be more outgoing.

It is the most amazing thing to watch my wife at a family barbecue. She will walk up to a total stranger, and inquire, “What brings you to this party? What is your connection?” Rather than feeling she is nosy, people love her. It often turns out the person she is cross-examining is the girlfriend of an in-law’s in-law, and was feeling completely miserable and wondering why she came, when suddenly she meets my wife, who is truly interested in her. So the newcomer spills her guts. It can be interesting, but it is seldom about sea-ice.

This has been going on for more than a quarter century now, and, because I hang around in the background as my wife interviews people, I have learned an extraordinary amount about stuff that doesn’t interest me in the slightest.

I have learned that some people who are not interested in sea-ice turn out to be interesting people, but also have learned that other people who are not interested in sea-ice remain boring as can be, no matter how many years pass.  Oddly, even they have become interesting to me, because I am curious about what their next inanity will be. Maybe it will not be, “One word, ‘plastics'”, but it will be some profundity such as, “Who doesn’t like chocolate?”

Anyway, it is hard enough to focus on sea-ice on an ordinary summer, with so many barbecues to attend, but this August my middle son is getting married. I figured this wouldn’t involve me, as the ceremony is the bride’s father’s business, and I thought I could get down to being dysfunctional and focusing on sea-ice, but it isn’t working out that way. My wife has built up a head of steam, and the wedding is to be on the farm where I run my Childcare, and not only do I have to move some perfectly good dysfunctional tractors I have sitting about, but I have to keep the garden weeded. Finding time to focus on sea-ice is looking unlikely.

Therefore I may not post much in the next 40 days. I ask the few, the brave, the proud, who do care about sea-ice, to forgive me. After all, you are the people I enjoy, and you talk about stuff I care about. If I was truly dysfunctional, I’d tell my family where they could go, and then hang out with the people I find delightful. However my wife is determined to make a functional man out of me, (and is delightful in her own way), and she is leading me astray.

When I do post about sea-ice it will, I fear, lack the depth I like to achieve. I’ll post in a breathless hurry, and it will seem like mere chit-chat. My hope is that the people who comment will do what they have done in the past, and add depth to my superficiality. Look to the comments, for depth, until after August 6.

I myself am only finding the time to barely glance over data, without digging. I will say it is looking like there is a chance the Pole will start hoarding its cold, with a more zonal flow, even though polar outbreaks are still bringing refreshing coolness to places ordinarily hot in late June, such as Indiana in the USA. We will have to see if this “zonal” scenario actually happens, but there are a few hints the cold will be restrained to the north, for the Pole is unexpectedly below normal. (It is unexpected because last winter’s El Nino would have one expect above-normal warmth at the Pole).

DMI3 0627 meanT_2016

My sea-ice curiosity is wondering what the heck could make it cooler than normal when it should be warmer. What could counter the El Nino? But I have a wedding to attend to, so I just breeze over it and say it must have something to do with the “Quiet Sun”, and make cryptic references to someone called “Svenmark”. However other people, who don’t have weddings to attend to, have the time to come up with fascinating postulates.

To even suggest the sun has an effect often gets you scorned at Alarmist sites, as they obsess on CO2. But people with broader minds allow more variables, and do consider that the sun might have something to do with heat in the summer. Some interesting ideas were brought to my attention by the blogger “ren”, (see past posts), and make me wish I could do justice to the topic. In reality I’d get in trouble if I spent time researching cosmic rays when I’m suppose to be getting ready for a wedding.

Therefore you must do it. Some solar waves should reach the Pole in the next few days. Because solar stuff is not included in the weather models, the forecasts of models should be wrong. After June 30, watch for the models being very wrong at the Pole.

To be honest, if I had the time to research, I’m not sure I’d be as forward-looking as “ren”, for I am backward-looking and like to study history. Alarmists like to begin sea-ice history in 1979, and are accused of wanting to “erase the Medieval Warm Period”, but I’m curious about a far more recent “warm period” which involves World War Two.

(Why?  I suppose it is because my mother’s first boyfriend was a British sailor who likely died bringing Stalin supplies. His letters abruptly ceased around the time an arctic convoy got destroyed by Hitler’s navy. A tender part of my mother also got destroyed, which made me curious about the details, which involves sea-ice, and where it was during World War Two, which happens to be a time people were far too busy staying alive to care much about something as remote as arctic sea-ice, unless it involved a convoy in Barents Sea.)

Convoy 1 ww2mR110Arctic

Alarmists seem as eager to “erase the 1930’s warm period” as they are to “erase the Medieval Warm Period”, because they like everything simple, and want temperatures to slowly rise and never fall. However disturbing charts keep appearing.

Convoy 2 04-giu-16-MAAT-70-90N-HadCRUT4-Since1900

You can see from the above graph why Alarmists chose 1979 as a starting point. (I sometimes wonder why they didn’t chose 1961.) But you can also see there was a warm period, even warmer than the current warm period, peaking in the Dust Bowl times of the Great Depression.  There was a cold spell at the start of World War Two, but also a warm spike in the heart of that war.

These are but cold facts to many, but to me they have a warmth, for they involve a person without whom I would not exist: Mom. These cold graphs, charts and statistics involved something called “reality” to her. She knew the poverty of the Great Depression and the death of World War Two. She didn’t want to talk about it, because she believed in the goodness of being dysfunctional, but I was a brat, and pestered, and learned the Truth.

The short version is this:  It was far safer to send convoys to Russia during the winter, when darkness hid the ships, but that was not enough. Stalin was desperate and needed more supplies. Therefore convoys had to be attempted during the summer, during the glaring light of a midnight sun which allowed the Nazis to see, and the first attempt at a summer convoy was a nightmarish fiasco. Lots and lots of good men died because a bad man called Hitler was at war with a bad man called Stalin.  Even though the USA was not at war at first, my mother’s heart was with England, and then it got shattered.

How might a teenager feel when the guy she adores abruptly stops writing letters? Not that the press was allowed to tell the whole truth during the war, but the press could hint at the truth when a British convoy got creamed. My mother was no dunce, and she could figure out why the letters stopped. No happy-ever-after for her. And did that effect her attitudes? And, a decade later, did that effect me?

The answer is, “Yes.” But Alarmists don’t care about what really effects people and what really matters. The subtle heartaches that rule our lives (unless we bring loving understanding to bear) mean nothing, for Alarmists are too determined to be simpletons, and to insist CO2 matters more than history, even to the degree where they ignore history.

Let me be blunt. Alarmists may clasp their hands and exclaim that they care, but caring involves more than saying you care. It involves understanding, and searching, and study, and if you can’t be bothered with that,  then you don’t care. The truth is Alarmists can’t be bothered to care. I don’t see why they can’t be honest about it, the way I’m honest about family barbecues. But Alarmists seem beyond being dysfunctional, like me.  They are dsy-dysfunctional. They don’t want to be functional like my wife, who wants to know your history, or dysfunctional like me, who wants to study other history.  To put it mildly and avoid bad words, they are flipping, hopping, complete crackpots who want to blame a trace gas like CO2 for problems, and have no use for history at all.

If you want to determine if a person is truly an Alarmist, bring up the history of sea-ice before 1979. You will swiftly see they do not want to hear. They call me a denier, but they deny the past. It is too respectful and flattering to call them by a word as accurate as “Alarmist.”  It likely will not catch on, but they deserve to be called by a word I have made up, “Dysdys.” They are a bunch of Dysdyses.

I need a break from these idiots. It probably is a blessing I’m going to be too busy with my son’s wedding to focus much on sea-ice. To deal with a Dysdys is often an exercise in infuriating futility. “They have eyes but cannot see; they have ears but cannot hear.”

If I get time, I’ll add some maps tomorrow. But that will look like I am trying to persuade the Dysdys with actual evidence.  After a decade of trying, I have doubts they are anything other than impervious to evidence.

You know what the Dysdys need? They need chit chat. They need to be sitting at a barbecue where they know absolutely no one, with a sneering nose wrinkled disdainfully, and face the ultimate challenge:  My wife walking up, and hitting them full blast with her caring chit chat.

Unfortunately for them, she’s mine.  I’m not sharing.


As promised, here are the recent maps. “Ralph” has been reinforced by blurbs of low pressure swinging around from West Siberia.

The midnight sun really cooks the Tundra now, and any land breeze will bring heat north a ways over the sea-ice. The mosquitoes are murder, which is why polar bears stay out on the ice. In fact a little-known  theory states the only reason polar bears evolved was to avoid mosquitoes. (It is little known because I just made it up.) By the way, the heated Tundra is known as “baked Alaska”. It shows as red in the temperature maps along the coasts.

The ice extent is declining in its ordinary manner, so, to liven things up, DMI decided to meddle with how they do their extent graph. (Expect an uproar.)

DMI3 0628 icecover_current_new (1)

Here is their explanation:

New graphs

We have improved the algorithms calculating sea ice concentration and extent. Consequently, on June 28, 2016, we updated the graphs of ice extent with new data of higher quality. In particular, calculation of ice concentration in coastal zones have been improved, but also calculation of ice concentration in the Arctic ocean is improved with this new setup.

The sea ice extent data from 1979 till today is composed by a Climate Data Record (CDR, OSI-409a), an Interim CDR providing updates with one month delay to the CDR (ICDR, OSI-430) and an operational setup that calculates sea ice extent for the period between the ICDR and today. Further, the algorithms behing these three products are now more consistent than the previous processing chain.

This switch to new algorithms has led to small changes in the trends of sea ice extent since the first year of the data set, but it has not changed the general picture of ice extent decline.

You can read technical and validation reports of the products here.

Compared to last year, there is less ice northeast of Alaska but the ice is much slower to thin towards East Siberia. (2015 to left;2016 to right)

It does rain at the Pole during the thaw, and I think O-buoy 14 saw some, mixed with wet snow. It has seen little sun, but a swift increase of slush.

Obuoy 14 0627 webcam

Obuoy 14 0628 webcam

The open water along the horizon has closed up, but I expect it will open again soon. This camera should be bobbing in open water before September, as it is much further south than our old North Pole Camera used to be.

Now I have to go make a scruffy farm look presentable.


ARCTIC SEA ICE –A Cloudy Pole–

When I last posted on June 20 the storm I dubbed “Ralph” was getting a second wind (ha ha) and I was expecting gales over the Pole. This gale did grow as expected.

Even as Ralph began to elongate and weaken he was still reversing the Beaufort Gyre, and spreading the ice packed towards East Siberia back into the formerly ice-free areas of the Beaufort Sea. The storm also seemed to cool temperatures at the Pole, and sub-freezing temperatures rode around and around the Pole in a clockwise manner. (The 00z maps have noon at the top and the 12z maps have noon at the bottom.)

Judging from isobars, The rising air created by Ralph created an inflow of south winds north through Bering Strait, and to a lesser degree north from the North Atlantic. This also would tend to push sea ice in towards the Pole again, condensing it rather than spreading it out.  High pressure builds in the wake of Ralph, creating a sort of trough-split and two Ralphs, which I will call Greenland Ralph and Laptev Ralph.

(June 24 12z Image missing) What is interesting to me is that the high pressure stopped building over the Pole, and Laptev Ralph swung around in a counter-clockwise manner to rejoin Greenland Ralph.

So once again  we have Ralph , in a weakened state, sitting towards Canada in a manner that reverses the Beaufort Gyre. (Some purists may say I should rename the storm, and it is a different low pressure, but this is my blog and if I want to call a storm “Ralph” I’ll darn well do it.)

What I notice is the persistence of low pressure over the Pole. On Tony Heller’s site the blogger “ren” posted a graphic that shows this occurring increasingly, from the upper atmosphere down, as spring passes and summer starts.

Low pressure at Pole time_pres_HGT_ANOM_AMJ_NH_2016

There was an interesting discussion about how this low pressure might be caused by the solar wind at that site, but I prefer to be simple minded and simply say low pressure tends to involve more clouds, and more clouds should make it cooler. And it is a bit below normal at the Pole.

DMI3 0626 meanT_2016

I actually was expecting the temperatures to be a hair above normal, at least during the start of the summer, due to the lagged effect of last winter’s El Nino, but I was wrong.

There has been some hubbub because the onset of the La Nina slowed, and even briefly reversed in places. It would be quite a surprise to me if the La Nina didn’t happen, but during the 1950’s there was apparently an El Nino that just shifted to neutral, rather than swinging from one extreme to another. On a whole the oceans seem to be cooling more than warming. Here is a graphic showing whether the seas warmed or cooled during the week before the first day of summer.

SST Anomally 0621 Ocean-surface-temps-18Jun16-672x372

The only camera we have, O-buoy 14,  is fairly far south, at 77.5 degrees north latitude, and its image shows snow showing the first signs of becoming slushy. (Also the darker clouds along the horizon , especially to the left, are often made darker because they reflect dark, open water hidden from view by a pressure ridge.

Obuoy 14 0626 webcam

A single camera is a very small “sample”, but O-buoy 14  has shown cloudy day after cloudy day. Tony Heller posted an interesting (and slightly sardonic) thought-experiment wherein he did a back-of-the-envelope calculation of how much ice could be melted if there were no clouds.  (It is a bit absurd to do this, as of course there are clouds, but apparently some computer models don’t include the effect of clouds.) In a summer where the skies were a constant, brilliant blue, a surprising six feet of ice might be melted from the top down, which would open large areas of the Arctic Sea. Nothing like this happens, and in fact most of the melt comes from the bottom up, which points out what a difference clouds make. In any case we have reached the brief period of time when the Pole actually gains energy. Most of the year it loses energy like a chimney (or like an unemployed in-law), however some are surprised to learn that when the 24-hour-sunshine is at its highest it is as if the unemployed in-law got a job, and is bringing home some bacon. (Don’t be in any hurry to look north for heat waves, because nearly all the heat is expended melting ice, but it is interesting to contemplate what the planet might be like if there was a flat, low island at the Pole.  Would it get as hot as Siberian Tundra, or be an ice-cap?)

The Pole’s thawing season can be measured by degree days above freezing. There is always at least a little thawing , but there can be quite a range in thaws. It is all over by the end of August.

Poles thawing season arctic_925mb_ddt_2016

It is obvious to me that clouds can make a big difference in the amount of surface thawing we see. To have Ralph hanging about the Pole is a wrench in the works of many models. It is yet another example of how disobedient the weather is. Last year I decided to give it a good talking to and told it to stop being impossible. (See June 12, 2015 update.) (That old notebook is also interesting, because it observes the effect of last June’s Polar Gale.)

However the weather never listens to me. I must be doing the wrong rain dance. So this year I’m just going to sit back and watch.

LOCAL VIEW –June Graduations’s Long Light–

June FullSizeRender

There is a strange irony in the fact that, on the very first day of summer, the days start getting shorter. It is a reminder. It as if people grieve the end from the start. It is like crying at a wedding, even when you have a sense the marriage is a good one and could last sixty years.

To me this has always seemed a bit stupid. It is like sulking when flowers bloom, because you know they will someday wither.

Don’t get me wrong. There is some wisdom in being detached, like some Yogi on a mountain peak, and in droning out a mantra of “This too will pass.”.  Nothing on this planet was designed to be permanent, including our physical lives. However that doesn’t keep things from being beautiful, and admirable, and worth emulating.

In terms of romance, I always wanted to emulate my Grandfather. He was of a Puritan, Mayflower, upper-class, Brahmin family, and in 1896, when he was eight years old, he came trotting home from school and announced he had met the girl he was going to marry. The elders found the lad amusing, for the girl was from the wrong side of the tracks. However the childhood friendship endured and they did marry, and still were best friends an amazing eighty years later. It was a most beautiful marriage, but like all things on earth it had to end, and a day finally came when my Grandfather awoke alone.

For some reason my Grandfather’s grief struck me very hard, as a poet aged twenty-five, and I fell into a wallow of morbid gloom, seriously thinking about how pointless life was, and how empty all deeds are, when the results of even the most beautiful love-story is death. I wrote a mournful poem about how our good deeds lose their goodness when they cannot keep Love close. One image in that poem has always remained in my mind as an good example of a good deed that looks foolish in the face of death. It was the image of a man climbing the steps of the gallows, brushing his teeth. (You may borrow it, if you chose.)

However at that age my mood was simply too buoyant to remain morbid very long. I might vow to be serious, and never sing again, but as soon as I stepped into the shower I’d find myself singing like a deranged skylark.

June is like stepping into a shower of light, washing the filth of a dark winter away. How can you not sing?

I’m a lot older now, and much less inclined to be buoyant. I’m bitter, because that’s what life does to you, but I’ve the brains to twist that bitterness towards a wry sense of humor, and make it be a breakfast many don’t mind. After all, grapefruit is bitter, is it not?

But when June comes rolling around it is hard for even an old coot like myself to be properly cantankerous. For one thing, in June everyone makes the end of long friendships, and the shattering of communities, into a celebration. They call it “graduation”. It is a time you are kissing good-bye to friends you have known, and it is often a boot from the community you grew up in, (especially if you graduate in a wealthy town and are not fated to be wealthy). Graduation is actually a sort of death, but everyone acts as if dying is wonderful. The young girls at least have the good sense to cry, but the young men are such boobs they think they have escaped schoolmarms, and are free, free, free at last….until the party is over and they face this gruesome thing called, “Getting a job.” Then they see that freedom isn’t free. Years pass, until they wind up an old coot like me, who knows the glory of graduation is akin to a funeral.

Still, the celebrations of “The End” get to my sentimental side. Perhaps it is because kids do not merely graduate from high-school and college, these days. They graduate from junior high, from grade-school, from kindergarten, and my wife even has a sweet event to celebrate the graduation of rug rats from our Daycare. And mothers cry at all these events. And when I see them get teary, I have to turn away, because my own eyes want to begrudge a bit of sympathetic moisture.

A more pragmatic side of myself thinks it is a bunch of fuss and bother. What a waste of time! People should be growing food, hoeing the corn, chopping the wood, getting ready for next winter.

But the detached yogi in me sits back on his mountain peak and contemplates the significance of all these graduations.  Each is an end, and therefore a sort of funeral, but it is also a celebration, because each assumes the after-life will be better. Each graduation is like the funerals that first-century Christians were purported to be: Joyous events, because early Christians were so sure the continuation of life after death was like escaping schoolmarms, and becoming even freer than a teenaged boy on a night he won’t remember.

I walked into the local market a few days ago with my mood uplifted by June and six graduations. I wasn’t singing like I do in the shower, but had been singing in the car on my way to the store. I was happy, but the store’s mood immediately wiped the smile from my face. Everyone in the store was so grim. Not a person wore a smile, except the girl at the register, who was bravely attempting to be cheerful, but losing the battle. As I got my six-pack and waited in line I glanced at the headlines on the papers. (Sometimes a terrorist attack has this sort of sobering effect.) No new atrocity greeted my eye. I figured I’d check the internet when I got home, and then noted people were looking at me with disapproving looks. This seemed odd, so I put on my best disarming smile, but even the poor girl at the register gave me a “I-don’t-know-you” look when I was the only customer who smiled at her and was pleasant. “What the heck?” I thought to myself, as I drove home.

During my ride home I glanced in the rear view mirror and understood one reason people had been regarding me oddly.

During the final hour at the Childcare, when we are basically just waiting for parents to show up, I was showing the children the June-art of making daisy chains. Unbeknownst to me the little girls crowding around to watch had adorned my tough, Aussie, crocodile-hunter hat with a ridiculous bouquet. Flowers were sticking every which ways. However ordinarily that would have been a reason for smiles, if not joshing, at the market. Some other thing was affecting people.

I checked the internet first thing, but there was no fresh terrorist atrocity. Then I checked a weeks worth of snail-mail, (I’ve been out of town), and then dawn abruptly broke on Marblehead.

Many poor folk around here work construction during the summer, and, if they are lucky, work for ski-slopes in the winter, and, because some winters are not all that snowy, they typically fall behind in their bills in the winter, and then catch up in the spring. This is so typical that there is actually a New Hampshire law that keeps the electric companies from cutting off people’s power in the winter, though they can cut off your power if you don’t pay off the bill by the end of April. However recently the old electrical company (PSNH) was taken over by a money-grubber company called “Eversourse”, and they lobbied and were successful, and the politicians had the old law tweaked. Anyone who had ever fallen behind in their bill during the winter would now have to pay a “deposit”, or their power would be turned off. In my case the deposit was $800.00, (combining both the Childcare and my home). For me that is roughly two month’s worth of electricity in the dead of winter. In essence, rather than helping people out by allowing people to fall behind in the winter, Eversourse now wanted that money up front, ahead of time, as a deposit.

I likely sound a bit quaint, but that simply isn’t how things are done in the world of bumpkins. People help each other out when times are rough, and I myself would never have been able to raise five kids if I wasn’t allowed to run up a tab at times. It wasn’t just the local market that saw my tab get alarmingly large, but the doctor and dentist and telephone and propane and electricity saw me running up a tab. However I was honor-bound to pay, and always did pay the tabs, once times got better in the spring. I was grateful to all who had patience, and became a faithful customer to the businesses that treated me so kindly. But perhaps such honor is old-fashioned,  and perhaps Eversourse has run up against people who do not pay their tabs. Or perhaps they are just greedy. In any case, the letter they sent was not what you’d expect, from people who you have faithfully paid your bills to for over 26 years.  They basically gave me 14 days to come up with $800.00 or they would shut off my power. Since I’d been out of town, most of the time had already passed, with their threatening mail sitting in a pile on my desk.  I had to come up with $800.00 in one day, or the power would be shut off at my place of business. (I don’t know about you, but I am self-employed and have to fund my own vacations, so I was not exactly rolling in the dough after five days off.)

Now, I’m sure the stockholders of Eversource want plump dividends, and feel it was very expedient on the part of Eversource to stop allowing poor people to run up tabs during the winter. After all, Eversource only collected 12% interest on that loan. (1% a month). Surely rich fat cats can get better dividends than that, even as poor people get next to nothing on a savings account.

I called up Eversource to raise some hell, but got some sweet girl on the phone who likely is paid $8.00/hour to face the public’s rage, as the fat-cats hide like the cowards they are. I decided to dump all my spleen in the scuppers, and just be polite, as if I was spiritual and not hopping mad and thinking very unspiritual thoughts. It worked. She was so glad to talk with a nice, polite person she became very nice in return, and we has a good talk.

When I said I was baffled by how I was being treated she said Eversourse only wanted to bully people into automatic payments. In fact the only way to avoid having my power cut off, (besides coming up with $800.00 I don’t have),  was to agree to have my electricity bill automatically removed from my bank account. This was Eversource’s way of making sure they got paid on time, next winter. Never mind that I might not have much money when the sun gets low. They came first. The doctor, dentist, market, propane and telephone could all wait.

I agreed to have my bills deducted from my business account. But I sure don’t feel like a valued customer. And I intend to be petty, and get even. If push comes to shove I will simply instruct the bank to stop the automatic payments next November. By law, they still cannot shut off my power until April. And then, when they ask me for a huge deposit next April, I will be shifting to a new supplier. (There are actually other electric companies that use the same wires, and are slightly cheaper.) (They have been pestering me to switch for years, but I was a loyal customer…of PSNH, I suppose; definitely not Eversource…any more.)

In fact I’d switch today, but someone told me Eversource doesn’t really want to have residential customers, and actually wants to alienate them, and force them to switch, so they can focus on the big factories and corporations. That is where the money is, and that is where those ruled by greed (and not community and family values) go, like pigs to their sty. Therefore I will not switch today, because a nonspiritual side of me wants to declare war, and be petty, (and I promise you I will derive great pleasure from being uncooperative).

Judging from the faces in the line at the local market, I am not the only disgruntled bumpkin. It is not anything spoken, but rather is a hardness in faces. A lot of dawning is going on upon a lot of Marbleheads. A lot of people feel treated like trash, and want to graduate from that class. The stock-holders in Eversource need to ponder whether slightly larger dividends are worth stirring up a hornet’s nest.

I’ve talked with people who think local folk are rubes, because they only care for their neighbors, while “Internationalists” care for everyone. However that is just big talk, like a roaring drunk claiming he loves everyone, when he has abandoned his wife and children for a bender. He will talk differently in the morning, and so will the so-called “Internationalists.” It will be a bit of hangover for them to realize they cared most for dividends, and not the neighbors rubes care for. Charity begins at home.

America was made, and remains full of, people who want to graduate. They do not want to remain in the class they are. If the rich should decide they want to “keep people in their place” they will be  preventing graduation, and I fear there will be hell to pay.

However that is gloomy talk for June, and likely due to the fact I own a part of myself that is bitter and old. It is constantly at war with a part of myself that never gets old, and enthuses in June, even though it knows sunshine has its price.

When I was young the sun shone much more than it does now. This is not merely the rose-colored spectacles of age looking backwards. It is a meteorological fact, and shows up in the degree of drought we faced. The 1960’s saw year after year of drought.

Drought NE Screen_Shot_2016_06_18_at_6_57_44_AM

I could tell some good tales about growing up in that drought, about how low the reservoir I illegally fished in got, and about the roaring brush fire I started at age twelve.  In fact, I may do so, some night in the near future, for we currently in a drought that reminds me of my boyhood.

Drought NE 2 cpc_anom_90p_eastusa_1(1)

However the drought of my boyhood was back in down-to-earth times, when white-collar people could relate to poor blue-collar folk just trying to get by. Back then Americans stood united as basically ordinary people all trying to graduate together. Then times changed. A so-called “1%” decided their income mattered more. They decided it was good to profit by impoverishing the poor. They only wanted sunshine, but it created a drought.

This bothers me. The other night I was kept from sleep, thinking about the drought of compassion, and was still awake after midnight, when I started to notice the flicker of lightning.  Then, as I barely dozed, I began to hear the faint drum of distant thunder.  Then I dipped more deeply, and was abruptly awoken by a loud crash. Then I listened to the delicious sound of drought-relieving rains slowly approaching through the summer leaves.

20160621 rad_ne_640x480_06

In my sleepy state I wondered if the drought caused by the 1% hogging sunshine for themselves might also be ended by thunder.

“What country ever existed a century and a half without a rebellion? And what country can preserve it’s liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is it’s natural manure.”

November 13, 1787   Thomas Jefferson to William Stephens Smith


In the last post I noted how a low I dubbed “Ralph” had looped up to the Pole, in essence reversing the Beaufort Gyre. It looked like it it was going to weaken and fade.


However Ralph persisted. Twelve hours later we can see noon has warmed the top of the map, but the warming to the south of Barents Sea is occurring at midnight and is due to an influx of less cold air, even as the below freezing patches of air increase north of Greenland and Svalbard. This is going to create a clash, and reinforse Ralph with low pressure moving up from Scandinavia.


Twenty-four hours later we see the area of sub-freezing air has increased as the less-cold air has decreased (likely because it is rising) and Ralph is reinvigorated.

Twelve hours later midnight has moved up to the top of the map, which explains the sub-freezing temperatures reappearing up there, but the sub-freezing temperatures down to the north of Barents Sea are due to Ralph, and are occurring at noon, when the midnight sun peaks highest near the arctic circle. Ralph is pulling more energy up from  Siberia and his winds are strengthening towards gale force. How due I know this?

I know the winds are gale force because I hurry over to the Weatherbell site (week free trial available) and look at Dr. Ryan Maue’s maps.  One shows surface pressure and winds.  Here are the GFS model’s guess at what Ralph will do. (The area of green is winds over 20 knots, and towards the center of those blobs when the green tints towards yellow the winds are over 30 knots.) (I don’t know why they insist on sticking Iceland at the top of their maps.)

INITIAL (0000Z JUNE 21)Ralph 1 gfs_mslp_uv10m_arctic_1

 12 HOURSRalph 2 gfs_mslp_uv10m_arctic_3

24 HOURSRalph 3 gfs_mslp_uv10m_arctic_5

36 HOURSRalph 4 gfs_mslp_uv10m_arctic_7

The models agree that Ralph will head toward the Canadian Archipelago and weaken, but even after only 36 hours discrepancies start to appear. The GFS sees temperatures hovering around freezing in 36 hours:

Ralph 5 gfs_t2m_arctic_7

But the Canadian JEM model sees Ralph has created sub-freezing temperatures: (Iceland back at the bottom.)

Ralph 6 cmc_t2m_arctic_7

The Canadian map shows a greater clash in temperatures, which may explain why the Canadian model tends to create storms where the GFS sees none, but all the models seem to agree that Ralph will not be replaced by high pressure, and instead Ralph will linger about the Pole for over a week.

As I explained in my last post, this counters the idea of a Polar Cell creating high pressure at the Pole, and also reverses the Beaufort Gyre.

Transpolar Drift 360px-BrnBld_ArcticCurrents.svg

As I also explained in my last post, this will tend to spread out the ice that was piled up last winter. It may even create an uptick in the extent graph. It will be the same amount of ice, but spread out like a pat of butter over bread. The chunks of ice will still be as thick, but they will have areas of open water between them, so the “average” thickness will abruptly be thinner.

This likely will create a hubbub, especially among Alarmists, who will assume the ice is melting swiftly, like it did in the Gale of 2012, which occurred in early August. The ice did not melt in the gale of 2013, which occurred when the ice was at its minimum in late September. This Gale, occurring in June, is an entity all its own, and it is risky to guess what it will do. My assumption is that the response (whether the melting will be sped up) largely depends on how cold the water under the ice is, and I have no reliable source to turn to, so I am going to zip my lip and just watch.

One interesting effect is that the ice will be pushed back down into parts of the Beaufort Sea that were open water. That is also an area the Canadian JEM-model map shows will have sub-freezing temperatures as Ralph weakens.

Our only on-the-ground reporter is O-buoy 14, which got a glimpse of sunshine and showed open water in the distance, with pressure ridges to the right, a bit like the North Pole Camera of three summers ago.

Obuoy 14 0620 webcam

However O-buoy 14 is much further south, (at 77.5 degrees latitude rather than at 86 degrees), and heading further south as the sea-ice spreads out.

Obuoy 14 0620 latitude-1week

It registered a surprising cold-wave as Ralph first weakened. We’ll have to see if it happens again.

Obuoy 14 0620 temperature-1week

One thing I have noticed is that the sunshine never lasts for long.

Obuoy 14 0621 webcam

This does make me wonder a bit about Svenmark’s idea that the Quiet Sun is allowing more cosmic rays to make more clouds.  One part of Alarmist theory assumes that more open water will absorb more sunlight, which will warm the water, which will hurry the melting of the ice, but it is hard to see how that can happen if the sun seldom shines.

The temperatures up at the Pole did register a dip as Ralph weakened the first time. The thaw is continuing but temperatures are below normal.

DMI3 0620 meanT_2016

The extent graph continues its yearly plunge.

DMI3 0620 icecover_current_new (1)

However there is a bit of a hubbub about the above graph, as it may be missing some of the ice in the south of Hudson Bay.

Hudson hubbub 2016-06-19-23-14-11

(Picture credit: )

Judging from the NRL thickness map, some fairly thick ice is pushed up against that coast. Also some thinner ice has been pushed south into the polynya that opened in April northwest of the Mackenzie River Delta and northeast of Alaska.

Thickness 20160620 arcticictnnowcast

These sort of discrepancies do occur, due to the varying sensitivities of instruments and problems with clouds, however Tony Heller will be flying over that area and able to give a first-hand report, weather permitting.

These are interesting times, which is unusual, for usually Junes are pretty boring, in the world of watching ice melt.


I should have mentioned something I noted in an earlier post that shows how difficult it is to gauge the amounts of sea-ice. Susan Crockford dug up this news with her excellent reporting here:

Ice maps vs. observations in the W. Arctic – polar bear habitat reality check

Basically some walrus hunters got trapped by sea-ice thicker than they expected, and needed to be rescued. I myself thought the sea-ice looked thin in the area they hunted, but then I don’t hunt walrus, and I’d expect those fellows to be smarter than me. Here is a video of their rescue.

The time lapse movies made by the various O-buoys have been a very good way to get a sense of what summertime sea-ice is like. In several cases the buoys have bobbed totally free of ice one day, and then are totally surrounded by ice a few days later. If you have the time, move the slider along the bottom of last summer’s O-buoy 9 film to the 25 minute mark, and spend ten minutes watching it slide along the north coast of Greenland, with mountains occasionally visible in the background, and then out into Fram Strait and then south. The amazing thing is that it wound up totally surrounded in thickening ice, just before its demise.


ARCTIC SEA ICE –The Broken Sea–

The sea is very bashed up, to the north, at the Pole. It is crashed, smashed, and trashed. Stand United? I don’t think so. Rather than remaining united as a single solid body,  all winter the sea-ice was divided and all over the place. All spring the sea-ice has been divided and all over the place. I don’t see why we should expect the summer to be any different, for I tell you, it is a bleeping chaos up there! Gosh, you would think meteorology involved the study of chaotic systems! Oh….I forgot…it does.

Recently my personal focus has been this thing whipping around and around the planet at an amazing speed. I never really paid attention until I looked at the planet from the top down. Then you see it. It actually is the greatest power in the world of weather, and glaringly obvious, yet meteorologists don’t even have a symbol for it, though it goes careening around the planet like a bull in a china shop, raising temperatures by twenty degrees or more in a matter of hours. I really have to shake my head. Here it comes again, charging across the weather maps, and they don’t even give it a symbol.  Shame. Shame on them.

What am I going on about?  Well, if you can’t guess, look in the comments of this post, for the person to first guess correctly will win a prize, (of my choosing.)

In any case, I suppose I will have to come down from my clouds of ethereal research and deal with the dullards who can’t handle the speed of chaos.  I am speaking of my poor Alarmist friends, and may I pat their hands gently to calm them, and say, “there, there,” before I even begin.

They have this odd idea that the North Pole isn’t covered with sea-ice that is constantly shifting, but rather has a stable ice-cap. Therefore, when they first become aware the ice isn’t a ice-cap, and instead is sea-ice, their first response tends to be, “Arrgh! It’s moving!”

My first impulse is to respond, “Of course it’s moving, you frikin’ moron. It’s sea-ice. What did you expect it to do,  stand still? ”  But that would not be spiritual. Therefore I try to be patient and kind, and say nice things like, “Oh?  You didn’t notice it moved before?”  I’m pretty sure this guarantees my admittance to heaven.

The average James, educated by the media, has this idea it is always below freezing at the Pole and the ice has always been fixed in place. Therefore they are easily impressed by ordinary stuff. When the ice behaves like sea-ice, and the summer temperatures get above freezing like they always do, the press plays the average James like a violin, until he is gnawing his nails down to the quick, and blubbering, “It’s above freezing, at the Pole! There are areas of open water!  My life is over!  I will never, never get to ask Rainbow-Hillary-Smythe out on a date, all because of the North Pole! And because of you!  It’s all your fault, Caleb Shaw! It’s your fault Rainbow-Hillary-Smythe won’t go out with me and I can’t stay in my mother’s basement any more just because Mom died six years ago. Have you no respect for my grief!?”

I never know how to reply to this sort of logic. But smiling and nodding does seem to help. Also it is helpful if you act surprised when they tell you something you learned back when you were aged eight. Smile, nod, and say helpful things like, “Oh? The Vikings grew crops on Greenland in the year 1001? You don’t say!”(Even though they do say.)

I have to deal with the dull stuff, because there is an off-hand chance that one dullard visiting this blog might have an open mind, and be like I was back when I myself was such a stupid dullard that I made Goofy look smart when he said, “Gwarsh!” (because I was a suspicious, young know-it-all who never said “Gosh”, but rather regarded any ideas, other than my own, with dark paranoia.) People put up with me back when when I was a royal pain, and it’s God’s justice that now I now face pay-back time, and must put up with royal pains.

Some of you are not royal pains, and I ask you to forgive me as I become repetitive and say what you already know.

Just as the ice isn’t fixed, the weather patterns are not fixed. The “Polar Cell” is not a mountain that will not move. Once again I’ll post an illustration of this “rule”, even though most of the past year the “exception to the rule” has been the “rule”.

Polar Cell cells_mod

If the above was a “rule”, then air would always be descending at the Pole and that would create a nice high pressure, which would make low pressure systems parade around the Pole. Not. If you look back through my notes (for that is what these posts are) you will see the above illustration may be a elegant portrayal of a “zonal” flow, but it sucks when the flow is “meridional.” Over and over during the past year we have seen not high pressure, but low pressure, at the Pole.

I was thinking we might see an end to the disobedient  jet stream, as winter gales faded, but the recent DMI  maps show yet another inconsiderate arctic low is adding to the Alarmist’s confusion. Alarmists like everything fixed, but this low, fading and regenerating and loop-de-looping, was rolling east along the Siberian coast, to where they usually fade away, but, disobediently,  this one kept right on going further east, north of the Bering Strait and east, until it was north of Alaska. Such a noteworthy storm deserves a name, so let us call the low “Ralph.”


In the next map Ralph has continued on slowly east, (even as noon has swung east a heck of a lot faster, which is why it is colder at the bottom of the map and warmer at the top. But that is my private interest, and I should focus on slow, stupid stuff, like Ralph.)

The next map shows the sun has swung clear around, and this thing called “noon” has whipped around to the bottom of the map, where temperatures are now warmer, even as temperatures chill at the top. Obviously this significant weather event deserves a name. Oh, I forgot. It already has a name. “Noon”.

That other, slower event called “Ralph” is starting to loop-de-loop, and rather than heading east is curving northeast towards the Pole.

And here “Ralph” is at his closest approach to the Pole.

And here we see Ralph perfectly positioned to reverse the “Beaufort Gyre”, as he starts to weaken.

OK, when I talk of “reversing the Beaufort Gyre”, I have to stick in a repetitive illustration for newcomers, who haven’t a clue what I am talking about when I speak of the gyre. (My spell-check doesn’t even believe there is such a word.)

Transpolar Drift 360px-BrnBld_ArcticCurrents.svg

Newcomers should see that the ice is “suppose” to move clockwise, between the Pole and Alaska, but sea-ice is very responsive to wind, and Ralph put counter-clockwise winds smack dab over the Beaufort Gyre. All the ice was moving one way, and had to abruptly move the other. The result was not pretty. If you would like a good analogy, then, next time you are speeding along in rush-hour traffic, jam on your brakes, shift into reverse, and accelerate in reverse at top speed. What will happen to your car happens in the world of sea-ice, and is called a “pressure ridge.”

When you crush sea-ice together and then spread it apart, it is not flexible like an accordion, but rather, like your car, the mushed-up part stays mushed-up, and, as you back away from the collision, a space appears between you and the car you collided with.This space is a space where, despite intimacy between cars, there is no car, and, in the world of sea-ice, this space is a space that holds no ice, called a “lead”. It is an area of open water.

Just as, after a collision, your car may be shorter, and the guy you hit may have a shorter car, but your two cars weigh no less, the creation of pressure ridges and leads does not reduce the weight of the ice involved, or its “volume.” However Alarmists freak out as you back away from your collision, for the space that appears, in the world of sea-ice, is open water, and Alarmists think the appearance of open water proves ice is melting.

When a meridional flow plops a low pressure in a place that reverses the Beaufort Gyre, it is like all the traffic shifted into reverse in a rush hour. Ker-slam! And then you should expect to see open water. Indeed, the first two weeks of June show a huge area of open water appear.  (June 2 is to the left, June 18 to the right.)

According to the above maps, the area that has turned yellow is an area of sea-ice that was pretty much solid ice, but now is 30% open water.

That will make no difference to “extent” graphs, but a huge difference to “area” graphs, in theory. So I rush to check a graph that compares “area” with “extent”:

Accordian 3 scholli13akt

What the heck? That red line should be shooting upwards. What the fraud is going on here?

No fraud is occurring at all. It is just how things go, when you are trying to make sense of chaos. Discrepancies occur.

Welcome to the world of honest guys trying to make good graphs and maps out of limited data. Unless you study this stuff, you can have no idea of the genius that goes into even making the frail and limited maps and graphs we use.  Such maps and graphs are not gospel, but they are the next best thing. We should be thankful we have them, for without them how could we be skeptical? Or critical?  How could we gripe?  The creators work darn hard to give us something to gripe about, so we should at least slow our criticism enough to thank them.

But, to guys like Al Gore and Hansen and Serreze , who say, “The science is settled”, I can only say, “You have got to be kidding me”. We have only the barest inkling of what is going on, and it is not a very good inkling, at that. The above discrepancy is only one example out of many.

For those of us who do not think “the science is settled”, we can only be good students, and carefully observe the confusion.

The DMI maps show “Ralph” filled in and the Pole became calm and basically unexciting.  However in the past I have noted that when one of these lows fills, sometimes cold is “created”, and Ralph did seem to bequeath some cold towards Bering Strait. (Just sayin’)

The above observation  is just a minor aside. For the most part we are just biding our time, as we watch the sea-ice in June. The real excitement atop the ice happens in late July, and the underneath-melt only gets exciting in late August and September.

We have only a lone camera, O-buoy 14, sending us pictures. It showed us a rare glimpse of sun and a distant lead, before the relentless gray returned. The only sign of thaw has been the slow retreat of a little drift of snow on the yellow buoy, but that could be as much a sign of sublimation as it could be thawing.

Obuoy 14 0618B webcam

I really miss all the other cameras. The satellites give us amazing stuff, but without on-the-ground reporting satellite data can be dangerously insufficient.  The wonderful reporter Susan Crockford tells a tale of some Walrus hunters who were relying on Satellite maps that reassured them waters were basically free of ice, who got trapped by ice and had to be rescued.

Ice maps vs. observations in the W. Arctic – polar bear habitat reality check

Susan calls this on-the-ground reporting a “reality check”, and I think that is a good way to look at it. Having so many cameras last year was a boon for laymen, who use their honest eyes. It was not merely a boon for Skeptics, but also for Alarmists. Truth is wonderful, and open to a wide variety of interpretations. It is a terrible thing to lose.

However there is a neat thing about the three O-buoy cameras and three Mass Balance Buoys we have lost. They go right on gathering data, even if they have lost contact with their satellite. If we can find them we can download the data from their memory. Last year a skilled person was able to get back in touch with “lost” buoys, and we had the joy of unexpected on-the-ground data.

Could the same thing happen this year?  I wonder. I have the sense certain politicians do not want on-the-ground data. Why do I suspect that?  Well, they could not find the spare change among trillions of misspent money to fund the North Pole Camera. If they could not even do that, why should they bother get back in touch with six lost buoys, even if the buoys represent millions of tax-dollars invested?  Maybe they do not want to know the tale those buoys could tell.

But I do want to know. Therefore I would like to suggest something that might seem outlandish.

Could you get in touch with the six lost buoys? You know who I’m talking to. You are far more skilled than I am, when it comes to computers and roaming the web. It would be a service to the taxpayers who forked out millions for those six lost buoys, if you found them, and therefore, even if you were indeed “hacking”, it would be hard to call you a “hacker” if you accessed the buoys others claimed were “lost”, retrieved the data, and gave it to me for free.  I’d publish the data, get all the glory, (but also perhaps get in trouble).

The post would be called, “Hacked Data From Lost Buoys.”  It might go viral.  ….Just a late-night idea I thought I’d throw out there….

Lovely Lighthouse Lunch (or, Breakfast That Stiffens Knees)

Lighthouse 1 IMG_3277

Lighthouse 3

My Puritans ancestors did not approve of embellishments in life,  seeing them as a distraction from the goal, God.  They didn’t believe one should stop and sniff the roses, because they felt gardens should grow food, not flowers. You needed to think up a good excuse for having roses, such as the fact rose-hips make a tea that keeps people healthy in the winter.  Then, once you made petals pragmatic, you might be allowed to mention the Creator made Creation beautiful, as long as you didn’t dawdle and do a lot of sniffing.

As a boy, I was a bit of a Puritan because I didn’t approve of unnecessary embellishments such as wearing a suit and tie, or combing my hair.  I’m not sure Puritans would have approved of the invention of a round object I liked known as a “ball”, but I was good at making up excuses, and would have explained I was strengthening my arm so I could defend the garden by throwing rocks at rabbits. Fishing, of course, needs no excuse, because when you fish you are providing food.

As years past I became rather good at avoiding lots of the frivolous things my peers felt were important. I had no need to chase the latest fashion, for I knew that if I just waited long enough blue jeans would eventually come back in style. I had no need for a flashy new car, because I learned it was much cheaper to buy a clunker, and that, if you didn’t need to make payments, you didn’t need to work as much.  Puritans might have frowned at my working less, but I would have explained my real job was writing. When they asked me what I was writing, I would have said, “Sermons”.  I was writing sermons for a congregation that never came.

It is amazing how much is unnecessary, and how much we are better off not-doing. I myself didn’t really have the goal of becoming a Minimalist;  (it just sort of happens if you’d rather write rhyming sermons than work a real job.)  Minimalism may also mean you need to live in a poorer neighborhood, but I didn’t much like slums, so mostly I chose to be poor in rural settings.  In fact, looking back, I was lucky, for I actually lived in strikingly beautiful places that other people work years to be able to afford.  In fact, I was rich, without money.

A funny thing is that there are times I can be sitting full of gratitude for how my life has worked out, and a person will take pity on me, and feel they have to do something about my poverty. They mean well, but are pests. Sometimes they are even right, but still they are pests. For example, sometimes I just don’t feel like eating; I’d rather watch a sunrise; either a real one or one in my brain. Then, plop, someone puts a plate of food in front of me. I would have to be some sort of rat to not express gratitude, but, just between you and me, sometimes I’m annoyed.

I was a bit annoyed when my son informed me his girlfriend’s uncle served breakfasts in the top of an lighthouse, and he had gotten me and my wife a ticket. I mean, really? Breakfast isn’t bother enough already?  But I would have to be some sort of rat not to be grateful. So, with a deep but secret sigh, off I went.

After a stroll by the waterfront we approached lighthouse from the waterfront side, which is painted white.

Lighthouse 2 IMG_3229

Then we climbed fifty-seven stairs.

Lighthouse 4 IMG_3328

And climbed a ladder.

Lighthouse 5 IMG_3342

And popped up into the little room where the lens used to be.

Lighthouse 6 IMG_3349

Then, after taking care to replace the cover of the trap door so we wouldn’t fall through the hole, we sat down for coffee and muffins before breakfast. (They are waiting for you, piping hot.)

You can arrange any schedule you want, so my wife and I arranged to spend a good long time just sitting and sipping coffee before breakfast, admiring the view and being thoughtful. The only problem was it was a long way down to the bathroom. (I did suggest that, as a man, I could think of a pragmatic alternative, glancing over the rail outside, but my wife shook her head.)

In all we arranged to spend two and a half hours just sitting up there sipping coffee before breakfast. Of course, to keep Puritan ancestors happy, and maybe make sitting up there a tax deduction, I had to look like I was busy conducting research, and I actually was. So was my wife.

Lighthouse 9 IMG_3355

The opening to the left of my wife in the above picture is where you crouch down to get outside to a small walkway with an amazing view, where you can do  further research, or just marvel at the brilliance of the sun glittering off the Atlantic. (Bring sunglasses). (Leave your fear of heights at home.)

Lighthouse 11 IMG_3333

I really do love to drink coffee and do research, and light houses are a fascinating subject.

Back in 1690 Newburyport was the fourth largest city in the colonial USA, but had the most dangerous harbor, and lighthouses hadn’t been invented yet. Ships could wreak within hailing distance of the wharf.  Mudflats reached south from the north as rocks reached north from the south.

Here is a short version of a longer post I may write someday about harbors and lighthouses: In the view below, out in the harbor you can see a tall buoy marking the edge of the mud, and a less obvious can-buoy to its right marking the edge of the rocks, (which is why there are no moorings for sailboats further out). A cabin cruiser is puttering out through the needle’s-eye-of-a-channel that sailors once had to thread, without power, without GPS, in fog and shifting winds, in tall ships including clipper ships that could get as long as a football field. Gradually they invented ways to make navigating easier.  The short lighthouse you can see in the picture below was to be lined up with the tall one we were roosting in, by ships at sea, so they knew they were in the channel.

Lighthouse 12 FullSizeRender

I could go on and on, but it was time for breakfast, not research. The waitress had called in sick, so the owner himself brought the meal up.

Lighthouse 8 IMG_3359

I know Puritans are all business, but while eating I glanced through the “lighthouse logs”, and read the comments of many people who have eaten breakfast, lunch or dinner up where we now sat.  As I read it occurred to me that even Puritans would agree that one of the more difficult businesses in life is the business of getting someone to marry you. Judging from the “lighthouse logs”, apparently this lighthouse is a good place, if you want the answer to be “yes.”

(However my favorite account was completely fictitious, written by some humorist who described how distraught he was that his wife had just been struck by lightning on the walkway outside, but how a beautiful woman he’d met inside was now soothing his grief.)

I’m not sure what Puritans thought of American humorists.  I’m not sure they had been invented yet. Lighthouses were still a century in the future. Therefore they likely couldn’t disapprove of me sitting up in a lighthouse, eating waffles and laughing with my wife. And therefore  I don’t have to invent excuses. I cannot find the words that adequately describe   what a great relief that is to me.

If you can’t find someone to give you a meal up in this lighthouse as a gift, it is a bit pricey.  A dinner is $350.00.  But that is well worth the price, if you want to get the right person to marry you, or tell the right person how thankful you are, years later.

I’m pretty sure the Puritans approved of thanksgiving.


(The original title of this work was “Breakfast That Stiffens Knees”, [To rhyme with “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”], but that seemed too ungrateful, even for a humorist.)

Non-local View,

One problem with running a Childcare is that, when school teachers take vacations,  parents need childcare even more,  and therefore school vacations are no vacation for a “Childcare Professional.”  You go from working hard to working harder. You work and work until you can’t take any more. You need escape.

Smarter Childcares just close down for “Quarterly Maintenance,” which is a way of hiding the fact they are all cooling their heels and getting some well-earned time off. But closing puts the parents in a bind, because they still have to work, and have no place for their kids. I can’t stand to see full grown adults grovel, so our Childcare basically never closes. Eventually, when either I or my wife are on the verge of a nervous breakdown, we do the irresponsible thing, which is to play hooky. Fortunately we have an excellent staff, and they cover for us, when we run off screaming and waving our hands in the air.

I didn’t see the latest episode coming. My wife said, “I sure could use a break,” and I was busy at the computer and just murmured, “Me too.”  I didn’t realized that counted as authorization. The next thing I knew she asked me to carry the bags out to the car.

It is odd to wake up in a different town, utterly outside of my ordinary routine, but for me it feels strangely familiar. I’m back on the road again. It is like thirty years ago, when I was a hobo, but back then I never had a beautiful woman with me.  But where was I? Oh yes, when I wake up it is with a strange sense time is altered. Not only am I unsure of where I am; I’m unsure what the year is.


I’m in Newburyport, which is where clipper ships once were built, and left for China.  Those days are long gone, but it does not take much for me to activate the superpowers of my imagination, and the ghosts of ships are sailing in though the glitter along side the draggers of today.

Sea Glitter 3 FullSizeRender

It is but a twinkling of time to ruffle the pages of history.  The booms go bust.  Whaling is a way to get rich, then a way to break even, and then all the gathered wisdom of the Whaling Masters is an obsolete art, fading away, and scorned by a young and prissy Save-the-whales activist who may have soccer-legs, but whose spindly arms could never hurl a harpoon hard enough to prick a whale, yet who thinks he is courageous to carry a sign.  “What fools”, the skinny twerp sneers, looking back at the men who lit all the lamps of New England, but simply ruffle the pages of time a little, and the twerp is the one being laughed at from the future, and all his Computer Mastery is just more obsolete knowledge, here today and gone tomorrow, like dust in the wind or spangles on the waves.

Standing in historic places always make me wonder what it would be like to have the super-vision of a prophet like Isaiah, and to be able to see the ages spread out like the frames of a comic strip, with past, present and future all visible at once.  Isaiah could see the Jews arriving with Moses from Egypt, inheriting and building a prosperous land, but getting too fat and decadent, and then being led off to captivity in Babylonia, but then returning and…

I’m not a prophet, but I have had three cups of coffee, which is almost the same thing, and when I look about the harbor I can’t help but notice nearly all the boats are pleasure boats. Nearly all the modern boat building must be pleasure boat building. People work hard, but the industry is the tourist industry. What a change this harbor has seen!  It  has shifted from the puritan work-ethic to the modern leisure-ethic.

Well, I too am a tourist. The house I’m in is not my own;  it is a bed and breakfast. I’m just passing through, a free and homeless hobo. I’m not like a perriwinkle, who house is a home he can never leave, nor like the chambered nautilus in Oliver Wendell Holmes’ poem, expanding his home into “greater mansions”,  but rather I’m like the hermit crab, who knows his home will grow too small, and seeks a larger shell, yet must pass through a time, shifting from a small shell to a larger one, when he has no shell at all, and is butt naked.

In a sense to be a tourist is to willingly and willfully become homeless.  It is to be a hobo. True, people attempt to do it in style, and the RV’s that come lurching into campgrounds are about as far from true camping as one can get, and are tantamount to lugging around a home as you are homeless, but somewhere under all that claptrap is an ideal, and the ideal is Freedom.

It amazes me how, no sooner do people have any free time, they fill it with chains. They deny it of course, but into my mind’s eye comes the image of a man who wants to simplify his life to a bathing suit and a towel, and yet winds up laboring to get six coolers, five beach umbrellas, beach balls, Frisbees, horseshoes, a stereo system, and eleven folding chairs across hot sand to the edge of the water. Where is the freedom in that?

When I get grumpy I think we are the opposite of Pilgrims. They arrived with no food and no shelter and no insurance and no welfare checks. All they had were some tools and a whole lot of freedom.  Now we have tons of stuff, but are in danger of losing the freedom.

It is too much to think about, when I am suppose to be resting, but  I can’t help it, when wandering the mouth of the Merrimac, with the dazzle filling my eyes. Across the dazzle is the Coast Guard station, to save the vacationers when they are in trouble…

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…but I think we may need a greater Guard than that.

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