LOCAL VIEW –False Start–

Our beautiful glassy-smooth ice was ruined by a snow of around 4 inches, followed by an arctic blast. I missed my chance to go skating, and faced more mundane tasks, such as cleaning snow from lots and walkways at our Farm-childcare. (But at least I was outside and under the sky.) After I was done with the snow-blowing I was confronted by a “2 hour delay” at the school, which overloads our Childcare with children, because usually just when older children leave for school on the bus, a pack of younger ones arrive, but now the younger pack arrived and the older pack wasn’t leaving.

My assessment of the situation indoors, after a quick glance around,  was that I was inside a pressure cooker that was about to blow its lid off. I figured I’d better do something, so I casually mentioned that I was heading back outside to see if I could find any of the local, (mythical), mountain lion’s tracks in the fresh snow,  and that I imagined no one wanted to come with me, because the adventure would be far too dangerous and frightening. I swiftly was swarmed by a small group of adventurers , and also got a grateful glance from a member of my staff, for the noise level dropped significantly just after the boys stampeded thunderously out the door.

The snow wasn’t deep enough to make walking difficult, and the snow was powdery; perfect for tracking, as the wind still sifted enough powder to gradually fill in the tracks, which let you gain an idea how fresh they were. We saw numerous tiny tracks of voles, mice and squirrels, and the bigger tracks of deer, coyotes, fox and even a mink, without seeing a single living creature. During the rare occasions I managed to get the boys to pipe down, there wasn’t even the sound of a distant crow. All you could hear was the sigh of the wind. All the animals were hunkered down, waiting for the cold to let up, but it was obvious many had been out the night before.

I like to track animals, because there are stories in the footprints, but the boys weren’t all that interested. Several kept running ahead and messing up the tracks before I could read them, but I didn’t have to say anything, for the one lad who sometimes likes to heed my imaginative pontificating was quite scathing about them “wrecking everything”, and told them so in no uncertain terms.  If I was a lieutenant, he was my sergeant.

I suppose some of my tales truly were a bit boring, if you are a boy. The tiny tracks of mice can be several different sorts. They are a “jumping mouse” if you can see a sign of a dragging tail, (though such mice tend to vanish early in the winter, as they are wimps and hibernate.)  Voles tend to tunnel under the snow. Almost always the tracks you see are deer mouse tracks.


However these tiny tracks were far too spidery, and indeed showed a jumping mouse was still up and about. He obviously was a hyper fellow, as he wasn’t even dragging his tail, and likely had insomnia.


These little mice have a tail longer than their body and big hind feet, a bit like a kangaroo, and can jump a long way when they want to. I was hoping to show the boys how far they jump, by following the tracks, but our mouse’s tracks led to a wild rose’s thorny stem, and vanished, and I explained that the mouse had likely climbed the stem in the moonlight to look for rose-hips.  I pointed out where the snow was littered with tiny flecks of red, beneath a bunch of hips on a stem, and explained that the mice eat the seeds we throw away, and throw away the outer pulp we use for rose-hip tea, (which is high in Vitamin C). Then I glanced about.

My audience numbered a lone sergeant, who,  after screeching at the other boys to come back, asked me how it was the mouse didn’t get stabbed by the thorns. I explained mice hands are so small they fit easily between the thorns, meanwhile fumbling with my camera to take a picture, which I didn’t take, as I saw I had to run after the other boys before they vanished in the trees.

In the trees I asked them why there were so many squirrel tracks when there were never any squirrels we could see, and the boys looked like they could care less. So I rather lamely explained they were flying squirrel tracks, and flying squirrels only came out at night. The boys were already hurrying on, as they wanted to go out onto the ice of the flood-control reservoir.

I glanced at my watch and figured I should delay them, for the wind is cold out on the ice and we had a long time to spend before the two-hour-delay was over, and I didn’t want them shivering and complaining and heading back early. So I distracted them with some cat tracks. The cat had come back along its own trail from the flood control, and the new tracks were quite fresh. I thought it probably was a big Tom Cat, but it might have been a small female bobcat, and I figured a bobcat would interest them, and it did.


The tracks were interesting because they left the trail after a while, preferring a precarious route hopping from stone to stone atop an old stone wall, which the boys liked clambering over as well. Then we reached the edge of the woods, and the tracks led away across a lawn towards a house. “Guess it wasn’t a bobcat, after all,” I muttered, and we turned back to the flood-control.

The flood-control was crisscrossed by the tracks of fox, coyote, and I think a mink (though those tracks were wind-filled) and I always find it interesting to see how such carnivores respond when their trails cross. Predators are not fond of each other, and will kill each other if they can do so without injury. (Injury makes them weak, and at a disadvantage, so they have to weigh the advantages against the disadvantages before they fight.) (I have seen fox tracks turn the other way, when they come across coyote tracks, when the fox is small, but the have seen the fox tracks continue on, if it is a larger fox and the coyote tracks are small.)

Out west it is fairly easy to tell a coyote from a dog, but in New England, not so easy.


The problem is that in New England fussy people take their dogs to the vet to have the dogs nails clipped, (so they won’t click on the linoleum),  and also the New England sub-species of coyote is getting bigger and bigger. Perhaps it is because they have to subsist on deer, and the shrimpy coyotes don’t make it through the harder winters. The local folk have long referred to our big coyotes as “coy-dogs”, and they were especially hated when the local economy depended on sheep, for they are sheep-killers.

The boys were not the slightest bit interested in this trivia. They only get interested when they lag behind, and I shout back at them, “Y’know, I heard a fellow say he saw a coy-dog big as a German Shepherd in those woods behind you, just last week.” Then they listen, and hurry to catch up.

One interesting thing in the tracks was that a coyote swerved to follow a fox for around fifty feet, and then the snow was all messed up. Briefly I was exited, and exclaimed, “Was their a fight?” You might think that would interest the boys, but it didn’t. Maybe it would have interested them if there was blood in the snow, but the fox’s tracks continued on unperturbed, and indeed they were slightly snow-filled and demonstrated that the fox had passed hours before the Coyote. So why did the coyote roll in the snow? (The answer is gross, and is a disgusting habit canines have I’ll never understand:  They think poop is perfume.)

What the boys were more interested in was the groaning and moaning the ice was making. This was partly because the cold wave was ending, and the ice was expanding, and also because the flood-control’s level was sinking after the rains we had a week ago, and the ice was stress by the shores, because it couldn’t sink at the shores and was bending and breaking.

I told the boys the sound was made by  bergasauruses, and we ought to hunt one.  So we did. We cornered a bergasaurus by a small, rocky island, and a furious battle ensued.


The bergasaurus slithered and was slippery, but could not escape.


Then the question then became, what do you do with a dead bergasaurus? The danged things are heavy


The answer to the questions is fairly obvious. You lug the bergasaurus nearly a mile, to impress the girls at the bus stop. (The battle occurred beside that small island in the background). (I wonder what the foxes, coyote and mink thought, studying human tracks, the next night?)


Now look at the same scene only four days later.


Another warm surge has brought more rain, and the flood-control has risen to cover the island. The ice is still is safe to walk on, but the water on top will so drench a child who slips and falls that it is forbidden territory to explore. (Also there are gaps between the ice and shore with no ice, where a child could step and have water pour into their boot, or even plunge up to their waist.)  fs-7-img_4199

Therefore a new hunt must be instituted, a hunt for snow. fs-8-img_4192

The small girl dragging the sled in the above picture, just past her third birthday, dragged that sled over a three mile hike that was snowless 80% of the time, just so others could drag her, 20% of the time. (I was going to forbid the sled, but I am old and wise, and have learned to chose my battles with women, even when they are only three years old.)

The point of the hike, (not that hikes really need a “point”, but I invent a “point” for parents who want to know what my “curriculum” is),  was to find a thicket of puckerbrush where the children could taste the bark of black birch saplings, and discover where the minty flavor of “birch beer” came from. That part was a success.

Making them wear snowsuits was not so successful. I figured that snowsuits would keep them dry, when we found a patch of snow and they rolled in the snow like a coyote. However at times children can roll more than coyotes or dogs. When I was held back by a child who was getting tired after 2.8 miles, the other children decided to roll down a hill, once they were too far ahead for me to stop them.


It would not have been bad, and in fact would have been healthy activity,  if they were rolling on grass, but they were on a trail, and the thaw had turned the trail partially to mud.

In the twinkling of an eye my name was turned to mud as well. I was turned from a wonderful man, who quiets children by burning up their amazing energy, and makes them mellow at nap time, into a very bad man who brings children back to the Childcare with their snowsuits covered in mud.

Oh well. I likely was feeling proud about how well I was doing, and the expression “pride goes before the fall” seems especially apt, when dealing with children.


One good thing about winter is that usually you don’t need to deal with mud. However winter hadn’t truly started.  The prior cold had been a false start.

The cold came creeping back, and the ponds and flood-control reservoir again were covered by a beautiful lid of glass-smooth ice. The forecast was for snow, and I suddenly thought that maybe I needed some time away from the kids, some time when I didn’t need to be so danged adult all the time. I needed to go skating, without anyone to watch or watching.

It did take me a bit of searching to figure out where my rusty old skates were, but before dawn this morning I was headed back to the flood-control, all alone. It was a brooding gray, and had dropped to 22°F (-6°C), which isn’t terribly cold, but I was amazed by how quickly everything had frozen solid. I suppose all the liquid water is brought right to the freezing point by being in contact with ice, and only needs to be chilled .00001° to freeze, but still the complete lack of wetness was startling. The flood-control was as dry as a desert, as I laced up my old skates and went gliding out into the dusk.


I have a little attachment to my cell phone that tells me how far I’ve walked, but it can’t handle skating. I skated around and around for an hour, covering roughly three miles, but the cell phone said I’d “walked” a third of a mile. That is the wonder of skating on smooth ice. With a minimum of energy you go three times as fast and six times as far.

The only sound was my scratching skates, and, if I paused, the sound of distant traffic, of people hurrying to work early, to get things done before a coming storm. Me? I had to take some time off and be a kid, and do all the things kids do without worrying that I might be a bad example or endanger someone.

For example, one dangerous place on the flood-control is where the brook rushes in, and the water never freezes until the depths of January. It’s a place I’d steer kids away from, but now I was free to skate close.


Or how about the drain, where water sucks out of the reservoir, and a small child might get slurped in and not be seen until they were spat out at the end of the pipe fifty yards downstream?


Or how about where ice fishermen cut holes just the right size for a small foot to plunge through, thigh deep?


Ah, free at last! Glory! Glory! Glory! Free to skim with a minimum of effort, taking the time to noticed pines silhouetted against a hill.fs-15-fullsizerender

Free to pause to contemplate the beauty of old stumps silhouetted against ice


Free to start something new, in the brief hour before work, and, just as winter’s false start had ended, to have my life’s many false starts be over, and to begin the Real Deal, and perhaps even to find the owner of these mysterious boots:


Ah ha!  Found him!


Perhaps in my new, non-false start I will be like those active men who yearn to die with their boots on, but even better. I’ll be a man who yearns to die with his skates on; zooming, just zooming, with a minimum of effort.

And to celebrate the end to all false starts I’ll end this post with a self-portrait of myself with the hills and pines in the background, and…

Blast. Wouldn’t you just know it!? The camera stopped working. It must be the cold. But I can’t end the post with a false start!  Maybe it is the lens. Perhaps if I wiggle this thing over here….




ARCTIC SEA ICE –Not Too Early To Donate $20,000 To Fund My Barneo Trip–

I’m sure there are some who wouldn’t mind sending me away to a dangerous place where jets can occasionally land (in 2005) like this:

And I am equally certain some wouldn’t mind me residing in a base where the sea-ice occasionally cracks and leads form between the tents, like it did in 2010:

Nor would some mind having me aboard a jet whose landing gear collapses slamming down on a rough, blue-ice airstrip, (seen at the start of this 30 minute film from 2015) (There is some controversy about whatever happened to the jet, with cynics stating the Russians polluted the pristine waters by letting it sink when the sea-ice melted, and more sanguine sorts suggesting they disassembled it and removed it in pieces.)

Here’s a picture of the jet:


and here is where I discussed the jet’s fate:


In 2016 (last spring) the Russians had troubles with cracks forming in the runways, and needed to shift their entire airstrip. Here is a wonderful video of a landing on the cracked blue-ice airstrip from the cockpit of a jet.

However the real troubles last spring were political, and caused by the fact that one of the reasons for the Barneo base is to train soldiers. Norway decided to make it hard for the Russians to conduct flights from Svalbard right in the midst of operations that have a very tight schedule and small window (basically three to four weeks in April) to work within, which pissed off the Russians no end, and is to some degree described in these articles.



The upshot of the political squabble seems to be that the people of Svalbard have lost some tourism dollars, as the Russians have decided things will be easier if they stage operations from Franz Joseph Land. This will involve the logistics of building the infrastructure for tourism in a stark landscape that has not known tourism (at least in April) before, but the Russians seem untroubled, perhaps thinking that if they can serve cutlets at the Pole they can do the same in Franz Joseph Land.

I am fairly certain that, after a winter of putting up with me, and with cabin-fever setting in, my wife will be extremely appreciative if I can be sent to Franz Joseph Land this April.

The question is, of course, will there be a Barneo base this year, after all the smashing and crashing the Pole has undergone with weather patterns very “loopy” (IE Meridional), and the Pole looking like this last September.


The thing is that, even when the above satellite picture was taken last September, when sea-ice was at its minimum, temperatures had already dropped below -10°C at the Pole and the leads of open water were already freezing over. What the Russians will do is attempt to locate one of those chips of “baby-ice” in the above picture, (much larger than they look), which will be, by April, “second-year-ice,” and thick enough to land a jet upon. The problem is that the “chips” drift many miles from where they are in September, and by April are not so obvious, for the entire surface is frozen and covered by drifting snow, and to the uneducated looks like one, vast expanse of white. Locating the thicker ice isn’t easy.

Nor is the logistics of building a new base in Franz Joseph Land easy. However the Barneo Facebook page reports:

Irina Orlova, the chief operations officer of the Barneo Camp: “I would say the recent official trip to Arkhangelsk was successful: we took the first step on a long and thorny way of Barneo starting point relocation to Franz Josef Land. It’s well-known that the FJL archipelago forms part of Primorsky district of the Archangelsk governorate. That’s why we had to negotiate with the governorate officials. And now we have got support of all departments, considered several ways to unfold an expedition, and made a plan for the nearest future. So we are satisfied with the results of the trip.”

The various non-Russian tourism entities seem uncertain about whether they will be flying in from Svalbard or not, but still are courting customers. For example, here is “Quark” page:

Click to access 2017-north-pole-express-barneo-ice-camp.pdf

and here is the “Polar Cruises” page:


Now, I’m just wondering if, while you are digging deep into your pockets to send me up there for three days,  you could find the extra generosity to send a friend of mine as well. I’m speaking of Roger Anderson, who is part of the University Of Washington NPEO program, who for 14 0f 15 years since 2000 gave us the luxury of being able to view the Pole via the North Pole Camera, but went unfunded last year, ( I think because the camera showed Truth and not enough ice melting, though I may just be being suspicious.)


In fact, when I think about it, just send Roger. If you send an old geezer like me to the Pole I’ll probably just get hypothermia or get eaten by a polar bear. Fund Roger, and we’ll get excellent pictures of sea-ice conditions all summer long.

ARCTIC SEA ICE –Ralph RIP, or reloading?–

It is my understanding that RIP means “Rest In Poverty”, and is used to describe the state of torpor Christmas shoppers and cooks collapse into, after overdoing it. It is also an apt description of the Pole, which has also been whooping it up, to celebrate the solstice. The Arctic imported two major blasts of oceanic air, “Hula-Ralph” from the Pacific, followed by an Atlantic blast I guess I’ll name “Santa-Ralph”, as he was such a gift to Alarmists, who are never happier than when they can make children miserable at Christmas, by insinuating Santa is going to drown.

And, to give credit where credit is due, the ice did indeed retreat northward, first north of Bering Strait on the Pacific side, when it was blown nearly to Wrangle Island, and then along the edge of ice at the north of Barents Sea on the Atlantic side, where the baby-ice was again pushed north of Svalbard, and even briefly north of Franz Josef Land, (though it was interesting to see it was pushed northwest from Franz Josef Land, which actually would pile ice up and make pressure ridges towards the Santa’s house, at the Pole.

You can watch this process occurring here:


Hmmm. My computer is not doing well at supplying the animation from the NRL site. Anyway, if you go there and watch the 30 day animation you can see the ice pushed back, first on the Pacific side and then on the Atlantic side, which would have made a noteworthy down-dip in the ice-extent graph, were it not for the fact the entirety of Hudson Bay flash-froze over at the same time, in around ten days. Still, the Alarmists got a small Christmas present in the ice-extent graph.


Notice the earlier down-dip, from the last big surge of Atlantic air, earlier in the graph, and how swiftly sea-ice-extent recovered and resumed its normal climb. The same thing will happen again. The sea-ice is swiftly reforming in the north of Barents Sea, and has already sealed off the waters north of Bering Strait, so the sea-ice graph will  quickly perk upwards to more usual levels.  Already the temperatures north of 80° North latitude is starting to crash from the last big spike:


The above graph’s red-line has dropped down to the high point of last (2015) Christmas’s mild surge (which was aimed more directly at the Pole, and didn’t cross to the Pacific side as much). Therefore an Alarmist can celebrate the fact that this Christmas had a warm spike nearly 5°C warmer than last year. They seem to fail to consider the simple fact this likely means our planet is squandering more heat to the dark, arctic skies than it did last year.

Let us check out the change in the SST anomalies, especially in the Atlantic, where a lot of this mildness came from. We should be able to see some change. (November 24 is to the left; December 22 is to the right).


To me it seems the warm anomaly off Newfoundland is weaker. Perhaps that is like a Christmas shopper’s wallet getting thinner after a splurge. The arctic night spent our planet’s warmth like a drunken sailor. (It is important to remember these are anomaly maps; actual temperature maps show all the water north of 40° latitude getting colder, as it tends to do in December), (it being frickin’ winter, after all.) Also the map shows a slight cold anomaly spreading southwest of Baja California, as if the signature of a “cold” PDO is attempting to reform.

In any case, it pays to take a world-wide view, and not merely focus on where our pet bias is confirmed, which seems to be what Alarmists are doing. This is liable to trick one onto the slippery slope of wish-casting, which I have done, and which can be very embarrassing, when you wake to the fact the person you fooled the most was yourself.

Right now I am attempting to avoid forecasting at all, because two different solutions are possible. Last time we saw the Atlantic surge, it was followed by a weak Canadian Archipelago surge and then the Hula-Ralph surge, which, after it pressed north to the Pole, flung a bitter cold arctic high in its wake from Siberia to Canada. High pressure is again building out over the Arctic Sea from Siberia, but I’m not so sure it will slip across to Canada and allow the Atlantic surge to occur again on its rear side. This time it may just stop on the Pole, and change everything. (For one thing, Ralph would be dethroned, and RIP.)

When a high just sits on the Pole the winds circle around it, and for a while there is no export of cold air, as the Pole harbors its resources, and just gets colder and colder. However neither Siberia nor Canada actually need imports from the Pole, as they are covered with deep snow, and able to breed their own arctic highs. In the case of Canada there are many open bodies of water, (uncountable small lakes, the northern Great Lakes, [Great Bear, Great Slave, Lesser Slave, and Winnipeg),and Hudson Bay,) and this open water can moderate Arctic Air at the start of December, but which freeze over by the end of the month, and the fact waters are ice-covered allows the cold to get colder in the dark of the arctic night.


(By The Way:  Besides showing the growth of ice on Canadian Lakes and Hudson Bay, this animation also shows how the sea-ice retreated north and then grew back, first north of Bering Strait, and then in the north of Barents Sea.)

There are now three major areas producing arctic high pressure: The enormity of Siberia, the Arctic Sea, and the Tundra and Taiga of Canada and Alaska. It is a sneaky triple whammy, when things get calm and nothing seems to be happening, for what the arctic is actually doing is reloading a triple-barreled shotgun.


Just for your reference, when we talk of temperatures-north-of-80°-north-latitude, we are talking about the smallest circle at the middle of the above map. The Arctic Circle is at around 66.5°, or just inside the second circle out from the center of the above map, and the sun never shines in late December, inside that Arctic Circle.


In other words, as I now prepare to go through my maps of conditions-north-of-60°-north-latitude, you need to keep in mind there is no warming sunshine involved in most of the maps. Only around the edge of the circular maps is there a brief bit of daylight, moving around and around clockwise, like the hand of a clock, and on the ground those daylights are so brief the sunrise is indistinguishable from the sunset.

At the end of my last post we were seeing the peak of the “Surge”.

It was difficult to attend to my Christmas duties, with such interesting things going on at the Pole, but my wife kept giving me a certain look when I seemed to be slowly gravitating away from in-laws to my computer, so in actual fact I had to be very sneaky to save these maps. The sheer size of Ralph’s circulation impressed me, as did the fact the storm track again deviated north and initially came right up through Fram Strait.  A very clear “signature” of Ralph hooked milder air right up to the Pole.

After a while the sheer enormity of Ralph seemed to swivel the storm track; the south side of Ralph had west-to-east winds which sent following storms west-to-east, along the more normal North Atlantic route towards Norway.  Meanwhile the east side of Ralph swung further east, until rather than drawing oceanic air north it was drawing more continental air north. But by this time Ralph had already brought an enormous slug of mild air north, and rather than just a signature curl at the Pole the temperature-map shows Ralph began to stream mild air all the way over to the Pacific. Call it “the Stripe.” Watch how it cools. When we start thaw is bathing Svalbard, but the freezing isotherm backs steadily south.

By Christmas morning it was below freezing in Svalbard, so perhaps it was snowing there and they were getting a White Christmas, but because the sun never rises they likely stayed inside in bright lamplight and didn’t notice. The “Stripe” continued to lose a lot of the imported heat to the dark skies, and imports had ceased,  as Atlantic lows were now moving east and crashing Norway’s Christmas parties, rather than heading north.  Cold high pressure was starting to bulge north from the Siberian coast, and was wearing a mean face, as if it intended to challenge the champ, and knock Ralph off the Pole.

Today we see all that nice, mild air Ralph brought north is simply fading away. The CO2 is doing a lousy job of holding it down. The greenhouse looks like it has broken windows, for there is no Greenhouse Effect,  and I suppose this demonstrates to Alarmists that “people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones”.

For the time being the defeated Ralph is retiring down to Norway, Sweden and Finland, perhaps because those folk know how to make winter fun.

I figure the air will continue to get colder, under the upstart high pressure that looks like it intends to be king-of-the-mountain at the Pole, but beyond that I’m befuddled about how things will proceed. I don’t think the surge-pattern can repeat, because Hudson Bay is frozen over, so it seems unlikely we can get a Ralph-reinforcement of mild air coming up through the channels and fjords of the Canadian Archipelago, like we did last time. That alone could be like a butterfly flapping its wings, and changing the consequences of chaos.

Looking at tomorrow’s map, it looks like the next Atlantic Low might turn north, but be so far south, as it bombo-genesis’s into a 950 mb low, that it loop-de-loops into Southern Greenland. This is too far south to be “Ralph”, so I guess I’ll call it “Hillary,” because the more it storms the more it disproves its points.


Judging from Hillary’s isobars, a huge slug of Atlantic mildness and moisture is going to be slammed into Greenland, hoisted higher than 10,000 feet, precipitate huge amounts of snow, and perhaps descend as a lovely, mild Chinook into Baffin Bay, but then turn the mildness south along the east coast of Baffin Bay, rather than north to the Pole. This will likely continue the amazing snows over Greenland, which is suppose to be melting away according to some Alarmists, but seems to be gaining a record-setting amount of ice and snow, according to this:


I suppose I should name the new high pressure dominating the Pole, so I guess I’ll call it “Trump.” What else could knock both Ralph and Hillary off the top?

I’m not too worried about Hillary, but I know Ralph is crafty, and will seek to send new feeder bands north to brew up a new incarnation of Ralph at the Pole. Looking at the upper atmosphere maps, (which Dr. Ryan Maue produces at the Weatherbell Site), I see one 500 mb curl of mildness attempting to sneak north in two days, but being deflected north of Greenland.


A second attempt attacks north from the Pacific, but curls west far short of the Pole, four days from now.


In fact, looking at the surface map forecast a week from now, despite an Atlantic storm crawling up the east coast of Greenland, and an Aleutian low slamming north of Bering Strait, Trump still sits on the Pole.


This does seem to be a situation unlike what we have seen in the recent past, and therefore it is likely wise to abstain from prophecy. We shall see what we shall see, and that is that.

But I likely should not deny you the autumn’s data, concerning snow-cover, now that autumn is officially over. This is not a forecast. It is a fact.


Now, if sea-ice extent of 12 million km2 matters, should not snow-cover extent of 21 million km2 matter? Furthermore, if the “albedo” of sea-ice matters, up where the sun doesn’t shine, shouldn’t the “albedo” of snow-cover matter, further south, where the sun shines all winter long?

Just a couple things to ponder, as we await a New Year. May it be a good one for you, and your family, and friends.

LOCAL VIEW –Orange In My Stocking–

As a child I knew Christmas was wonderful and magical, but the holiday puzzled me greatly, for adults usually did not behave in the utterly mad manner they joyously behaved, on Christmas.

This mystery was increased by the fact I was raised as a Unitarian, and Unitarians didn’t stress the Godhood of Christ, at that time. In fact, as I understood it, being a Unitarian mainly meant you didn’t have to go to church, which meant I was freed from any sort of preconceptions or propaganda concerning the power of priests and popes, but also meant I was ignorant, (though I prefer the word “innocent”), because I was largely untaught.

My father did believe in God, but seemed to have the attitude, “It is better to meditate on God while fishing than to meditate on fishing while in church.” When fishing with him he would tell me about how incredible Creation was, scientifically describing the fingerprints of an awesome Creator,  but the Creator Himself was never mentioned. This seemed to be part of Unitarianism in the 1950’s: Silence was golden, for talking about the Creator, The Only One Worthy Of Worship,  was presumptive, a “Bridge Too Far”, and in some way was politically incorrect.

Considering Christmas is all about the Creator popping in on His Creation, like the author of a book magically appearing in the pages midway through a book, it is logical that my father’s failure to mention the Creator would leave me utterly mystified about what the heck Christmas was all about.

Then my father vanished from my life when I was eleven. (Divorce may be another aspect of Unitarianism.) Christmas kept on happening, but the loss of such a wonderfully crazy man made the following Christmases very gloomy. (Mothers seem to downplay the trauma the loss of a father causes a boy, focused as they are on the trauma an irresponsible husband causes a wife. In my case, the following Christmases saw my father so troubled, and my mother so upset, that we six children spent more time parenting our parents than being parented.)

One thing we kids bravely attempted was “to make Christmas like it used to be”, (before the divorce). We put on a brave face and attempted to be jolly. Behind my mask, I kept wondering, “What the heck are we doing this for?”

I had only one friend who I could be anything close to honest with, as a young teenager, and he got to hear me anguish about things I’d never say to my mother. We’d skulk down streets after dark bitterly grumbling, and at times he saw me completely lose it.

I recall one time we met a couple of pretty girls, after dark, and were attempting to woo them in the center of town by buying them a couple of bottles of soda, but just then a fellow who was older and had an actual car showed up, and the two girls preferred a car to a soda. As the girls drove off with him I looked at the bottle of soda I held in my hands, and then with a snarl threw it. (One didn’t ordinarily do such things in my little town.) As the bottle vanished over the top of a store and smashed in a distant back alley my friend exclaimed, “Are you mad!” I myself was a bit surprised I had done such a thing, and took off, running at top speed into the darkness away from the Main Street lights. My buddy was such a friend that he was running right beside me, though he hadn’t thrown any bottles.

My good buddy happened to be Jewish, which put him at a bit of a disadvantage when I began to confess to him I didn’t understand what the heck Christmas was all about. I told him I just didn’t get it. I knew there was such a thing as “Christmas Spirit”, but felt in the dark.

We were actually walking in the dark, as I complained, beside a very large town green that sloped down into deeper darkness, and some adolescent impulse made me shout, “I can’t stand it!” and I again ran, plunging down into deeper darkness, and I can remember my startled buddy shouting out, “Come back! Come back!”

Looking back, I seem to have amnesia. I did come back, feeling a bit foolish about my behavior, and we continued our walk. But I’m not sure what turned me around, nor did we talk about why I had “lost it”.

This just goes to show you how amazingly ignorant an emotional 15-year-old can be about Christmas. I knew some sort of miracle was involved, but had no clue what it was. There was all sorts of odd behavior, without any explanation.

One odd thing was that, down at the toe of my stocking on Christmas morning, there would always be an orange.  My mother insisted upon it. It was some sort of tradition without a lick of sense behind it, that I could see. I questioned, being the sort of annoying teenager who demands answers, but the best I could get from adults was that, back when my grandparents were young, oranges were a scarce commodity in New England, as they grew far to the south, and bringing them north involved risky sails in coastal schooners (before railroads). An orange was a special gift in 1850, and tradition remembered how special it was, even when an orange wasn’t so special any more.

No one explained the tradition actually goes back far before 1850, to a dude named Nicholas who lived back around the year 300. (Yes, this is THE saint, who became Santa Claus.)

Now, when we talk about a fellow who lived over 1700 years ago, we lack video. Modern historians, who demand signed documents, will go on and on about lack of evidence. However Nick apparently did exist, and was a follower of Jesus Christ, who apparently also existed, though we do not have a single signed document to historically verify the cause of enormous cathedrals being erected in His name.

This Nick fellow, when a lad, had parents who were followers of Christ back before the Bible existed as a book. (There were only scattered documents in the year 300, and the gospel was largely passed by word of mouth). Nick’s parents were wealthy, and likely had access to various gospels and letters written by disciples of Christ, but back then being a Christian was still something you could go to jail for. Then the plauge came through town, and both of Nick’s parents died of it, and Nick became an orphan. He was a very rich orphan, and may have had the help of a Christian uncle, but he was not under any illusion that things of the world (even parents) are lasting. Therefore Nick decided to obey Jesus, and to give away the family fortune he had inherited, to help the poor. (He did not subscribe to the idea that a 401K is worthy of worship).

Details are lacking. I imagine financial advisers must have freaked out. I also imagine that less-than-spiritual people must have flocked to the scene, to help Nick become penniless. Once Nick wound up in jail, I imagine these fair-weather-friends lost interest in him.  Or maybe not. We lack records. Why? Well, you see, apparently Nick didn’t want to get all sorts of press for helping the poor, and therefore was secretive. He didn’t want the benefactors to think the charity “came from Nick”, when he believed it came from Jesus working through him and prompting him, and therefore apparently, when Nick gave, he did so in a downright sneaky fashion.

Because Nick was so sneaky, we have no signed documents, and the IRS is annoyed. All we have is legends. One legend is that the poorest of the poor lived in tiny huts, so small that one couldn’t stand up in them, and Nick knew when they were especially impoverished because they couldn’t even afford fuel on wintry evenings, and no smoke came from their chimneys. Therefore, as he passed their squat abodes, he would furtively reach up to the top of their low chimney’s, and drop a gold coin to clink in their cold hearth beneath, as they slept on winter nights, and then, after doing this deed, Nick would hurry away.  (So you can see this might lead to the idea of Santa sneaking down the chimney at midnight to leave gifts.)

Another tale involves a broke man who had three daughters of marrying age. In order to get a husband, back in those times, the father had to pay the prospective husband this thing called a “dowry”. When a Dad was flat broke, his daughters faced going to the “Poor Farm”, and back in those days in southern Turkey this involved daughters being sold into slavery. This particular Dad was at his wit’s end, because he didn’t want his daughter to be slaves, and wanted them to be wives. When Nick heard about this, he came creeping and sneaking by their house, found an open window, and surreptitiously rolled three balls of solid gold to the hearth, where they happened to roll to a halt nudging against the toes of stockings being dried by the fire. (So you can see why this might lead to the idea of Santa putting a tangerine or orange (golden ball) at the toe of a stocking, put by a fireplace.)

But Nick didn’t do this to be famous. He did everything possible to be unknown and unremembered. He wanted Jesus to be remembered. At first he did a fairly good job of giving God the glory, and finding dishonor for himself. In fact he apparently wound up flat broke and in jail. (Just think of that. Santa jailed by the politically correct.)

However at that time there was a political upheaval. A politically incorrect person became emperor of Rome. Rather than crucifying Christians and feeding them to lions, he became a Christian himself. (His name was Constantine, not Donald Trump.)

All of a sudden being a Christian did not mean you were fed to lions, and in fact it meant you were politically correct. Under the orders of Constantine, followers of Jesus formed a committee, (Council of Nicaea) to decide what a “Christian” actually was. Nick, who had never even officially been a “priest”, suddenly found himself a “bishop”, and was invited.

During the committee-meeting all sorts of esoteric subjects were discussed, and apparently a somewhat Unitarian fellow named Arius was advancing the idea that Jesus wasn’t actually God, and this infuriated Nick to such a degree that he jumped up and punched Arius in the nose. (Imagine Santa punching anyone.)  (When they dug up Nick’s skull back around 1950 they carefully x-rayed it, before putting it back in the grave, and among other things it showed that Nick’s nose had been badly broken at some point, and had healed crooked, which might indicate Nick had failed to “turn the other cheek” fast enough, during another, earlier, pugilistic episode.) (Apparently saints, before sainthood, are quite capable of sin.)

As punching-people-in-the-nose is flagrantly unchristian behavior, Santa Claus was about to be kicked off the committee, but a strange thing then happened. Though Nick was a sinner for belting Arius, he saw a stunning miracle happen. Jesus and Mary joined the meeting, (likely with heavenly music and glowing lights).  Santa was promptly forgiven. (I’m just telling you what research-of-lore reveals.) (I’ll also confess my own church’s committee-meetings are pretty darn boring, compared to the meetings they held 1700 years ago.)

In any case, Christmas only involves Nick because Nick was an extremist, and crazy about Jesus. If people go crazy on Christmas, and go in debt with their irrational generosity, they are only following the footsteps of Saint Nicholas, who was following the footsteps of Christ.

How odd it seems to me that I could grow up and never know what Christmas was actually about, and could hear Santa mentioned a lot, but Jesus hardly mentioned at all. In actual fact Jesus is “The Reason For The Season.”  The fact it has taken so long for me to catch on is rich with irony.

Our Creator is awesome. I, as a creative individual, look around His creation and understand there is no way I could, on my best day, creatively match something that is Matchless. (Even if I could, all I created would be created by the Creator, who created me.)

This Creator has displayed awesome love and compassion in the majesty and beauty of what He has made, but He also made us, and compared to Him I fear we are less than majestic, and tend to be like stingy Scrooge on a good day, and like hateful Hitler on our worst days. In fact, usually we are the opposite of Christmas. We make war, not love, and we take, rather than give. We make misery, and then wonder why we are so miserable. We are in need of help.

What Christmas celebrates is not us. It celebrates the opposite of how we ordinarily are, and does not celebrate what we call “politically correct” and “wise investing” and even “common sense”. It celebrates love and compassion and understanding and generosity we cannot even imagine, and also celebrates the fact our Creator took pity on us, and chose to enter his own Creation, and to walk with us and talk with us, like an author walking and talking with the characters of His own book.

And why should our Creator do such a thing? It is because His book has a happy ending, wherein we experience the joy of love and compassion and understanding and generosity, and He will achieve that ending, because He wrote the book, and is in control. 

Merry Christmas!

LOCAL VIEW –Smooth Ice–


It didn’t look like we’d get smooth ice this year. A couple of weeks of sub-freezing weather formed a nice black ice, but just when I tested it and deemed it safe we had a couple of inches of snow, just heavy enough to push the ice down far enough for water to seep up through the expansion cracks in the ice. As soon as that water reaches the snow the snow sucks the water up like a sponge, and the ice becomes covered by slush. Even though the ice beneath is still safe I don’t allow the kids out on the slush, because it is too wet, and also the footprints they leave in the slush are fossilized by the next night’s freeze, and then you have very rough ice due to footprints.

When the slush freezes it makes the ice thicker and safer, but the surface is rough, like crusty snow. Also, after a blast of bitter cold, down to -4°F  (-20°C),  mild air began pushing back from the south. We promptly got four inches of snow, and the entire process began to repeat itself, with the snow again turning to slush atop the ice.  But the south wind became a surge, and we had some real yo-yo weather,  with temperatures shooting up to 50°F  (+10°C) and pouring rain, before temperatures plunged back down to 7°F (-14°C).  The rain flooded the surface of the pond, and, when it flash-froze, the ice was glassy smooth.

The ice was so smooth that, by holding the rope of a plastic sled and swinging the child around, I could enact a sort of Olympic hammer-throw and send the child spinning and shrieking down the entire length of the pond. Of course, once I did it to one child, I had to do it for all the others. Otherwise I’d face a chorus of, “It’s not fair!”  Over and over I was a sort of amusement park ride, whipping kids around and around and then sending the sled spinning down the pond. Man, are my arms ever sore!  Finally I had to teach them how to fling each other, because I was getting worn out.

It was surprising how swiftly they caught onto the art of something that, as a boy, we called “cracking-the-whip”, wherein a chain of sliding children pivots, with the child at the axis basically standing still, but the child out at the end of the chain going so atrociously fast that they can’t hold on, and are flung away laughing and sliding over the ice.

There is nothing quite like the din made by children playing on the ice. Once I educated them in the art of flinging,  I didn’t have to work any more, and I could simply stand back and listen. It seemed to joyously echo back through time to the time of the Dutch Masters, painting in the Little Ice Age.


It is amazing how many paintings were painted involving skating on the frozen canals, back then. They may not have had thermometers, but simply by dating their paintings one has ample evidence it was, winter after winter, far colder. Painting was a way to make winter wonderful, and became part of their wonderful lore about wonderful winters.

The tale of “Hans Brinker and The Silver Skates” was based on that lore, although the author Mary Mapes Dodge had never visited Holland. She had Dutch immigrant neighbors who told her much about life and childhoods in the Netherlands, and she also was a student of Dutch history, and published the best-seller in 1865, towards the end of the Little Ice Age. (Within the tale is another famous tale, of the little boy who saves Haarlem by stopping a leak in a Dike with his finger.) (Children were amazingly responsible in her tales.) Besides being popular in the USA, her writing was popular in the Netherlands, and they embraced the tale and adopted it as their own, for it caught the feeling of their love of skating and frozen canals.


As the Little Ice Age faded away the canals froze less often, (and pollution added warmth to the water as well), and skating became all the more special as it became more rare.  Of course, with the advent of the Global  Warming hysteria, some seized upon the lack of skating as proof mankind was guilty of polluting the planet to such a degree that we all were going to boil. This was reaching a peak in late 2008, (the leaked Climategate emails didn’t expose the fact the public was being badly bamboozled until November 2009). There was even a famous prognosis that “Children will not know what snow is like”, but then at the end of 2008 winter threw a wrench in the works of such hysteria, with bitter cold blasts, and the Dutch got to skate like they had in the past. It made it a bit harder to talk of “Global Warming”, when the pictures were so similar to the 1600’s.


It became a national craze, complete with traffic jams, and orders for trains to travel slower, as people crossed tracks moving from one canal to the next.


Of course, as the crowds grow, people get carried away, and sooner or later they start driving vehicles on the ice. Even the Dutch Masters saw this happening, back in the 1600’s.


I figured I’d nip any such ideas in the bud, and instituted a rule at my Childcare that there should be no trucks driven on the ice. But would the children listen?


It was obvious to me that this young lady needed a driver, but I was too stiff and sore. It reminded me of the Beatle’s song from their “Rubber Soul” album, “Drive my car”, and I began to hum it to my self. I love the song’s concluding couplet:

I’ve got no car, and it’s breaking my heart,
But I’ve got a driver, and that’s a start!

And as I hummed that part of the song the young lady came by again, and indeed she had found herself a driver.


As I looked around all I could think was the sound in the air was the sound of joy.

Ice this perfect never lasts. But I am not going to be one of those people who always has to spoil things by foreseeing a bad future. If Global Warming happens, we’ll just find warmer things to be joyous about.

What is it about smooth ice different
From polished marble? The slide is farther.
The joy is greater. The air, heaven sent,
(So different from a funeral parlor),
Sparkles and freezes hair in my old nose
As the children romp, dance, and go mad
With glee at scent so far from summer’s rose
That comparing’s absurd, yet just as glad
Is the human heart on winter’s ice.

Go polish your marble. Your mausoleum
Will never match my pond, though it may suffice
For those whom find more life in a museum
Than in noise from a pond where children mingle,
Glittering sound much like sleigh-bell’s jingle.

ARCTIC SEA ICE –Ralph’s Resurgent Surge–(with second Yowza Update: [Sahara and Saudi Snowfalls!!!]) (Plus Christmas Eve Greeting)

If you are new to watching the Arctic and its sea-ice, you have missed a lot, and it will be difficult for you to catch you up with the news. Basically we seem to be seeing an “unprecedented”, “unheard-of” pattern, which isn’t saying much, for we don’t have very good ears, and don’t hear very far into the past. Most records don’t even begin until 1979, when I was 26 years old. This makes me 26 years older than the earliest records. It also makes me older and wiser than the records. Which is likely why you turned to me, rather than that young, whippersnapper stuff called “factual data”.

There is of course data from before 1979, but it has been largely ignored. In fact I think it is politically incorrect these days to even admit there was such a thing as the “Medieval Warm Period”. You may even be called “Fake News” if you confess things were recorded before 1979, or at the very least your recollections will need to “adjusted” in order to conform with the Party Platform.

But apparently you are sick of that Party Platform hogwash. Otherwise you would not be searching the web for obscure sites like this one, where people could care less about the Party Platform and Political Correctness, because they are interested in a wonderful, powerful thing called “Truth.”

The Truth is that the Party Platform insisted sea-ice was suppose to melt away unless we all underwent a dramatic sacrificing of our freedoms and prosperity. In fact, unless you bought curly light bulbs (which didn’t work in the sub-zero weather we had here yesterday) the entire planet might boil. Unless we switched from reliable fossil fuels to unreliable sunshine and fickle winds, oceans might engulf our cities. And we had to buy into this deal by various dates or the advertised offer would expire. But we didn’t buy in. So they extended the offer.

They based their fear-mongering on a gas so scarce in our atmosphere you can’t even find it, unless you are a plant. As an old Yankee attempting to function as a hardscrabble farmer, I have to heed plants, which politicians will ignore (until plants get the vote).

Plants in my garden get to work as soon as the sunlight touches their leaves at dawn, when, (because my organic garden includes lots of humus and manure holding fungus that produces CO2), my garden’s air may have 10 molecules of CO2 for every 10,000 molecules of total air. By noon my greedy plants will have gobbled all that CO2, and there will be only 2 or less molecules per 10,000 left, at which point my plants quit. They cannot resume growing until CO2 levels again rise, due to fungus which works best in the sunless dark. However, if you stay indoors, your home may have 100 molecules of CO2 in every 10,000 of air, because you are expiring CO2. (Houseplants have it better than plants in my garden during the summer afternoons, and greenhouses pump even higher amounts of CO2 into their air, the the crews of submarines breathe even greater amounts of CO2, without harm).

When the planet warms, the warmed oceans are able to hold less dissolved CO2, and release it to the atmosphere. Because our planet is recovering from the chill of the Little Ice Age, (which chilled the oceans and allowed the seas to absorb more CO2) our oceans are expiring more CO2. Much of the current increase in CO2 is because the ocean is warming because the planet is warming in a completely natural way. All 7 billion of us mortals, expiring CO2 and burning dung fires and herding cows that belch and fart CO2 and Methane, can’t come close to what the awesome oceans fart and belch. Oh, we mortals like to think we are so grand and so important, but our contribution to the CO2 content of the air is less than 1 molecule per 10,000.

This leads me to wonder: Which should we be worried about? One molecule in 10,000, or the temperament of a nearby star, without which our entire planet would swiftly die?

Our sun is going through a change in mood. Were it not for whippersnappers bleating about curly light bulbs and trace gases and political correctness, our moody sun would be making headlines. Our sun governs our crops, our weather, and one can see why the ancient Egyptians made a whole religion out of respecting that aspect of God’s creation, an archangel they dubbed “Ra.” Those bygone Egyptians must be rolling in their pyramids, because we think it is politically correct to completely ignore the sun, and instead worship our own exhalations, burps and farts.

But the fact of the matter is that our “Noisy Sun”, boisterous and freckled with sunspots, has become calm, and become a “Quiet Sun”, with its face as spotless and fair as a young maiden’s.


In their attempts to promote a trace gas as an archangel we ought worship, the politically correct have desperately attempted to downplay the influence of the most obvious influence. In fact some will claim the above sun is not in fact “spotless”, for it has a small speck on it’s face. (Can you find it?)

The fact of the matter is the sun has the greatest effect on our planet of all things, except for the Creator Himself. If one insists upon worshiping a false god, it should not be money or fame or success or sex, and especially not the the absurdity of one molecule among 10,000, but rather the sun. If one insists upon being a heathen, one ought worship Ra.

In actual fact, one reason the ancient Egyptians may have been so concerned about the sun is because they were able to see a change in the number of sunspots with their naked eyes. Apparently sunspots can be so large that, at sunset, they can be seen on the face of the setting sun by those with sharpest vision, and such events are recorded in ancient texts from China. The sky-oriented priests of Egypt would have noticed when such sunspots vanished, especially if it was immediately followed by a dramatic change in local weather. And just such a dramatic change did occur, as is seen by modern geologists who study the layers of sediment in the bottom of Egyptian Lakes.  What modern geologists have learned is that the lakes abruptly became dry, and lush pastures abruptly became this place we now call “the Sahara Desert”.  (Huge numbers of drought-impoverished refugees may have supplied the labor-surplus that built the first pyramids, just as Dust Bowl “Okies” supplied much of the labor that built California.)

As much as we may mock those forgotten mortals, they were more scientific than we are. How can I say such a thing? Because our scientists do not notice when the sun changes its face. All they care about is funding. All they care about is the faces of politicians.

The switch from a president I will not name to Donald Trump changes the face such scientists face, and such scientists are deeply concerned about their funding. After all, many are fathers and mothers with young ones to feed. For them, money matters. Truth, as they define it, is whatever pays. In some ways their attitude towards the beauty of Truth does not differ from a whore’s attitude towards the beauty of Love.

I am different, because I’m an old curmudgeon, and no one will pay me for Love or Truth. I just say what I see, and am amazed how often what is blatantly obvious gets me yelled at, either called “politically incorrect”, or this new slur,  “a dispenser of Fake News”.

In any case, if you are new to the subject of Arctic Sea-ice, the Quiet Sun is causing a sort of atmospheric earthquake. The CO2 Alarmists are attempting to say the Quiet Sun is not the cause, and a single molecule among 10,000 is the cause. You decide. My view is that the sun is the culprit. The complexity of all the repercussions the sun causes, when it changes its mood, is beyond human understanding, but my best effort to explain it all to laymen is as follows:

“I think our ability to grasp all the inputs into the chaotic system we call “weather” is small. The Creator made a creation that is wonderfully subtle and complex. However I greatly enjoy attempting to link together the cause-and-effects, as if the system was some sort of Rube Goldberg contraption.

My own take is that the “Quiet Sun” supplied less energy, and less energy resulted in weaker winds, and weaker Trade Winds stimulated the El Nino, which resulted in more heat at the surface of the sea at the equator. Now, how’s that for double-speak? “Less energy creates more energy (heat at the equator).”

Once you have extra energy down at the equator the planet wants to balance things out, so you get a jet rushing up to the Pole, where the mild air loses its heat, often forming a low pressure spiraling heat up to the tropopause, (this low pressure is what my whimsy has dubbed “Ralph”.) Because the general background is colder due to the “Quiet Sun,” the contrast between the warm equator and the colder background is larger, so the jet is stronger, bringing more mild air to the Pole. Resultant double-speak? “Colder sunshine makes a warmer Pole.”

Once you have the mildness bumping up into polar air, the polar air gets nudged down into Siberia, causing the early and extensive snowpack to form. Resultant double-speak? “Warmer Pole makes colder subtropics.””

The only reason I need to even mention “double-speak” is because politics has invaded the hallways of science, and has polluted what is pristine. There is no contradiction in what is occurring. It is completely natural:

“The current pattern is an effective way to lose heat and balance things out, for heat is lost in two ways, by radiation in the sub-arctic air that is transported north to the Pole, and by reflection due to the high albedo of fresh snow extending further south. “

In other words, what we are seeing occur is dramatic, but what we should expect to see when the “Noisy Sun”  becomes a “Quiet Sun.” An objective and calm scientist would make no big deal of such drama, just as it is no big deal when summer’s beneficent warmth gives way to cruel winter blasts.

Is there drama involved when winter gives way to summer? You bet there is, on my farm at least. But it is natural. In like manner there is drama involved in other natural cycles. Currently these cycles all seem headed for “cold”. In the North Pacific the PDO seems likely to flip radically from “Warm Blob” to “cold”, and in the Atlantic the AMO seems likely to be falling from its thirty year “warm” peak towards “cold”. When you add the chill of the “Quiet Sun” to all this, you see a lot of “cold” in the way of “Global Warming.” This is all normal and natural, and has little to do with politics.

But this is very bad news to the political priests of Global Warming, who insist we control the weather, and that if we sacrifice virgins the planet will be saved. Things are happening completely outside their control, and more importantly outside their expectations. They thought they had everything figured out, and now look like bozos. For crying out loud, even in the sun-baked deserts of Saudi Arabia snow was falling in November, and the passes between Syria and Lebanon were blocked by snow at the start of December. Talk about your “Damascus Moment!” Here is a view from Damascus suburbs, when winter hasn’t officially started yet:


This sort of bad news makes the people who are most dedicated to political ideology and the false god of Global Warming desperate to find evidence warming is happening. Therefore they look far and wide for evidence of warming.

Allow me to help them. Most places have kept records for less than a hundred years. Even with temperatures level (and no Global Warming) there is a better than a one-in-a-hundredth chance that the temperature in any place on a particular date will happen to be the warmest seen for that date. So where should we go? Let’s go to Santiago Chile, which, (after, I’ve been told, “late snowfalls in the Andes and a very cold spring”),  they hit a record 37°C a couple days ago.

Is that helpful? To me it is no big deal. But then, my income is not dependent on perpetuating a lie. (I cringe when I use the word “lie”, for I know some sweet young school teachers who teach the Global Warming lie only because they trust their lying superiors and lying textbooks.)

The political priests of Global Warming are facing a bad situation. Their congregations may rise in fury, unless they they can find proof they are not full of bull….bull…baloney.

It likely won’t be the first time this has happened. There is evidence that at the end of the Anasazi civilization, in the American Southwest, a crisis occurred which involved an uprising of farmers, who were so outraged by the botched forecasts of their priests (Climate Scientists), that the farmers burned down holy places (Kivas) that had stood for hundred of years.

Twenty years ago politicians were doling out such fortunes that the fat was dribbling down the jowls of so-called Climate Scientists, but now they are being asked to account for what they pontificated back then, and they are wearing dangerous shoes. There was good money in saying what they said, but now the money may vanish, as their patrons were voted out of office by an outraged public. Now they must stand by what they said, with no money involved, or else confess their sins.

There is pathos in their predicament, but they have made their own bed and must sleep in it. They don’t have to stand by a lie. In my neck of the woods many workers have on numerous occasions told their bosses to, “Take this job and shove it.” Consequently they may have been poorer monetarily, and at times may have had to clean latrines, but they stood by the Truth, and upheld the dignity of decency. Now it is time for Climate Scientists to do the same. Somehow I feel most of them lack the gumption. Why? Because if they were that decent they never would have agreed to be the liars they have been.

In any case they are confronted by the fact they must defend themselves, with no money involved, and such stress will likely make them mad. Expect no science. Expect only the defiant self-defense of antipathy, concerning a subject which ought be all rainbows and sky-blue-pink clouds; IE: The weather.

I wish we could just be divorced from these people.  Most Climate Scientists are like people who vowed to be married to a mate, but were married to heroin, and betrayed their mate. In the case of Climate Scientists, their drug was not heroin, but political fluff and humbug. In some cases it involved substantial amounts of money and power, and in others it merely involved front-page meaningless hit-parade status, or perhaps merely keeping a job by being a rump-swab. They betrayed Truth for their cheap high. Nothing they did has anything to do with the simple thing that interests you and I; IE: The weather.

Even when a livelihood is dishonest, people will fight like cornered rats to keep it, resorting to shameful behavior. We may see some of such behavior during these trying times, and even if you reach out to such people, in pity, you may get your hand bitten.  Rats behave like rats. I am expecting this political frenzy to produce a peak of propaganda, demonstrating for once and for all the distinction between True Science, and the pollution of politics.

Let us shake free of that nonsense, and just attend to the beauty of weather. Why? Because most names you can connect with “Climate Science” fail to see weather is beautiful.

Therefore they have failed the Creator, who has blessed us with a creation full of majesty and beauty, with His fingerprints visible in every breeze, but unseen by those who cannot see the wind.

When I last posted, a flow from the Pacific had refueled the low pressure “Ralph” at the Pole, so I dubbed him Hula-Ralph. However Hula-Ralph was the author of his own demise, building high pressure in his wake and creating a cross-polar-flow that effectively cut him off from Pacific air. Ralph then turned to the Atlantic, and a remarkable surge is starting to develop, much like the one we witnessed three weeks ago. It remains to be seen if temperatures will spike as high.

You can see the Atlantic low came up through Fram Strait and created “Ralph’s “signature” hook of mild temperature at the Pole.A second low follows up the east coast of Greenland, bringing a thaw north to Svalbard.

However this second low is to some degree diverted, in a weakened state, along the more normal North Atlantic Path to Norway. Meanwhile a huge Pacific Aleutian Low is bumped further north than usual into Bering Strait.

Now a third low is coming up through Fram Strait and Svalbard is above freezing. Mild air has pushed through Bering Strait, but doesn’t seem likely to penetrate to the Pole.

Some models have been suggesting Ralph gets very large at the Pole, but so far he has remained modest. The GFS model goes so far as suggesting in three days the third low will move to the Pole and be a sub-960 mb gale. (Maps by Dr. Ryan Maue, from the Weatherbell site.)


What seems the biggest change is that North America has been cut off from the cross-polar-flow. (To continue its current cold North America will either have to get moderated Siberian air from a trans-Pacific flow, or use its own Canadian tundra and taiga to grow its own arctic highs.)

North America  is cut off because a flow of mild air is roaring east along the Siberian coast, showing a lot of white heat in the anomaly-maps three days from now. It reaches to the Pacific. However also notice that as these west winds warm Scandinavia, (as we  saw three weeks ago), a sort of backwash of very cold air is east winds moving west, further south, (as we also saw three weeks ago.)  Southern Eutope will shiver, and Saudi Arabia may get more snow.


In five days, (if we can trust the model), the surge is amazing, and Ralph is in complete control of the Pole, from the Atlantic to the Pacific.


What impresses me most is the fetch of west winds from Atlantic to Pacific along the coast of Siberia. The enormity of such a fetch is difficult to imagine, because few really understand the enormity of Russia’s arctic.

Russia’s coastline along the Arctic stretches almost 40,000 kilometers (including the coastlines of the northern islands). This translates to 24,854 miles.  (To drive coast-to-coast in the USA, Los Angeles to New York City, is less than 4000 miles.)  The Russian Arctic coast drains a watershed of 13 million square kilometers, equal to about three-quarters of the total land area of Russia and an area larger than any country on earth save Russia itself. (We are not talking Luxembourg, here.)

The temperature anomaly map shows we are taking a massive amount of Atlantic mildness to the coldest part of the planet during the darkest days of the year. The air will not get warmer. In fact, besides losing heat it brings north to the night skies, it will lose freed-up latent heat as large amounts of Atlantic moisture condense to clouds and precipitate as snow.


In some ways this surge resembles the surge that occurred last Christmas, which ended the year 2015 with a grand spike in the temperatures-north-of-80°-latitude graph.


This year rising to such levels would not be as impressive, for we are already nearly up at those levels. (The graph shows a slight dip, as the mildness from Hula-Ralph cools, but a lot of the extreme cold is south of 80° north latitude, and therefore does not show on this graph.)


In some ways what this graph shows is how much heat our planet is squandering to the darkness of outer space. A measure might be made of the area of white between the red line and the green line, and, by comparing last year to this year, it can be seen that this year we are squandering a lot more.

I could see a good argument being made by Alarmists that the sea-ice is made thinner by such mild air shifted north, and the planet will have to expend less heat next summer to melt thinner ice. I would welcome such debate. I’d wonder about the cooling of the water under the ice, as so much was exposed to bitter winds this autumn, and would point out most melting comes from beneath. I’d wonder how much the degree the seawater was cooled this autumn could influence the melt next summer. I’d also say that besides melting ice, the summer sun must melt the snow on top of the ice, and more Atlantic moisture shifted north likely would mean deeper snow. Any decent Alarmist would then point out deep snow acts as insulation, and deeper snow might retard the thickening of the ice. Such debate would be healthy, and in the interests of science.

However I will bet you a nickle we see none of that, in the ludicrous Main Stream Media. I expect pure sensationalism and propaganda. If last Christmas is anything to go by, the surge will be presented as all-warming-all-the-time, with nothing I have said about cooling touched with a ten foot pole, and they will also throw in some ridiculously maudlin stuff about Santa Claus drowning because the North Pole is melting (even though ice is increasing up there, as it always does in December). They likely will include a picture of Mrs. Claus and Rudolph weeping, just to terrorize the children and spoil their Christmases.

I see your nickle, and raise you a dime.

For the record, here is the graph of ice extent, so you see ice is increasing.


In actual fact, the graph does show the last “surge” did produce a short-term down-spike, when the edge of the ice in Barents Sea and Kara Sea was pushed north by the strong south winds. We might see that again, but it will be a brief interlude in the usual rise.

What the graph does not show is deeper and more extensive snow-cover south of the Arctic Sea, which seems to occur when the polar air is bumped south of the Pole by these invasions of Atlantic (and sometimes Pacific) air. In terms of Sea-ice, the displacement of polar air south shows up primarily in the Sea of Okhotsk on the Pacific coast of Siberia (and also in cooler north Pacific SST.) Also Hudson Bay is now swiftly freezing over.


The NRL “thickness map” will be interesting to watch as winter starts, to see if the incursions of milder air keep the ice thinner. The interesting thing about the current thickness map (to me) is the fact the the thick ice along the shores of the Laptev Sea was pushed off-shore by the bitter blasts of the cross-polar-flow. A Polynya of open water formed, and rapidly skimmed over with baby ice, but not without cooling of the coastal waters.

Waters north of Bering Strait seem to be freezing over despite the Aleutian gale bringing mild winds howling north.


There will be two things to watch for in coming weeks. First is the wonder and beauty of creation as the Creator made it. Second will be the amazing immaturity (I would call it “adolescent”, but it seems more immature than that) seen in the behavior of the politically-minded.

Stay tuned.

UPDATE  –Ralph Rocks–

This likely deserves a separate post, but I am so busy with Christmas stuff that I’ll just attach it here.

Ralph is causing a bit of a ruckus up at the Pole, which is good, for if we are going to have a ruckus it is good to have it up where no one lives, and no one gets hurt, especially at Christmas.

The DMI maps do a fine job of simplifying, and showing the basics of what is going on:

In case you are too lazy to scroll back up, our last maps showed Ralph weak over the Pole, and the ruckus down at the southern tip of Greenland, with another ruckus south of Bering Strait. The Pole looked calm, and incapable of mischief.


What was most interesting on the following day [December 18th] was seen in the temperature maps. Not only does the triangular “feeder band” poke north from the Atlantic side, but one pokes north from the Pacific side. This is just asking for trouble. Mix mild air with frigid air, and you are mixing gasoline with a match, (irrespective of stuff over my head, such as upper air maps). However the pressure maps only show the initial Ralph drift towards the Pacific side weakening, as a replacement drifts to the Pole from Svalbard, only strengthening a itty bitty bit.

Yesterday, [December 19], we saw the Replacement-Ralph failed to weaken (as they usually do), but instead grow stronger. Also a Re-replacement Ralph (via what I call “morphistication”) formed off the east coast of Greenland.  The temperature maps showed a wonderful mixing of gasoline and matches, as both Atlantic and Pacific “feeder bands” swirl at the Pole.

Today [December 20] we see the Replacement Ralph passing its peak and beginning to weaken, but the Re-replacement Ralph exploding over Svalbard and heading north to the Pole, and also the Re-re-replacement Ralph entering the picture from south of Greenland and clobbering Iceland. As there are actual people on Svalbard and Iceland, I pause to pray for their safety, for this is no longer an esoteric discussion of uninhabited places. However it is beyond doubt the current ruckus is well north of the usual storm track, and allows a Ralphist like myself to climb up on his soap box and preach Ralphism.

First, I should point out that, if a gale like the sub-960 mb Re-replacement Ralph appeared over the Pole in the summer, Alarmists would be tooting their horns and throwing confetti, because they would figure it was speeding the sea-ice melt, to have a gale smashing and battering the ice. The situation is a bit different now, for despite the invasions of Atlantic and Pacific air the temperature-map shows that surface temperatures are below the freezing point of salt water. To smash and batter the sea-ice in December has a different effect than smashing and battering sea-ice in July.


One Alarmist view thinks that, if you want less ice, you should bring milder air north, to slow the thickening of sea-ice,  however a different Alarmist view has the perspective that to have less sea-ice you want calm winds, and baby-ice covered by snow, to act as insulation, that keeps the seawater beneath from freezing. This second view strongly disapproves of smashing and battering ice in December, for that exposes seawater to freezing. The second view only approves of mild air coming north if it comes calmly. The current mild air, however, has not gone gently into that good night. (Hat Tip: Dyan Thomas) Rather it is a ruckus. (Note to self: Title next post, “Ralph’s Ruckus”).

Secondly, having a sub-960-mb low over the Pole involves uplift. When milder temperatures vanish from the temperature map, often they have been lifted as an occlusion. (Note to self: Write a post exploring the concept of the Pole as the “Terminal Occlusion.”)

Thirdly, such uplift causes condensation and precipitation and crystallization, which furthers the uplift by releasing latent heat during the phase changes. All this heat is released up where the troposphere is lower than anywhere else on earth, when the sun never shines, and very little in the way of “greenhouse gas” stands in the way between the heat and an exit ramp to the fast track to Alpha Centauri. Heat is lost upwards, as down falls  bitter cold arctic powder snow, that will not melt unless extra heat is added next summer. (Conclusion: The damper is wide open, and the planet is losing lots of heat up the chimney, with only the embers of a dying El Nino in the stove. )

Fourthly, Ralph should be getting more attention than he is getting.

Fifthly, the current runs of the models suggest the Re-re-replacement Ralph will follow and be a second sub-960-mb low north of Fram Strait, but following lows will be unable to penetrate north. Ralph will become so big and brash and vast that, beneath his spread-out center, the North Atlantic will see a  west-to-east flow, and that will send a couple gales crashing west-to-east across the Atlantic into Norway.

(Merry Christmas, Norway. Merry Boxing Day, England.)

Returning to the uninhabited north, and the subject of sea-ice, I am very curious about what happens to sea-ice when Ralph grows mighty and smashes, crashes, and bashes it, and temperatures are below freezing. My experience of such gales involves this stuff called, “freezing spray”, which coats everything it touches with ice, and can so cover the superstructure of a fishing boat with weight that the ship capsizes. (This may be cheating, because it involves fresh water, but it makes my point; here is a picture of what frozen spray did to a lighthouse by Lake Michigan, though the gale-churned water itself was far below the areas the freezing spray touched.)


I suggest, looking at the above picture, that, when Ralph forms two 960 mb gales in December, it might have a different effect than Ralph had, when he formed two 960 mb gales last August.

Oh, by the way, as some of you know, I love to introduce the subject of Africa into the subject of Arctic Sea Ice. Therefore I simply must mention that the sands of the Sahara got some of the “backwash cold,” which can, on rare occasions, make the pyramids colder than the Baltic. In fact, for the first time is something like 40 years, the sands of the Sahara looked like this:



Stay tuned.


Because I am such a modest person (and am so seldom correct and so seldom able to brag), I would like to remind people that I did mention that the warm air surging up to the Pole might “bump” the polar air south, and might cause what I called a “backwash” of cold air to move west under the mildness, and I even had the sheer audacity to suggest Saudi Arabia might get a second “unprecedented” snowfall. Well, “cough cough ahem ahem” guess what?

The great thing about social media is that people don’t know it is politically incorrect to report weather. It is also very hard for political and religious despots to forbid reporting a freak fall of snow. The mainstream media may scrupulously avoid reporting it, following the discipline of their religion, which does not allow eyes to stray to snow, as if it was a woman’s legs, or low cut dress, or cleavage, or even pure pornography. However ordinary folk lack such discipline, and in a wonderfully simplistic manner just tell the Truth. And the mainstream media  grinds its teeth in rage.

“Don’t those fools understand?” The Main Stream Media seems to rave, “Don’t they see that the survival of the planet depends on reporting only Global Warming? How dare Arabs  report things we reporters must avert our eyes from, and pretend we do not notice?”

Back in my youth I had the discipline to avert my eyes from cleavage, and was called a “prude” for doing so. Therefore I think it is only natural that the Main Stream Media must be called “meteorological prudes”.

What I call “the backwash” shows up quite clearly, as does what I dub “the surge”, in a map of Europe (produced by Dr. Ryan Maue at his Weatherbell Site), which shows the surge is mild to the north (red) but the backwash is cold to the south (blue) in Europe.


The only reason it is “above normal” to the south of this map is because it is midnight, and the Sahara cannot get colder-than normal when it is wet and has clouds after midnight. Also the Mediterranean Ocean is warm. So lets  check Master Maue’s map of actual temperatures in the wee hours of the morning.


In the above map we see that the Baltic Sea is in fact colder than the Mediterranean, so we shouldn’t alter vacation plans. Finland is slightly warmer than the Sahara. However the “backwash” is quite clear, making Turkey colder than Poland, and Greece colder than Denmark.

It must be hard to be a prudish reporter, and never look at what is beautiful. I mean, check out North Africa in this Maue Map:

sahara-chill-gfs_t2m_afr_1  Yowza!  The “backwash” even reaches the Sudan! What a headline! But the prudes in the Main Stream Media avert their eyes.

Sigh. I suppose, to appease such morons, we must flatter their anxiety by leaving Africa for the subject I am suppose to be posting upon, which is sea-ice in the Arctic. And yes, milder-than normal air sure is surging up that way.

Today’s DMI maps shows signs the “surge” may be passing its climax, though it sure remains impressive to me.

I notice a lot of Atlantic heat is being stolen by the Pole. It is +10°C  (50°F) off the north coast of Norway (warmer than the Sahara) and it is +5°C  (41° F) way up in Svalbard, where the sun never shines. It will not make the North Atlantic warmer, to be robbed of its heat in this manner.

The Atlantic “signature” of Ralph is now blatant upon the Pole in temperature-maps (even as the latest Ralph-incarnation is backed towards Fram Strait, in pressure-maps.) However the Pacific “signature” is now gone. All that Hula-Ralph air has exited the surface-scene, and is on its way upwards to Alpha Centauri. Such is the fate of all mildness that enters the starless noon of the Arctic, in December.

Certain Alarmists, (the usual suspects), are rejoicing to see mildness rush north to be lost at the Pole. They are prudish reporters who finally see a hem-line they are allowed to lustfully peek at. All their pent up reporter-instinct to tell-the-truth now finally has something they are allowed to talk about, so you can expect them to report like gang-busters, going overboard, when they talk about “mildness at the Pole”.

However I simply think that, if our planet wanted to lose heat in a hurry, it would send mild air north to where there was no sun, and where heat would be lost to outer space, and also our planet would bring snows to the Saudis and the Sahara, where the albedo of freshly fallen snow would lose further heat to outer space.

What might losing so much heat in a hurry mean?

Stay tuned.

Oh, by the way, because we are suppose to be talking about sea-ice, I should likely mention that though “the surge” is pushing sea-ice north in Barents Sea, and therefore reducing the “extent” in that area, I did suggest the displacement of frigid air south would cause Hudson Bay to flash-freeze before Christmas, though it was practically ice-free when I made my brash pronouncement. Well, guess what?


(Cough cough ahem ahem)


Hudson Bay did freeze over by Christmas, so I won my nickle bet. It is amazing how swiftly that Bay can freeze over once it gets started, and one can see why the captains of ships want to have nothing to do with the refreeze.

As I expected, the surge of milder air up towards the Pole did generate hoop-la from the usual suspects. NPR reported on the warm anomaly at the pole without mentioning cold cold anomalies elsewhere, and Tony Heller did a good job of taking them to task for that.


The cold “backwash” that has sneaked back to the west beneath the surge to the north has resulted in a lot of cold down at the latitude of the Black Sea.  Krasnaya Polyana reported 99 cm of snow on the ground on December 12, when usually they see no more 30 cm at any one time.


So they got a lovely white Christmas!



Warm is Cold, and Down is Up

This is a post by Ron Clutz over at his “Science Matters” website. It holds another idea about what has been creating the low pressure I dubbed “Ralph” at the Pole.

Paul Homewood has a post today: Who Is Lying? John Holdren, Jennifer Francis, Or NOAA? The issue revolves around claims of global warming changing the jet stream, resulting in extreme weather, incl…

Source: Warm is Cold, and Down is Up

ARCTIC SEA ICE –Zephyr Ralph–(updated)

It seemed a doomed dawn, cold and without wind
Or birdsong, as I stood by a chilled pond
In the dregs of autumn. Had summer sinned
To earn this fate? Some dark wizard’s wand
Had struck the branches bare. The pond’s teeming
Life was gone, and the dark waters lay still.

Then the first beams awoke the dreaming
And came slanting amber from a distant hill
And lit merry mists playing on water.
Without a wind the tiny zephyrs swirled
And darted, lit veils of life beyond slaughter,
Motion without reason, beyond this world.

Even when cold and calm seem they’re complete
Life’s zephyrs laugh of what defies defeat.

To be more prosaic, I don’t know if you’ve ever had the chance to watch mists play across the surface of water when the air is absolutely still and the water is absolutely still, but it is fascinating to witness how active the mists are. They form small jets and whorls that have surprising speed.

The only conclusion I have derived from such study is that bosses are not very understanding when you explain why you were late to work.  Don’t they understand there are more important things in life than producing widgets?

Because I have taken the time to practically hypnotize myself watching such shifting mists, (never quite teetering face-first into the water), I see a similarity between that microcosm of a pond and the macrocosm of the seas and atmosphere. In the macrocosm there are two large areas, above and below, which, if not calm, are in a fairly steady state. Between the two is a remarkably thin area of shimmering activity. It is so thin we likely would pay it no mind, were it not the area where we happen to live and where our weather is.

The bulk of the ocean doesn’t change very much, and has an awesome inertia. One doesn’t need to go very deep before one reaches waters that don’t change whether it is hot or cold at the surface, or whether it is blazing sunshine or pouring rain. This can foster the impression that the ocean is indifferent and has no effect, but the sea’s surface can change radically and has a huge effect on the planet’s weather.

It really hasn’t been all that long since few but fishermen cared about the radically shifting SST (Sea Surface Temperatures) of the ocean.  Back in the 1800’s a bureaucrat of the English Empire noted monsoons in India seemed related to temperatures and pressures in the Pacific, but he was likely deemed an eccentric crackpot and stuffily ignored. A few Navy meteorologists were starting to tune in during World War Two, and brought their ideas home from the Pacific after the war. But during my boyhood the average person had never heard of an El Nino. It is only recently that you can talk with a taxi driver about the topic.

Besides the El Nino  and La Nina, (which many now discuss with all the authority of professors), we are starting to have things such as “The Warm Blob” enter our vocabulary. With so much political falderal about Global Warming flying about, people worry their taxes might go up if SST rise, and pay closer attention to distant seas, and are increasingly aware how swiftly things change, and of how fickle the skin of the sea can be. Not long ago humanity would have been oblivious to the rapid cooling of the North Pacific we witnessed this fall, but now it is discussed in laundromats.

The actual temperature of the sea’s surface varies a lot from summer to winter, but what grabs people’s attentions is whether the warm-surface-water-of-summer is warmer or colder than normal, and whether the cold-surface-water-of-winter is warmer or colder than normal. Therefore we wind up with the “anomaly maps” which shows above-normal as cherry red (even if it is cold water) and which shows below-normal as blue (even if it is tropical water you’d love to swim in.) The maps below show how the North Pacific was above normal in September (left) but is below normal now (right).


Whether the seawater is above-normal or below-normal does effect the atmosphere, but the atmosphere effects the temperatures of the sea. It is a chicken-or-the-egg type thing. One can get into arguments about which came first, (which are largely a waste of time). What really matters is what both are showing, together, hand-in-hand, which is called the “Pattern”.

Personally I think the colder North Pacific was created by the warm air pushing north to the Pole to create the swirl of low pressure I call “Ralph”. Ralph nudged the cooler air that wanted to sit about and be lazy on the Pole aside, and the cooler air was bumped down to Siberia, where it created early and expansive snow-cover, which efficiently bounced away sunshine and radiated away heat at night, creating a monstrous area of cold air that both expanded west towards Europe and spilled to the east to chill the Pacific. That is my best guess of the cause-and-effect of the “Pattern”. I like to see things in terms of cause-and-effect, in a Rube Goldberg sort of mechanical way, but it remains a mystery to me what got the “Pattern” going in the first place.

Over at the Weatherbell site Joe Bastardi is big on “Pattern Recognition”, and Joseph D’Aleo has devised an ingenious “Pioneer Model” which recognizes various ingredients to a “Pattern”, (over 20), and then predicts what “Pattern” we are likely to see generated by the conglomeration of inputs. I am impressed how well it often does. It seems to do better in the long term than the dynamic models such as the GFS. I am also humbled, because it makes me realize how few inputs (less than 20) (and sometimes only 1) I use. The cold water in the north of the Pacific is but one of the inputs the Pioneer Model uses.

Once one is able to recognize the “Pattern” one can leap ahead, and leave the dynamic models in the dust, in terms of seeing the future, because dynamic models are still working with the nuts and bolts of cause-and-effect, belaboring every step and, because there are so many variables involved, often seeing Chaos flap a butterfly’s wing in such a way that they get everything wrong. Meanwhile, because one has recognized the “Pattern”, one is able to make somewhat outrageous assumptions, and be right. If a layman recognizes a “Pattern” he can out-think a computer that cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

In a sense one is then like a skilled outfielder in a baseball game who begins dashing at the crack of the bat to where the ball is heading. A more ordinary person would have to watch the flight of the ball for a while to guess where it was going, but the skilled outfielder dashes to the correct place and makes an amazing catch, because he saw the “Pattern” and “recognized” it.

This brings up an idea that I suppose will be disconcerting to some: Namely, that “Pattern recognition” is not entirely scientific, in the old school definition of the word “science”. The old school definition of science involves “showing your work”, and being able to detail all the little steps of cause-and-effect in meticulous detail. I imagine this would be like asking a baseball outfielder to explain every little step involved in his instantaneous decision to leave the balls of his feet and spring off like a rocket in a certain direction. The athlete can not explain how he does it; he just does it.

Meteorologists may be a bit more scientific; they can explain some of the steps. With the “Pioneer Model” Joseph D’Aleo may even be able to explain well over twenty of the steps. Still, I am a bit awed he chose the steps he chose; why chose a particular block of the North Pacific as one area to watch?  Why not shift the borders to the north or south or right or left? To me his choices seems to involve the same inexplicable understanding an Athlete displays when he leaves his feet at the crack of the bat. One knows where to watch, what to watch for, and what to expect, due to “observation”. This “observation” is discipline called “practice” if you are an athlete or a pianist, and is called “study” if you are an old school meteorologist, who has scrutinized and continues to scrutinize weather maps by the thousands.

And what about me? The poor old layman? An athlete may make good money with his study, and a meteorologist may make some money with his study, but what about poor old me? All my study has ever earned me is scoldings. When I studied mists out the classroom window I got “detentions” (IE: I had to stay after school.) When I studied mists on my way to work I’d get my pay docked or even be fired. And the insult of all insults, when I now am an old patriarch and deserve far more respect than Rodney Dangerfield, my wife interrupts my study of mists on the internet with a request I take out the trash, and then, just because I stop on my way to the dumpster to study zephyrs on a puddle, and take fifty minutes to do the task, she has the audacity to roll her eyes at me. At me!

Some have accused me of lacking discipline, but I tell you few have displayed the discipline I’ve shown by studying mists all these years. For it takes discipline to stick to such study when everyone gives you a hard time for it. I’m a hero (in my own mind) and deserve accolades, (or a least a fat government grant or two.) However never mind all that. The reward is in the doing. Also, just as athletic outfielders are rewarded for all their practice with the ability to make an amazing catch in the World Series, (Perhaps the best ever was made by Dwight Evans in Game Six of the 1975 World Series), and just as meteorologists are rewarded for all their study with times they foresee with seemingly supernatural clarity, (Perhaps the best ever was when Joe Bastardi watched a tropical low off Africa and advertised “Houston, We have a problem” a full ten days before Rita struck Houston), so I too will be rewarded.

(I’m just not sure my reward will be on this side of heaven.)

However even if no one cheers me for my observations, there is a sort of reward in just telling all the politically correct people, who seem to have an idea we lack eyes and need to be told what we are seeing, to go to hell give me the space to see for myself. For then one can see the beauty, the majesty, and the awesome wonder of things as they actually are. After all, it is politically incorrect to even mention the word “God”, but, given the choice, what would you rather see?  Those things that the politically correct deem allowable? Or God?

Not that I can see God. I don’t even like using the word “God” because I recognize my incapacity, when it comes to conceiving or defining such an Infinity. I prefer to use the more humble word “Truth”, because we usually can tell the difference between being-honest and bullshitting.

I’ll dispense with all further talk about religion, because it would be bullshit. Instead I’ll simply share a few things which have crossed my mind, as I’ve watched the mists play across weather maps. These things have nothing to do with Global Warming, or with being an Alarmist or a Skeptic. It is just what you see, when you spend a lot of your time watching stuff that seems more fascinating than doing 48 Algebra problems, or arriving at work on time to make widgets, or taking out the trash.

Besides watching mists, and clouds out the window, I have had a lifelong fascination with whirlpools. When I wasn’t getting in trouble as a boy making waves in the bathtub, I was playing with opening the drain and then studying the size of the whirlpool when the drain was wide open, opposed to how big it was when I stuck a few toys down the drain, opposed to how big it was when I stuffed my mother’s shower cap down the drain. This scientific study, (which Mom didn’t appreciate), has given me an unusual perspective on the phenomenon of what I call “Ralph”, whirling at the top of our planet.

Do not dare doubt my authority on the subject. I may not have submitted peer-reviewed papers on the subject, but that is Mom’s fault. Furthermore, I have continued my study in other settings. I don’t know if you have ever noticed the oars of a rowboat make whirlpools, but if you have ever noticed an odd fellow rowing in circles, it was likely me, more interested in the whirlpools oars made than in where I was going. Therefore don’t doubt me. I am an authority on odd subjects which have little to do with getting anywhere.

To put my vast wisdom into a nutshell, if you throttle the bathtub drain too much with your mother’s shower-cap you will get no whirlpool at all, on the surface you can see. If the drain is wide open you will get an obvious and slurping whirlpool at the surface you can see. However if the drain is partially obstructed by Legos, you get weak whirlpools, or even two or three whirlpools at once, barely able to keep themselves going.

I have my doubts our planet could become so imbalanced that we’d see an obvious and slurping whirlpool at the Pole. However the antics of “Ralph” for nearly a year now does resemble a partially obstructed bathtub drain, and suggests an imbalance might exist.

My mind leaps to Rube Goldberg cause-and-effects, which are likely hopelessly human and fail to grasp the majesty of Truth, but for what its worth I’d like to postulate this:

The “Quiet Sun” had an effect few foresaw, increasing warmth at the tropics even while opening the drain at the Pole.

How might the lessening of energy from a “Quiet Sun” not make it cooler in the tropics?  Well, most see less energy as cooler temperatures, but energy translates to things other than thermometers. For example: Wind. And, if less energy brought less wind to the tropics, then the Trade Winds would slow west of Peru, and there would be less up-welling of cold water by the coast of Peru to be sent west towards Australia, and therefore all the warm water pushed west would have a chance to surge back east. In other words, less energy from the sun would cause an El Nino. Less energy would not make the planet colder but warmer.

Besides energy increasing at the tropics, due to the decrease caused by the Quiet Sun, there is also the primary exit region of earthly energy to think about; Namely the Poles.

I surmise the Quiet Sun has slightly opened the drain. I haven’t a clue of the dynamics involved. However it looks like the Noisy Sun of the past had more stuff in the way, and the Quiet Sun has reduced the amount of stuff in the way. How else to explain the absence of Ralph in the past, and his current persistence?

Tomorrow, if I have time, I’ll add to this post to show how persistent Ralph is. Even when cut off off from one direction Ralph has the power to draw in a new “feeder band” from a new direction. What is the power? If the “feeder bands” truly fed Ralph,  then he would have ceased to be, long ago, when he was cut off from his feed. The fact he persists should suggest something else is feeding him.

I’ll leave it at that, tonight. Tomorrow I’ll add the maps that show we do not know as much as some of us presume.


OK.  Here are some maps.

When I ended my last post “Ralph” was finding a way to draw Pacific air in through Bering Strait. (I started a post about the Pacific air called “Hula Ralph”, but trashed it because it became too absurd. Sometimes my humor gets out of line.)

The Pacific mildness generated blobs of low pressure which moved west along the Siberian coast towards blobs of low pressure coming east from the Atlantic, but at first it seemed these lows would hug the coast, and high pressure would succeed in knocking Ralph from his king-of-the-mountain stance atop our planet.

Ralph would not stand for such uppity behavior on the part of high pressure, and flung a following blob of Pacific mildness towards the Pole as the new Hula-Ralph.  In the process the huge high over northern Canada was dislodged south and began to pour bitter cold south towards the USA.

In the process of his reconquest of the Pole, Hula-Ralph was the author of his own demise, for he build high pressure in his wake, and cut himself off from his Pacific feeder-band. His last gulp of Pacific mildness was greatly weakened by a passage over the bitter wastes of East Siberia, and indeed the same south winds that once brought mildness now began to pour extreme cold north, further cutting Hula-Ralph from nourishment.

Finally Hula-Ralph was so cut off we might have expected him to fade away and for high pressure to build over the Pole, but Ralph would not be denied. If you cut off the Pacific he just turns around and looks to the Atlantic.  Even as the fading Hula-Ralph completely blocked off the Pacific with a cross-polar-flow transporting the next bitter blasts from Siberia towards North America, a little gale down by Iceland decided it won’t be a good North Atlantic Storm and head east to Norway, but would zip north to Fram Strait, surging thaw up towards Svalbard.

(Blast. I was so busy writing last night I forgot to save the maps).

That brings us to today, where we see Ralph’s Pacific “signature” largely erased from the temperature map’s isotherms, but what looks to be a new Atlantic “signature” poking north to the Pole.

A quick glance at the DMI graph for temperatures north of 80°N latitude shows a mild spike when Hula-Ralph visited, but no new spike for the next Atlantic attack.


To see if the attack does develop I zip over to the Weatherbell Site and check out Dr. Ryan Maue’s maps. (A week free trial is available.) The GFS temperature-anomaly map for the Pole shows, in three days, Ralph’s signature is very apparent up there.


The above map also shows that the Pacific isn’t done with us. Bering Strait has reloaded with mild air due to a 958 mb Aleutian Low which is backed north into the Strait (while also discharging bitter blasts into the Pacific to its southwest.) But that is another story for another post.

The main purpose of this post is to postulate the idea of the slurping drain at the Pole, activated by the “Quiet Sun”. Likely it is a crack-pot concept, but one never knows. (The idea of continents that drifted also sounded pretty crazy, at first.)

In the comments below Wim Rost pointed me in the right direction. I should study all the maps of the past. I’ll get right on it, once I receive funding. I figure that, if the none-too-soon-to-become-former president could fund so many crack-pots, President Trump should be allowed to fund at least one; namely me.

(Once I receive funding the only problem will be deciding who is going to tell my wife I’m going to spend more time looking at maps than I already do. )

Stay tuned.



My Real Job involves a certain sort of Farm-Childcare wherein, rather than incarceration, children get to run free and wild in the great outdoors, exploring and testing their limits in a way I feel is far more normal and natural than the Teacher’s Union approves of.

Personally I despised the stultifying limitations of school, a half century ago, and things have seemingly only gotten worse since I was a boy. “Risk” may now be a four-letter-word, but I loved to play around with risk as a boy, whereas children now are protected to a degree where their movement is all but bubble-wrapped. At my Childcare children are allowed to scrape their knees taking risks, and daring “dares”, because I figure that learning about risk is an important part of life, and the ones who dare initiate great things as adults are the ones who are not afraid of risk.

Of course, that is a grand philosophy to have, but I am forced to eat my words as soon as the ponds start to skim over in the fall. I have had bad experiences with thin ice in my life, and in fact would be dead if I were not watched over by merciful angels who take pity on fools. (I’d tell you the tales, but it would take too many  paragraphs.)  My experience has coalesced into an old man’s wisdom, which boils down to my behaving like a clucking mother hen, when it comes to small children and thin ice. I allow no risk-taking whatsoever. The water is off-limits until I can walk on it, jump on it, and can run a three-hundred pound snow-blower over it. I am adamant and belligerent and ferocious to a degree the Teachers Union likely frowns at, when it comes to commanding small children, “Thou Shalt Not Even Walk Near The Pond.”

Of course some little boys and girls merely  see my ferocity as a new and interesting limit they can test. When I say “stop” such children merrily laugh and run faster. (You’d be amazed how fast I can still run, when I have to, even at age sixty-three.)

This is especially true of the spoiled children who have touchingly patient and kind parents who never say, “Because I said so,” and who especially never say “Because if you do that I’ll smack your butt.” Rather than a true limit drawn in the sand, such a child usually gets a question, such as, “Would you like to reconsider  walking out onto thin ice?” When the child then responds, “No, I like walking out on thin ice”, the parent responds, “Do you want to fall through the ice?” When the child responds “Yes!” the parent responds “But have you considered the possibility that the water might be over your head, and, as you do not yet know how to swim, that…” When the child then responds, “Arrgh! Blub…blub…blub” I’m not sure what kindly parents do. They likely never are exposed to such real life crisis’s, because they live indoors, but, because they read in some magazine it was good to send their child to a Childcare that allows the outdoors, they drop the child off on my doorstep and say, “You handle my little darling.”

By law I am not allowed to smack such little darlings on the butt, no matter how much they might benefit from the experience, however I am allowed to “physically restrain” them, especially if they will die falling through thin ice if I don’t.

You’d be amazed how much children who have no experience of parental guidelines resent physical restraint. They thrash, kick me, bite me, claw my face, break my glasses, and then have the audacity to screech at the top of their lungs, “You are hurting me!” (though in fact I am amazingly gentle, considering how expensive eyeglasses are).  But I don’t allow them out on the thin ice, and they don’t drown. In some cases this teaches them zero. They merely scowl at me, and are all the more determined to go out and test the limits of that thin ice, as soon as my back is turned.

One such boy, (I am not allowed to use his real name, so let me simply call him “Adolf”), waited until I was off duty to test the ice. I was repairing a fence two pastures away, and noticed my staff was dealing with a collision between two sleds that had resulted in four wailing children, and with far sighted eyes I could see that Adolph was well aware my staff were distracted, and, tugging a slightly shorter disciple by the sleeve, was making a beeline for the pond, where the ice was an inch thick at its thickest. I may not be a mind-reader, but I knew what Adolph planned, and I immediately began running much faster than a man my age is supposedly able to run, and hurtled a fence that men of my dignity aren’t suppose to leap over.

I am known for the power of my voice, which can travel like a trumpet over half a mile and paralyze many children in their tracks, but I knew that bellow didn’t work on Adolph. He was one of the boys who only runs faster when you say, “Stop.”  I also could see I that if I yelled at my staff that, by the time they realized what Adolph was up to, he’d have reached the pond. My one chance to help the risk-taking boy was to swoop silently, and to arrive at the pond shortly after he did,  before he got in over his head.

It was a smart move. Adolph was so involved with telling his disciple not to be such a coward that he slowed down. He was moving out over the ice sideways, sliding his feet in a sidestepping manner, and busily stating, “See? It is safe! Don’t be such a chicken!” (He obviously wasn’t doing the math, and wasn’t calculating that ice that can hold the 50 pounds of one small boy might not hold the 90 pounds of two.) I could see the ice bending down with every step he took. He was out where the water would be up to his waist when he fell  through, but three more side-steps would take him out over his head, for the bottom falls off steeply at that side of the pond.

Then he heard my running feet, and looked up, and saw me coming. I didn’t have to say anything. Perhaps it was the expression on my face. He scurried for shore and then proceeded to adopt his amazing “innocent expression”. I couldn’t say anything.  I was too winded. I merely stepped out onto the ice myself, and showed them how it broke; (I weigh 175 pounds, and on that day was wearing water-resistant farmer boots-up that came up to my knees). Adolph seemed to notice the ice was less safe than he thought, but actually seemed more concerned by the shrill voices of my staff, who had noticed what was going on, and were ordering him back to the group to get the schoolmarm treatment. I left him to his fate. Usually I try to protect boys from schoolmarms, but Adolph deserved it.

This sort of exercise may keep me young, for they say that, if a good fright doesn’t kill you, it has the effect of a tonic. However I don’t want to stay young. I want to kick back in a soft chair by a fire and do what old men do, which is to be garrulous and make short stories take a long time to tell.  Unfortunately I took my retirement when I was young. Because I sat around in soft chairs so much back then, I have no pension and no savings, and I’ll likely die with my boots on, chasing small boys in my old age.

Still, the sooner the ice gets thick the better. I hate the mild winters when the ice never gets really thick, when you read all too many tales in the papers of boys falling through the ice. I prefer the winters when the ice is thicker, and you read of Flatlanders from Massachusetts falling through the ice when they drive their motor homes out onto lakes. However my favorite winters are those where the ice gets four feet thick, and you can drive a cement truck onto the ice without fear. Why?  Because then I don’t have to worry about small boys thinking they are like the Lord, and can walk on water without fear.

It looks like I’ll be spared the purgatory of watching the shores of my farm pond like a hawk for more than ten days, this year. Such arctic blasts are coming south it looks like the lakes will freeze solid in a hurry. The ice is already over an inch thick, and the children are only beginning to register the fact it is there. By the time it occurs to them to do some “risk-taking”, and “test limits”, the ice may already be four inches thick and safe. I can’t tell you what a relief that would be to me.

However, even as I say that, I feel a need to confess that back in my boyhood the definition of “safe” allowed boys to go on far thinner ice. (I have told this tale in other posts, but if you heard it before forgive me; garrulous old men do get repetitive.) Back when I was a boy a few old-timers allowed boys out on ice only an inch thick, in shallow waters, to practice the art of “stunning.”

What is “stunning”? Well, when ice is only an inch thick it is usually black-ice, and so transparent that you can see right through it. It also moans and dents down as you walk on it, but, when you weigh less than eighty pounds, it does not break. You can walk above the creatures that live below the ice, holding a stout club, and when you see a fish or mammal beneath you, you can clout the ice with your club, and stun the creature. It makes a spiderweb of cracks on the ice, and then, taking care, you smash the ice a little bit more so you can reach through a hole and retrieve the fish or mammal.

Why on earth would a boy want to do such a thing?

Well, you need to understand the old-timers who instructed me grew up in the Great Depression. In the Great Depression money was in short supply. People had to scrimp to get by, and dinners could be meager, especially in terms of meat. Therefore when a small boy or girl came home with a fish, it was no small matter.  If the child came home with a muskrat he was a double hero, for he not only supplied meat, but the fur had value. On the rare occasions when a child stunned a beaver or even an otter, the pelt alone was worth what a bumpkin family might make in a week. Therefore it was “worth the risk” to go out onto thin ice and smack the very ice that supported you.

Now, it was an understood fact, in the art of stunning, that you might club the ice with too much vigor, and so compromise the surface you walked upon that you plunged through. That is why the professors of this art stressed it should only be practiced in waters so shallow you could see the bottom through the black ice. Even so, one wasn’t a hero when they plunged waste-deep in icy waters. Rather they were the focus of much hilarity from onlookers on the shore. But that was part of the risk one took. As one floundered back to shore the onlookers (who didn’t go out on the ice because they knew very well the ice could barely support a single person) reached out to help, and laughed affectionately, for they knew the risk-taker was doing his daring deed for a high and noble cause, namely: to bringing home meat for the family table.

There is no need for such heroism on the part of modern children, and I am sad to say I do not teach the art of “stunning” at my Childcare. Parents would utterly freak out if I tried.  They prefer their children to have no use, and no value, and to be a sort of bubble-wrapped accessory of being an adult. I think this is sad because I feel that, in a healthy society, all contribute, even the children. However the Teacher’s Union would likely call valuing the efforts of children “exploitation”.

Back in the Great Depression there were children, up here in the hills of New Hampshire, who were heroes for picking berries. In the past I met old men who bragged they could pick ten gallons of blueberries in a day, as a boy, and those berries were in the pancakes and muffins of rich Bostonian households up on Beacon Hill the next morning, for a person came north to buy the berries from farm families. And the jingling silver the farm families then had made a great difference, in the Great Depression. The child could swell his chest in pride.

Compare this, if you will, with how parents now respond when a child has caught a big fish at my Childcare. It doesn’t matter if I gut the fish, clean the fish, and fillet the fish, and present the parent with a pound of bone-free meat. They wrinkle their noses, as if free meat is yukky, gross, and repulsive. They inform their child they would be far happier if they would not bring home such disgusting stuff, and give me a glance of disapproval.

There are times I am so irate about the behavior of parents that my wife tells me to go mend fences in far pastures, because she is far more spiritual and diplomatic that I am, and also doesn’t wan’t to lose customers. It is said that that the customer is always right, but I sometimes feel the customers are complete idiots.

They have no idea of the simple truths that can be made apparent when so-called “economics” are tweaked by reality, and this thing modern Americans don’t admit is possible, called “Famine”, rears its head.

The Great Depression was just such a tweak of “Economics”, only two or three generations ago. People were brought back to the basics, and one reason no big famine occurred was because people were practical, and valued a child’s ability to pick berries and catch fish. It wasn’t “exploitation”.  It was “getting by.”

In comparison, what is a child worth, to most parents today? What is a child but a drain on the family budget? Hard working parents must pay me to watch their ungrateful brats. But how can a child be grateful, when parents give them no reason for pride, and typecast them as “a drain on the family budget”?

I think that the the only way I might get it through my customer’s thick skulls that their children are valuable would be to, rather than presenting them with a pound of raw fish, to take things a step farther and to cook the fish. The kids can also grow the potatoes and onions, and milk the goats, and then present their parents with a delicious fish chowder. Only then might certain parents see their own prodigy as something other than a “drain.”

However accomplishing this sure is a drain on me.  In the process of showing parents how amazing their children are I must keep their risk-taking kids from falling through thin ice and drowning.  I tell you, it is exhausting. The kids are exhausting, and the parents are worse.

I am glad the arctic is freezing the ice so quickly this year, and the time I must spend worrying about thin ice will likely be brief. For I have a different sort of thin ice to tread upon.

I need to trespass over the thin ice of political correctness. I need to tell the customer they are not always right.

The bitter blasts are helpful, for they help make a mockery of the political correctness called “Global Warming”.  However that is a battle that I think has been already won. The general public has become jaded, and cynical, and scorns the people who state the world is threatened by warming when it is damn cold outside. I fought that foolishness for over a decade, and I’m tired of arguing with corrupted and defeated scoundrals who have already lost. I’d far rather fight with sincere parents who have lost their children, but could regain them.

And that is the thin ice I am now eyeing like a little Adolph.

LOCAL VIEW –Drenching’s Lesson–

There is an old “weather-saw” that states, rather cynically,

When the sky is crystal blue
Rain or snow in a day or two.

(Actually the original version of this saw did not use the word “crystal”, but rather used an old and local word which would require explaining and defining, and that I begin this post with a sidetrack, and, as I was taught back in school to never begin with a sidetrack, and instead to launch directly to the point, I’ll skip telling you what the old and more effective word was.)

(Oh, all right, if you insist, the word was “fectless”. Now, may I get on to my point?)

(What do you mean, there is no such word?  Just because it didn’t make your dictionary doesn’t mean it didn’t make the Yankee weather-saws, that old Yankee farmers used back when I was young.)

(OK, OK, if you insist, I’ll explain the word to you, as I understand it. But I warned you, it will be a sidetrack.)

(Take the second syllable of the word “effect” and you have a new word, which I think was coined by the Scots, which is synonymous with power. If you were a shaper and mover then you were a fellow with “fect.”  [Of course, some dictionaries say there is no noun “shaper”, [for “a person or machine that shapes”], so how can they have the noun “fect”?]  But, to return to the subject, a fellow with “fect” was a person who had an effect, a real doer, and conversely a real do-nothing was a “fectless” person.

Therefore the word “fectless” was different from the word “feckless”, for “feckless” involves a moral judgement. The word “feckless” implies irresponsibility and a lack of character, and avoiding feckless behavior was preached by fellows who didn’t work, but instead pontificated from the pulpit with no calluses on their hands. The fellows who did work and who had hardened palms could care less about moralistic blabber. All they cared about was your production. If you worked and produced you had “fect”, [and if you were creative and inventive as you did so, and could swiftly learn without a teacher, you were “thefty”], [but if you whined a lot you “girned”,] and if you produced nothing you were “fectless.”

Therefore a sky that produced nothing was “fectless.”  It may not be a particularly poetic word for a blue sky, but it isn’t judgmental either. It is a rather matter-of-fact observation, and, like most elements of the “Puritan Work Ethic”, was surprisingly non-judgmental, (unlike most who comment about Puritans and the Puritan Work Ethic, who tend to look at bygone Puritans and to judge like crazy.) (In truth the Calvinist Puritans, if they judged, judged judgement was God’s business.) Anyway and in conclusion, a blue sky was nothing to wax poetic about or to rhapsodize about, but rather was a sky that produced nothing, and therefore the word “fectless” was a superb word to chose, for a practical weather-saw, utilized by practical Yankee farmers.

Sheesh! Do you see how dangerous it is to get me off onto a sidetrack? (And I didn’t even start about how the word “saw” in “weather-saw” is related to the Viking word “saga”.)

Let me start over. Monday the sky was not “crystal blue”, but “fectless blue”, so, allow me to correct myself and be historically accurate, and to put down the proper poem:

When the sky is fectless blue
Rain or snow in a day or two.

The sky was spotless and superb, in its vivid blueness, which immediately put me on guard, due to the old weather-saw. (There are other weather-saws having to do with how slowly the clear weather develops, which foretells how slowly clear weather will depart.) I knew the clarity had come on quickly, and more modern meteorological ideas told me the high pressure was not the sort that was going to stay. At this latitude, and at this time of year, things can move swiftly.

It is a bit odd to look up at a beautiful sky and scowl about it, so I didn’t. I just looked up at a total absence of signs of storm and thought “rain or snow in a day or two.” There is no judgement in that. No scowling. It is merely an acceptance of the cards as they are dealt. (To be honest, there is a fatalistic side to the Puritan Work Ethic more Buddhist than Buddhists, and more Zen than Zen.)

Actually I liked looking at the bright sky, for I had a couple of dark deuces dealt to me to start my week, which I would have avoided if possible. They involved the people many like least to deal with: Doctors and lawyers.

Yesterday, when the skies were blue, I had to go see the young fellow who removed my cancerous kidney last Christmas, and, today, as the weather went downhill to downpours, I had to obey a summons to go to court to testify about a young fellow I pity, but who broke the law. Largely it was a huge waste of my time, spent sitting about with people I’d ordinarily avoid.

If I am going to have anything to do with doctors I’d most like to sit about in a maternity ward, where life is new, and hope is like champagne. It is far less inspiring to sit about with a bunch who all have, (or have had), cancer, where hope is like dishwater.

In like manner, if I am going to have anything to do with lawyers I’d most like to sit about in the company of reformers who seek to reduce legislation [even if it means fewer laws for lawyers to play with], and who seek to create laws that are down to earth and which, (rather than justifying lame excuses), seek deal with practical matters, like the Puritan Work Ethic does. It is far less inspiring to sit about for what feels like forever, watching the legal system as it currently exists.

I really like the young doctor who saved my life, but visiting him was to see him pushed to the limit. The current system drives doctors to see too many patients each hour, and I couldn’t help but feel like a widget passing before the young man on an assembly line. I did slow everything down, by telling him a humorous tale (far shorter than the start of this post). I think it totaled 90 seconds. But he laughed, and I think I improved his Monday.

However the experience, for me, was not so hurried as it was for the doctor. I think “waiting rooms” should be renamed. They should be called “waiting and waiting and waiting rooms”. And the crowd I was waiting midst was not the most optimistic bunch I’ve ever met. It was a chance for me to tell them humorous tales as well, and to improve their Mondays as well, but I flunked that chance at spirituality. All I could pray was, “God, get me the heck out of here.” Rather than caring for the cancerous, like Mother Theresa, all I could think was that I’d rather be out under the fectless sky, for I have better uses for the little time we all have, here on our planet. And there is something about cancer that makes the time seem too brief.

It is not an example of the Puritan Work Ethic to spend an entire morning (when you include the time driving to and from the city) arriving at a diagnosis I could have arrived at on my own: “It is wise to have a yearly chest X-rays.”  I could have done that on my own. The young doctor could have been free to spend more time on his next patient, but some threat of malpractice forced him to see me even though it wasted time, and that threat is a good segway to the following day’s disdain of lawyers and judges, who also waste time.

Tuesday morning the weather was rapidly worsening, but the waste of my precious time was a gloom even worse. I had to obey a summons and show up at a court room to testify, but the prosecution and the defense huddled “off the record”, and the case was “continued” until January 17, due to “new evidence.”  (In other words, the young fellow had broken a few more laws since the last court-date, which muddled up the math involved in the plea-bargaining.)

The fellow I pity-but-must-testify-against was dressed in his cleanest clothing, but never even entered the courtroom for his “day in court”.  Various “cease and desist injunctions” and “restraining orders” did their best to prevent witnesses from meeting the accused, and we were compartmentalized into separate areas, and even left the courthouse at separate times. There was some brief eye-contact, but all I could think was that we spent an entire morning never talking, and never accomplished a blasted thing. The Puritan Work Ethic was rolling in its grave.

The judge and prosecution and defense likely felt they were busy and industrious, huddling and discussing correct procedures, but they reminded me of Union Workers following the principle, “do not kill the job”. Since they get paid for dealing with laws it pays to make more and more of them, until it seems they have so many rules and regulations to juggle that nothing will ever get done.

Of course, (because my stepfather did teach at Harvard Law School), I do have a little pity for lawyers and judges. During the the four hours I sat in the courtroom accomplishing nothing I got to see a slew of other cases: All sorts of other silly domestic altercations, which had escalated absurdly, sometimes due to obstinate and nonspiritual hardheartedness, but mostly due to booze and drugs.

A large case-load was handled by a very haggard and weary-looking judge. He wore a drab, black robe and had impeccably styled hair parted in the middle to curling waves by each graying temple, nearly as fashionable as the white wigs the English judges wear. Among other things, he had to deal with a surprisingly large number of irresponsible people who were so irresponsible they failed to show up. A lot of the work had been done beforehand by the prosecution and defense, and the judge was then merely a harried clerk noting down the pre-agreed-upon sentences. Many long sentences were greatly shortened, provided the culprit avoided getting back into the same trouble during the following weeks, or months, or in one case two years. The judge avoided any sort of editorial comment, besides raising an eyebrow slightly from time to time. To one side a fat man stood quietly, a revolver bulging beneath his coat, and his only job seemed to be saying, “All rise” when the judge entered. A stenographer busily typed at a computer terminal, and answered a few questions the judge asked her about defendant’s “priors”. The entire time there was not a single raised voice, and there were long silences as the judge studied papers, and during these silences the lawyers would whisper with each other, and defendants would look concerned to see their lawyer quietly chuckling with the prosecution.

The only interesting case was a fellow who was led in by a State Trooper. The accused wore steel handcuffs chained to a steel chain around his waist, so he had to stoop to scratch his nose or sign a paper, because he couldn’t raise his hands. This man had been on some sort of wonderfully wild bender, and his case was difficult because he had broken laws in three separate counties in New Hampshire, and he had cases pending in Massachusetts and Vermont as well.  The entire courtroom awoke from its drowsy indifference when the legal difficulties were discussed, but then sank back in disappointment when it became apparent that none of the juicy details were going to be discussed. (I thought the poor fellow looked like he couldn’t remember what a great time he’d had, breaking all those laws.) The case was so complicated, involving so many jurisdictions, that the fellow had already spent over two months in jail as bureaucrats tried to figure out the legalities of exactly where he should be tried first.

For the most part the judge wanted to painstakingly note which of the many sentences, which the man had to serve in the future, that the seventy-one days he’d already served would be applied to, and which sentences would be “concurrent” and which would be “consecutive”, and which jail he’d await his next hearing in, and what county or state that hearing would be held in. Legally every “T” was crossed and every “I” was dotted, with dreary and methodical slowness. I muttered to the person next to me I would have preferred some sort of brawl, for that would have settled things much faster.

Or would I? I’m an old man, and no Clint Eastwood, and think I would come out on the losing end, if the judge told me, and the young-man-I-was-to-testify-against, to go out in the parking lot and settle things man to man. But in some ways I think I might have preferred a black eye and bloody nose, to the idiotic extension of misery that the pedantic laws everlastingly perpetuate. The laws seemed intended to keep lawyers busy, and little else.

Back fifty years ago, when I was young, it was a little less politically-correct to brawl, and I got my nose bloodied and my eye blackened on a few occasions.  The teachers and authorities were horrified, but afterwards me and Bob and Chuck and Dave and Brian were on a first-name basis. If not best-buddies, we were far more respectful towards each other after our brawls than we ever dreamed we could be beforehand. Apparently, with boys at least,  contact is better than separation, and intimacy has value, even it involves fists.

If young teens can be so much smarter than lawyers, when it comes to resolving things, just imagine, if such a thing were possible, how much more swiftly a mastermind like Lord Jesus might resolve things. Theoretically He could solve disputes without everyone wasting so much time. Likely He could heal without so much time being wasted in doctors offices, and so much blasted paperwork.

As a writer, I likely shouldn’t belittle paperwork. But I do know of its hazards. I fell in love with paperwork to a degree where weeds grew in my garden, because I was too busy scribbling to weed. Consequentially I know all about the ways paperwork can reduce the crop one would expect, if one obeyed the Puritan Work Ethic.  It is only an obvious extension of this first-hand knowledge to state that others, such as doctors and lawyers, who allow paperwork to overrule the common sense of the Puritan Work Ethic, should expect reduced crops as well.

I could go on, but won’t. I think I’ve traced the borders of an idea which larger minds can grasp, and I’ll leave it up to larger minds to fill in the larger gaps.

As for me, I was just a tired old bumpkin who had to deal with his Monday and Tuesday largely wasted. The days are at their shortest now, and if you are stuck indoors during the heart of the day the dark is already growing as you escape, even when the sky is fectless blue. When the rain is drumming down it is dark even at noon, and it is evening before three in the afternoon.

What a difference a day made! Monday the sky was fectless blue, but Tuesday dawned with a rain so cold that ice was on the windshields. Up in Maine the cold brewed snow.


But fortunately the storm was well west, and that snow could only be driven away by south winds.


Even though we didn’t get snow, the above map shows the warm front stayed south of us, and we received the coldest rain you can get, without it being snow. Miserable stuff. But the real gloom was a sort of hangover I felt, from being plunged into the worlds of doctors and lawyers. It put a bad taste in the flavor of my own job as a “child care professional”, for I am the police, judge, jury, prosecution, defense, doctor and nurse all rolled into one, as soon as I step in the door. It doesn’t help matters when one has developed a strong sense that such people are all somehow misinformed, when you must promptly join the club. I was in a bad mood as I drove from the courtroom to work through the driving rain.

As the windshield wipers swiped the smearing purple view I wondered if I’m just getting old. The doctors and lawyers are younger than me, and in some cases seem hardly able to shave. I tend to think they are less wise than me, for where I was schooled by old Yankees who dealt with practical jobs, they studied bureaucracy and all its idiocy and paperwork. Where I learned an archaic language, they learned legalese. Where I learned the Puritan Work Ethic they learned how to waste exorbitant amounts of time and taxpayer’s money accomplishing zilch. But does this make me wise, or merely an anachronism?

Because I deal so much with youth, I have to admit there is something fresh and new manifesting. The One who created me young and bursting with new ideas and bundles of energy long ago does not weary, and fresh waves of youth are created by the Creator even as I get old and do get weary.

Some of my ideas are not due to wisdom, but due to weariness. I saw this made clear a week ago when I had to face a task I’d have done in a day, a decade ago, but found I was putting off, at age sixty-three.

A member of my staff had fretted about a big, old, dead paper-birch by a trail. Dead trees do fall in strong winds, but the fact it is highly unlikely they will fall just when a small child is passing did not make the good woman fret less, so, because I valued her heart even if not her worry, I cut the tree down and cut the trunk into a bunch of round logs, the largest as big around as a small car’s tire. Then I let those logs sit there. Operating a chain saw makes me a bit achy, but humping a bunch of big logs into the back of my truck makes me very achy. My choice was dictated by my age.

The children at my Childcare wanted those logs moved 200 yards away, for two old-fashioned reasons.  First, we have a old-fashioned campfire 200 yards away. Second, despite the fact they can barely lift the old-fashioned maul, they delight in the old-fashioned art of splitting logs. (More modern people either use an gasoline-powered, pneumatic woodsplitter, or have a pellet or propane stove, rather than a campfire.)

I was in no mood to please the whining children. If humping big logs into my truck makes my body hurt, supervising boys (and a few girls) wielding a maul to split wood makes my brain hurt. These children are aged three to nine. I have to watch them like a hawk. They do learn and become amazingly proficient in an ancient art, just as children did in the past, but I lose around five pounds of sweat for each child I teach. Therefore I hit upon a way I thought might get the kids to forget about the birch logs 200 yards away. I told them that if they wanted to split logs, I would teach them, but my truck was unavailable, so they would have to roll all the logs to the campfire.

They promptly embarrassed me. Where I looked at those big logs and cringed at the thought of moving them, they all ran off to gleefully roll them. Nor did they merely roll one or two logs. They rolled an entire tree’s worth of logs. It took them less than an hour, and this particularly put me to shame, for I’d managed to make the same job take three months (by putting it off) and hadn’t even started it. What really rubbed the shame in was they were not achy at all, after moving such a load of wood. To be honest, the cluster of kids looked rather invigorated by the exercise. Then they all clamored for chances to split the logs.

The shame. The shame. Old Yankees like me take pride in our ability to work, but I’d been outdone by boys aged five, six and seven. What could I do? I had to watch like a hawk as they attempted to spit the logs. Only a few could actually split a log, (I can still beat them in that respect), but they loved the chance to smash a log, (likely because they usually get in trouble for smashing stuff), and all went home with healthy appetites, likely had no trouble falling asleep, and likely became more muscular.

The benefit to me? Well, of course I do get paid for this stuff. I got the logs moved without paying for it. And parents do praise me because their kids are more mellow when exhausted, and less inclined to smash things at home. However I think the best benefit was that they taught me the young see differently than the old. That should be obvious, but sometimes I need things made blatant.

As I drove from the courthouse to the Childcare, squinting through the windshield at a purple world smeared by swiping wipers,  I took my revelation and applied it to doctors and lawyers. Is it possible that they too have the superabundance of energy youth owns, and all their bureaucratic paperwork is actually a useful thing I am simply too old and worn out to appreciate?


First of all, dealing with the extra work created by a dead birch is a different thing from dealing with a bureaucracy’s extra work. The first is physical whilst bureaucracy is mental, and the first creates a useful product (firewood) while the second mostly wastes time. The only similarity is both involve dead wood, which was one reason I was delightfully surprised when the president-elect suggested that a new rule be instituted wherein, from now on,  an old regulation would have to be abolished before a new one could be instituted.

Second, though I am older physically, and jobs that once were invigorating now are painful, I am still mentally sharp, and in fact better at grasping concepts than I was when I was young and easily befuddled.

However I didn’t have time to think deeply about all this stuff, for I was arriving at the Childcare, and had to not only deal with kids cooped up indoors in a driving rain, but also with an overworked staff who had to cover for me as I ditched them to skip off to deal with doctors and lawyers and paperwork galore.  I might not feel I’d had a break, but the staff needed a break from being the police, judge, jury, prosecution, defense, doctor and nurse all rolled into one. And, as soon as I stepped in from the purple day to the bright yellow light of the Childcare, deep thought had to cease. Working with small children involves having around fifteen seconds to think about a problem, before the child chirps up with the next one, (and if you have twelve children you have twelve voices chirruping questions).

After around a half hour of directing young attentions away from havoc towards more constructive play, and arbitrating disputes, I heard the low moaning of an engine approaching out on the street, and looking out the window into the purple day saw a yellow school-bus approaching and slowing to a stop, and start disgorging a small crowd of”older” children, (aged six to ten.) Glancing at the sign-up sheet I understood some of the smaller children, who should have been picked up already, were staying late because parents were delayed by the driving rain and slow traffic down towards Manchester or Boston. We would have more children than usual. I stifled an oath and instead said, “Goodness!” (which is a word that hasn’t yet been prohibited by bureaucrats).

My focus was immediately the boys exiting the bus, because they are completely full of pent up high spirits, and as they get out of school they are a bit like goats released into a spring pasture. They want to bound and skip and frolic.  It is best to immediately assert some command and power, because if you lose control it is hard to get it back, and they would disturb and infect the smaller children with their wild exuberance.

As the boys exited the bus, I ordered them inside, because the weather was so rotten it seemed a kindness. However after six hours having to obey rules at school they were bouncing off the walls, inside. What does “bouncing off the walls” mean? Well, it means I could either get all legalistic, and forbid throwing things no sane person would think of throwing, and forbid running atop furniture no sane person would think of running atop of, or I could skip the whole bother of pretending I was a lawyer and judge of the indoors, and just order them outside. (Actually I obeyed the bureaucrat’s protocol, and asked them if they would “like to” go outside, but I used a certain growl that hints there is no option.) (I also asked the girls, to prove I’m not a sexist, but rather than bouncing off the walls they were huddled together plotting and scribbling, and simply looked at me, and then out at the driving rain, with incredulous expressions that wordlessly stated, “Are you nuts?”

The boys didn’t hesitate, and I had to collar them even to get them to put on raincoats. After all day pent up in classrooms, boys don’t want to stay in. Nor do I, after time spent pent up in doctor’s and lawyer’s offices. So we went out, and lasted around twenty minutes.


You may think I am exaggerating, but as a so-called “child care professional” I tell you it makes a huge difference if you allow boys a bit of time getting drenched by miserable weather before they decide, on their own volition, that inside is better.

There is something about the “outside” that teaches better than I can. The boys exploded out the door and ran about and got drenched. They had a blast, and then slowed, and seemed to conclude, “this isn’t fun any more.” When they came in they payed quietly with legos, until the girls attacked them.

Now, despite the fact I have noticed there is a difference between the sexes, I attempt to be politically correct. I have mentioned I did offer the girls the chance to go outside with the boys. They had no interest, for, freed from school, they were choosing to bounce off different walls. It caused no trouble at first, because they huddled and plotted and jotted on paper. In fact it seemed harmless, until I got my personal slip of paper. It read:

Top Secret! Private!!!! Mr. Shaw your invited!

Day: Tuesday, Dec 6

Time: 4:07

Where: The farm

Why: Charlotte, Maya, and Brooke invited you!

Please come!

I am old and wise enough to understand that this is not an invitation. It is an order. And it presented me with certain problems. I had a preschooler to deal with just then, and politely said I might be a little late to the party.

When the boys-off-the-bus received their invitations, they made no effort to be polite. Rather than appreciating the invitations they received, they seemed to take offence. Immediately they began turning legos into weaponry. If the girls were going to interrupt their play with invitations, they would counterattack by interrupting the girls’ party with Lego light-sabers, jet airplanes, bazookas and spears. They were very small versions of such weaponry, but they made an amazing amount of noise.

The girls immediately began making a counter din, saying how horrible boys are and bursting into tears and telling me to order the boys to be “polite” and to comply with their orders, and to pretend to sip tea at a party with their pinkies raised. The boys announced they would rather die.

Now I am certain you, as an outsider, know exactly how you would deal with such a rainy-day conflict. You know exactly what to say to girls who invite boys to places they do not want to go. You know what to say to boys who respond to invitations with light sabers. But me? I was just glad that parents half my age started arriving just then, and I didn’t have to deal with it.

To be quite honest, there are times that my wife and I are involved in the exact same disagreement. She is inclined to go to a party, when I am more inclined to play with my Legos, (or construct a sonnet,) (basically the same thing.)

How do my wife and I deal with this problem? Well, to be frank, that is our business, and how you deal with this problem is your business. (It does seem to be a rather eternal problem, mentioned in classic literature and even the Bible.) (The Bible suggests that one way of handling it is to turn water into wine, but I must not be a very good Christian, for I haven’t got that part down right…..yet.)

But one thing that does seem unwise is to legislate. Do not make a one-size-fits-all rule, because not only does one size fail to fit all, but bureaucratic legislation spoils the fun of figuring things out for yourself.

Not that you can’t make certain rules that outlaw certain options, such as, “Thou shalt not poke another with any weaponry”,  or even “Legos shall stay in room 1, and teacups in room 2”, but forbidding certain options is not the same thing as prohibiting Freedom itself.

And to conclude this ramble, that is what the children taught me on a gloomy, rainy day.