ARCTIC SEA ICE –Ice-boating Polewards–(Updated)

In my last post I touched upon the state of enchantment brought on by the sea. Bankers likely deem it a form of mental illness, but I hold that Bankers are the true sickos.  They cling to cold gold and call it “securities”, but there’s no way to keep death from knocking someday on your door, and then bankers will see just how secure they actually are. The bankers who make lots of other people insecure in their attempts to be “safe” themselves will then face a day of reckoning, like a sailor facing a storm at sea, and the form of enchantment they then experience will between them and God. But, for now, they can’t even imagine such a  world, unshackled by deeds and mortgages, exists. But sailors can, and it draws them out to sea, where there are no fences; out over swells into situations that many would shake their heads at, seeing only discomfort.

One such adventurer is named Sebastien Roubiret, who has taken it into his head that it would be fun to sail over the North Pole, from Barrow, Alaska to Svalbard in the North Atlantic.

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At some point Sebastien must have noticed that an iceboat that skims over frozen lakes is similar in shape to a water-skimming catamaran, for he has worked very hard creating a craft that does both.

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He traversed the Northwest Passage in 2007, in a trimaran  with no engine, which may have been the first time the Passage was made by sail alone. Then he attempted to cross the pole in 2011, an attempt aborted by various structural weakness, which he likely learned from.Then perhaps encouraged by the low-ice year of 2012, he and a friend named  Vincent attempted to cross the Pole in 2013, and swiftly learned sea-ice isn’t flat.


There often are pressure ridges parallel to the coast of Alaska, formed by the ice crushing against that coast. Sometimes (like this year) they remain right against the coast, but other years they can be blown many miles north, while retaining their structure. In either case they present formidable obstacles, and were described by one man skiing to the Pole as “crazy ice.” Once past these mini-mountain-ranges the ice tends to be flatter, but Sebastian had to battle to get north, often making more progress due to the eastward-drifting Beaufort Gyre than northwards, due to their own efforts.

Iceboat 4 photo 26 juillet 2013

Whatever you may say about the sanity of such adventurers, they do serve as on-the-scene reporters, and innocently describe things which flummox both Alarmist and Skeptics alike. No satellite could see the 50°F (+10C°) temperatures they experienced in the middle of thick and very dirty ice, one day.

Iceboat 5 photo 20 juillet 2013

The dirtiness of the ice, so far from shore, sparked interesting debate, largely between those who thought it was pollution from Chinese power plants and those who felt it was volcanic ash. However a new idea arose that it was algae that grows on the bottom of the ice, incorporated into ice when it freezes and thickens in the fall, and concentrated when ice melts and becomes multi-year ice., and sometimes brought to the top of the ice when ice is flipped like a pancake by storms. It did seem to so darken the ice that more sunshine was absorbed and local temperatures were higher, but there was some consternation among Alarmists in 2013 because, despite all this surface heat, the ice was refusing to melt in the manner they expected. Likely the big storm in 2012 used up and disturbed all the slightly warmer water in the pyctocline, and the water under the ice was colder, but whatever the cause was, the sea-ice refused to melt in 2013 as many Alarmists had confidently forecast.

As August passed the boat struggled north, making better time on flatter ice, as much as 35 miles in one day, but temperatures drop rapidly in August, and hoarfrost grew on the boom and rigging.

Iceboat 6 photo 11 aout 2013

They continued to battle north. As I watched the big gale of 2013 brew up, and saw it fail to melt ice in the manner of the 2012 gale, and typed comments from my cozy computer, they were out in that gale. They struggled on as temperatures dropped below zero (-17°C) in early September, passing 82°N latitude,

Iceboat 8 photo 26 aout 2013

But finally they had to give up and accept an ignominious rescue from the Russian icebreaker Admiral Makarov.

Iceboat 7 photo 8 septembre 2013

The log of their 2013 attempt (in french) can be found here:

If you think that adventure would be enough for any man, you don’t know sailors. Sebastien got to work crowd-sourcing, and finding sponsors (such as the makers of the solar panels on the side of the boat, and the people advertising on the sails), and worked on a new and improved craft, and this time he found two crewmates willing to go on an adventure.

Like last time, the ice is worse than the year before, with sea-ice right up against the shore in Alaska. (2017 left, 2018 right)



Again they’ve had to battle through pressure ridges to find flatter ice.

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Again they’ve experienced summer warmth that will be good publicity for those who wish to promote the idea of Global Warming.

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Above is a great publicity shot for Alarmists. Not that Sebastien has bought into all that. He’s been dealing with the arctic at least since 2007, and likely knows there is more sea-ice this year than there was in 2007.

I just pray those fellows don’t get too cavalier about the dangers they are midst. Just a few years back we lost two experienced scientists who were careless, skiing across ice in their long underwear on a hot day. The water under the ice is salt water, chilled below the freezing point of human blood, and a man can die in five minutes in such water. These three have described breaking through rotten ice up to their thighs. But perhaps I’m a worry wart and a party pooping old pill.

They certainly seem happy.  They are finally making some progress north over flatter ice.

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The most recent log posting seemed especially joyous.

It was not until the afternoon, after 8 miles on the ice, to begin to see darker clouds, which means that there is water below! We aim directly at the dark gray and we find … water!
it’s done in two stages: we sail on the water for a short time before returning to the ice.Then, we find the water with the fog. At this point, we are far from imagining that we will sail until late in the evening. And that’s what we do. There is almost no more ice and we are looking for fresh water to drink (water from the melt lakes on the ice). Who would have believed it ?
Tonight, we sleep above the 71 ° North and it became difficult to find a correct plate to install the camp. 
The day is not over because Seb must get to work to repair the saffron, nothing serious but it must be done!
We can not wait to be tomorrow.
The icing on the cake: we had the company of belouga and seals all day, it’s beautiful, we never get tired in the Arctic.

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Who do you suppose is richer: These young men or a banker?

(We’ll see if they’re singing the same tune a month from now, when temperatures start to plunge. But, for today, I envy them. Not that I don’t also pray for them.)

You can follow their log, in French, here:

(Hat tip: Stewart Pid)

Tuesday Night Update

They are well north of 72° latitude now, picking their way through scattered bergs, which is likely a great relief after dragging their boat over ice. (I get the feeling their craft doesn’t often coast over ice like an iceboat on a lake.)

The fact they are now boating north exposes some misconceptions we get from maps we use. Maps often show solid color for an area a boat can get through, for example, “50% ice”. That is also an area that is 50% open water. By carefully steering (and also by having a drone that can fly ahead to scout out the best routes) one can get around the bergs, and need not spend 50% of their time dragging the boat over bergs.

The “thickness” maps have several problems. First they tend to average out the thickness, so that an area that is 50% covered with 6 foot bergs will look entirely covered by ice three feet thick. An area 25% covered by 6 foot bergs will look entirely covered by ice 18 inches thick. Second, there is the constant confusion between melt-water pools and open water. I have observed melt-water pools, especially when they have black stuff on their bottoms, (soot, volcanic ash, algae, or all three), melt down until the bottom fell out and they were round windows to the deeps. Imagine how difficult it must be to determine when a pool is atop ice, and when it is open water, from miles away, up where satellites fly.

For this reason it is far better to have a “reporter on the scene.” If we can’t have our O-buoys and North Pole Camera, then we will have to settle with what we can glean from icebreakers and adventurers.

I’d also like to respond to some who seem to think the three men aboard the boat are silly tree-huggers. Wrong. Perhaps they are young and foolish, but they are aware they are at risk. They may be enjoying themselves, but it isn’t a game. Most tree-huggers don’t have encounters with 1500 pound bears, as Sebastien had in 2013.

Iceboat 13 photo 3 aout 2013

This particular bear was apparently untroubled when peppered with bird-shot, but did amble away when they shot a flare at its feet. But that is history. The point I wish to make is that Sebastien has been here before, and is well aware the halcyon days of summer are short lived. He is under no illusions about what lies ahead in September, when temperatures plunge. Currently temperatures are slightly below normal, but above freezing. But look ahead and see how they plunge in September.

DMI5 0724 meanT_2018

The DMI maps show us that already the below-freezing isotherm is becoming a little more common. Also the anomalous low pressure I’ve dubbed “Ralph” keeps attempting to knock more typical high pressure from the area. The last “Ralph” is fading into the Canadian Archipelago, but a new one is deepening and taking the same route, from East Siberia to Canada, ahead of them. While it has been assisting them with following winds, they are about to be faced with head winds.

Stay tuned.


LOCAL VIEW –Hurricane Heights Demonstrated–

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Last week I talked about the old captains of coastal schooners, and the way they studied the sky for signs of “Hurricane Heights”.

Before railways were built in the mid 1800’s the main way to ship things was by boat, (which is why we speak of “shipping” things, even when we use trucks.) New York City was so big and growing so fast it had an insatiable appetite for lumber, and not all could be supplied by barging it down the Hudson River. Good money could be made “schooning” lumber down from Maine, but, before the Cape Cod Canal was built in 1914 (and widened to its current size 1935-1940)  the route south was nearly 150 miles longer, and involved going outside Cape Cod, which was that much closer to the hurricanes people on shore hardly noticed because they had “gone out to sea.” Even when the hurricanes’s winds were to the east huge waves traveled outwards, and when they reached the shoals off the elbow of Cape Cod they could turn waters a ship could ordinarily navigate over into a landscape of breaking waves, huge combers far from a beach,  with troughs so deep a keel could hit sand. Therefore a wise captain kept “an eye to the sky”.

This was done in a manner we can’t imagine. If we tried to force ourselves to study the sky we would soon start to fidget. Our minds would wander, and before long we’d get up and go to see what was happening elsewhere. However the old captains were stuck at the tiller or helm, and couldn’t go anywhere any faster than the boat was going. They studied the sky for hours upon hours.

One thing was very important to know, and that was whether the wind was going to back or veer. This was especially important when heading upwind. Without engines a ship had to tack to and fro, and (for example) a north-bound ship’s course could be made shorter if you knew beforehand whether the the headwind was going to shift to the northeast (veer) or to the northwest (back).

A rough idea where the nearest storm was located was to face the wind and stick out your right arm and point. You were pointing at the storm. But what direction was it moving? To guess at that you would look up at the high clouds, which moved with upper air winds that “steered” the storms. Then, by having a rough idea of whether the storm was approaching or departing or moving parallel to the ship, the captain would have a rough idea whether the winds would pick up or die down, and how they might back or veer.  On dull days this merely shortened the route and number of tacks necessary, and on more exciting voyages it might be the difference between successfully reaching safe haven, or shipwreck and death.

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Few would bother study the sky to this degree now. What would be the point? Now, if a captain wants to go upwind, he just takes down the sails and turns on the engine. There are a lot fewer shipwrecks now, but modern captains are dimwits compared to the captains of yore, when it comes to eyeing the sky with understanding. The need is no longer there to sharpen wits to that degree, and in fact if anyone now spent that much time studying the sky we might call them “obsessive”.

Personally I feel a certain amount of obsession is necessary, if you want to ever be really good at something. One person who seems really good, concerning the understanding and prediction of hurricanes, is Joe Bastardi, and he quite freely confesses he obsessed on weather maps so much when young that he was in some ways a nerd. But it paid off in terms of genius. Some years ago he looked at a tropical depression off the coast of Africa and said, “Houston, we have a problem”, which some say is one of the best long-range forecasts ever made.

Last Monday he said it looked like we could have frontal remnants becoming a storm like Brenda in 1960. I said, “La-la-la! I’m not listening”. Why? Because I want to pretend I’m an old schooner captain, and trying to see signs of storm only using my eyes and a barometer. (Of course I did hear Bastardi, but I can pretend I didn’t.)

Friday the skies were as blue as they get, and the air refreshing and cool, which is a reprieve but also a reason to be on guard.

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The passage of a Canadian high-pressure is often a prelude to trouble brewing to the south. (Bastardi calls high-pressure to the north “A ridge over troubled waters.”[Hat tip, Simon and Garfunkle.]) Not that you want to spoil your summer by worrying every time it’s sunny, but you watch for the return of clouds and the southerly flow behind the high pressure. And sure enough, when I awoke Saturday morning the newspaper had arrived, not on my doorstep, but in the sky straight overhead.

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What would such a newspaper tell an old schooner captain? I see two clues he’d see in the scene below, plus a clue he wouldn’t see.

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First, just over the pines to the lower left is a bit of low cumulus, so low you could almost call it scud.

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Right off the bat, his farsighted eyes squint to determine what direction those low clouds are moving. If they are moving to the right and approaching then the wind is southwest. That would be a benign wind, as the storm would be to the northwest, and likely a summertime Alberta Clipper. At worst, if it was hot and muggy, a Clipper might swing down a cold front and bring thunder,  but the air is still refreshing and the sky is still deep blue and Canadian, so thunder is unlikely. But, because the captain has time to watch the sky, he notes the low clouds are not approaching; they are moving to the right and retreating. The wind is not from the southwest, but from the southeast.

A southeast wind is a whole different kettle of fish. It means a storm is to the southwest. Something may be coming up the coast. A certain wariness awakes. (I should note more than eyes were used by schooner captains. Like a dog (whose morning newspaper may be a fire hydrant) he sniffs the air, as a southwest land breeze has a completely different smell from a southeast sea breeze. He also likely runs his fingers through his hair, for hair tells you a lot about humidity. All his senses are involved; the sea is a sensual experience.)

Lastly he is very aware if the wind is backing or veering, and this southeast wind has veered all the way from the northwest through the northeast . For reasons I don’t understand, this is different from a wind that backs 180 degrees the other way, although it winds up blowing from the same direction.

Then his eyes lift a bit higher to the left, over the cherry tree, to the cirrus (which he would call a “mare’s tail”).

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Cirrus is high clouds snowing into slower wind beneath. To the captain this is more reassuring than cirrocumulus, which is indicative of warmer air aloft and more inclined to be associated with hurricanes. Also the cirrus is still approaching from north of due west, which should “steer” a storm out to sea. However a rumple of concern appears on his brow, for he notices the high cloud’s movement is not as much from the north as it was. Indeed the high clouds are backing, even as the low clouds veer. Knowing nothing of upper air maps,  heedless of upper air ridges or trofs, the wheels in his head start whirring. If the high clouds back, and especially if they back with speed, look out.

However I have one clue he doesn’t.  There were no jets back then, and I can squint at contrails, and spot one over the trees in the center.

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When contrails quickly evaporate behind a jet, it is a sign of descending and drying air aloft, and a sign of fair weather. When, as is the case with the contrail above, the contrail expands into a cloud, as if part of a cloud-seeding experiment, it is a sign of moisture aloft and rising air, and a sign of increasing clouds and approaching storms. (It doesn’t say what kind of storm: Gentle rain or hurricane or the squalls of a thundering front.)

Even without contrails the old schooner captains were likely observing whether high clouds were growing or evaporating. Where modern yachtsmen can set a “self-sailor” and be buried in a book, the skippers of yore would only “lash the helm” when there was a lot of other work to do. They liked the feel of the helm, and likely, by making subtle responses to each passing swell, could shave an hour or two off the length of a cruise.

When I was young I attempted to have spiritual experiences by closing my eyes, sitting cross-legged, and gazing up at the inside of my forehead.  I never lasted very long. Rather than sacred subjects my my mind gravitated towards how divine pizza or a woman’s body was. But at the helm of a sailboat without a self-sailor I was forced to pay attention or the boat might luff or jibe, and paying-attention became a sort of yoga leading to an altered state of consciousness. This divine intoxication is the reason some people are fanatics about sailing, while those who haven’t imbibed the wine cannot see the good of it, or why anyone in their right mind would willingly suffer seasickness.

How many modern people, with their short attention spans and craving for constant stimulation, can sit and watch a cloud as it passes from one side of the sky to the other? The so-called boredom would drive many nuts, and perhaps there is an element of craziness in being at sea. However it has its own constant stimulation, in the rocking of the waves and passing of the swells, the ruffling of sails and the ringing of rigging, the hypnotic slosh and thud and gurgling of waters, and it all combines to enter one into a different dimension, a different relationship with reality, with sea and sky. Call it “obsessive” if you will, but it includes the wisdom of the weather-wise.

Just looking at the clouds I’ve pictured above, the old schooner captains would have known “something was brewing” to the south. Would they have set sail?  Well, that was up to them to decide, and they did know how to handle a moderate storm. All business involves an element called “risk”.

And how do they compare with modern computers? Well, the billion dollar GFS Model never caught onto the coastal development until Saturday morning, right about the time an old captain would have tasted the first hints of a wind-shift to the southeast.

Others models did better, but how is one to chose? Even a single model can have fifty “runs” that all differ. Which one is right?

The answer seems to be obsessive, like Joe Bastardi. In order to be good at anything you need to in some ways over-do it. But Mr. Bastardi does amaze me. Last Monday he said that by Saturday a storm “like Brenda in 1960” could appear on the coast.  He also forecast that the weather bureau likely wouldn’t call it a hurricane, despite tropical characteristics. Then, on Saturday , there it was, looking all the world like a dying hurricane, though it had never officially been a hurricane and therefore could not officially be a dying one.

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The weather bureau can bicker all it wants about whether things are “official”. I think they may be jealous if Joe’s ability, even to the mean level of not calling an event “tropical” because to do so might make Joe look better than they. But we are not suppose to become irrational, and envy is irrational. The simple fact of the matter is that Mr. Bastardi kicked their butts. And, when faced with superiority, the smart thing to do is sit at the feet of the master, and inquire, “How the heck did you do it?”

Let’s face it: If you had plans on the water off the coast of New Jersey or Long Island on Saturday, wouldn’t you like a heads-up that storm-force gusts like the feeder-bands of a hurricane could be coming north?



A final clue that this storm was “tropical” was shown by how quickly it is weakened once it cut inland.

What are we to conclude from all this? Perhaps we should conclude this: The next time we are called “obsessive”, we should respond, “Thank you very much.”

LOCAL VIEW –A Little Like A Lizard–

We’re getting a break from the heat and humidity, as Canadian air pushed down and brought us thunder rain. The parched corn drank it up and seemed to grow a foot over night. So did the weeds.

Many years ago a woman accused me of being too positive. She said that even if someone served me a plate with a poop on it, I’d find something good to say about the poop.

Well, if that is a problem, I’ve been working on it. Or maybe not. I avoid work when possible, but life has been chasing me down and working on me. Now I have matured to a point where, besides noticing the corn growing, I notice the weeds.

Besides growing wiser I’ve been growing less hot-blooded. As the refreshing, invigorating Canadian breezes swept in I went from deeming it too hot to deeming it too cold, and moved from shade to the sun, a little like a lizard.

Canada warred Carolina, and a
Refreshing Blessing swept humidity
Out to sea. Where I’d sought shade and planned a
Sloth’s list, and used that flat itinerary
To fan nagging gnats from my face,
I now flee the shade. The dawn is so cool
I seek the sun, and find the one place
On the porch where slanting sunbeams pool
A couch of warmth. All around day sparkles
Where before it slouched: I called it “languid”
When in fact it was flabby. Thus my will’s
Seeking the right seat. I do what I did,
Now in sun, then in shade, speaking of charms,
Ignoring chill’s goose-pimples prickling my arms.

The high July sun swiftly warms us, and all in all Canada redeems itself in July, and is forgiven for how it treats us in January.

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It just occurred to me that even a lizard is an optimist, for in moving from the shade to the sun it is seeking the better side of things.


When the dog won’t budge, and just lays when I’m heading out instead of asking to come along,  then I know I won’t produce much. Nor will I sleep much as night comes on. There should be some saying like “Nothing good happens after midnight” for high humidity. All eyes look west for thunder, and crisp Canadian air, expectant, breathless.

The black night’s too hot
And lightning is too brilliant
And all is silent.

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The night’s too hot and heat lightning flashes
Too brilliant, and all is waiting silent.
I long for wind’s roar; for thunder’s crashes.
I wonder where the lost breeze’s sigh went.
Not even a cricket chirps. No cat yowls.
I hear no hooting owls. Have I gone deaf?
No, for I hear my hot stomach’s growls
And hear the intake of my own breath.
Now is the time that the red beast comes panting
Through sweating black to torment men.
Draw swords, with night stallions stamping
Silence, night mares screaming silence, and then
More silence. Hot silence way too loud
With unseen lightning illuminating cloud.


This seems to be a time when it is important to stay calm and not to be provoked, for the inhabitants of the so-called “swamp” in Washington D.C. actually have no interest in preserving the peace. Why should they? Peace would involve exposure, for peaceful people have honest discussions, and honesty would expose a lot of corruption, which is how the name “swamp” was earned.

The corrupt have backed themselves into a corner, and therefore many will not do the spiritual thing, which is to publicly confess their wrong-doing. For if they were spiritual they would not have been corrupted in the first place. Therefore many will do the unspiritual thing when cornered, which is to fight like a cornered rat.

The thing that always amazes me is the ability the corrupt have to deny their own corruption. They often are oblivious of the way their greed has led them astray, even when it is blatantly obvious to others. “All a man’s ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the Lord.” (Proverbs 16:2)

In the case of communism the greed is justified in three ways. First, the highest spirituality is dismissed as “the opiate of the masses”, and atheism is put forward as being more pragmatic. Second, coveting what others own is justified as “sharing”, in some ways like Christians shared what they owned in the book of Acts, but in other ways by brute force, at the point of a gun, like a bank robber. Third, dishonesty is made to look positive because “the ends justify the means”.

The dishonesty always seemed most vile to me, especially when it involves using others, and laughing at them behind their backs. To use another as a “useful idiot” always seemed like a violation of trust to me. Furthermore the person most likely to be fooled is the person doing the tricking, because procrastination is a way we mortals have of never doing what we promise ourselves we will do “someday.” Therefore “the ends justify the means” is like a person buying cigarettes so he can seriously think about planning to quit; (the person will never quit by smoking, but it placates his uneasy conscience to “plan“.) Lastly, the “means“ get meaner and meaner, because the greed for power gets greater and greater. Stalin may have meant well, but he killed off more and more “partners“, erasing them from public pictures until he alone was pictured, for that was his “means” of effective control, good governance, and order. He was proof that “power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”.

Stalin erasing foes Soviet_censorship_with_Stalin2

Our Founding Fathers were well aware of how power corrupts, which is why they were so careful to devise a constitution that shares power between three branches of government, with checks and balances. Some in Washington want to escape the checks and balances, because it seems to obstruct efficient governance. Therefore they speak of the constitution as being an “evolving” document, which is just a way of trying to get around its constraints. They don’t want to be constrained, because they feel they know best, and others are not as wise as they are.

This is how corruption begins. One loses respect for being open and honest and discussing things with others in a respectful manner, and resorts to some form of dishonesty and disrespect. Rather than arriving at a decision based on higher Truth, back-room deals are made, involving bribes of one sort or another. Rather than what is best for all concerned, the focus becomes narrow: “What’s in this for me?”

When such rot sets in our nation is designed to expose it. A free press is suppose to be part of that exposure, but in our current crisis the press was purchased by the elite and all but emasculated. Were it not for the unexpected blooming of the internet in the past twenty years the free press would be dead. As it is the public became aware of how bad the corruption in Washington was becoming in the nick of time, and now a desperate battle has begun.

This is a battle between Truth and deceivers. The deceivers do not want to give up all that deceit has illicitly “earned” them. They think they know how the game is played, when in fact they have broken countless rules. They want to continue to play as they have played, unaware that they have broken so many rules they have created a sort of anarchy, and have undermined their own foundations, and are sawing off the very branch they are perched upon. If they studied history at all they would see that, if they “win”, they are likely to inherit horrors as bad as, or even worse than, the horrors they fear they’ll face if they “lose”, and have to give up all the perks of their corruption.

One attribute of the corrupt, and also of communism, is that there is a movement away from true sharing of power. It involves the mentality of all-or-nothing. Communism allows no other party besides the communist party, and corruption allows no alternative as well. It is a narrowing down of thought, a diminishing of the mind.

Because of this, communism prefers violence to civil discourse. It wants no checks and no balances. In order to eradicate opposition it seeks to “purge” differing views, and dislikes individuality. Individuality is abhorred because it differs, whether it differs as a person, or a family, or a community, or a state, or a nation. Communism seeks a “multiculturalism” that abolishes all nations, and therefore all cultures. All the talk about “respecting diversity” actually disrespects differences, when you look hard at what is actually stated. In the end what is wanted is not a cultured people, but culture-less masses.

A cultured people prefer to use civil procedures, to becoming a rabble that riots. The corrupt prefer a riot, and encourage riotous behavior, because if things get out of hand they may seize power in the name of “restoring order”, whereas civil procedure would expose their corruption and face them with reform.

Therefore it is important to stay calm and not be provoked. When faced by useful idiots chanting nonsense, point out the nonsense quietly. Over and over and over again. For many innocents have not thought all that deeply about what they do, and are largely being loyal to a cause. And one thing about the loyal is this: Once they discover they have been lied to, and are being used, and are laughed at behind their backs, they flip sides with astonishing alacrity.

Lastly, keep your sense of humor even when things look grim.

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One of the most exasperating mistakes made by Alarmists is their refusal to study history. Instead they steadfastly insist all is caused by CO2. For example, history teaches us that summer is followed by winter, but, the next time winter comes around, so blinding is their bias that Alarmists will see the next winter as having a new and alarming cause all prior winters lacked. This time it will be caused by CO2. Not only do they insist they know the cause, but they then invent the cause-and-effect out of whole cloth.

Basically Alarmists follow the rule, “If you can’t blind them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit.” When confronted by a plaintive voice that asks, “You said there would be Global Warming, so why is it colder?” they put on a white lab coat to look scientific, hold up an index finger, and basically say, “You can’t understand because you haven’t looked hard at the numbers, and haven’t seen they need to be adjusted, and our adjustments show that actually it is warmer”.  Or perhaps, “The increased heat causes more snow in the north, and the increased snow is floating south as bergs, so that the warmer it gets the colder it gets. Understood?” The problem with this ingenious excuse-making is that, when you look back in history, you can see the same thing happened in the past, which begs the question, “What caused it then, and is that cause happening again now?”

Once you study history you become aware of various cycles that influence the weather, (with much debate about how large and how regular the influences are).

Alarmists tend to pooh-pooh all other influences, calling them inconsequential, which seems rather odd, for at the same time they are saying a giant thing like the sun has no effect they are saying a very tiny change in the number of CO2 molecules, parts-per-million, has an enormous effect. Skeptics do not deny CO2 has an effect; the planet is indeed greener; but they question the denial of all other effects and cycles.

Things would be easier if we didn’t have a variable star, but our sun does have its cycles of sunspots. And things would also be easier if those sunspot cycles were neat and tidy, but they tend to be irregular, with the sun shifting from very active sunspot cycles to times when we see a “Quiet Sun”. The sun’s regularity likely creates oscillations in the world’s weather, even as the sun’s irregularity throws the same oscillations out of whack.

The current Quiet Sun seems to be messing with the oscillations between El Ninos and La Ninas, as the El Ninos seem stronger and the La Ninas weaker than expected. (Not that we are all that great at predicting them.) Also the Pacific oscillation (PDO) swung from warm to cold as expected, roughly a decade ago, but then unexpectedly spiked back to warm, and has been taking its sweet time getting back to cold, (though it may be trending that way this summer). Last but not least, the Atlantic oscillation (AMO) is not expected to turn cold for a few more years, but unexpectedly and dramatically shifted in that direction this summer.

The signature of a “cold” AMO is a backwards “C” of colder-than normal waters in the Atlantic. Recently the back of that “C” was broken by a blob of warmer-than-normal water that drifted east and pressed between England and France, but the rest of the “C” remains evident, repressing the development of hurricanes to a certain degree off western Africa, and most especially evident off the northeast coast of Canada and south of Greenland.

SST 20180712 anomnight.7.12.2018


The colder water off Canada and Greenland historically leads to colder weather in Northeast Canada, which they have seen this year, with snows even as we had a heatwave not far to their south, in New England. The ice has been much slower to melt out of Hudson Bay than last year.  (July 13, 2017 to left, July 13, 2018 to right)

It is a bit embarrassing to Alarmists to have this sea-ice sitting around in July, so they are likely busily inventing a theory from whole cloth even as I type. However all you need to do is study history to see the situation is not “Unprecedented”. A ship from Boston, early in Boston’s history, failed to get through the sea-ice into the bay in 1663, but the Nonsuch successfully entered the bay in 1668 and established the first Hudson Bay Trading Post at the mouth of Rupert River (the current town of Washaganish, Quebec.) So what does that give us; 370 years of history?

The trading posts had to be resupplied, and also furs needed to be onloaded, and we know the ships were not icebreakers. Therefore it is sheer foolishness to suggest the Bay was ice-bound in the past, and only recently has become ice-free. An early aerial picture of Fort York shows they were still using sailing ships as late as 1923.

Hudson Bay Company YorkFactoryaerial

However the historical record also shows there were occasional grim years when the posts could not be resupplied. If ice-bound years had been too common the enterprise would have become impractical, and perhaps traders would have starved. For the most part the Bay opened up in the summer; excessive sea-ice in July was the exception to the rule, and was likely caused by a cold AMO, just as we are seeing now.

In like manner, the chill is affecting Greenland. In July Greenland is experiencing the height of its melt, and usually gives Alarmists wonderful opportunities to take truly amazing pictures of  the yearly phenomenon. At the peak of the melt, Greenland loses roughly 4 gigatons of ice to melting every day.  Rivers of melt-water course across the surface of the ice.

Greenland melt 1 55-researchersd In places these torrents plunge down holes called moulins, forming spectacular waterfalls, and then continue on as subterranean rivers.

Greenland melt 2 hqdefaultIce also flows off Greenland as massive glaciers, and during the summer enormous slabs calve off the ends into the sea, with some bergs “half the size of Manhattan”.

Greenland melt 3 NINTCHDBPICT000419182729

And of course all this melting is fodder for Alarmists, and gives the media a chance to write thrillingly sensational stuff about ice melting and seas rising.

However I think it’s wiser to not get too caught up in the hoopla, although it is fun, once in a while, to run around in circles waving your hands in a tizzy. It’s good exercise. But once you’re done it pays to calm down and catch your breath. And then ask a question or two. “How much ice usually melts? What is normal?”

The map to the right below shows the normal melt for July 14. You notice right away the melting is all at the edges. That is where all the photographs are taken for the newspapers. In the middle of Greenland the altitude is so high, (over 10,000 feet), that it almost never gets above freezing. Judging from the records of ice cores, only once in every 40 years does it get warm enough, on a windless summer day, to soften the snow a little. Not much; not enough to make rivulets or puddles, but enough to make a crust on the snow, when it refreezes, usually within hours. (When this last happened, in 2012 (I think) the media went completely berserk. They reported so inaccurately that you would have thought torrents, even mighty rivers, were coursing across the icecap. The actuality was that the snow softened for a couple hours. [yawn])

The map to the left shows what happened this year, on July 14. It set a record, but went unreported, for it was a record increase of snow, for the date.

Greenland MB 20180714 todaysmb

What happened was that, likely due the cold AMO, heavy snow punched inland in west-central Greenland, reducing the melt in that area at the same time snow was added. In fact more was added than was subtracted, which means that rather than the icecap losing 4 gigatons, as is normal, it actually gained a little. This shows as the spike in the upper graph below. Notice how the spike moves above the area shaded gray, which shows the historical range, and enters record-setting territory.

Greenland MB 20180714 accumulatedsmb

The lower graph shows, with the blue line, how Greenland’s icecap is failing to melt much this summer. Usually it loses roughly 200 gigatons, and this year it has lost 5, so far. This is a failure on the part of reality to support the Alarmist’s narrative. (Bad reality. Bad! Go to your room.)

Also notice, in the graph above, how, on an average year, (gray line), Greenland gains more than it loses. It ends the year with nearly 400 gigatons more than it started. (A gigaton is a billion metric tons, and a metric ton is 1000 kilograms.) How many Manhattans is that? In any case, for Greenland to stay in “balance” 400 extra gigatons worth of iceburgs must calve off Greenland’s glaciers.

Lastly notice the red line in the graph above. 2011-2012 was a winter and summer that pleased the Alarmists greatly, for it supported their narrative. Nearly all the winter’s increase melted away that summer. There was a gain, but it was small, only around 25 gigatons. It wouldn’t take many calving icebergs the size of Manhattan to arrive at a net loss. And how many gigatons would it take to rise the oceans a milometer?

I can’t do the math, but I did find this after searching the web a bit: “A one mm increase in sea-level requires about 3.618 × 1014 kg = 361.8 Gt of meltwater”.

In other words, while a billion metric tons might seem like a lot, it is a speck of dust, compared to the enormity of the icecap and the oceans. Greenland’s icecap is estimated to be a total of 2,850,000 cubic kilometers of ice. How many gigatons is that? (You do the math for me, please.)

Therefore even a “good” year (for Alarmists) like 2011-2012 really doesn’t amount to a hill of beans, but last year was a “bad” year. Greenland’s icecap actually gained ice, according to NOAA:

Of course, NOAA speaks of the gain as if it is an exception-to-the-rule, but still it is a failure on the part of Mother Nature to support the narrative. And what tactic does an Alarmist use, when something doesn’t support the narrative?

1.) Change the subject. Turn the camera to where the ice is still melting, to dramatic waterfalls pouring into turquoise moulins. Focus the lens on the spectacular sight of a giant berg calving off a towering glacier. Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain. Don’t look at the summer snowstorms in Labrador, and the summer trout fishing camps struggling to dig free of snow.

Fishing Lodge in June labrador-snow

The only problem is people can only be distracted and deflected so long, in which case it is time for…

2.) Invent a theory out of whole cloth. When people notice northern sandpipers can’t even lay their eggs because the snow hasn’t melted, figure out a way to blame the snow on warming. (Hat tip: Brett Keane)

Sandpiper on snow 6450EF03-C77C-450D-8080621943C1804F

Here is the money-quote: “Senner fears this nonbreeding year in eastern Greenland could herald an alarming trend. Climate Models predict the Arctic atmosphere will hold more moisture as global temperatures rise, he notes. A wetter atmosphere means more snow in winter and spring, potentially causing late snowmelt to interfere with shorebird reproduction. He says the bird populations should be resilient to a single poor breeding year like 2018 but worries what might happen if this year’s catastrophe becomes standard. “Even though things aren’t normally as extreme as the current situation in Greenland,” he says, “this is the kind of thing that seems to be happening more and more frequently across the Arctic””

Balderdash. First, the increase in winter moisture is in air so cold that you are talking about the difference between air that is only very, very dry, rather than very, very, very dry. Second, the amount of snow that falls from that dry atmosphere is small, only inches, and tundra usually swiftly melts such snows under 24-hour or near-24-hour sunshine that can bring heatwaves to the north. Third, the snow is now falling in the summer. I repeat, the summer. Fourth, temperatures are colder over Greenland and eastern Canada because the AMO is cold, not because the planet is a tenth of a degree warmer overall. Fifth, it is also colder at the Pole itself.

DMI5 0715 meanT_2018

I’d like to help Alarmists out, but the simple fact polar temperatures remain so persistently below normal does suggest the Quiet Sun may be supplying less heat. The best I can do is to suggest it may be cloudier at the Pole, due to the low pressure I call “Ralph” reappearing and hanging about. Maybe we can concoct a theory out of whole cloth that explains Ralph is due to Global Warming, and that it is colder at the Pole because it is warmer. That would explain why the the sea-ice, despite having a head-start on other years last winter, is failing to melt as fast as other years.

DMI5 0715 osisaf_nh_iceextent_daily_5years_en

And it also might explain why the ice is thicker than last year, especially along the coasts of Alaska and East Siberia.  (2017 left; 2018 right)

But in the end there is little I can do for the poor Alarmists. It simply is a terrible year for them. All around there are signs of cooling, at least in the short term, but they must continue to genuflect to the emperor of funding, as if he wore clothes when it is increasingly obvious he is butt naked.

Stay tuned.

LOCAL VIEW –Hurricane Heights (and heat)–

I have seen summers in these hills when we never make it above 90°F: Gray, rainy summers where we were hard pressed to ever make it above 80°F,  when east winds off the cold Gulf of Maine could even keep temperatures below 60°F. Such summers always left me feeling cheated, for I grew up down on the flatland’s west of Boston where it was far warmer. A true heatwave of three days topping 90° is rare in these hills, and therefore I was pleasantly surprised to see this forecast for the start of July:

Hurricane Heat 1 IMG_6910

I love hot weather, even though I don’t get to kick back and watch the corn grow as much as I’d like.  Perhaps it just reminds me of being young and spoiled. I can recall laying on my back on a hot day as a boy, holding a Popsicle up in the air and letting it melt drop by drop into my mouth,  and feeling perfectly content. Or, perhaps there was a sort of unrest, but it was the unrest of peace, of listening to a symphony.  There was no to-do list.

I’ve had some heart-to-heart talks with God recently about whether it might not be wise to spoil me in that manner again. How is it I am not worth spoiling, now? Certainly I am as perishable, if not more so.  Yet now, if I tried out laying on my back and letting a Popsicle drip into my mouth, I’d get “the look” from my wife. When I try to watch the corn grow, I see the weeds grow instead. Rather than relaxed, summer becomes hurry-hurry, worry-worry, scurry-scurry.

The ironic aspect to the frenetic pace of running a farm-childcare is that I, in some unspoken ways, seek to spoil the kids. I want them to catch what I caught from being spoiled by my own Depression-era parents, who experienced too much poverty and toil and war, and wanted a better life for me. Therefore I fight my losing battle with weeds so they might munch edible-podded peas at their leisure, and teach them the old maxim, “Plant peas on Patriot’s Day (April 19) and pick ’em on Independence Day (July 4).”

Hurricane Heat 3 IMG_6924

And I struggle with cords and pumps and chemicals and filters, because there’s nothing like splashing in a pool to make a heat-wave bearable. (Our local ponds are OK, as long as you don’t mind leeches.)

Hurrucane Heat 2 IMG_6915

And then there’s the exasperation of fishing, of teaching how to put a worm on, and take a fish off, a hook; of tangle after tangle after tangle after tangle; of casting that is flailing and shoots hooks into shrubbery or another child’s hair or puts my life in danger, all for the dubious honor of seeing a child catch a first fish that isn’t virtual.

Hurricane Heat 4 IMG_6931

And then there’s the modern, liberated, young suffragettes. Back in my day, girls didn’t even want to go fishing, and thought fish and worms were icky, and they certainly didn’t gross out their guide by kissing fish.

Hurricane heat 6 FullSizeRender

Kiss frogs? Maybe, because a frog might turn into a prince. But I don’t want to see what sort of prince a fish turns into, and sure as heck don’t want him hanging around young girls at my Childcare.

But I digress. The point I was making was that all sorts of effort goes into making an idyll, all sorts of hurry-hurry, worry-worry, scurry-scurry, all sorts of exasperation and irritation….and then all is redeemed. A light descends and softens a child’s eyes, and just the way they look around at God’s green creation tells me that they “get it”, and that I have successfully passed the baton I received from Depression-era parents on to a new generation.

Hurricane Heat 5 IMG_6933

The mistake people (including myself) seem to make is to visualize the descent of the Light as being conditional. After all, the Depression-era was a brutal time, yet people who went through it seemed to grasp that Light could be found in small things, even in simply sitting, whereas Baby-Boomers who were spared the brutality and were pampered strangely knew thirst and discontent. The attempt to exclude brutality at times led to exclusiveness, to a sort of gated-community of “the elite” which, rather than an ivory tower, became a vacuum, devoid of the very air that hearts need most.

To me the escape from this conditional exclusiveness seems to be to cultivate the attitude of a little child: Children accept the cards as dealt, while the grown-ups attempt to bully and bribe the dealer. It is the grown-ups who scramble to come up with four hundred dollars a month to pay for an air conditioner. For a child, when it’s hot, it’s hot, and when it’s not, it’s not.

I love the warm mornings, (all too few
This far north), when I can sit on the stoop
And watch the dawn grow last webbed drops of dew
Before the day bakes, and watch last bats loop
And dart, and hear first birds sing, and not put
On a shirt.
                       It’s like I’m a boy again,
Though I’ll confess I wince walking barefoot
                Once I lost shoes in June, and then, when
I looked again for those shoes, it was fall
And they didn’t fit. I could tread over
Sharp stones and barnacles, and I recall
Broken glass didn’t phase me.
                                                           Now clover
Is what my feet prefer to tread upon,
But still I love the feel of summer dawn. 

One reason I was able to be content as a child was the sense the Depression-era grown-ups were taking care of things. True, there would be occasional shadows, times I intuitively sensed all was not well,  but for the most part I was blissfully ignorant about things such as divorce, mother’s-little-helper pills, and the Vietcong. I was nearly eleven before the assassination of John Kennedy first deeply shook my faith. Before then I had a sort of heedless and thoughtless faith.

Now my faith is more thought-out. Now I am the Baby-Boom-era grown-up, taking care of things. It doesn’t matter how inadequate I feel; it is my turn to be the elder. My faith allows me to  sit back and enjoy warmth that is rare in northern lands, but my contentment is not complete, for I am always on the lookout for trouble. When it’s hot I keep peering west for the purple skies of thunderstorms, and to the high clouds, for hints of a hurricane.

Many of my ancestors were involved with trade and sailing ships, and were  forever scanning the skies. A hurricane could turn a fat profit into a total loss, and therefore they were always on the lookout for “hurricane heights.”

What were “hurricane heights”? I can’t say. A lot of that wisdom was lost with the last captain of the last coastal schooner. All I can say is that they studied the sky in a way we cannot imagine. I know nothing of the nuances they knew, but do know they noticed high clouds don’t move the same direction low clouds move.

Modern meteorologists know about such differences through studying surface maps, which show the direction low clouds move, and comparing them with upper-air maps, which show the direction high clouds move. They have a huge advantage over the captains of coastal schooners, because they not only know how the high clouds are moving far to the west, and far to the east, but at times, when the sky is completely overcast, they know what high clouds are doing directly overhead, which the captains of schooners might not know.

But the captains of schooners had an advantage over modern meteorologists. When modern meteorologists blow a forecast they suffer embarrassment, yet seldom lose their jobs, but when the captains of schooners blew a forecast they lost their lives, or, if they crawled ashore, they had lost their cargo and therefore their livelihood.  Therefore what those old timers knew about high clouds involved an immediacy, urgency, and focus which modern meteorologists can’t imagine.

Also the captains of coastal schooners were not reading tickertape from a distant buoy or squinting at a satellite’s picture; they were right on the interface between sea and sky. They were right there, and there’s no buoy or satellite than can substitute for a man’s skin and hair. I often wonder if the most amazing discoveries concerning insights gleaned from the movements of high clouds were made by captains who died ten minutes later. Those sailing ships were not designed to handle hundred knot winds. Yet amazingly some captains survived hurricanes, in ships completely demasted yet controlled by a storm jib on a bowsprit. And when these crippled ships limped back to port their captains brought weather-data you do not learn in colleges, but can hear echoes of to this day, in taverns by the sea.

Me? I’m in awe of both the bygone oldsters and the modern meteorologists. What I know about “hurricane heights” is but crumbs a mouse gathers from a banquet. And what I gather is this:

Hot spells in New England tend to end with thunder, and also with a change in the movement of high clouds. When it was hot high clouds came from the southwest, but after the thunder they come from the northwest. Then it is delightfully cooler, with northwest winds. And upper air maps shows a “trof” (meteorologist spelling) crossing  New England. It is like a the dent a schoolgirl makes in a jump-rope, when lifting it up and down, and will be followed by the bump in the jump-rope, called an upper air  “ridge” (ordinary spelling).

As this upper air ridge approaches the refreshing northwest breezes die, and winds shift to the southwest, and people await the next summer hot spell. However worry-warts like me me get anxious, and start scanning the sunrise sky for hurricane heights.

Joe Bastardi called such ridges, “a ridge over troubled waters,” (a pun on an old Simon and Garfunkle song). Old schooner captains also worried when summer ridges past. They searched south for hurricanes. And true to form, as a hot ridge recently passed over New England, tropical storm Chris formed just off the Carolina coast, to the south.

20180709 satsfc

Such a hurricane shouldn’t trouble me, for they nearly always are steered out to sea by the upper-air “trof” following the upper-air “ridge”. Maybe such storms only concerned the captains of coastal schooners, because they too went “out to sea”, right where the hurricanes went,  and then those captains confronted conditions lubbers can’t imagine. (There was no Cape Cod Canal, and in order for New York City to build its tenements Maine lumber had to be shipped far “out to sea” to get around Cape Cod.)

Even people who stay ashore on the coast face high surf and rip tides, as such hurricanes go “out to sea”. But my farm is inland, up in the hills. Barring an unimaginable earthquake, these hills aren’t going “out to sea” any time soon.  Why should I care?

It is because the upper atmosphere does not always behave like waves going up and down on a schoolgirl’s jump-rope. A school-girl’s jump-rope never breaks off a bump into a circle that gets bigger and bigger and becomes a hurricane, boring from the surface right up into the upper atmosphere.

Once such a circle appears on meteorological maps they become an entity that has a life of its own. Usually they are steered by the steering currents, but they are also an impediment to the flow, like a boulder in a river, and therefore they have an uncanny capacity to alter the steering current. They can even steer the steering current. They impede the steering current to such a degree that upper-air winds are deflected. With a hurricane in the way, rather than aiming northeast the steering currents may be deflected north, or even, on very rare occasions, northwest.

Meteorologists who are wiser than I describe this as a “positively-tilted trof” being replaced by a “negatively tilted trof”, with the result being that a hurricane that ordinarily would go out to sea curves north or, very rarely, northwest.

Even when the hurricanes come north they tend to weaken over the cold shelf waters, and to suck dry air in from land, and have the most intense winds by the “eye-wall” collapse. Also they tend to curve away northeast at the end, which keeps the strongest winds east of my hills. Thus all the storms of my lifetime have been breezy and warm summer rains,  with some branches and rotted trees falling (and perhaps knocking the power out for a few hours). The next day’s news has pictures of surf and banged-up boats down on Cape Cod and in Buzzard’s Bay, and there can be flooding due to torrential rains, but the news  is never as bad as I know it could have been. In a sense I’ve spent a lifetime scanning the skies for hurricane heights I’ve never seen.

And what is this worst case scenario I envision? It is a hurricane that doesn’t dawdle over a colder shelf waters, but rather accelerates up the coast, cutting northwest as it plows inland, putting my hills to the east of the eye-wall. The blow-down of trees would be unimaginable to people now alive.

Actually I can’t say such a storm has never occurred in my lifetime, for Hurricane Carol took that track when I was one year old. I don’t remember it, but do recall being shown the fallen trees in the woods as a boy. They were trunks all laying the same way, on scrubby hillsides, and as we hiked I heard my Dad talk with other grown-ups about the older, mossier trunks being from an earlier hurricane (1938), and my grandfather commenting one summer was wetter (I can’t recall which summer) and that meant one hurricane uprooted trees and the other hurricane snapped them off.

To my boyish mind  it seemed such hurricanes must happen fairly often, but here it is 64 years later and we haven’t seen anything like them since. The scrubby hillside is now reforested with 64-year-old trees, and the fallen trunks have been melted down by rot and are mere green stripes of moss on the forest floor, with peculiar piles of stones at the ends, showing where the ripped-up bottoms once thrust tangles of earth and stones and writhing roots, and my grandfather said I should look for exposed arrowheads. Where the Depression-era elders saw two such storms in sixteen years we have been spared, but perhaps, just as the tree trunks have faded, so has the public’s memory of what can happen.

The sensationalist media is so eager to hurry on to the next headline it seems to have amnesia, like a person with dementia, only a person with dementia at least has some long-term-recall, even when they can’t remember where they put their car keys. The media is worse, with a forgetfulness more like a person who has smoked way, way too much marijuana, who cannot even remeber what car keys are for.

The media doesn’t even seem to fact-check any more, crowing a single day of hundred degrees is a big deal the Great Plains, where it once was over 110°F, day after day after day after burning day, during the nigh-intolerable Dust Bowl summer of 1936. Then, on July 13, 1954, it touched 120°F in Kansas, there were 100 degree temperatures noted in places from the Pacific to the Atlantic, and when you took all the high temperatures from all the station across the USA, north and south and east and west, the average was 95°F. (See post at .

When the media ignores this striking past to sensationalize the more modest present, they not only make people less respectful towards what our forebears endured, but also make people unaware of what might happen again, (because it happened before). I have concluded that, in a strange way, the media generates a discontent where people once knew contentment despite hard times, and fosters a foolishness where people once were wise.

I refuse to be that way, so I sit and scan the summer’s warm dawn skies for hurricane heights, seeking high scarlet feathers and dappled intricacies from the southeast, at peace, but ever watchful.

But still I love the feel of summer dawn
Though I know her ways. She can’t disguise her
Devilish tricks. Her smiling lips won’t stay upon
My smile. She’ll leave. I’m older, wiser,
But still her kisses are reminding me of
A place I hope to return, after death:
The land before birth; a landscape of Love;
A time without time that takes away your breath.
Most have amnesia, and forget the breast
That fed them, and the peace before that time.
The work-a-day world puts all to the test
Like hamsters in wheels, or lemmings that climb
In a terrible rush to get to the top,
When the way to be wise is to stop.