What a difference a day makes. First, here is my woodpile before the snow.

And here is the same woodpile this morning:

This is the sort of heavy, wet snow that causes weathermen to have fits, because it’s flakes are right on the verge of melting into rain, and in fact, if they fall a couple hundred more feet through above freezing air, then they are rain. For example Wilton, roughly eleven miles to our north, only had a couple inches of snow mixed with rain, and they are only a couple hundred feet lower. Meanwhile due south eleven miles, down much lower (where the “Flatlanders” live) in Townsend, Massachusetts, they saw no snow at all until at the very end. But we got a foot and a half (46 cm).

The snow was so sticky it took down branches and even entire trees, and as I start this post we have no power and my laptop is down to 20% power. I have no connection to the web, though my phone can still deliver texts, albeit very, very slowly. My oldest son, who snowplows in the winter, said Peterborough is a shambles, and he was one of the last trucks to weave through the fallen limbs and arcing electrical lines before route 124 was shut down. He had to travel to Jaffrey, which wasn’t much better, to come home. In essence the communities on the shoulders of Mount Monadnock were just high enough to get snow rather than rain, and got clobbered.

It might not seem fair that we get clobbered while people ten miles away get off Scot free, but it goes with the territory. People who live here long enough adapt. For example, as I began this post I was warm by my man-cave wood-stove, with my coffee cup atop the stove (rather than in the microwave) to rewarm my brew. My wife had pots of snow melting on both wood-stoves to flush the toilet with, plus a pot melting beside the wood-stove to wash dishes with. She could cook because, even though the electric “sparker” doesn’t light the burners of our propane stove, we can use a match to light them. We have candles for light. So having no power doesn’t slow us down much.

What slows me down is the thought of shoveling the front walk. Such snow is like wet cement. I’m pushing seventy and smoked too much when younger, so my armchair has its charms.

I did eventually push myself to dodder outside and shovel a pathetic path down the very center of the steps, and then walk through the deep snow to my jeep. It’s embarrassing to admit, but even walking through deep snow gets me huffing and puffing. I shoveled the plow-created snowbanks in front of my Jeep a minimum amount, and then clambered in. A good thing about a Jeep is that you don’t have to shovel much; you just put the vehical in four-wheel-drive, and go!

I drove to the nearby town center to see if they had power, and if I could make my weekly deposit at the bank. It’s not much of a center. It doesn’t even have a traffic light. But it does have a blinking orange light, and it was dark. I knew that meant the power was off and the bank would be closed. Oddly, there was a line of cars going through its ATM machine; I suppose the automatic teller runs by a battery.

Both the local market and local gas stations knew better than to be closed at a time when business was bound to be especially good, (for no one wanted to drive far). Both had generators humming. The market was doing a brisk business in “breakfast sandwiches” for the people who couldn’t cook at home, and the gas station was doing a brisk business in gasoline for those who did have generators. There are plenty of people who are prepared for power outages, but even those who lack generators need gasoline for their snow blowers. Driving further I saw snow blowers in action, and have to admit they looked sad. Rather than shooting powdery snow thirty feet away they were barely able to curve a limp arc of white molasses five feet.

Plows weren’t doing much better. They would get halfway down a drive and the weight of the snow would be so great the truck couldn’t budge it. My son said the trick was to angle the plow and swerve to the side halfway down the drive, and then back up, and then proceed straight ahead until you needed to angle the plow again. Plowing took much longer.

As the snow came down heavily yesterday it became obvious the plow wasn’t going to make it to my Childcare in time to clear the entry and drive for the parents who would soon arrive to pick up their children. When younger I might have gone out and shoveled like a madman, but now I’m too old for such heroics. What I did instead was drive to and fro and back and forth and in and out until the tires of the Jeep had packed all the snow down. The lot was a bit slippery, but nobody got stuck.

I bring up all these anecdotes just to demonstrate how people can respond to calamity, especially if they have seen the calamities before. But as I brag a bit about how self-sufficient the local people are, I do notice when fossil fuel is involved. If the Green New Deal fanatics have their way, there will be no gas for the plows or for the generators, and the testing will become far more rigorous.

For this reason I was hoping for a mild winter. The milder the better. (If you don’t use much oil or propane or electricity, there is less of a chance you will run out.)

One of the mildest winters I personally recall was 1975-1976, when it seemed all the storms headed north to the west of New England and we were always in the warm sector, on the warm side of storms. I think there were records set for snowfall in Minnesota that year, for they were on the wrong side of all the storms, but that was their problem. Here, even up in Maine, where I lived back then, it was relatively snow free. Because, this year, all the storms were going up to our west at the start of this winter, I hoped we were in a pattern similar to what we saw back then.

This is mere memory on my part, and one problem with personal recall is that it tends to be a general impression, without much foundation on fact. When one recalls one must confess they neglected to save weather maps from the papers, or record temperatures day by day. And what I actually recall about 1975-1976 was how disappointed I was. I was young and wanted a wild and crazy winter, and thought such a winter would be more likely up north in Maine, but instead I labored through a winter which would have seemed mild even down in Massachusetts. So that is what I remember. However I do like those meteorologists who are far more specific, and have past maps on their fingertips.

One such weatherman is Joe Bastardi, who was forecasting a cold December, and, midst the slew of examples he gave, he happened to mention a cold December in 1975-1976.

Cold December? I prodded my memory, and realized there was evidence I wasn’t paying attention. Why? Likely I was writing the Great American Novel or some such thing. I was only jarred from my inward contemplation by the arrival of my nemesis for Christmas. (At that time my nemesis was a big brother.) As my brother and I practiced the high art of dysfunction I awoke to the fact early December had been so cold even the salt water had frozen. There was a big slab of sea-ice in the Harraseeket River in front of my parent’s abode.

The following will show you how different my memory is from that of a tried and true meteorologist:

I only recall that slab of sea-ice because my older brother was too lazy to row a rowboat around it. It was only fifty feet across but perhaps three football fields long. Therefore, after testing the ice with an oar, he got onto the ice, pulled the boat onto the ice, and then pushed the boat across. The ice was so thin, and so rotted by thaw, that it cracked under his feet, but he didn’t fall through because he supported his weight on the stern of the rowboat. As he reached the far side of the floe the ice completely disintegrated beneath his feet, and the boat wallowed down through the slushy ice, but he did a sort of push-up on the stern, with his feet above the water, and then swung his feet around and into the boat. A local lobster man, who had watched the spectacle, commented, “That fellow is off his f—– rocker,” likely because the lobster man knew the water was so cold it could all but paralyze a person plunging into it, and kill a man in five minutes.

I liked hearing my brother was “off his f—— rocker”, because we were intensely competitive at that point in our lives, and he often expressed the opinion that I was the one who was “off his f—— rocker.” I liked hearing the lobster man suggest it might not be me who was the nut. What does this have to do with meteorology? Absolutely nothing. But it does suggest December 1975 was cold.

Joe Bastardi had been going on about the cold December for a long time, literally since August, and I was amazed to see things develop in a way very much like what he had predicted. While the cold might be bad for the energy situation in the short term, I still had hopes it would give way to a warmer winter in the long run.

How can cold lead to warmth? Well, sometimes the stormy spell will climax with a gigantic outpouring of arctic air that leaves the arctic so depleted that no cold can follow, so what follows is a lovely winter thaw. But I was also aware there are different, particularly nasty patterns, which do manage to swiftly reload, and to hit southern lands with successive arctic blasts. I was aware of this because 1976-1977 was so unlike 1975-1976. What caused the difference?

Usually any southward movement of arctic air involves a dip in the jet-stream. (Back when I was young, meteorologists called this dip a “low pressure trof”. The fact meteorologists spelled “trough” incorrectly was proof they were practical Science majors, and not nit-wit English majors like myself. They would spell a word like it sounded, and dictionaries could be damned. Out of great respect for those vanished scientists I will spell trough, “trof”, for the rest of this post.)

Ordinarily low pressure is centered at at the Pole in the upper atmosphere, with higher pressures to the south. Winds swing around and around the Pole, west to east, and if those winds remain west to east the flow is called “zonal”. A zonal flow tends to trap the cold at high latitudes. However sometimes the west to east flow gets perturbed and wavy, and when a wave pokes north it is called a high pressure ridge and when it pokes south it called a low-pressure trof. But sometimes the trof gets so huge it actually moves the the center of the polar rotation south along with it. That is when newspapers scream about the “Polar Vortex” coming south, (without a clue what they are screaming about.)

These super-sized trofs involve storms and cold outbreaks which often are remembered in the record books, but involve such a derangement from the normal state of affairs that they are often followed by a period of dull weather. The polar vortex has to regrow back up where it belongs, and before it is regrown the jet stream circling the Pole lacks its ordinary vigor. The arctic has “shot its wad”, and has nothing left to send south. The south takes advantage, sending thaws north. Occasionally this can brew up a decent storm, when a vast area of snow-cover creates enough “home grown” cold, and that cold needs no reinforcements from the Pole, and is able to clash with the thaw in a wintry way. However such storms don’t tend to stress people as much; temperatures are just below freezing, and often they are bracketed by thaws. For the most part a mind numbing arctic outbreak involving the Polar Vortex is a reason to hope. One hopes that, if you just hang in there, you’ll see a prolonged thaw, and can eventually stand in the sun, and even stick your neck up from your scarf a little.

However the most severe winters don’t involve the Polar Vortex being uprooted and coming south. It may wobble, or drift to one side of the Pole, but it stays home. And from its home it directs successive pulses of arctic air down one channel, created by a trof which somehow gets locked in place, or else wobbles to and fro at roughly the same longitude. Down at the bottom of such trofs people at lower latitudes experience the worst winters of their lifetimes. The hoped-for thaw never comes. The cold never quits.

I found myself remembering such a winter when I chanced across a Seth Borenstein article titled, “December Serving Up Baked Alaska…”

I have been rolling my eyes over Seth’s Alarmist take on weather for over a decade. (Heck, it might even be two decades by now.) But, even though he tends to use information to leap to preposterous conclusions, he does tend to use actual facts as his springboard. In fact I tend to like his writing the way I once liked Robert Felix’s site Ice Age Now. At Robert’s site I could learn of cold waves and snowstorms no one else reported about, and in Seth’s articles I read about warm spells and thaws every Alarmist wants to report, but often Seth is the first.

However as he talked about warmth in Alaska it triggered my Way-back Machine.

The winter of 1976-77 was one of the coldest I can remember, on the east coast of the USA. That was back during the “Ice Age Scare”. And one thing I remember was that it was hot and very dry in California, and mild in western and central Alaska, because the jet stream looped far to the north, off the west coast. But then it turned sharply south, drawing a cross-polar-flow of bitter cold air from Siberia to Eastern Alaska and the Yukon, and then down the east side of the Canadians Rockies and southeast, spreading out across the USA clear down to Florida.

I remember Pacific storms would head north, missing drought-afflicted California, and then crash into the wall of arctic air, dwindling into a little ripple of low pressure that came down the boundary between Pacific and Arctic air formed by the Rockies. I’d watch these “Alberta Clippers” carefully, because usually they just delivered the next installment of arctic air, but some hooked north on the east coast of the USA and became gales and gave us snowstorms.

I was young and hot blooded and cold didn’t bother me, and the winter had all the misery I wanted (and had been so disappointed about not seeing the winter before). I had a wonderful time that winter because, despite twelve foot tides twice a day, Casco Bay froze so solidly that you could walk for miles and visit islands. I think the start of my interest in sea-ice was simply due to spending so much time upon it. Here is a picture of me upon the salt water in January 1977, writing on sea-ice (with my dog Zeus.) (Picture taken by my friend Joe Nichols.):

One lesson I learned from that winter was that warmth in western Alaska is by no means a sign of a warm winter overall. In fact it may be a sign that we in eastern USA need to be on guard. Hold onto your hats, and pile your firewood near the door. Have a back-up plan for when the power goes out, or the oil and/or propane isn’t delivered.

In actual fact our government’s hate of fossil fuels made me heap firewood even though I am reaching a point in my life when lugging firewood has lost its appeal. I’d much rather just sit back and turn up a thermostat. But without fossil fuels a thermostat will not work. And even during a mild winter, this far north, you either want the thermostat to work, or want to have a heap of firewood.

The question I have is whether this winter will be cold or not. I’d like a mild winter, for then I’d have firewood left over and wouldn’t have to buy as much next year. But a mild winter like 1975-1976 would put me on guard for a monster winter like 1976-1977.

But I just don’t see a sign the arctic will send the “Arctic Vortex” south and “shoot its wad.” Even the December chill seems very balanced with the Polar Vortex remaining at the Pole and having trofs rotate around it. Look at the map I’ve used in prior posts of what computer models see for the situation round Christmas.

Despite how deep the trofs are, the situation looks very balanced. If you include the cold in the mid Atlantic and mid Pacific, the trofs look like the five arms of a starfish. There is no sign (yet) that the Polar Vortex prefers one trof to another, and is going to surge down on one side of the Pole and “shoot its wad”. Rather the pattern looks sustainable. It looks able to reload and repeat. In which case the thaw I hope for would be less likely, and the worst-case-scenareo (for a world which foolishly has fossil fuels in short supply) seems more possible.

I confess my inability to state which option will come to pass. All I want to do is point out what we might look for. If the worst-case-scenario develops, knowing it is about to happen might be helpful and allow one to make preparations which seem appropriate, “in time” and not “too late”.

What I am going to be looking for is the “reload”, and a map that looks like the above map again in January, and again in February, and again in March, and even in April. That is a development I very much hope NOT to see.

Hope for the best but prepare for the worst.

P.S. The power is back on and I again can link to the web. One of the first things I did was to peruse the long term forecasts, and immediately noticed the snow forecast for Christmas weekend has been changed to rain. The storm looks likely to go west of us, which gets me remembering 1975-1976 again. This is good news if you like low energy bills in New England. The news is not so good in Minnesota, or even down in Texas. I can see temperatures as much as twenty degrees below normal forecast for Christmas, to our west.

It doesn’t seem fair that we get off Scot free, but the weather plays by its own set of rules.


Withdrawal and escapism isn’t always a bad thing. I’ve noticed quite a number of people mentioning, recently, that the network news seems bad for their mental health. Though ordinarily they are people who like to stay up-to-date on current affairs, they simply find the news too aggravating.

One person stated that nowadays the news seems carefully crafted to offend. For example, a recent prisoner-exchange with Russia involved an offensive (to patriots) celebrity who had been convicted of possessing illegal drugs being rescued, as a decorated marine was left behind. News such as this seems designed to infuriate. (One bitter person suggested that the only good that could come from such an exchange was that perhaps many more celebrities would be kidnapped and incarcerated in foreign jails, held hostage forever, because we’ve nothing left to exchange.) In any case, rather than walking about infuriated, some people simply have cut back on their consumption of news. They state their health has greatly improved.

My personal escape is to go back in time. I was reading that even Winston Churchill was forced to do this, even on the cusp of World War Two. He didn’t actually want to escape, but he had to earn a living, and therefore he had to crank out a history book he was contracted to write. He’d already received (and spent) the advance he negotiated. Even as Hitler marched into Poland Churchill had to write about Joan of Arc in 1430. He stated it took a supreme act of concentration to rip his mind from politics and do his writing. It is far easier for me.

My recent escapism has involved reading about Henry the Navigator during that same time period, because I love reading how the Portuguese sailors learned to stop hugging the coasts, and became men who could spend days and even weeks out of sight of land. The records of where those sailors went were very well kept, and the libraries in Lisbon were some of the world’s greatest. Apparently several contained over 20,000 books by the 1700’s, but all was reduced to ashes by a terrible earthquake in 1755. The earthquake occurred on All Saints Day, when it was a tradition to have lit candles in houses, and this caused so many house fires to break out that the inferno turned into a terrible firestorm. For that reason much that the Portuguese sailors did vanished from the world of verifiable history, fading into the mists of wonderful lore.

As I sat by my wood stove, contemplating things that occurred hundreds of years ago, so far from reality I was like a sailor out of sight of land, I heard an ominous siren in the distance, starting at the fire station and slowly crossing the unseen horizon. I wryly thought to myself someone else’s wood stove wasn’t as well behaved as mine, and had gotten out of hand. Our local fire department tends to see a cluster of chimney fires every autumn, when the weather first gets cold, because people neglected to get their chimney’s swept over the summer.

I did better than that. I replaced my entire stovepipe. The old pipe was a top-of-the-line, double-layered, insulated pipe, but thirty-five years had beaten the bleep out of it. Falling branches in a terrible ice-storm dented it, and at the dents corrosion had set in, and also, despite sweeping, a gradual growth of creosote harder than coal, (which a sweep’s bristles couldn’t budge), were clotting it like a fat man’s arteries. It had to go.

Wincing slightly I paid $1500.00 for the sections of new pipe, and then, huffing and puffing more than slightly, I clambered up my ladder and replaced the entire thing. Now the stove has a wonderful draught. When the stove is open full-bore it practically sucks in the furniture, and the stove glows wonderful warmth.

Despite all precautions there’s inherent dangers in burning wood, and insurance agents can get downright nasty about wood-stoves, referring to books of carefully calculated “risk”. They tire me. “Risk” is all over the place, and even if you bundle everything in bubble-wrap, a Lisbon-Earthquake-of-1755 is liable to befall you. Then, if falling walls don’t crush you, and the huge tsunami doesn’t drown you, and the firestorm doesn’t cook you, and the lack of oxygen near the fire doesn’t asphyxiate you, the crazed populace is liable to blame the entire event on you, and burn you as a witch. Risk is always around us, and sometimes the obsession on “risk” makes me wish insurance agents would all trip on little children’s runaway marbles and….. and…. have a sense of humor.

In actual fact I think the real reason people moved away from wood fires is all the work involved, not the danger. There is the hauling the wood in, and the hauling the ashes away, and the sweeping up afterwards. All this effort is avoided with gas heat. Of course, gas causes incredible explosions, which is why oil heat was originally advertised as being “safest.” But, of course, now people get all bent out of shape about fossil fuels, and say oil heat causes the oceans to rise, icecaps to melt, and songbirds to sing out of tune. They insist that, to be safe, we all need to freeze. To be safe fuel prices need to soar through the roof. The ironic mantra I now hear a lot is, “Heating or Eating; you can’t have both.”

With the focus on fretting so much, I can see why people turn off the news. We have a need to sometimes sail out of sight of land. If you are not told over and over and over again how dreadful and awful and terrible fire is, maybe then you can see it as a friend.

I'm up when all is hushed to feed the fires
But don't go back to bed. Something about
The quiet quells my sluggish, yawned desires.
I sip coffee and help the fire not go out.
Or, to confess, I'm playing with my old friend
And memory looks back sixty-five long years
To when I got scolded. It doesn't end:
This long relationship with what dries tears
And has warmed me when I had no lover.
It puts up with a poking scientist
And allows my balked mind to discover
Unknown avenues. My warmed cheek is kissed. 
In deserts, by oceans, through hot spells and snows
I feed and am fed and companionship grows.


Before fossil fuels, mankind lived very close to the edge. This was especially true of people who lived in the north and faced winters that could kill. Of course, southern peoples faced their own dangers, which could also kill. In fact, saying “especially northern peoples” likely makes me a sort of racist. So be it. I am of the north, and have a sort of grandfatherly fondness towards anyone so foolish as to live up at latitudes where you can freeze your tush off for a quarter, and sometimes half, of every year. What knuckleheads we are! But one can’t help but be fond of their own family, even if it makes one prone to nepotism.

Anyone stupid enough to live in the north must be smart in other respects, because cold does kill. Also famine kills, and famine, (brought on because one has been a “grasshopper” and not an “ant”), is closely associated with fever. Cold and hungry people have little resistance to disease. During the various Irish famines, statistics show few died from starvation itself, but rather from a whole slew of associated illnesses. In like manner, when a Native American prophet (called different names by different tribes) went to visit the North Wind, Fever and Famine were a couple of ugly attendants (witches?) of the North Wind, sitting and cackling outside the doorway to the North Wind’s wigwam.

When the climate shifts dramatically colder, as it has been prone to do, northern people have seen terrible decreases in their populations. Events such as the Little Ice Age resulted in crop failures, in which case even those who worked like “ants” had as little as “grasshoppers” when the weather got abruptly cold earlier than usual in the fall. Then as much as 20%, or even 50%, of a local population could die. This caused desperation, but also an ingenuity appeared in terms of trying new foods. A couple of common “famine foods” it is good to know about are the inner bark of trees (especially elms and pines) and lichens.

Ordinarily such foods were abandoned as soon as times improved, but sometimes people remembered odd benefits such foods had, and continued using them, (albeit on a limited basis.) For example, powdered slippery-elm bark turns out to be a good food for those with delicate stomachs. Pine bark is a good wintertime source of vitamin C, if you live far from orange groves. And willow bark contains what pharmacists call “aspirin”. In fact the value of bark was so recognized that some Finns carefully saved the bark of trees they cut, even if current situations didn’t warrant it. They fed the preserved bark to livestock if the future held a good harvest. However the Finns had experienced some awful famines, and saved bark on general principles, to “play it safe.” If the harvest failed, they had the bark to fall back on.

Such foods require skill, to be edible. There is a certain local lichen in New England which can kill you if you eat it raw, for it will cause diarrhea nearly as bad as cholera’s. However if you “toast” the same lichen by a fire (it is the lichen which is like big, flat, rubbery, dark-green scales on the sides of rocks, looking more like some sort of seaweed than like ordinary lichen,) then you will wind up with green, crispy stuff you can crumble into a flour that keeps you alive.

In like manner, pine bark must be properly prepared. I lack such skill. My attempt to make pine-bread produced a horrible poison which tasted like gasoline. However Native American women were much smarter than me and made a bread that was apparently quite tasty. In certain high-altitude parts of New England growing corn became impossible for the Algonquin, because the Little Ice Age shortened the growing season, and whole tribes became so focused on gathering bark that the first Europeans described entire groves of white pines standing stripped of their bark. The rivals to these Algonquin were Iroquois who could just barely manage to grow corn, most years, because they lived at a lower altitude, and they were scornful of people who ate bark. They called them “tree eaters”, from which we get the noble and respected word, “Adirondack.”

The Iroquois may have had a point, in mocking people who live where you can’t grow corn, but I am from the north, and my nepotism causes me to admire people like myself, who live where you can freeze your tush off. Why? Because we figure out how to live where others can’t.

The current policy of “green” energy-thinkers seems to want to kill a lot of people. By snatching away fossil fuels, they are removing the benefits fossil fuels made possible. But they do not provide a way to go back to the way it was before.

For example, before there were mills there were woman working at home at spinning wheels. But now, if we close down the mills, women can’t go back to spinning wheels. Heck, if you handed many a woman a needle nowadays she’d be in danger of poking her eye out.

In like manner, before there were huge combines harvesting vast acreages there were men walking over single acres wielding scythes, cutting grain by hand. Any chance of modern computer geeks doing that? I don’t think so. Most haven’t a clue where food comes from, and gag a little when you show them bright orange carrots come from filthy, wormy dirt, and practically upchuck if they see smooth, white eggs come from a chicken’s filthier butt. Any chance such uneducated “educated” men can swiftly get back to the manly art of providing for the family by providing the food? Forgive me, but I have my doubts.

Basically we live in a society where most can’t grow their own food, build their own shelters, spin their own clothing, or even raise their own children. This has created a blissfully ignorant intelligentsia which can come up with socially suicidal ideas like “The Green New Deal”. And now they are about to see just how idiotic their idealism is. They have created a situation where many could freeze and starve.

My only hope is that there are some who, like me, saw the idiocy of the intelligentsia fifty years ago. I was partially seduced by smooth talkers twice my age, (“LSD will expand your mind”), but when push came to shove I rejected the seductions of spiritual con-artists, and preferred a more Truth-based, (and therefore in some ways archaic), vision of what Truth was.

And what was that Truth? It was respect for the food I ate, the clothing I wore, the roof that sheltered me, and the warmth that allowed me to avoid freezing.

It’s amazing how forgetful people can be, and how they forget to count their blessings. When they put on a cotton shirt, do they thank the one who grew the cotton, or the person who spun the fabric? Usually not. When they eat a ham sandwich do they thank the one who grew the bread, or raised the pig, or smoked the ham, or baked the bread (not to mention all those we should be thanking for mayonnaise)? Usually not. And when they walk to a wall and twirl a little dial and expect to be warm?

Sadly, that little dial has no power to warm you. You can click it five, ten, fifty, five hundred times, and your house may just get colder.

So who has the power?

Currently those who have power are idealistic idiots. I very much fear we are about to see them learn the hard way that they are idiots. The sad thing is that it is we too will suffer, if we rely on idiots.

Me? I don’t. Not that I didn’t rely on idiots when young, but they betrayed my trust. But….not that I could trust myself, either. I saw I was an idiot as well. I was especially an idiot to trust idiots. So who could I trust? Basically it came down to “In God We Trust”, but as a teenager I couldn’t honestly say I believed in God. Therefore it was distilled into, “In Truth I Trust.”

Truth is not all that highly regarded, currently, which is why mainstream media and quasi-mainstream-media make millions with “Fake News”. They pretend to be “both sides” of an issue but actually represent one side of a propaganda that is false. They have been false about Global Warming, false about corona virus vaccines, false about Trump, false about Biden, and in fact there is very little they have been truthful about. In fact, if God is Truth, and the mainstream media is not truth, then in some ways that makes the media the “Antichrist”.

There is a section of the Bible where a seer named Daniel got to peek into the future, and saw stuff so upsetting that he wound up sick in bed for around a week. Not that Daniel didn’t see that God and the good guys won in the end, but there was a time (or times) before the end when evil had great power. Perhaps Daniel got glimpses of Hitler, and Stalin, or other despots who despised the godly, such as Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who made it politically correct to slaughter pigs on the alter of the holy temple in Jerusalem. And of course (then as now) there are those who “go along to get along”. There were Jewish priests who basically were saying slaughtering pigs on the alter respected cultural diversity. Of course, they used different words back then, but they were amenable to evil, even when a Jew named Jesus appeared. There are always people who behave like complete morons in the name of “political correctness”, and who are responsible for giving correctness a bad name. They are why people detest priests and religion. It’s not God’s fault. Don’t blame Truth for the chicanery of liars.

If you are a stickler for Truth you can find yourself in positions where you are not “politically correct”, and frustrate friends by “failing to take advantage of opportunities offered.” As a young poet I perhaps could have made good money by writing rhymes that sold Chocolate Sugar Bombs breakfast cereal, but I simply couldn’t join an industry that rotted children’s teeth and caused their metabolisms to go haywire. I also could have been successful if I slept with a creepy old publisher. But I was virtuous and my reward was to sleep in my car. (Look back to old posts on this site for the tales of my trials.) But my point is that, if you are a stickler for Truth, you can wind up sleeping in a car in a campground in the autumn, and you then need to face the fact the weather is getting darn cold. You would resort to using your car’s heater if you could, but that involves gasoline, and your car’s tank is near empty and you haven’t got a job. How, then, do you stay warm?

You do what even Neanderthal knew how to do. You build a fire. But this involves gathering fuel. Where does one find fuel in a campground? Well, the first place to look is in the campfire-hearths of other sites, after other campers have departed. Every morning sees a great exodus of campers from campgrounds, and after such people left, and before newcomers arrived, a great poet (yours truly) once could be seen wandering about the campground gathering unused and half-burned logs.

And when there was no such fuel available? Then one must be a true Neanderthal, and go into the sagebrush, or wander the dry gulches and gullies of desert waterways, and collect what the Great Spirit has provided. Then, when the twilight fades and the desert heat switches so dramatically to cold, you warm in the orange light of a crackling fire. And then you notice something odd. The light does not attract moths. It attracts tourists, who gather by your fire and are delighted to share a beer with a genuine starving artist, and to talk with someone who knows how to talk. Some evenings I had the sense that I, little old me, a broke bum sleeping in his car, was a high point of other’s dreary vacations. Why? Because, after dreary tourist trap after dreary tourist trap, they stumbled upon a garrulous fellow who yammered away about what was beautiful and rich, with delight and humor. And why was it as warming as the fire? Because it was Truth.

Not that those trials were not trials, at the time, but now I can look back and call them the best of times. I was a bachelor. I was free of a wife, free of kids and, (eventually), grand-kids. I was free! Free! Free! But God knows the Truth about such freedom. I was haunted by a thing called “Lonely.”

Then I married a woman with three small kids, and sure didn’t need to worry about the thing called “Lonely” any more. But I did need to worry about keeping the bunch of us warm. I had my doubts about the ability of a mad poet like myself to be a good father and keep children warm. Temperatures can get very cold in New Hampshire. You can expect below zero spells every winter (minus seventeen Celsius) and I have seen numerous day-breaks below minus twenty (minus twenty-nine Celsius).

To make matters worse, the woman I married insisted we move into an abode with “charm”. She did not want to move into a tight, modern place with insulation so complete that it pops your ears when you slam the front door. Instead she desired one of the oldest cottages in town, built when insulation was unheard of. As we went upstairs I saw the nails sticking down from the ceiling, and knew darn well they got frosty in December. I tried to talk my wife out of bringing children into such a place, but she could only see the “charm” of antiquity. For a mad poet I became surprisingly practical, and pointed out “charm” can mean “drafty”, but I was romantic enough to believe women know more about “home” than men, and therefore, if she wanted to live in a 250-year-old place which should be condemned, so be it. But I, as the man, should keep the place warm, despite the fact the place was as drafty as…as…the army in Vietnam.

It seemed impossible. The place once was heated by coal, but the coal furnace in the basement had been replaced by a roaring, rattling propane furnace. It was only an “improvement” because propane made no ashes and didn’t require shoveling and was incredibly cheap. But the furnace had an efficiency rating of less than 50%. It wasted so much heat it required a chimney to vent all the wasted heat through the roof. Yet the place also had three wood stoves, to “supplement” the furnace.

The first thing I became aware of was that I couldn’t afford the propane. I might set the heat at fifty and leave home with my three new children left behind bundled in wool, but they knew how to adjust the thermostat, and when I returned the kids would be running about in their underwear and the heat would be set at eighty. When I checked the propane tank I saw this single, innocent transgression had used up half the tank. Besides the house we likely were warming half the neighborhood. As my lawn-mowing business made no money when grass stopped growing, I was hard pressed to even make enough money for food, let alone filling a propane tank once a week, even back when prices were low.

At this point I was told I might qualify for government “heating assistance”. It sounded like free heat, so I went to the office. The visit was a bit embarrassing, because the other people in the waiting room were elderly and frail, or else gaunt mothers with clinging kids. The mothers were, if not widows, abandoned by their men. And there I was, a musclebound poet, glowing with health. What the heck was I doing there?

I did qualify, because I had three kids and my income was low and my wife was pregnant. But filling out the forms became absolutely absurd. I had to provide paper proof my income was low. For most this involves getting a single form from a single minimum-wage-paying boss, stating they had laid the person off, but I worked no such minimum-wage job. I was instead a local handyman, hustling about town mowing lawns, but also doing a slew of other little jobs.To feed three kids, I had to work for roughly seventeen bosses. What the bureaucrats demanded was that I go to all seventeen and get them to sign statements that they had laid me off.

The amazing thing was that I actually complied with the demands of the bureaucrats. I went to all seventeen people and confronted them with the fact that they had “laid me off.” It was in some ways fun. (I prefer sipping a coffee with people and chatting, to actually working.) But it did occur to me that the “heating assistance” I was going to get would only buy enough propane to last about three weeks in January. (In fact it lasted less, because the kids kept cranking up the thermostat when I wasn’t home.)

Then it occurred to me that all the time I was spending getting “heating assistance” was time I could have been spending doing what I had once done, staying warm in a campground. I could have spent the time gathering firewood. So I began gathering firewood. At times, I blush to confess, I took advantage of ignorant people, and charged them for gathering firewood from their property, calling it “a clean up” or “landscaping.” And then?

And then…year after year passed, and we never used that propane furnace again. It broke, and I never fixed it. I planned to update, and get a better furnace, but was so busy with three, and then four, and then five children, that I never got around to it. It was easier to burn wood, which was all about and often free. Only when I hit age sixty did I get around to pausing, and concluding wood involved work, and I was getting old, and it might be nice to just twirl a dial if I wanted the house warmer in a blizzard, rather than going out into the swirling snow for an armload of wood.

And so it was we at long last purchased a wonderful new furnace that hardly made any noise, and rather than working at 50% efficiency worked at nearly 90% efficiency, so it didn’t need a brick chimney, but rather a slender, plastic “waste gas” pipe.

I thought my wife would approve of this concession to old age, because firewood involves a lot of dirt and dead leaves coming into the house along with the firewood, with even bugs and spiders hitching a ride. Then there are ashes which must come out. She’d put up with a quarter century of my messiness. Propane avoids that. However propane heat also involves a faceless register on the floor exhaling heat, which has no “charm”. And my wife likes to charm and gather people, for reasons which don’t make a lick of sense to a banker, but make sense if you care about a thing called, “home.” Despite the fact she could just turn up the propane heat, she preferred the wood stove. It had “ambience”, which is another word for “charm”. (If you want the honest truth, I think the source of “ambience” was actually her fresh baked cookies, and one must concede an overworked oven does make a chilly, winter house warmer.)

In any case, what this all means is that I am a man pushing seventy, yet still dealing with firewood. I huff and puff over single logs which I once could have flipped with my little finger. I am not aging gracefully, resent my own weakness, embarrass myself when no one witnesses, and my ego is constantly punctured, but…I keep the home fires burning.

One gratifying thing about being an old anachronism is that I am able to scoff at others for caring about oil, propane, wind-power or solar heat. I don’t let people forget the one time we had a terrible ice-storm and went ten days without power. We, in our drafty old house, were warm with our wood-stoves, which also provided us with hot water and cooked stews and even melted pails of snow to flush the toilets with. We didn’t have leave town and move in with relatives like some more “modern” people did, nor did we experience water damage from frozen pipes.

When I belabor this topic, ranting about how helpless “modern” people are, listeners tend to roll their eyes, or they did so until Fraudulent Biden set out to destroy all domestic production of fossil fuels. People up north tried not to panic, but there seemed a chance, just a chance, that the Green New Deal would be like an ice storm, and there might again be frozen pipes and water damage in modern houses.

Even before last winter was over I was taking steps to make sure we were ready to use wood, if there was no propane, this winter. I wanted to buy the wood before the prices went through the roof. The prior winter I sawed and split my own wood, and had arrived at the conclusion that I’m getting too old and slow. I managed to save a lot of money, but only just barely. So this year, older and weaker, I couldn’t be such a tightwad and had to spend actual money on wood.

I went to an old-timer who sells wood. His family has been around town for centuries, and he is the last of them. Hills and brooks and a road is named after his family, but he has no son. He is a vast repository of knowledge that soon will be lost, so I always try to make purchasing wood an occasion to gab with him. On this occasion he invited me to see his new gizmo.

Unlike me, he does not cut wood and split it the way we did it back in 1988. He has, over the years, had all sorts of machinery built to simplify the process, and to reduce the manpower involved. His latest contraption cost a pretty penny (and definitely utilized the power of fossil fuels), but it could easily cut and split a cord of wood in half an hour. (A “cord” is a woodpile four feet wide, four feet tall, and eight feet long.)

Proudly he showed me how the gizmo worked. He drove his lumber truck up to the gizmo and used the truck’s “arm” (a sort of small crane) to pinch, lift, and swing thirty-foot-long logs from the truck to the gizmo and lay them in a enormous tray. Once he had ten logs in the tray he clambered down from the truck and into a cozy, climate-controlled cabin with big windows, and turned his gizmo on. A huge circular blade hummed, and could cut through a log eighteen inches across in two seconds. (It would take me at least a minute with my sharpest chainsaw.) Then that log, precisely measured, fell into a holder and a wedge shaped like the symbol for number (or tic-tack-toe) crunched into the log and split it into nine pieces of firewood. (It would take me eight swings of a spitting maul to reduce the same log to nine pieces, and every swing would need to be perfect.) The nine pieces of wood then plopped down onto a conveyor belt which lifted them up and dumped them into a dump truck. It was amazing: Zip, crunch, nine pieces of wood; zip, crunch, nine pieces of wood; zip, crunch, nine pieces of wood. And the fellow doing all this work wasn’t even breaking a sweat. He just sat in a cabin and worked levers. I decided the old fellow was aging a lot more gracefully than I was.

Because I’d ordered early and the wood was green I got a decent deal. Six cord for $2000.00. Basically I paid this winter’s heating bills all at once, last summer. It took two dump-truck deliveries, which annoyed me slightly, for I wanted four cord at my house and only two at my Childcare, but his driver delivered three and three. That meant I’d have to transport a cord from the Childcare to my house in my jeep. That sounded like a lot of huffing and puffing to me. But I loaded the jeep (roughly eight Jeep-loads make a cord.)

And drove to my house and lugged wood up the steps to stack it on the front porch. Where once I’d dashed up and down those steps, I now paused at the top after each load, serenely gazing over the landscape (to hide the fact I was huffing and puffing). (Note teal propane tank by steps, full of propane, and yellow snow shovel next to it; I’m ready for the hounds of winter.)

I did my best to pace myself. Though I placed my order in April the wood hadn’t arrived until August. One load a day seemed about right. A load lasts only a couple of days when the weather is fiercely cold, but it was far from cold in August. At first we used no wood at all, and then a Jeep-load lasted a week when the mornings first grew nippy. The porch was soon full and I didn’t need to lug wood every day. But there still was the stacking of the rest of the woodpiles, and there were two whole dump-truck loads to stack. (I had to stack it because wood doesn’t dry well if left in the heap the dump-truck deposits, especially when the trees cover the pile with fallen leaves which then are drenched by rain.) I needed to get cracking, but procrastinated due to other chores, until winter did what it always does: Freaks me out with a dusting of early snow. Snow before Thanksgiving always melts away, but it never fails to jolt me into motion.

It was at this time I began to feel I had bitten off more than I could chew. The incremental weakening caused by aging sneaks up on you. It made me angry in a way. A man likes to be able to respond to an emergency, but I was getting so slow I felt like an obstacle, an old geezer just getting in the way. Not that anyone was so rude as to say such a thing; I just muttered it to myself. I wasn’t keeping up with a schedule I had in my head.

Then Thanksgiving came, and a sudden small swarm of children and grandchildren appeared and in an amazing 90 minutes stacked the entire three cords of wood.

I was out there helping, constructing the cribbed lower corner near the steps, but I didn’t even need to lean over for logs. They were handed to me. Meanwhile everyone else rushed about, throwing logs into the front bucket of a small (fossil fueled) front-end-loader, driving them down to the woodpile, and stacking them up. (The measured pile actually added up to 3 and a half cords; my old friend had given me a good deal).

As I watched all the man-power (and woman power) in action I found myself thinking back 34 years, to a day in 1988 when my stepmother had rubbed my fur the wrong way, by asking me to bring wood upstairs to her stove in a way I found bossy and presumptuous. (I was busy writing a poem at the time.) I put my ire to good use, dashing up and down the stairs and bringing up three times the wood she needed, stamping and clunking wood down loudly and concluding with a curt, “There! Happy now?” She pouted back at me, (as we were involved in a war wherein we each tried to make the other feel more guilty), but we were distracted by my father, who wore a look of real appreciation and simply exclaimed, “Isn’t strength a most wonderful thing!?”

I felt a little sheepish, for I was 35 and strong as a horse, and when he was 35 he lost his strength all at once due to polio. But he wasn’t trying to “out-guilt” me. He really did appreciate what he had lost.

And now its 34 years later all of a sudden, and my turn to really appreciate what I have lost. But I have a feeling other people are going to really appreciate fossil fuels, once they’re lost, as well.

And so….the invisible war proceeds.

LOCAL VIEW: Cherry’s For October

The news tends to aggravate me so much I’ve decided it is bad for my health.

One conspiracy theory I toy with is that politicians and the media are attempting to drive healthy people insane by being utterly idiotic and then pretending it isn’t idiotic to be idiotic, but rather it is idiotic to call idiocy what it is: Idiotic. If this is their sinister plot, it is succeeding. But I counter them with a counter-attack. I ignore them.

Or…well…I don’t utterly ignore them. For example, when Fraudulent Biden’s idiotic energy policies threaten to put the price of home heating through the roof, I figure I should find a different way to heat my home. Either that, or start knitting like crazy and muff myself in yarn.

It actually isn’t that hard to find an alternative to taxable energy, for I live in an area with lots of trees. It also isn’t that hard for me to burn wood, for I’ve done it all my life. I don’t need to buy a wood stove for I already have four. If you search my website for something I wrote back on August 7,  2013 called “Firewood”,  you’ll see even back then, I was a veteran.

I could write a book about the advantages of burning free, local wood, compared to using fossil fuels and enriching others.

Also, another conspiracy theory I toy with is that the idiots in control want to get rid of old people, because old people are not idiotic enough. They want to get rid of them by freezing them to death. Old folk like me can’t withstand the cold like we did when young and hot-blooded, and the majority of old folk do not die in the summer, due to Global Warming, but in the winter because their fixed-incomes can’t pay for inflated food costs, and also inflated heating costs.

The politicians promised, decades ago, that we were taxed in various ways because we were too irresponsible to save up on our own, and they were going help us by saving for us, so that when we were old and gray we’d be taken care of. Now politicians are annoyed, for too many of us have become old and gray, and too many quite understandably expect to be cared for. However the politicians blew the money they collected years ago. How? Basically by buying votes, often from refugees who never paid a penny into the supposed “savings for old age.” So now there are no savings, but there are a lot of good and honest old people who have every right to expect to be cared for, at least in a rudimentary manner. Yet some idiotic politicians are annoyed by the elder’s request that politicians fulfill their vows. In the case of the frailest old-timers, the cost of fulfilling vows is over $100,000.00 a year. If the politicians had kept their hands off the money, it would be there. But they didn’t, and to the worst of these unscrupulous politicians the evil idea occurs that, If you just bump off ten “useless old individuals”, you have “saved” a million dollars. And, if you intentionally introduce coronavirus into homes for the elderly, (like a number of governors did), you can have ten thousand die, and “save” a billion.

In actual fact you have lost much that money can’t buy. You have lost people who have decades of experience, and are not idiots. But some only value idiocy. Such people are the lunatics who are currently running the asylum.

Fortunately (for me) after being burned when young I never trusted the government, or any employer. I was not attracted to the idea that in some imaginary future the people who took my money would give it back. My sad experience was that people are selfish, and even when they mean well they tend to forget to pay-back. Even in the break-rooms of ordinary workplaces, where an honor-system asked folk to pay for the coffee they drank, people tended to only put a quarter in the coffee-can for every dollar they drank. (Oh sure, they might grandly put a five in at some point, but the memory of that five strangely blinded them to the following sixty days when they put in nothing).

Me? I’m (occasionally) not like the others, and am amazingly generous, (especially when it comes to rotton poetry), but many times in my life, after being generous, I have found myself unrewarded, sleeping in my car, cold, and hungry. This does tend to focus the mind wondrously on basic needs.

One need which privileged people with dark skins don’t know about, because God blessed them with warm homelands, is the curse poor, disadvantaged white people know, called “Winter”. It can kill you in an hour, easily. Therefore warmth is one of those basic needs the mind focuses wondrously upon. You cannot wait for a government check. You need to be warm right away, right now.

Years ago I faced this basic failure of others to tend to my needs. As a father of five, with a wife depending on me, and cold weather coming on, I turned to the government for help, and it did its best, which was a comical failure. (This is a funny story, hopefully for some future post.) So then I realized: It was up to me.

It’s amazing what you can do when you have to. I scavenged firewood like crazy, and learned a truism: You are likely to get more heat cutting wood for eight hours than you will get spending eight hours in the waiting rooms of bureaucrats.

And thirty years later, this is what I fall back on. The bureaucrats have basically gone berserk, and I doubt very much they care a hoot for old fossils like me, (no matter what they palaver), so it seems the best strategy I can enact, as winter approaches, is to gather wood.

One nice thing about firewood, in New Hampshire, is that it is basically free. It is all over the place. All you pay is your own effort. Of course, this involves a good work-out, but you would pay to have a good work-out at a gym, but this work-out doesn’t charge you. It actually pays you with free home-heating, and also warms you on cold days even before you start the fire.

Besides woodstoves, my home does have a propane heater. However it broke down in 1992 and I never could afford to replace it (with a far more efficient furnace) until around 2012. So what does that show? It shows that for twenty years I did not pay utility companies for heat in the winter. I did not support “Big Oil”. I did not support “Arab Emirates”.  No politics were involved; no young American men had to die in a foreign land to heat my home. All I needed to do was cut wood.

Years later, this is what I fall back on. Furthermore, I have an advantage I didn’t have thirty years ago: The local folk know I will not mind if they skip the bother of hauling logs far away, and instead just dump them at the edge of my yard. This would seldom have happened thirty years ago, but logs are not as valuable as they once were. I assume it is because many have shifted from wood stoves to “pellet” stoves.

Personally, I am not certain it is worth it to reduce logs to pellets before you burn them. I would like to see a scientific comparison: How much does it cost to split a log into firewood, compared to how much it costs to reduce a log to pellets, and then, how much heat do you get from firewood, compared to how much heat you get from pellets. Maybe pellets are more efficient? I don’t know. It seems to me most burn pellets because it allows them more free time than splitting and lugging firewood allows. For them it is a good deal, but a cost-analysis might show they are paying more.

Me? I can’t afford to replace my four wood-stoves with pellet stoves, and therefore I’m an anachronism, because pellets do not matter to me. Staying warm matters. I need wood! And therefore I do my own sort of cost analysis, in terms of the exercise I get, and the time I get to spend outside, and the thinking splitting wood seems to stimulate, and (to me) burning wood and not pellets seems the better deal.

Recently my next-door neighbor had to to cut down a cherry tree because it threatened electric lines, and, rather than paying someone to haul wood elsewhere, he assumed I would be grateful to get the wood for free. I walked out one morning to find the logs neatly stacked close to where the the cherry tree had grown, which happens to be where I split my wood.

I was immediately grateful, and it wasn’t merely because the wood was free. It was because the wood was cherry, and as I looked at the reddish wood I immediately began to hear the voices of old Yankees echoing in the lanes of my memory. Not that I was actually hearing voices, like a madman, but those old-timers really knew a lot about wood, and they liked to compare notes as they worked.

Back when I was young there were far fewer power tools, and something about hand tools seemed to make men more intimate with boards, and with the various sorts of logs and lumber, and the differences between “green” wood and “seasoned” wood, and “clean grained” wood and “knotty” wood, and “live knots” versus “dead knots” versus wood that was “burled”. They could go on at great length about what many now only have a four-letter-word for, “wood”.

Not that I appreciated their knowledge. Men always seem able to bore the uninterested by going on ad infinitum about car-parts or computer-programs or whatever it is that they work with, and when young I was often uninterested. In fact I think I only became interested by watching, rather than listening. Something about the way an old-time-carpenter would examine several boards before choosing the one he wanted made me curious. What was he seeing? What was he looking for? Then the way the wood seemed to so easily peel away under his plane, when I had no such luck when using a plane, increased my curiosity.

Some old-timers looked too cross to question, but I initially was naïve and cheerful enough to pipe questions, and learned that, if I could withstand the initial grumpy torrent of abuse, wherein I heard my ignorance described in the most scornful and graphic terms, I sometimes learned those old-timers were quite glad to tell me what they knew about wood. In fact it could be difficult to get them to stop.

There were a couple of young men, Robert Bryant and Marshall Dodge, who, back in the 1960’s when I was young, blundered into making a good living simply by doing impressions of old New Englanders, playing the characters of “Bert and I.”  As I recall one told the stories in a down-east Maine accent, and the other made the sound effects. They cut a humor-album, and what surprised them initially was that their album was a slight one-hit-wonder and they got nice royalty checks. What surprised them later was that the checks didn’t stop. Their popularity didn’t fade. So they made a total of four humor-albums, but people thirsted for more. Despite the fact they were relatively young and were not earning their living by working with their hands, their ability to imitate the way old geezers talk likely made old geezers wonder, “Why do they get all the glory, and not us?”

In any case, when young I liked “Bert and I”, and to some degree also liked old geezers.  I wish I had listened more than I did, and had asked questions I didn’t, yet now that I myself am an old geezer I find my brains are the repository for an extraordinary amount of trivia I picked up along the way, and a lot has to do with firewood.

I also know the old-timers valued wood in a way we don’t, and there were forgotten rules about what you should use as lumber, an what was to be used as firewood. Those men likely roll over in their graves, seeing what we cut up for firewood or even grind up for pellets. They are likely appalled by every tree that falls in the woods and lays unused. The fact the ferocity of California forest fires is largely fueled by fallen trees and dead brush is something they could not imagine, for the forests of New England were well groomed when they were in charge, for they had a use for just about every fallen twig.

When you see video of California forest fires, does it ever seem odd to you that many in California are worried about an “energy crisis”? How much firewood do they waste, with their refusal to clean up their woods? If they cleaned up their woods, and used the deadwood to fuel a power plant (with scrubbers in its smokestacks), maybe they’d get energy, and we in the east wouldn’t have our skies dirtied and our sunlight dimmed by their stupid fires. However I am veering into the idiocy of the Elite. Let me get back on track.

Where was I? Oh yes, a pile of cherry wood neatly stacked on the edge of my property.

I recalled the voices of old-timers, and recalled one odd thing about cherry is that it is unlike other woods. Most wood, when green, has a certain spring and bounce to it, and it is easier to to split such logs as they dry out. Cherry is the opposite. Some process I do not comprehend causes cherry wood to bind and knit more firmly, the older it gets. For the old-timers, who used cherry to make beautiful furniture, this likely created rules for when to use “green” cherry and when to use “seasoned” cherry, but all I cared about was how to split the logs. Basically the rule is: “The sooner the better.” So, despite the heat of the summer, I attacked the wood. I’m glad I started early, for even green the wood can withstand a geezer’s first whack.

Another thing I recalled geezers saying about Cherry is that it burns “cool” compared to most hardwoods. Only Birch and Poplar burns “cooler”, (and Poplar is called “gopher wood” because it burns so quickly that even as you put it in the stove you need to “go for” more).

It seemed smart to first work on a wood that burns “cool”, because that is what you want, on the first frosty mornings of late September. You certainly don’t want a wood that burns “hot”, the king of which is Black Locust. Black Locust wood is so dense it is hard to light, but once going it is the opposite of Poplar. Poplar coals turn to ashes and go out in a twinkling of the eye, but a bed of Black Poplar coals burns all night. Therefore on a September morning a Black Locust fire would turn your stove into a furnace, as the morning chill became a memory, and it would cause unnecessary sweltering in the home by midmorning. Black locust, and oak, and even maple, should be reserved for sub-zero days in January. Cherry is for September and October.

A final thing I remembered from old-timers is that split cherry smells good, while other wood, and especially Red Oak, (which old-timers called piss-oak), does not smell as good. Therefore, if you want your wife happy you don’t want to stack “piss oak” in the box by the stove in her living room. You can argue all you want about how having the wood indoors will dry the wood and make a warmer living room; piss-oak is not what wives desire as an air freshener. But cherry? Cherry you can stack, and you don’t get in trouble. And so it is, before our first fire of the fall, the wood boxes of the stoves are stacked with sweet-smelling cherry. The wood is getting drier and drier, and the first fires will burn bright and clean without hissing.

Why do I tell you this? I suppose it is because it demonstrates a process wherein the knowledge of prior generations has a good effect on the present tense.  I do this to fly in the face of so-called “cancel culture.” I do this because it is a big mistake to attempt to tear down statues and erase the past. It is a mistake because our elders may have been imperfect, but they knew a lot more than we do about a number of things, and if we insist upon ignoring them we are insisting upon being ignorant.

Santayana put it well, in this manner:

“Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve, and no direction is set for possible improvement. And when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it.”

LOCAL VIEW –Singing In The Pain–

One neat thing about the internet is the ability I gain to hear what people in other places are grousing about. For example, some are complaining their winter hasn’t had snowstorms and there will not be a White Christmas in their locale. This strikes me as ludicrous, for two reasons. First, winter will not even start for another two days. Second, here we are reeling from winter’s blows and many around here are already fed up with winter, before it has officially started.

The cold air masses that plunge down from Canada apparently “lift out” and are pulled back north before affecting many to our south, but we seem to always get clipped. Where to our south they get all rain we get some snow mixed in.

One storm I posted about two weeks ago gave us three feet of snow, though areas not far to our north and south got less than six inches. If it wasn’t trouble enough dealing with such depths of white, the following two storms passed to our west and gave us flooding rains, made all the worse by the fact culverts were clogged with snowbanks. A wash-out littered the end of my driveway with cobbles the size of my fist.

After dealing with deep drifts I had to make sure roofs didn’t collapse under sodden snow, and dealt with a flooded cellar. Then it seemed that the departing rain-storms always pulled down just enough cold air to create just enough backlash snow to force me to deal with clearing it; (at times three inches can be as annoying as three feet).

At the risk of sounding like Rodney Dangerfield, I was starting to feel I’d never get a break. Forget about finding time for Christmas shopping. I was finding it hard to find time to even keep the home-fires burning, or to start the campfires out in the pasture at our Childcare that makes sledding in the cold far more enjoyable for the children. It is hard to even start a fire when the firewood is under three feet of snow. Then children don’t want to sled when it is pouring rain. Then the arctic blasts that followed the rain turned the slopes into sheer ice, and supersonic sledding is downright dangerous when it involves three-year-old and four-year-old kids. (Not that the kids aren’t willing.)

To be honest, I’m getting a bit old to be involving myself in such nonsense. I should be staying home and complaining about the aches and pains brought on by low barometric pressure, not be out in the storms making aspirin salesmen happy by attempting to shovel and split wood like a young man, and to go sledding down bumpy slopes like a child. When the kids demand an igloo I moan. Then, when the igloo is half-built, and the rain ruins it, I start sounding like Rodney Dangerfield.

Despite all the pain, I can find myself singing. I can’t claim credit for lifting spirits, for I do some things by rote, in a purely mechanical fashion, about as cheerful as a robot. I depend on children aged three and four to display the spiritual wherewithal. They are the ones who muster the cheer. They never fail me.

For example, when we ran out of campfire wood I lugged my chainsaw out to the pasture. I know most childcare-professionals turn green at the very idea of small children being within a mile of a chainsaw, but I happen to know, from experience, that children delight in being invited along to the felling of a dead cherry tree or pine.

I take all sorts of precautions, keeping children out of harm’s way even should the tree falls the exact opposite direction I aim it to fall, and the children seem to comprehend the gravity of the situation. I don’t even need to gently rebuke the especially young and naive, because a five-year-old does it for me, like a small sergeant.

A hush descends when I shut off the saw and state the tree is about to fall. Then, when I lean against the trunk, and with a rending crack the tree starts to topple, and I shout, “Timber!”, the children jump up and down more than they do for fireworks, and when the trunk thuds to earth you’d think I’d just invented sliced bread. I keep my eyes on them as much as the log as I cut up the trunk, for they tend to edge closer, eager to load the logs on sleds. Then I likely violate child-labor-laws as badly as Tom Sawyer did when getting his Aunt Polly’s fence whitewashed, for children seem to fail to recognize moving hundreds of pounds of wood to a campfire on sleds is work. For them it seems a romp. But I do nothing to make the work be fun. The children do that work as well.

Another thing I do by rote is to show children what the Christmas carol that begins, “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire” is talking about. Some modern children have no idea what a chestnut, (or even an open fire) is. So I telephone grocery stores until I locate chestnuts, go get several pounds, build a fire and breed a bed of coals, and finally roast some chestnuts. Originally I used a flat rock or bricks, but we’ve gravitated to using the end of a broken shovel.

I never have to lift a finger to make the kids be interested. If anything I use reverse psychology, saying things like “This is grown-up food and you probably won’t like it” and “Chestnuts are too hot for little kids to peel the shells off of”. Even the most doubtful and suspicious will be busily shelling hot nuts, crouching like a squirrel (sans the tail) within an hour. The children supply the eagerness and excitement, as I plod about doing it all by rote.

However even the most idyllic setting can be wrecked by bad weather. Yesterday evening I had a splendid fire going out in the pasture, but noted that the sunset, usually ten minutes after four this far north, abruptly darkened. The wind swirled, and sparks flew from the fire, and then we were hit by an arctic snow squall. Such squalls immediately plaster small faces with wet flakes, and in a gusty wind even the warmest snowsuit can’t counter a freezing face.

I didn’t even wait for the wailing to begin. We immediately abandoned the fire and headed through the swirling, heavy snow for the “warming room” back at the stables, which was a bit like herding cats. The wailing was in full chorus by the time we arrived. Temperatures were crashing as yet again we got “clipped” by the coldest air so far this season, and again temperatures dove towards zero ( -17 Celsius.) By the stable’s infrared lamps the wailing soon ceased.

This morning’s bright sunshine did little to warm things, as the north wind roared in the pines.

Today I thought I might get my Christmas shopping started, but a member of my staff suffered a misfortune and I had to cover for them. Rather than being spiritual and feeling pity for them, I was Rodney Dangerfield and felt sorry for myself. (It is hard dealing with a bunch of small children bouncing off the walls when you can’t do the logical thing, which is to throw them outside.) (I’d rather “delegate”, and watch my staff deal with such chaos.)

Actually, children want to go out despite the cold, especially when the low, December sun is white in a vivid blue sky, and looks inviting through a window. Rather than quarreling I tend to dress them up in their snow suits and allow them out to learn for themselves that their fingers and toes are swiftly bitten by an invisible creature. I keep an eye on their cheeks, watching for the healthy pinkness to tinge to purple, which is a sign the white patches of frostbite may soon follow. I also teach lessons that northern people should know, such as staying out of the wind, or staying close to the sunny side of a barn, which happens to be right by the warming room at the stables. I want to be by that room for I know that, despite all the clamoring to go outside, and all the work of putting on snowsuits and boots and hats and mittens, in as few as five minutes the exact same children will be clamoring to go back in. I prefer that they go into a room where I don’t have to take their snowsuits off. Some settle in the warming room and play with toys or color with cold crayons, but other go in and out, in and out, all morning long. By lunch I’m exhausted, and glad to hand the children off to an arriving member of the staff who will usher them indoors to lunch and settle them for “quiet time”.

But what about poor old Rodney Dangerfield? What about me? Who will usher me or settle me? No one, because I’m a grown man. I’m macho. But machismo didn’t make me all that happy today. I felt the pain but didn’t feel like singing.

It was too late for shopping, (as I also had an afternoon shift), but I had other tasks to catch up on. The woodpile on the porch was getting low, and I needed to cut some short logs from the long lengths of wood up on the back hill behind the house. It shouldn’t be so hard, now that recent rains had reduced the three feet of snow to six inches. I hoisted my chainsaw and headed off stoutly in that direction, and heard the pines roar, and then was hit by a blast of wind that made me wince and cringe away. Instantaneously I decided the saw was too dull. Rather than cut wood I should sharpen the saw. When I touched the blade the fabric of my gloves froze to the steel. I decided I should do the sharpening inside by the hot wood stove.

I think it was at this point my mood changed. Perhaps I don’t always need three-year-olds and four-year-olds to supply the spiritual wherewithal. Perhaps I can rouse something called “a sense of humor”, and muster enough poetry for a sonnet about sharpening a saw.

I know my wife don’t like machines within
Her tidy, warm house, but Wife wasn’t home.
The cold would freeze chainsaw’s steel to skin
And so I brought the chainsaw in, but own
Brains bright enough not to place Saw on polish
Of Wife’s Table. Instead I bent Old Back
And creaked down to the floor, a smallish
Rat-tailed-file in hand, and by Stove began Attack
On Dullness, tooth by tooth. Hearing grinding
My old dog came over to see what bone
I gnawed, down on her level. Then, finding
None, she licked my face. So, now I own
That simplicity’s not all that boring,
Stuck inside with arctic winds roaring.

LOCAL VIEW –Mining Wood–

In case you young folk want to know where firewood comes from, it comes from “wood mines”.

Wood Mine 1 IMG_0108

My rat-hunting dog begs to differ. She claims they are called “woof mines”.

Wood Mine 2 IMG_0111

The deep snows make everyday deeds, like getting an armload of wood, difficult. The deep snow-cover also seems to confuse the computer-model used to figure out our forecasts.  Temperatures are significantly lower than forecast. The low last night was forecast to be 10F (-12 Celsius) but instead it is getting down towards zero in the dark before dawn. But check out the forecast. Nearly fifty degrees warmer and raining by tomorrow!?

Wood Mine 3 IMG_0113

What a mess it could be! Everything will turn to slush and then freeze solid. Great start to winter. But if the snowbanks by the roads freeze solid it will be more difficult to skid off the roads. They become like bobsled runs.


HURRICANE MATTHEW –Updated Sunday Night– Concluded

When I went to bed last night the various experts seemed certain Hurricane Matthew would head out to sea south of New England late next week, which is just fine with me.

When I was younger I was eager to see a storm bring ruin, because I could show off my prowess with a chainsaw afterwards, and make a heap of money, and also get a lot of free firewood. Now I’m 63, and my aspirations are more modest. I’d rather sit in a chair and think about hard work. Or perhaps watch a young man stack the wood I had delivered, (rather than cutting it for myself), and I am a bit grumpy that I am not yet fabulously wealthy, and have to stack the darn stuff myself.


I would have put off even starting the job, but the old friend who delivered the wood let it spill into the neighbor’s drive a little, when he unloaded his dump truck, so I had to hustle out and get cracking. When I was younger I enjoyed the way my muscles felt when I worked hard. Now…not so much, but at least the pile is started.


It seems a bit amazing to me that I actually pay $250.00/cord for wood I once only paid for with sweat, however there is nothing like the radiance of a wood-stove in January. Heat coming up through the floor registers just doesn’t match it.  Also I like the way I am not paying Arabs for my heat, (beyond, perhaps, a bit for the gas and oil in a chain saw). Also there is an old saw (pun) about how firewood “warms you twice.” There is many a winter scene I might have missed, if I didn’t need to go out and get more firewood. Lastly, it keeps you in shape.

If a hurricane hits us, it will seem foolish to  have paid for wood, for trees will be down all over the place. Chainsaws will be going nonstop for weeks. People in New England have no idea of what a huge mess it will make, because the last powerful hurricane to bisect New Hampshire was Carol in 1954. (Donna in 1960 was further east.) Carol pretty much flattened all the trees on the hilltops around here, but since Carol 62 years have passed, and a sapling can get pretty tall in 62 years. Our streets are lined with lovely trees that all could become lovely roadblocks.

I was pretty certain that, when the AMO moved into its “warm” phase again around 1990, we would see a return to the situation that gave New England so many hurricanes between 1930 and 1960.  I tried to alert people who seemed to be unaware, and be building or buying homes in unwise places. I saw myself as a sort of Paul Revere, but have been a sort of Chicken Little, for no really bad hurricanes have ever hit us.

Still, I figured people should at least be educated to what “might” happen. One effort was printed by Eliot Abrams in his blog, back in June of 2006:

I always found it a bit annoying that there wasn’t a disaster, after I predicted one, but 2006 was particularly annoying, for that was the year Bill McKibben made big money publishing in National Geographic , warning about hurricanes, but rather than saying what-happened-before-could-happen again,  he spoke a lot of hoopla about how the hurricanes would be “unprecedented” and caused by “Global Warming.” He was every bit as wrong as I was, but he got all sorts of press, and likely could pay someone else to stack his wood.

Call it envy if you will, but I grumbled a lot to myself as year followed year with no hurricanes, and I got only abuse, as McKibben got richer and richer. Finally, in August, 2012, I ventilated and had my rant published on Watts Up With That.

Hurricane Warning; McKibben Alert

In Many ways I think this is my best effort, when it comes to being a Chicken Little about hurricanes, and, if “The Big One” ever does hit New England, my rant will make me look  like a Paul Revere. It began:

I would like to venture two predictions which I believe have a, (as they say,) “high degree of probability” of proving true.

The first is that a terrible hurricane, as bad as the ferocious 1938 “Long Island Express,” will roar north and bisect New England. True, it might not happen for over a hundred years, but it also might happen this September. The fact is, 1938 showed us what could happen. 1938 set the precedent.

My second prediction is that if such a storm happens this September, it will not matter if it a Xerox copy of the 1938 storm; Bill McKibben will call it “Unprecedented.”

It really makes me wonder: Why on earth would such a seemingly smart person want to make such a total fool of himself? How can McKibben call so many events “unprecedented’ when all you need to do is open a history book, and you can see so many other prior storms set precedents?”

The post is worth reading, if you want to read about the history of past storms, and also about what a storm similar to the 1938 hurricane might do the the structures we have built since 1938, especially in Boston.

However I’ve been there and done that, and have to stack wood. I simply haven’t the time to write the whole danged thing all over again. Anyway, after being wrong so many years, who the heck would listen?  It has been something like 4000 days since a major hurricane has hit the mainland of the USA. Both McKibben and myself look like total jokes. Therefore I was glad to go to bed, and not feel I had to warn anyone. Then, when I got up  this morning, to my dismay I see the GFS computer is producing this track:


Oh bleep. Right over Boston. So I do have to dust off my Chicken Little outfit and run around squawking, after all.

Well, consider it done.

The storm is still a week away, and there are many things that could knock it off track or weaken it, so I’m only raising an eyebrow slightly, at this point. But I will keep watching, and update this post if things become exciting. Expect a lot of hoopla, even if it goes out to sea.

It’s the first major hurricane we’ve seen in a while, and is over very warm water that should keep it well fed:


It’s eye-wall looks like it is going through some sort of reformation phase, which has weaken it to a strong force 4 from a weak force 5, but that is still one heck of a storm.  Steady winds of 155 mph is something we can’t imagine. A sky-diver falling in a belly-down position is experiencing winds of 125 mph. Therefore 155 mph winds could pick you up and blow you away like a leaf.



The European model takes it safely out to sea:


But the GFS has it clobbering Cape Cod


The Hurricane itself? It has no idea what to do, with so much advice, so it currently is being very indecisive and wobbling in a small circle like a spinning top. (I now realize this animation below automatically updates. The wobble no longer shows.)



SUNDAY MORNING YIKES UPDATE   (Or, pick your poison)

The thing about computer models a week away is that they can jump about quite a bit from run to run. Last night’s GFS 0000z run had Matthew safely out to sea:


But this morning’s 0600z run? Yowsa!  New York City gets clobbered!


If you allow your emotions to be swayed by all these various runs you will become a nervous wreak, a mere shadow of your normal confident and happy self. If I were you I’d take it easy, and maybe check out your generator, if you have one. Don’t rush out and buy one, like I did around 20 years ago when Eduard (?) was suppose to hit Boston, and then swerved a hundred miles out to sea. (I couldn’t afford it. If you can afford it, buy one.)

Me? Well, personally, I am going to party like mad all week, for at this time next week I could be dead.

(By the way, this is a really good time to go to the Weatherbell Site and sign up for their one week free-trial. Most of the above maps are from that site. And Joe Bastardi is quite good, tackling the unpredictable whims of such storms, while Joseph D’Aleo is a brilliant teacher.)


The models continue to show a lot of options for route Matthew will take.


These models can be roughly divided into two camps, the “faster” and the “slower”.  The faster models have Matthew hook up with a trough to the north, and the trough whisks it nicely out to sea. The Canadian “JEM” model typifies this idea, with the storm on its way out by Sunday, and the focus of people returning to football.


The slower models have Matthew miss the connection with the trough to the north, and instead of zipping out to sea the storm just stalls and prowls about off the south Carolina coast. While the above map shows the storm heading out on October 9, the below “European” map shows it still hanging back on October 13.


One interesting possibility is shown by  the small storm to the north of Matthew in the above map, which would be a second tropical low sucked into the first.

In essence, my take is that even a chronic worrier like myself can kick back at least until Sunday, by which point we will know if the storm is going to be “faster” or “slower”.

But if you really need to worry, I won’t deprive you. The computer runs we see tend to be an average of many runs, and there are always a few runs, called “outliers”, that stray from the mainstream and march to a different drummer. The GFS may be suggesting Matthew will head out to sea, but check out the outliers. A few crash right into Massachusetts, and one very much resembles the 1938 hurricane (but slower).


Nearly exactly a year ago Hurricane Joaquin was threatening, and then the predicted path went from freaking out New York City to being a fish-storm.

This has happened so many times it is a bit like the “Boy Crying Wolf” to warn people. However, as I said last year after Joaquin turned out to be a false alarm, “I stand by my guns, when it comes to the fact that one of these days one of these storms will look all the world like it is going out to sea, and then will swerve back northwest and shatter the windows of Boston’s skyscrapers while ripping just west of town, heading north at 50 mph. However even a blind squirrel can find a nut. I will be wrong 99 times before I am right once…”

(A storm taking the path of the left hand map above would completely flood New York City’s subways. They have had countless close calls and warnings, (including Hurricane Irene in 2011) but they only use the warnings to collect taxes. Then they spend all the money on “administration”, and never fix the subways with better pumps and better protection.)

I hope I keep on being wrong, and when the one time in a hundred arrives, I am long gone. I’ve done my job, which is to be a Chicken Little. I deserve a break, so I’m just going to calm down.



Looks like Matthew is swerving NNE a little. Pray for the people of Haiti. They are poor on a good day, and have a couple bad ones ahead.


My gorge has risen this morning, as first thing I read this morning (on another site) was a somewhat sneering comment about the people of Haiti being “those permanent victims”. Unspoken was the idea they deserve what they get. Admittedly they are poor, and that poverty extends to poor government, but I don’t subscribe to the mind-set that seemingly wants to “reduce overpopulation” by keeping poor countries poor. It seems a sign you are one of the so-called “elite”, when you  smack your lips eating cherries while watching misery in the Third World on TV.

There are many problems with the concept of “nation building”, but that is no reason to not try to help others help themselves. My little church sent a group of seven teenagers to Haiti back in the late 1990’s and they actually had a wonderful time. The main project was to build a strong structure of cinder blocks in a neighborhood where most homes were made of flimsy tin sheeting. I can’t help but think a cinder block structure will now be where people flee, if winds get over 100 mph.  Sheets of tin will be but flying guillotines.

Stewart Pid alerted me to this remark over at WUWT. “The NHC estimates winds speeds using aircraft. There was a NDBC discus buoy that recorded surface sustained winds at 67 knots maximum. Category 1 hurricane threshold is 64 knots. Mathew was barely a category 1 hurricane when it passed directly over buoy number 42058. The NHC has been doing this for years, making wind speed claims greatly in excess of actual recorded surface winds.”

If it is true winds are not as bad as the NHC reports, I’ll call it an answered prayer. Because that is all I can do, at this point: Pray. I have none of the power of the “elite”. I have enough trouble using my waning strength to help people in my own small corner of the planet, and the only worldly power I have is the power of a single vote. So it only natural (if you own a thing called a “heart”) to turn to otherworldly power, and to pray for brothers and sisters in Haiti.


(Talk about other worldly… A fellow named Frankie Lucena was aboard a hurricane hunter above Hurricane Matthew last night, and got some pictures of electricity discharging in the upper atmosphere above the storm. I guess you could call it “lightning”, and it is known as “sprites”. We didn’t even know this sort of lightning existed, when I was young.)



Hurricane Matthew has smashed through the east of Haiti, and our vaunted media reports 5 deaths. Does not compute. Complications arise, which any competent media, with even the most elementary educations, would wrestle with. What are the complications? Well, either the government’s Hurricane Center is completely inept, and the storm is much weaker than they say, or our government’s reports about the conditions in Haiti are completely inept, and the poverty Haitians purportedly endure does not exist.

The simple fact of the matter is that around 60,000 in Haiti are so down-in-their-luck they are living in tents. (I know about that. I lived in a tent and slept in my car for long periods, when I was younger, and down-in-my-luck.) Others live in flimsy houses made of sheets of metal nailed to 2-by-4’s.  None of this stands up well to 125 mile/hour winds.

My gut feeling is that those people have been through sheer hell, if the winds were as high as the Hurricane Center proclaimed. Sheet metal is not nice stuff, when it is blowing about at 125 miles an hour. 5 deaths?  A foot of rain on hills stripped of vegetation can turn a dry brook into a brown torrent carrying trees, cars and houses. 5 deaths? A storm surge of ten feet, with twenty foot waves on top, is hard on people in Florida with comfortable cars and interstates to flee upon, but Haitians have nowhere to flee. 5 deaths?

My gut feeling is that our media is utterly inept. They have no on-the-scene reporters in Haiti. They are so bankrupt they can’t afford it. Anyway, any reporter with the guts to take on such a dangerous assignment  would also have long ago had the guts to tell their editors to take their job and shove it. Their remaining workers are timid souls, who believe “news is reporting what you are told to report”. Most news they get they obtain through social media, because they are too timid to go out and see things for themselves. Why should I heed them? I can obtain stuff through social media myself. I know the waters were chest deep in the Main Street of a small town in the southeast Haiti, because I read the “tweet”.

Why should I care? Well, I suppose it is because my little church cared for Haiti a quarter century ago, and, after our teens joined other teens from other small churches to go south and build some cinder-block structures, and we felt all warm and cozy about what a good thing we had done, some lady from Haiti came north to thank us (and, of course, to seek more help). In the process of thanking us she sort of punctured our self-righteousness,  because in the process of saying why she was thankful she described the reasons, and this involved describing the brutality of the reality. For me it was a real eye-opener.

After she spoke to our church, I sought the woman out and asked the sort of questions our wimpy media is too spineless to ask, and she seemed downright relieved.  I asked politically incorrect questions, but never with malice. We had a talk that was full of laughter and understanding, and which the “elite” think cannot happen between a conservative, white-skinned bumpkin from New Hampshire and a very-dark skinned social-worker from Haiti.

The result was that my world became larger. I cared for people beyond my horizons. If I ride a taxi in Boston, and the driver is Haitian, I want the “news from home”.

Our president could care less. He thinks that, because his skin is dark and mine is whitish, people from Haiti will automatically flock to him. But my family has more experience of the agony  of slavery than he can imagine. (Look up Robert Gould Shaw, who died with his black troops in the American Civil War.)  Our president’s black skin has no knowledge of slavery, and in fact he of the “elite”, too high and mighty to sink to such lows. What do the “elite” really care about a nation of slaves that rebelled from their masters, like Haiti?

I personally think the suffering in Haiti at the moment is more than “5 deaths”, but it might make our president look bad if, after 8 years of his leadership, our close neighbors had not even the slightest improvements, as he spent billions on wind turbines and solar panels that are failures. Therefore the media, as meek and timid souls, does not dare report the actual suffering in Haiti that is actually happening.

I could be wrong.  Maybe it is the Hurricane Center that is wrong, and Matthew passed through Haiti with breezes and showers. If that is the case, how are we to trust government scientists about Global Warming? If they can’t get today right, how can we trust their ideas about tomorrow?

That is only the first complication I have to report.

The second involves a glitch in the confidence Matthew will move as predicted. The glitch is a second tropical storm to the east-northeast  of Matthew, named “Nicole”.  In the map below, Matthew is the big storm between Cuba and Haiti, and Nicole is the small blob of clouds way out in the Atlantic, to the east-northeast .


The glitch is this:  When two tropical storms exist in close proximity something called the Fujiwhara Effect occurs. In theory this would whip the eastern storm (Nichole) forward,  but cause the western storm (Matthew) to slow, or even stall.

No computer model sees this yet. All seem to see the “faster” option, (which I mentioned earlier) which whisks Matthew out to sea, only brushing the east coast of the USA.

No model sees the “slower” option, wherein the Fujiwhara  effect stalls Matthew, and causes us a great deal of wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Personally, I hope this coming Sunday sees Matthew whisking out to sea, and our focus on football, and Haiti.  The last thing I want to see is Haiti’s trouble happening here. But at least the hurricane is past those people, and winds are dying down in Haiti.




Cuba’s mountains have weakened the hurricane slightly, as it passed through the Windward Passage.  Waters are warm and the storm will likely intensify as it moves away from the mountains. The Bahamas have no high peaks.


The only Tweets and Facebook  posts I have seen come from far from the center. Port-au-Prince only received strong breezes and heavy rains.


Hurricane Matthew is back out over water and the eye has reappeared, and likely it will strengthen as it moves northwest through the Bahamas towards Florida. (Notice the second tropical storm, Nichole, to the right.)


All attention will look ahead to Florida now, as Haiti is forgotten. However the “Drudge Report” had an apt picture from space of a skull-like Matthew hitting Haiti.


The death toll is not being released; government officials are simply stating “We don’t know,” which is the truth, for the bridges are washed out and the roads flooded and all phone and cell-phone connections seem lost. The tweets we do get show rains were extreme even far from the center over by Port-au-Prince, and people may be having trouble recharging their phones.


The further toward the track one traveled the more extreme the damage would be, but to get any idea of how incredible such winds and tides are it is helpful to look at Westernmost Cuba, where the buildings were far more sturdy.


This demonstrates the winds were as strong as hurricane hunter aircraft suggested, at ground level. However Matthew was “weakened” by the time it hit western Cuba. The storm surge was around nine feet. As Matthew hit Southwest Haiti the winds were 20 mph higher and the storm surge was likely over ten feet. People were camped on flat-lands by the sea, in tents and in tin sheds, and afraid of leaving their few belongings, and basically stayed and prayed.  Unless some leader rose, who got a great many people to head for the local highlands, I fear the death-toll must be in the thousands.

I find the media silence peculiar. Perhaps they fear causing a panic in Florida. However the survivors in southwest Haiti likely need help now, not tomorrow. We do have an aircraft carrier and hospital ship headed down that way,  but they have a hurricane to avoid.

Continue to pray for them, because most of us cannot help in any other way.

Wednesday Night  –Fujiwhara Craziness–

I just watched some young fool on the Weather Channel say Matthew’s winds have weakened because it is disorganized. Total Nonsense. Compare it with the picture above. It is quite obviously better organized. It’s central pressure is even lower. The drop in wind-speed is some glitch caused by needing to take the pulse from a distance. There are times one needs to use the eyes God gave us, but the young fellow on the Weather Channel is displaying a surprising respect of authority. (Maybe that’s what got him his job.)

Now our concern should be the Bahamas. I visited those islands back when I was eighteen and very disrespectful of authority, aboard a “borrowed” sailboat. The isles are largely low, coral islands, and no place you want to be when the ocean rises ten feet, with huge waves and high winds. I am praying for the inhabitants, who were very kind to a forlorn object like myself, cast upon their shores, with the captain of my ship so violently ill I thought he might die.

I am also praying for the engineers behind the building of the hotels in Nassau. They likely are not sleeping well. No engineer wants to see his structure blown down, but they are also under unreal pressure to “keep costs low.”  It is somewhat amazing how much the costs rise, if you engineer a hotel to withstand 130 mph winds, compared to what they are when you engineer a hotel to withstand 110 mph winds. The one thing about Nassau is that, unlike Haiti, we likely will get swift pictures of what has happened. It looks like the eye might go right over the capital.

As far as Florida is concerned, I think they are doing the right thing to evacuate the coast. It is better to be safe than sorry.


Notice tropical storm Nichole, to the right of the map. This, and the young meteorologist Tom Downs over on the Weatherbell site, may actually succeed in getting the word “Fujiwhara” into the vocabulary of the mainstream media. (If so, it will be fun to watch, as puffed people attempt to pontificate, like they know what “Fujiwhara” means.)

We don’t even know if Matthew will hit Florida, or stay just off-shore. That seems work enough. However, looking beyond, some models are showing Matthew pulling a loop, swinging out to sea only to curve back around and hit Florida again, due to the Fujiwhara effect.

I’m not worried about that. After all, I don’t live down there. What I am worried about is stuff that is above my head, in the upper atmosphere. I don’t understand the workings of that world, up there. But it does seem that, when these hurricanes create massive updrafts, it does some destabilizing that needs to be rectified, and you see these odd, very-fast streamers of high clouds heading north around the edges of hurricanes. I suppose, guessing greatly, that they are a sort of jet stream. I have never seen one “steer” a storm, but then, I have never seen what brings certain hurricanes north to New England at unheard of speeds of between 50-60 mph. I just see it has happened in the past.

I am worried about something that the models are not showing. They have produced an incredible number or tracks, all over kingdom come, over a few short days, but not one is mine.

Because the upper atmosphere’s jet streams are a subject miles above my head, there is no way I can talk about the subject scientifically, and therefore the best option is to talk about it facetiously:

You young whippersnappers can’t forecast like the oldsters could. Heck, back when me and George Washington used to chop down cherry trees together, we thought nothing of forecasting storms years in advance. Why, as late as 1868 a Limey named Lieutenant Stephen Martin Saxby published a forecast, on Christmas, in the “Standard of London”, and it began…“I now beg leave to the state, with regard to 1869, that at seven a.m., on October 5, the moon will be at that part of her orbit which is nearest to the earth…”

Now I reckon you so-called scientists got your noses in the air, because you can’t figure out how to read the moon, but Saxby nailed his forecast. You fellows keep changing yours, every time your computer goes “urp.”

Up in the Bay of Funday the fog burned off on October 4, 1869, and it was a surprisingly warm day for October, even called “oppressive” by some. Then the south winds began to pick up, and the skies to the south grew dark and threatening, and by sunset it was raining and the winds were starting to howl. The tides were high, due to the new moon, but once the dark fell the wind went mad. In Moncton some farmers headed out to the flats to get their livestock in the dark, and then the thirty-foot-tall dykes protecting those lowlands were topped by a storm surge like none ever seen before, and sea waters came roaring across the flats, drowning lots of livestock, and farmers as well, though one fellow survived by riding a haystack that slowly got more and more waterlogged, sinking lower and lower until the fellow thought he was a goner, because not only was the stack sinking but the outgoing tide was sucking him out to sea, but luckily the stack sunk so low it grounded on the submerged top of the dyke, and there he stayed as the waters drained away, revealing a shattered landscape. Over in the state of Maine, entire forests were flattened, and the floods were so bad not a bridge survived in the north.

Now, when you young fellows can forecast a storm like that, ten months in advance, come back and maybe we’ll talk about naming a storm after you.

(On a side note, the hurricanes that clobber New England don’t dawdle on their way north, for in such cases cold waters weaken them swiftly. The ones to watch out for accelerate to amazing forward speeds of 50-60 mph, (and some nit-pickers might say they are no longer truly and purely “tropical”, but they have unholy power at their cores). So forecasters to the north should be wary of swiftly developing jets, that can suddenly suck a storm north.)


This graphic says it all. More later.


Picture from Haiti. Still no reports from southwest, but a helicopter view was not pretty. Likely no clean water, which can lead to cholera in a hurry.


Church will be at the usual time.


In westernmost Cuba, they do have their cellphone service back.


On the Weatherbell site Joe D’Aleo posted this cool satellite view of Matthew over the Bahamas, Nichole to the east, and, down in the lower right corner, the new kid on the block?



Besides salvaging belongings, one task seems to be to dry things out, as everything is drenched. It is important to boil all water, but hard to start a fire.


THURSDAY EVENING  -Honing In On Florida




FRIDAY MORNING REPORT  –EYEWALL OFF-SHORE (So Far).  Haiti Death-toll “jumps” to 253.

The inner eye-wall of Matthew looks like it fell apart and the out eye-wall looks like it is contracting, which is a sign of a strengthening storm. If the eye-wall gets over land the winds turn from gales to crazy. It is the eye-wall winds that have nasty vortexes sort of like sideways tornadoes, and do the worst damage.  So far the eye-wall hasn’t made an on shore appearance, and all the hoopla looks laughable. Fine with me, though I do not like the weather service to get laughed at when they gave the proper warnings. Pictures from Haiti and Cuba should alert people to the “worst-case-scenario,” which we pray stays off shore.

We are starting to get a few reports from the cut off parts of Haiti, and Time magazine reports the death toll “jumped to” 253. No, fellows. The death toll didn’t “jump”, you just didn’t report it, just like you are still not reporting how many died.

Haiti Hurricane Matthew

The body of a man who perished during Hurricane Matthew lies on a piece of wood as survivors prepare to place his body in a coffin, in Cavaillon, Haiti. Thursday, Oct. 6, 2016. Haitian officials on Thursday dramatically raised the known death toll from Matthew as they finally began to reach corners of the country that had been cut off by the rampaging storm. Interior Minister Francois Anick Joseph announced that at least 108 had died, up from a previous count of 23. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)

The pictures we get are still from the edges, and from wealthier neighborhoods with sturdier structures.  The slums are only viewed from helicopters. People are drying drenched laundry and waiting for water. Water is so expensive some can’t afford food, as the ocean’s salt water flooded the fresh-water wells.

People walk on a street next to destroyed houses after Hurricane Matthew hit Jeremie

People walk on a street next to destroyed houses after Hurricane Matthew hit Jeremie, Haiti, October 6, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

If you want to become angry at the UN, please consider the following:  People catch cholera from water made dirty by sewerage that contains the germs from people called “cholera-carriers.” There was no cholera in Haiti. If the UN had wanted to keep Cholera from being a problem, all they needed to do was screen its workers, and make sure they sent no cholera-carriers. They did the opposite, and sent workers from Nepal, where cholera is rife. It seems so stupid I have the paranoid sense it must have been intentional, to “reduce over-population.”  Cholera currently represents a threat of killing more people than the hurricane.


SUNDAY MORNING UPDATE  –We lucked out; Haiti didn’t.

Hurricane Matthew did give the coasts of Georgia and South and North Carolina strong winds and very heavy rains (over a foot in places) but the worst of the storm surge dissipated out to sea and never brought its full brunt to the USA coast. This is of small  consolation to those who have suffered, but the fact of the matter is that things could have been much, much worse, especially in Florida. Now most of the storms energy has been expended in rain to its north, and though still a formidable gale, especially on its west side, it has been dubbed “Post Tropical.”  The actually center has little activity with it, in the second map below.



Tom Downs has a very good post at the Weatherbell site explaining what a huge difference even a fifty mile change in the track of the storm to the west would have made, and why the governors did the right thing to evacuate the coasts, though many are laughing at them now. You can’t always trust on luck, as Haiti knows.

The death toll in Haiti rose, as I expected, to 877, and now silence has again descended. I have the sense the officials involved are hiding the true nature of the disaster, likely out of shame. Some of the poor were not even aware the storm was coming, so inadequate were the preparations.

This is not due to a failure on the part of people to send money. The failure rests squarely on the shoulders of the leaders in charge of investing the money wisely. In the case of the World Bank, they may not have invested unwisely, and rather did not invest it at all.

I find these figures hard to believe, but will put them down:

After the disastrous 2010 earthquake the World Bank collected and oversaw a account holding 351 million, called the Haiti Reconstruction Fund. How much of that fund has been utilized? Out of 351 million, slightly less than 17 million.

I find this totally disgusting. For one thing, I am sure the officials didn’t dawdle, when it came to making certain their own  salaries were paid. Secondly, there is no shortage of cheap labor in Haiti. The average person subsists on a dollar a day, and I’m certain you could get some good work-crews together paying the men ten dollars a day. Even using primitive methods, carrying dirt in baskets, the people of India built a decent system of flood control dams. Tall dykes could have been built to protect the southern cities from storm surges, as was done in Galveston after it was destroyed.  Now it is all 20-20 hindsight.


There are some who suggest the actual intent of the UN and the World Bank is not to help such people, but rather to “reduce over population.” That is a terrible thing to suggest, tantamount to genocide, but I can’t say they are doing a very good job of defusing the suggestion they are evil. You cannot blame the leaders of Haiti, for how they use the money is so largely dependent on the overseers. (One thing I heard was the Haitian officials were not allowed to use the aid on anything but things directly related to earthquakes.)  In any case, a human disaster is occurring, and the press is silent.

I expect the Haiti Reconstruction Fund records may soon be “accidentally deleted.”

SUNDAY AFTERNOON –Matthew Fades–Haitian Horror Continues–

I did a bit more study of the history of Haiti this Sunday, and it seems to me that the nation has had more than it’s fair share of oppression, brutal dictators, outside exploiters, and ill-advised spiritual “authorities”. In some ways it seems Haitians are a people with a chip on their shoulder, who have every reason to have a chip on their shoulder, but who draw abuse by asking for it. It is a most exasperating sort of history to read about, and one Evangelist even suggested Haitians had made a deal with the devil, and were reaping the consequences. I doubt they are any worse than the rest of us, in that respect, and in a sense they remind me of the rest of us, only they make our shortcomings more obvious.

However as this started out a study of hurricanes and not Haiti, I think I’ll save the rest of my thinking for a Halloween post.  For some of Haiti’s horror is like that, and a warning to the rest of the world of what we could make our lives be like.

Speaking of which, I guess I’ll settle back for a presidential debate between a couple of Halloween characters.

The real danger is humans, not hurricanes. (Though we do have Irene waiting in the wings.)





I had plans to finish up some work on the clapboards at the end of my 250 year old house today, but awoke to temperatures of 23° (-5° Celsius) and frozen slush coating everything. I was pretty grouchy. October 18 is too darn early for snow. However the sun was brilliant on the horizon, and there wasn’t a breath of wind.First Snow 5 IMG_0760

It is hard to remain grouchy when it is so gorgeous out, but I tried my best. If I am to achieve my goal of becoming a cantankerous anachronism, it will require hard work and practice. So I put on my sourest expression and looked for things to gripe about.  I noticed my wife had left my granddaughter’s baby carriage had out, and it was all soggy with snow.   First Snow 2 IMG_0755Also the phlox flowers in the garden were frozen.First Snow 1 IMG_0753 Furthermore, the above photograph was suppose to be artistic, with the snowy car in the background, but it only reminded me I have to trim that yew. Also rake the leaves, and it’ll be harder with them wet.

Even as I was grouching to myself about that the leaves began falling. There wasn’t a breath of wind, but sometimes they are merely frozen to the twigs, so that the first beams of sun melts them free, even in a complete calm. In fact one leaf, as it falls, can jar others free, and a slowly developing slow motion avalanche of color crisply slides down the side of the tree. Formerly I’d sigh, and wax poetic, but as a practicing grouch I now grumble about how all the leaves are covering my firewood and keeping it from properly drying. The heap of firewood is to the right of the road, in this picture.First Snow 4 IMG_0756 You can see all those messy leaves all over the road. It’s enough to make you roll your eyes to heaven.First Snow 3 IMG_0758

Oh well. I figure Sunday’s suppose to be a day of rest, anyway. I’ll get back to practicing my grouchy expression first thing on Monday morning.

LOCAL VIEW —July Jackets—

20150716 satsfc

The map shows yesterday’s hot and humid air driven out to sea, and the front rammed clear down to Georgia, yet it managed to pass under us. We didn’t even get a sprinkle. I was a bit amazed, watching it happen. You could see the cool air clash with the hot, and brew up a squall line that NOAA noted for its longevity, and Joseph D’Aleo posted on his superb blog at the Weatherbell site. (The picture overlays many separate radar shots of the same squall line.)

Squall Line 20150713_summary1 If you follow the direction the red arrow points you can see the energy passed well south of New Hampshire. We just had a muggy morning gradually dry out, without a sprinkle of rain. I headed off to a barbecue in the early evening, and everyone was wearing shorts and short-sleeved shirts, as the shadows from the trees at the end of the lawn gradually extended over and the warming sun was lost. Then someone remarked, “Sheesh! is it ever cold!”

I looked around, and noticed everyone was hugging themselves. It was like it hadn’t penetrated anyone’s consciousness that a sunny July evening could possibly be cold. But it was downright uncomfortable, and as soon as people woke to the fact many headed off to cars and came back wearing summer jackets. I’d come in my wife’s car, and had no jacket, so I got so close to the grill I was practically in among the steaks. As soon as the meat was done we moved indoors.

The good thing about such cold shots in the north winds is that often they don’t last long. I’ve seen winter days when the temperatures fall all morning and you expect the cold to become extreme with the advent of evening, but instead the cold wave relents, and temperatures don’t drop after dark, and can even rise a degree or two. However those are winter events. In July you only expect to don a jacket when east winds bring fog and drizzle inland from the cold Gulf of Maine. You don’t expect it when it is sunny and the wind is north. I can only assume this shot from the north contained a packet of air from Hudson Bay, which still has a surprising amount of ice on it, for the middle of July.

Hudson Bay Ice extent July 16 CMMBCTCA By this morning that shot of cold was long gone. Rather than Hudson Bay the wind was from the Canadian Prairie, baking under long summer days and barely cooled by short nights where the twilight never completely fades. However the shot of cold activated some instinct in me, and I got out of bed thinking I should get going, in terms of firewood.

Now is the time to lay down the less desirable trees, and to let them lie as the leaves suck the sap from the wood before withering. Then cut them up. Then split them. Then stack the wood to dry in the summer sun, so they don’t hiss in the stove, wasting heat boiling off sap, but burn clear and hot.

Dream on, old man. You are sixty-two years old, and it will take you a week to do what you once did in the morning.

Now I do stuff sort of as an exhibition, for the children at our Farm-childcare. “This is the way things were done a long, long time ago.” However it does not seem so long ago to me.

Not that I ever used a cross-cut saw. However there is a film of the center of this town after the 1938 hurricane, with trees down left and right, and not a chainsaw is in sight. All the local folk are out at either end of cross-cut saws. Some look like they are out of practice, but all know how to use such saws, how to always pull and never push. It is amazing how swiftly they cut through the logs.

I do remember when people built houses with hand tools, with saws and hammers and drills that had no batteries or cords or pneumatic air lines. It did take longer, but the men were stronger.

In the 1700’s the average worker burned off over 4000 calories a day. Few men work half as hard, now. Now we expect weekends off, but farmers never had weekends, for milk cows don’t stop making milk on Saturdays and Sundays, and chickens don’t stop eating.

The strange thing is that some think we are worse off. We work less and have more leisure, but they take their leisure and use it to gripe, often complaining they work too hard, or aren’t paid enough, or are hurt emotionally and should not have to work at all.

Idiots. I just wish I could still work as hard as I once did. God knows there was a glory in it, and someday I’ll write a book about it. But tonight I’ll just think about those men of the past, who worked twelve hour days, full of faith in a thing called “progress”, and believing we would rejoice to have the things they lacked. I’ll look back a half century, to when I was twelve and knew nothing of work, and didn’t like the prospect of work much at all,  until I saw old men loving it, and became curious about what could be so good about it.
Free wood is seldom free. The gnarled apple
Really required a pneumatic splitter
And I had but a maul, but youth will grapple
Ridiculous tasks: I was a hard hitter
And relished each victory, each split log
And the sheen of sweet sweat; the impossible
Challenge; the twisted, bumpy, Dryad-eyed frog
Of old apple attacked, wedges buried full,
But struck with a final karate scream
And torn open like a closed-case, long-shut book:
A hundred-fifty years of history
Lay exposed to the sun…Long time it took
For that scythe, hung in fork of young tree,
To be swallowed by growth, a tool forgotten
But a man now recalled, though flesh be rotten.

LOCAL VIEW —A Whole Pnu Season—

Bah!  I always seem to get clobbered by a cold when the seasons change. Maybe some pollen gets blown up from the south, or maybe the temperature yo-yoing between 10° and 50° (-12° and +10° Celsius),  gets to me.  It starts out with sniffles and then I just get tireder and tireder until I stop being productive, unless you count phloem.  My brain gets especially dull, and nothing inspires me except my pillow.

I usually push myself to keep going, as there is a voice in my head which is quite good at calling me a weenie and a quitter if I don’t, but a slight fever tends to stop me. I’ve had walking pneumonia enough in my life to know that, unlike a cold, it is usually not a thing you can just work through.  My body agrees, and the negative word “loaf” turns into the beautiful word “rest”.

In any case, that is why I’m not posting much. I’ve been lucky, as the last storm blew up just far enough out to sea to give us howling winds and temperatures down around 10° three nights in a row, but no snow. Meanwhile just across the Gulf of Maine in Nova Scotia they got two feet.

20150319 satsfc 20150317 rad_ne_640x480

I was taking a deep breath, in a hacking and sniffling sort of way, getting ready for the next storm, gathering moisture to our south.

20150319 rad_nat_640x480

Fortunately it looks like most of the snow will be shunted south of here. Not that I’d bother much with the clean up. Around this time of year there is always a remarkable amount of slacking off, in terms of after-storm clean-up, because people know the darn stuff will melt in the bright sun, if you ignore it. (You don’t dare adopt that attitude in December.)

20150320 satsfc 20150320 rad_ec_640x480

That sure is a wintry looking map, and I ought get out and load the porch with firewood, but I’m fairly sure the exercise wouldn’t be good for me. No one seems as interested in the fire, as long as the bright March sunshine is out, and it actually went out for the first time since October. No one stirred to stir up the fire, until I came blearily indoors yesterday and noticed everyone looked more hunched up and cold in the evening.  I checked the stove, and saw not even a spark among the ashes. I tried to think of some sort of biting sarcasm, but my mind also feels like ashes without even a spark.

I can’t do any real intellectual work, and instead zone out on the computer. I call it mental wandering, as opposed to wondering, and I’m sure it serves some sort of function. However it feels like you are merely idle. Occasionally I chance on some new idea, so if I am ever forced to justify zoning out I call it “research”, however it tends to wander away from what I should be researching to obscure topics that are as far away from work as possible.

One topic I always enjoy is the Greenland Vikings. It’s been a while since I checked to see if there were any recent discoveries,  My listless mind did stir towards wakefulness when I saw that a Viking trading vessel had been discovered in the muddy riverbank in Memphis, Tennessee.

Spoof 3 drakkar

But that sword looked familiar to me

Spoof 4 sword-300x208

And it didn’t take me long to find an amazingly similar sword at a Viking site in Scotland.

Spoof 2 56149606_viking_burial_624

Yes, I’d been tricked. It’s not a very kind thing to do to a poor old fellow like me, especially when I’m suffering from a cold.  However we’d better be on guard, with April Fool’s Day coming up.