A truism we are often made uncomfortable by is that, in order to build up, we often have to take down. We are comfortable with God as a creator, or sustainer, but less comfortable with God as the “dissolver” (which I prefer to “destroyer”.) However, in the end, our mortal lives do come to an end. We do get dissolved. It is part of the process, and it is best to have a good attitude about the inevitable, like the old Blood Sweat and Tears song, “…when I’m gone there’ll be one child born to carry on.”
As a student of history, I get to see across the expanse of time and watch how nations rise and fall. One develops a sort of detachment. One cannot participate too deeply in the thrill of victory and agony of defeat, because one will lose their objectivity. And, objectively speaking, many of the primary figures in history come across as very subjective, even to a degree of being buffoons. They relish the thrill of victory as they rise and agonize about the agony of defeat as they fall, and seldom have the humbleness that knows that when they are gone one little child will replace them. “What!” they exclaim. “I am irreplaceable!”
Well, I suppose it is true one is irreplicable. But so is everyone else. We are each as unique as our fingerprint, but the Creator is so creative He easily can replace the irreplaceable with the equally irreplaceable. Assyrians were replaced by Babylonians who were replaced by Persians who were replaced by Greeks who were replaced by Romans. Each were beautiful when they sprouted and budded and bloomed, and worth sustaining as they fruited, but worth pruning when they became unproductive.
A historian attempts to step back and be objective, and not to get too sucked into the affray we call “current events”. A true historian even doesn’t care about the current event called “getting paid”. He will insult his sponsors and be fired from his job, because he sees a higher truth.
It is helpful to be a poet, because then no one is paying you to begin with. You don’t have to worry about losing your position at a university, unless they hire you as a dishwasher.
As a poet I’d like to chat about a news item in the papers almost exactly a century ago, regarding fish. The paper was the Washington Times, and the date was June 6, 1922. It contained this map:
There is something fishy about this map. How is it even possible? They had no satellites in 1922. Likely they had no airplanes. It was five years before Charles Lindbergh became the first to fly across the Atlantic in 1927. Did the reporter just make it up?
Judging from the article, the reporter did consult Adolf Hoel, proffeser of geology at the University of Christiana. Perhaps Adolf sketched the map on a napkin as they chatted in a Cafe. But how did Adolf gather such data?
The reporter goes on to mention a wise old fisherman, who had sailed the waters 54 years, Captain Martin Ingarbrigtsen. Perhaps his experience contributed to the above map. The fisherman was a primary source of data for the U.S. consul at Bremin, Norway, Mr. Iffey, who relayed the information to the U.S. Department of Commerce.
What is refreshing about all this is that there is no Global Warming crap involved. There is no narrative. There is no agenda. There is no bias. There are just honest men relaying information about an interesting and perhaps extraordinary change. And what was the change?
The 1922 article states, “Formerly vast shoals of whitefish were found about Spitzbergen, but last summer fishermen sought them in vain.” Later the article states, “On the other hand, other kinds of fishes, hitherto unknown so far north, have made their appearance. Shoals of smelt have arrived, and immense schools of herring are reported by fishermen off the west coast of Spitzbergen.”
This 100-year-old data has importance to all who want to increase the amount of fish we can harvest from the sea, without overfishing. We need to differentiate rises and falls in fish populations that are natural, caused by swings of natural cycles, from those caused by overfishing, or by altering the fishes environment by reducing coastal marshes and rivers, or by destroying the sea-bottom with dragging nets.
For example, we are actually reducing our supply of protein when we “reclaim” ocean marshes to grow grain, for those marshes are so vital to the life cycle of fish that for every pound of protein we gain from grain or rice we lose ten pounds of protein we might have had from fish. Often draining marshes is not a case of robbing Peter to pay Paul; it is a case of killing the goose that laid the golden egg.
It is hard to see a smelly marsh might be better than manmade dikes and landscapes like Holland’s, and the only way to overcome such difficulty is through honestly reporting the facts.
The United States has perhaps gone too far, when it comes to “protecting wetlands”, but it has good advice to offer China about the dangerous prospect of destroying the fisheries of the Yellow Sea by developing the wide wetlands along its coast. It is a situation where China could starve its people by growing more rice.
However, in order to understand changes man causes, we must understand the changes nature causes, without any help from man.
The 1922 article may be indulging in a bit of sensationalism, for papers were guilty of that even back then, but basically, its report is describing what we now know, that they didn’t know then: The antics of the WSC (West Spitzbergen Current) can drastically change conditions, by changing where it stops being a surface current and instead becomes subsurface current. The 1922 article describes summer water temperatures switching from 5 degrees above freezing to 28 degrees above freezing.
This would explain the way sea-ice disappears, in the above map, especially along the route the WSC takes to Svalbard. It would be incidental data, from before the age of satellites.
What is most fishy is how Alarmists loathe such data and want to blot it from the record. My guess is that it spoils their narrative. They want to show current melting has never been seen before. But it has happened. It happened in 1922, and many times before. And the sea-ice must also return, over and over, for it to happen, over and over.
In 1922 the article sensationalizes the fact fishermen could sail to the north coast of Svalbard and even to Raudfjorden, but the fact of the matter is that bay was first mapped by Willem Barents in 1496. History seems to show the sea-ice comes and the sea-ice goes.
Why are Alarmists so threatened by history? God creates sea-ice, sustains sea-ice, and dissolves sea-ice. It is a cycle.
Perhaps they find it fishy. It suggests that they too are part of a cycle. They are part of a process, and were given power by God, saw power sustained a while by God, but, like the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Persians, the Greeks, the Romans, and even little, old me, will soon face a day when power is dissolved by God.
Now that Alarmists have gone whole hog on the sheer malarkey of their non-science, it is hardly worth the time rebutting their pathetic contentions any more. This frees me up to spend more time simply watching the most splendid rebuttals of their contentions, which are the realities of the weather. Compared to the glory of nature, the propaganda of politicians seems like the nitpicking of spiders in front of a tsunami. With their tweezers they can tweeze all they want; they sound as sad as a piano with one string.
Originally I looked at the reality of the weather to ascertain if what the Alarmists claimed was truth was truly true, and when I found evidence it wasn’t, I thought they might be interested to know they were in error. They weren’t. Instead they called me a “denier”, and subjected me (and many others) to censorship and shadow banning.
I suppose this treatment did bum me out, in some ways, but in other ways it was life as usual. I was never of the “popular” crowd in school, and was not the sort of young fellow a young woman would want to see approaching, to ask them to dance. Often I wasn’t even accepted among the nerds. Therefore I had to learn how to survive without flattery. I had to play the game without cheerleaders.
I think that attempting to live midst such disdain is actually too much to ask of any man, especially a young man, for we all need, if not praise, then uplifting. And the thing I found as a substitute for public acclaim, which was most uplifting, was the reality of the weather; AKA the beautiful clouds out the classroom window.
One wonderful thing about the reality of the weather is that it doesn’t care a hoot about our politics. It does what it does, irregardless of whether we throw virgins in volcanoes or buy electric cars. The only politician who seemed to grasp this was King Canute, when he ordered the tide to stop rising, in order to demonstrate to his flattering courtiers that he lacked the omnipotence of God.
It seems Alarmists utterly lack the humbleness of King Canute, for they feel they can stop the seas from rising. This audacity would be a joke if it was not actually spoken in their speeches.
Two reasons for the awe that leads people to believe in a Higher Power, (even if they detest religion and think they are Atheists,) involve the macrocosms and the microcosms of human understanding and comprehension. Once one understands how huge our galaxy is, and how many stars it contains, and then moves on to grasping the fact our universe contains more entire galaxies than can be counted, then some part of our tweezering intellect burns out, and we just shake our heads in wonder. In like manner, when we turn our minds to minutia similar wonders overwhelm us, as we wander into the worlds of sub-atomic particles and “energies”.
Perhaps the most depressing thing about Alarmists is that they miss this wonder. They feel God is out of business, for now they control the macrocosms and microcosms. They control the weather and they control the viruses. Oh! How powerful they are! They are like the puffed-up, adolescent football stars and cheerleaders whom all other students were suppose to honor and flatter, back in high school. Only it is not high school we are talking about. It is real life, and we are not immature teenagers.
To me there is something fundamentally insane about people who think they control the weather, and have jurisdiction over who shall get sick or not. They have elevated themselves to the status of God, and in the process have dismissed God as a higher power. This is insane because, sure as shooting, a day will come when a storm they did not forecast looms, and sickness they claimed they’d cured afflicts them, and on that day they will have no one to pray to.
This is not to say that there are some others among us who are mysteriously gifted, in terms of weather and/or in terms of healing. But such such people have no need to mock God while enacting Alarmism’s mockery of omnipotence. Why deny a Creator exists, when stating that same Creator gave you a gift?
My father was a surgeon who loved science and who loathed quacks, and snake-oil salesmen, and malpractice lawyers who exploited misfortunes. A story-teller, one tale my Dad loved to tell was about a witch doctor in Africa. The witch doctor made missionaries angry by curing people with a foul, stinking tea, when missionaries could not cure the same people with prayer. As my father told the tale, there was one missionary who did not condemn the witch doctor as a witch, and actually sent his sick converts to the witch doctor to drink his putrid tea. Not only did the sick get better, but the witch doctor became much more friendly, because he had finally met a Christian who didn’t condemn him for curing people. The missionary and the witch doctor developed a friendship that lasted decades, and eventually involved them hearing the news that penicillin had been discovered in England. The production of purified penicillin involved a long and complicated process. The witch doctor, in concocting his rancid tea, also employed a process that involved many steps. But how could an uneducated man in darkest Africa stumble upon penicillin? The only answer is: It was a gift. Maybe some degree of experimentation, of trial-and-error, was involved, but the guiding light was a gift.
In like manner I’ve met some in my time (usually men who spend much time outdoors) who are gifted, when it comes to sniffing out a storm which even the weather bureau doesn’t see coming. They are gifted. When you ask them how they know, they often just shrug, or give some unsatisfactory answer such as “they felt it in their bones.” In their cases as well the gift doesn’t seem to be given without some degree of trial and error. In other words, work is involved. Yet I too have worked, and my trial and error continues to mostly involve error. I am like a person who practices the piano but happens to be tone deaf. I lack the gift.
Gifts might appear to manifest in some cases without a lot of hard work, for example in the case of Mozart writing music at an early age, but even he was not above work. After all, a child picking out chords on a harpsichord at age three is practicing, just as a child learning to walk is practicing, and practice is work. However the gifted seem to have done a lot of the work before they were even born. Is it some memory from a past life? Is it a skill picked up during preincarnation in Limbo? Is it due to the mutation of some chromosome? Heck if I know. I just work under the general principle that every child is born with some gift, and therefore has value and a part to play in creation. That statement alone can get me into enough arguments to keep me busy.
But the point I am trying to work my way around to is that the people gifted do not deny the existence of the Giver of the gift. They are humble, and lack the audacity of Alarmists. They do not think they control weather, or sickness and healing. They do not claim to be all-powerful and all-knowing. Only Alarmists are so insane.
I’m weary of their bragging insanity, and of the media blaring their braggart nonsense, so I have clicked off the news, and also have largely withdrawn from debate about Global Warming. Why plunge into fog when one can remain elevated under clear skies? Why depart from pure waters to the company of those who delight in intentionally muddying waters? Some feel one can “win” a debate about Truth with lies. It is best to just skip their juvenile reality. Far better is the beautiful reality of the weather.
On a different site a commenter made me laugh by pointing out that, in terms of weather, “average” weather never happened. Surely he was indulging a bit of hyperbole, but it derived power by being so close to the Truth: “Average” is a theoretical number created by a reality which almost always is either “above” or “below” the theoretical number.
The theoretical number around the hills where I live in New Hampshire sees temperatures drop to a winter rock-bottom where the “average” high is 29 degrees and the “average” low is 9 degrees, which gives us a “average” mean temperature of 19 degrees, (-7 degrees Celsius).
In other words, if things were “average” then we should go through a prolonged period in the depth of our winter when temperatures do not rise above freezing. But they almost always do. It is so noticeable and even predictable that it has its own name, “The January Thaw”, and people expect it, as if it was an “average” thing to occur even thought it is not “average”.
This year the “January Thaw” has been especially prolonged, so you could say it has been longer than “average”. (Around this point the word “average” is starting to look a bit tattered and dog-eared.)
Several times the temperature 29 degrees Fahrenheit (-1.67 Centagrade) has not been our high temperature, but our low temperature. This has given us mean temperatures at least ten degrees above “average”. However 29 degrees is still cold enough to make snow. Such snow is not the light, dry, drifting powder-snow one expects when mean temperatures are 19 and “average”, but rather is heavy, dense and wet stuff local folk call “glop.”
It strikes me as a bit amusing that having temperatures more than ten degrees above normal at times, in the depth of our winter, has not given us the snow-free landscape where, according to several Alarmists (who apparently copy each other), “our children will not know what snow is any more.” Instead we have glop. Glop is snow so heavy plows sometimes break down trying to push it around. And, as I run a Childcare, I can tell you children know all about glop. Would you like to know what they, who have not been educated at liberal colleges, know?
If so, then allow me to describe our last glop-storm.
Sunday should be a day of rest, but I was physically active, for an old coot pushing seventy, cleaning up from our last glop-storm and making ready for the next. As I huffed and puffed, loading firewood on the porch, I had to stop and catch my breath, and attempted to look picturesque, by pretending I was merely scanning the skies and sniffing out changes in the weather. And because I did that so often, I actually did notice the changes, which were so subtle and beautiful it made me want to quit the work, and go write a poem.
The north winds behind the prior glop-storm had brought temperatures down to nearly “average”, but those winds shifted to the south and you could feel the north relenting. The cut of the wind relaxed into a sort of softness. I felt the next storm surely must be rain, but the forecasters were sure we’d get snow.
What they somehow knew, and I didn’t, was those south winds from a storm to our west would shift to northeast winds, as that primary storm to our west occluded and basically vanished from the map, and a secondary “coastal development” took over.
In the map below you can see the secondary has taken over, and the only sign of the primary is dashed orange lines, and a curl of clouds.
I was impressed by the forecaaster’s skill, as snow began falling as I went to bed Sunday night. The forecast was for six-to-ten inches by morning. (School had already been cancelled, though we keep our Childcare open, as we are needed.) But the rain-snow line was very nearby to our south, and I was well aware how difficult it is to forecast what amounts to a difference between 32.1 degrees and 31.9. I was not particularly surprised when I awoke at two in the morning, and saw rain out the window. Apparently the primary low, which didn’t even exist on maps any more, pushed just enough warmth north to switch the snow to rain, as the radar map showed.
The radar showed purple, indicative of freezing rain and sleet, and my thermometer read 32, so I knew this was not the sort of rain that melts snow much. When I went to open our Childcare at 6:45 it was still 32, and the windows of my Jeep were suggestive of freezing rain and not rain. As I shoveled the front walk I noticed the snow had a crust on top, more like freezing rain than wet rain. Temperatures might be thirteen degrees above normal, but the glop was still glop.
The forecast insisted the rain would change back to snow as the secondary low grew stronger and moved over Cape Cod into the Gulf of Maine, but I was in no mood to send children out to get wet in cold rain, so I had to endure innocent darlings totally trashing the Childcare indoors.
The children were excited to see the rain change back to wet snow out the window…
…And I confess I was glad to get the children dressed in their body-armor snowsuits and out the door. I hoped to put them to work rolling snowballs, which they adore, but we were disappointed to discover the crust of ice that freezing snow put on the snow made rolling snowballs impossible. However the snow was very sticky, and could be shoveled to the sides of our igloo-in-progress.
I was doing most of the work, as the children were persuaded by a cynic in their midst that a roof on a snow-fort was one of those silly ideas adults have, like tooth fairies or Santa Claus. I didn’t mind. Occasionally I had to break up snowball wars, but mostly they did their thing, (which seemed to involve making paths), and I worked on the impossible roof. But I did notice the kindly south winds, and the the southerly movement of low skud, shifted around to the north, as the storm headed by to our east.
One thing that seemed odd was that there was no increase in the winds. The trees were still white with the burden of the last glop-storm, and more burdened by freezing rain, and now were being further frosted by wet snow, but there was no wind to blow the white from the boughs. The flakes were big and wet, as the passing low created bands of snow. (If you want to show off your meteorological jargon, call the bands “mesoscale”.)
We were short-handed, but, because school was cancelled. a high-school-aged “intern” showed up to make some extra money, and this meant I did not need to bring the children in for lunch, and put all their wet snow suits in the drier, and get them settled down for nap time. Rather, she did all that, while, huffing and puffing, I could stay out and complete the igloo, which, because the small cynic doubted me, had become a thing my old ego deemed important. It was likely unwise to huff and puff so much at my age, but I managed to finish the job.
Rather than noticing my masterpiece, please notice the woods in the background, burdened with glop. From those woods, as I worked in the child-free silence of falling snow, I heard occasional loud cracks, like the report of a pistol, followed by crashing and thumping, like large limbs falling to earth. This is not a good sign.
We lost power at our Childcare around 2:30, when the children were just rising from their naps. The place was still warm, and it was not particularly hard to dress them to go out and play again. I’d rushed off to attend to other details, but was glad to hear the kids were very impressed my igloo had a roof, and my wife took a picture for our website of seven small children sitting within. Then I rushed back to watch kids play in the dwindling light of the ebbing day, (made especially dark with no power), as one by one their parents arrived to pick them up. Nearly every parent had an adventure to talk about, describing trees down across highways, and losing power at workplaces.
I spend so much time with small children, dealing with the way they think, that I have come to value the all-too-short time I get to spend with actual living and breathing adults. Perhaps it is because I am coming from a different perspective, but it strikes me adults have no idea how amazing they are. A tree can close a highway as they go to pick up their child, and they just make a joke out of the experience. They find their way around the obstacles. They lose power at a workplace, yet get their job done. They don’t like glop, but accept it as “average” and get on with life.
But for Alarmists, glop is a disaster. Rather than above “average ” temperatures causing less snow, glop creates snow so heavy and dense it shuts down schools.
The storm was heading off, just a feature on my “fisherman’s map”:
But the glop took time to clean up. Arriving at work at 6:45 this morning to shovel the inch of overnight snow and salt the walks, I discovered the schools needed a two hour delay before opening. Also we had no power at our Childcare. But we opened, with a wood-stove’s fire upstairs to warm the children, and with snow melting in pots on that stove to use, if we needed to flush the toilets. Power came back on at 9:30, so we never needed to flush toilets with melted snow, but the point I want to make is that glop didn’t stop us.
Actually, when the sun snuck briefly under the cloud deck at sunrise, the way glop bent a pine’s up-reaching boughs down like a hemlock’s was downright beautiful.
It is important to remember Glop is beautiful, because our local forecast is for more of it. Tomorrow night we are suppose to get a quick thump of a half-foot of snow, turning to heavy rain, which will turn snow to slush, which will freeze as solid as iron as winds turn north afterwards.
If “above average” gives us so much winter, what shall happen when things swing to “below average”? For surely things must do so, in order for “above” and “below” to average-out into the “average” (which hardly ever happens).
One major reason I shifted from being reluctant about being vaccinated for the China Virus,`to adamantly refusing to being vaccinated, was the death of Robert Felix on June 10, 2021. He suffered from rheumatoid arthritis, but had the painful affliction under control with medications, however, after getting “the jab”, his arthritis flared out of control and he swiftly was confined to a wheelchair and, soon afterwards, died.
I felt a great sense of loss, because, although we’d only met “on line”, he had been very kind to me. On several occasions I fear I, being at times an offensive person, offended him, and that never sits well with me; I don’t like offending people who have been kind. I sent some apologetic texts, but wanted to meet with him personally at some point. Abruptly he was gone. What was unspoken seemed it would be forever unsaid.
When I thought about it, I decided I was being selfish. It was all about me. Death is a gateway to further life, (I believe), and Robert’s destiny was to move on. The best I could do was to honor his memory and keep alive the good work he did.
Robert got in trouble with politically correct Alarmists because, rather than thinking we should be worried about Global Warming, he felt we should be concerned about a climate cycle bringing a return of Ice Age conditions. He had studied the subject and wrote a book.
I tended to offend Robert by clumsily joking he was as biased towards cold as Alarmists were towards warmth. He had every reason to take offense, for he was very different from Alarmists, in that he was not guilty of B.S.
Everything Robert did was, in my opinion, sincerely devoted to Truth. Unlike certain “climate scientists”, he never (that I ever saw) compromised on Truth to get a grant or endowment or advancement or the cheap fame of media attention, and Robert likely “blew his chances”, by offending bigwigs on a regular basis. I just hope the bigwigs felt as small as I felt, when I stepped on his toes.
Even when I had offended my friend and he was not in the mood to talk with me, I always visited his website “Ice Age Now”, because it was a treasury of information concerning a topic the media avoided and avoids like the plague: Places on earth where it was colder than normal. The media always focused on where the planet was (and is) experiencing a hot spell. The media completely neglected the fact these events tend to balance out, and temperatures ten degrees above normal in one place will be balanced by temperatures ten degrees below normal in another. “Ice Age Now” was like an antidote to such one-sided reporting. The fact of the matter was that, where Al Gore stated, “the planet has a fever”, it was the media that had the fever, and Robert Felix was the cooling cure.
Robert was and is irreplaceable. His website should be a treasury of historic information, and I find it a bit suspicious that so many wrenches have been thrown into the works of what should be part of the public record. It is hard to access his site, and to a suspicious codger like me it seems someone does not want his memory to even exist.
However, though I cannot match his ability, it seems one thing I can do, to honor his memory, is to, (in a much smaller way than Ice Age Now did), note that there are places colder than ever seen before, right now, on our planet. The very fact such places exist are possibly more indicative of a coming Ice Age, than of Global Warming.
Therefore it leapt out at me, grabbing my attention and making me immediately think of Robert, when I saw that both Iceland and China were getting headlines for cold, while browsing through Tony Heller’s website, “Real Climate Science”.
Having spoken of places where it is very cold, I would not want you to think I was one-sided. After all, when temperatures are below normal one place, they are balanced by temperatures above normal in another place. And one “other” place happens to be right where I live in New Hampshire. I will now show the results of temperatures far above normal, at a Childcare I run.
I should hasten to add that ordinarily, in mid-January, our snow is usually powder, which sifts dryly in the wind. It is useless stuff, in terms of making snowmen, or igloos, (or pasting a teacher in the face and knocking their glasses off with a snowball as a “joke.”) Temperatures must be ten degrees above normal to make our snow sticky.
However snow is snow, in terms of “albedo”.
“Albedo” is a magic word for Alarmists, for it measures the ability of a surface to absorb sunlight, or else bounce it back to outer space. Snow has a huge ability to reflect sunlight to space without absorbing much heat. Alarmists assume temperatures ten degrees above normal will make less snow, and therefore the planet will reflect less heat, and get hotter and hotter and hotter until the oceans boil.
However the above picture shows the result of temperature well above normal. It doesn’t look like less snow to me. Furthermore it is not light and fluffy powder snow, which quickly shrinks under bright sunshine until a foot is like an inch of wet felt, but rather it is heavy, dense snow about as light and fluffy as cement. (You will have to trust me about this, as I’m the poor old man who had to huff and puff building that igloo.) Snow that dense snapped the branches of trees and knocked out the power at my Childcare from lunch until the purple darkness of closing. Furthermore, if the sun ever shines again, (and lately I’ve had my doubts), you’ll want sunglasses just as much for this cement-like snow as you do for powder snow, but this sort of solid, cement-like snow does not wilt like powder snow does. It just sits there and seems to say, “I will not melt until May.”
Well! Who would have thunk it? Snow produced by warmer temperatures is harder to melt? If that doesn’t infuriate Alarmists and get you shadow banned, they are not paying attention. For if warmer temperatures produce snow more difficult to melt, then maybe Robert Felix was right.
Maybe it is time for the Alarmists to all rush over to the other side of the boat, for when the snow says “I will not melt until May” perhaps, just perhaps, it is also ininuating….
We have been enjoying a mild January, however often this has been followed, in my experience, by some wild weather. I won’t regale you with garrulous tales, and simply will post a picture of the cold building up in Siberia.
For Americans, -62.7 Celsius translates to -80.86 Fahrenheit.
Air this cold tends to build over land, and not the North Pole, which is a sea, and radiates “warmth” (if you can call salt water below the freezing point of fresh water “warm”) up through the thin skim of sea-ice that covers it. The Pole has trouble getting below -40. Siberia, on the other hand, has no trouble at all. It generates the coldest air in the northern hemisphere.
Cold air sinks, (the opposite of a hot air balloon that rises). Air this absurdly cold sinks like a rock and, because solid earth gets in its way, it tends to spread out. In cases where the spreading comes in contact with warm and humid air from the tropics, the clash can generate amazing storms, and the western sides of such storms consist of strong, north winds which pulls the Siberian air further south. An “arctic outbreak” occurs.
Who will get it? China, due south? Or will it head east across Bering Strait and down the spine of the Rocky Mountains to make North America shudder? Or will it be like Tolkien’s Mordor and make Europe rue the east wind? Some years it does all three! And meanwhile the North Pole can actually be above normal, and Alarmists can fret there is not enough sea-ice to the north, as the Yellow Sea freezes in China and Chesapeke Bay freezes in Virginia.
In any case, don’t drop your guard. This winter’s a long way from being over.
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.
I nabbed the picture below from Joseph D’Aleo’s excellent blog on the Weatherbell website. He was describing a triple-arctic-outbreak hitting China, Europe, and the USA, which some models suggest will climax around Christmas. (A kindly Christmas present may be to invite an elderly person on a fixed income into your house, if you can afford warmth.) But what I noticed was how warm the arctic was.
It might seem like common sense that, if the cold air comes charging south from the Pole, some warm air must be sucked up behind it to replace it. I suppose you could say it is a “chicken-or-the-egg thing”, and argue that the warm air pushing north is what caused the cold air to come charging south. But, if you are going to use old sayings, you might as well say it is “six of one or a half dozen of another.” Cold air and warm air are what they are, and add up to the same total, no matter where they are placed.
However the placement of the cold air does make a difference in terms of our heating bills. A “zonal flow” keeps the cold air up at the Pole and keeps our heating bills low, whereas a “meridienal flow” allows arctic outbreaks (such as the above modeled temperatures illustrate), and high heating bills.
Heating bills, (and whether one can get fuel at all), matters to people. Arctic sea-ice does not. However it long had been the policy to attempt to scare the public with the prospect of an ice-free arctic, as if that was a bad thing. (I have argued it is not, but let’s skip that for now.) So let us scrutinize the arctic briefly and determine whether all the red on the above map is causing the Arctic Sea to have open water.
First, the DMI temperature map shows spikes, as the warm air comes north.
Remember that the freezing point of water is shown by the blue line on the above graph. (273.15 degrees Kelvin = 0 degrees Celsius). The peaks in the temperature spikes are at roughly -17 degrees Celsius, or zero Fahrenheit. You are not going to see much melting at such temperatures.
However, the above graph is a “mean” of all the high arctic, a sort of blend and average, and if you cherry pick you surely can find places where the warm air coming north was above freezing. So I conducted a search for articles emphasizing such cherry picked warmth. They are not as easy to find as they used to be, but here is one from the Associated Press:
To find counter cherry picking one once could go to the Ice Age Now site, which sadly is no more. However here is a counter from No Tricks Zone, which was reprinted on Watts Up With That:
So which is it? Is it very warm or very cold?
Well, it is the North Pole and close to the winter solstice. The sun don’t shine. So mostly it is cold. And incursions of warm air getting that far north don’t stay warm long. Look how swiftly the spikes in the DMI graph plunge back down to levels closer to “normal”. So where does the warmth go? It doesn’t melt any sea-ice. Largely it is lost to outer space. Not only is the warmth of the air lost, but further heat is lost as the southern moisture in that air goes through two phase changes, first to liquid and then to ice, and the potential energy (“latent heat”) in vapor is freed, and then lost.
I would argue this is a bad deal for the energy budget of the planet. We’d be better off if that heat stayed south and was retained here on earth. Instead it comes north and is lost to outer space, as the cold heads south and spreads snow further south than normal. This snow falls where there actually is sunshine, and nothing reflects sunshine back to outer space (“albedo”) quite as well as freshly fallen snow. So this is bad for the planet’s energy budget as well. And here is a graph from a prior post showing the snow-cover at record levels.
Lastly, when we check the DMI “extent” graph to see how low the sea-ice level is, we notice it is higher than other recent years.
Now, for the fun of it, let us return to the Associated Press article, and laugh at some of the language they used.
‘“The entire Arctic is hot except for small portions of the central and eastern Canadian Arctic and a very small portion of Siberia,” Thoman said from a warmer than normal Fairbanks.’
I love the use of the word “hot”. DMI says the mean temperature up there is -17 Celsius, (zero Fahrenheit) and the Associated Press uses the word “hot”.
‘Sea ice matters because in areas of the Arctic there’s no sun in the winter and the atmosphere is cold. But if there’s open water, that’s usually warmer than the atmosphere.
“Think of that as a heating pad and it’s just emitting heat into the atmosphere,” Thoman said.’
Open water? The Arctic Sea froze over a couple weeks ago, and now increases in the extent graph involve waters outside the Arctic. Hudson Bay is just completing its yearly flash freeze, and the Sea of Oshkosh is starting, and soon places as far south as the northern Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Saint Lawrence will be included in the “extent” graph. But open water in the arctic? Did the Associated Press bother to look at the Naval Research Lab graph of the Arctic Sea’s ice-thickness?
I could go on, but I think my point has been made. The Associated Press is propaganda, which I think people are getting tired of. More and more roll their eyes. Furthermore, the unclear funding of such balderdash seems to be shifting away from arctic sea-ice, which no one really cares about (except oddballs like me), to other subjects which are the “front line” of current politics. The poor scientists who have been susceptible to a sort of bribery, and produced malarkey to gain grants, are seeing their funding dry up.
Some sort of problem is occurring far away, due to the fact the money used to bribe people is basically created out of thin air. Either it is printed with nothing to back it, by irresponsible governments, or it is virtual money on the internet, which is currently creating the fiasco called “The FTX crisis”. Money which people thought was so very important is simply vanishing into thin air. That is because it was created out of thin air.
I prefer Truth. When you study nature you are dealing with something solid. Meteorology is a study of thin air which is more solid than the money some slaver over and are bribed by.
I’m going to keep my sea-ice posts shorter than they used to be. Hopefully I’ll make them more frequent. The next I hope to write will be about the yearly Hudson Bay refreeze.
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.
The bald-faced lying in the media and in politics has gotten to me. Anyone with half a brain knows the entire Global Warming scenario is politically correct balderdash. I first became sure of this ten years ago when He-who-I-will-not-dignify-by-naming spoke of Global Warming during a State of the Union, and did so with a sort of wink and a shrug, and an audible murmur of soft laughter passed through the hallowed halls of congress, and I knew every person there knew Global Warming was balderdash. They knew but figured they were in-the-know, above the unwashed masses. I think that was when I first felt a sort of despair creep in: One cannot have confidence in leaders who hold you in contempt.
No longer do elected officials seem to feel any need to explain what they are doing, or to convince voters that what they do is a good thing to do. They do not need to convince voters because they can win elections even if out-voted. Their voting machines have a crooked way of counting, and if politicians pay the “machine”, they can ignore the voters.
Rather than Love-thy-neighbor, politics has instead taken a turn towards Utterly-ignore-thy-neighbor. What else can you call it, when you ignore the voters? To some this seems an expediency, for if you can ignore objections, you can get things done. However, the Founding Fathers of the United States did not believe the common man should be utterly ignored, nor that the common man’s objections were always unwise. Therefore, in essence, the turn politics has taken is against the Founding Fathers and towards tyranny.
This will not come to a good end. Tyranny never does.
But what I think bothers me most is the callousness of certain “Useful Idiots” who play their small part in various dishonest schemes, and who tee-hee together like adolescents who have gotten away with some small crime committed against a schoolteacher. They deliver phony votes in an election, utterly unaware the crime they commit is enormous. It is treason, in fact; treason against the United States of America, but they’d be flabbergasted if they faced hanging. To them it is just a lark.
If I was allowed to escape shadow-banning and censorship and deliver a single sermon, I’d like to shame such lamebrains. I don’t want to win votes. I don’t want to be popular. I just want to deliver one hell of a tongue-lashing, to put such people to shame.
If you skip class, it should be for glory,
Not for corruption you call a "foible".
Your homework's undone; you think your lame story
Will undo your want and make life be joyful,
But your teacher's long gone. The chore you skipped
Was bailing the boat you've been gliding in
And it's wallowing now. It seems you've shipped
In a leaky scow, are residing in
Dangerous sloshing, and had best start bailing
Because excuses won't save your tanned hide
And you'd best not quit the sweat of sailing
If Safe-Harbors you hope to duck inside.
It's a lark to skip homework, classes, work
But no fun seeing it has made you a jerk.