LOCAL VIEW –How Humid Was It?–

Certain comedians train their audiences  to respond to a statement such as, “Lord, was it ever hot!” with a chorus of voices that all chime in with, “How hot was it?” Then they say something very funny.

But this is serious, man, serious! I have never seen humidity like this, up here in New Hampshire. And, Oh yes, folk down south will call me a wimp. I did live in South Carolina for a summer. But up here we are not accustomed to dew points over 70°. We hardly bother with air conditioners. Usually a dew point of 70º at sunset results in a heavy fog or even drenching drizzle by dawn, as our nighttime temperatures attempt to sink past the dew point to our typical, comfortable 60º. But this year?

I never saw this coming, because the summer began bone dry. Every drop of rain was wrung from clouds by mountains to our west. I was a bit snidely pleased, for even though stuff in the garden was stunted, so were the weeds. (I have no time for weeding.)

But then the pattern shifted, and rather than moisture being wrung out by higher hills to our west, we ourselves are the higher hills, wringing moisture  from the flatlands to our south. The forecast would be for scattered clouds, but we’d see this:

Humid 2 IMG_7118

And then see this:

Humid 3 IMG_7119

The lightning flickering about in the clouds makes these raindrops rich in nitrogen, which is a royal pain. For every inch it makes my vegetables grow it makes the weeds grow a foot. And I have no time for weeding, for all the rain means I have to mow the grass. I also have to attend to the pool, which the nitrogen-rich rain turns a vivid green.

How humid is it? It’s so humid it’s stupid,  for it seems stupid to me that it is more important to add algeacide to a pool than to weed my own garden. But our Childcare needs the pool to cool the kids, in hot, muggy weather. And it is the Childcare, not the farm, that brings home the bacon.

The irony burns a bit. The USA was initially a nation of farmers, but now nobody can afford to farm. (Not that many want to.) Something other than the garden provides the food.

As a man who is basically a survivalist, and has very little confidence in the government’s ability to handle finances, who foresees a day when there will be no way for taxpayers to pay all the welfare dependents and pensioners the government has  promised to pay, (whereupon there will either be no checks issued or rampant inflation), I suspect a day will come when food might be in short supply.

My view of history suggests there tends to be a breakdown of the infrastructure that mass-produces food on mega-farms and delivers it to cities, when a crisis occurs. Even if bread is available no one can afford it when hyper inflation makes it cost $100,000,000.00 a loaf.  Then the government tends to step in, thinking it can organize, and history demonstrates what occurs is a loss of initiative: The Soviet Union’s “collective” farms saw potatoes rotting in piles as shortages existed in cities, but also saw a tiny segment of the population that was allowed to have small, “private” gardens produce a disproportionate amount of the food; as I recall the figures were something like 5% of the farmland, in small lots, was producing 25% of the food. I also heard an old Hungarian tell me that during the bad times of Hitler and Stalin “the cows wore golden chains”. Zimbabwe was the breadbasket of Africa until the government stepped in to make farms “fair”, whereupon there was famine.  Venezuela was well-fed before the government sought equity for all. And in these cases tiny farms step forward to do what the giants bungle.

Maybe I just have a puffed-up sense of my own importance, but I have decided I have to keep my tiny farm going even though I’m physically incapable of the labor.  My plan is to commercialize my writing so I can hire two hands next summer.  This year will be written off as “the year the weeds won.”

In any case, I’m trying to focus on writing more (and also a possible redesign of this website), and the last thing I want is rain making the grass grow fast, so I have to cut it more. Then I also faced quite a job trying to find bits of sunshine, so I could dry all the tarps and tents and canvas folding-chairs and sleeping bags from our deluge-camping. (I was paying for the vacation after it was over.)

All I really want is to sit back and nibble an eraser contemplatively,  but after camping my wife hits the ground running. She feels a vacation has involved far too much sitting-around, and has a whirlwind of social activity planned, and then I hear a shriek from the dining room. I stopped nibbling my eraser. Why?  Well, this you have just got to see:

Humid 1 IMG_7117

How humid is it? It’s so humid the chairs get moldy. And rather than writing a great article, I find myself wiping down all the wooden furniture with a cloth dampened with vinegar, before the company arrives. I tell you, it’s rough, being a writer.

How humid is it? Well, we typically get a thundering downpour or two in the summer, with perhaps an inch or two of rain falling in a hurry, and the gutters are all full for an hour or so afterwards.  But usually that is that. However downpour has followed downpour, and a few places in the hills are approaching 24 inches of rain in just a couple of weeks.

Of course, this gets certain cats yowling about Global Warming, because everything, no matter what, is caused by that, in their world view. California mudslides? Global Warming. California wildfires? Global warming.

What I do is just try to look at the maps and see what actually occurring, avoiding the bias you get sucked into taking if you take a “side”. There are always places warmer than normal, and places colder than normal, and if you “take a side” you’ll focus on one and not the other. But let’s try to avoid that, and look at both. As most of the planet’s heat is locked up in the oceans, let’s start with the SST (Sea Surface Temperatures), and see whether they are above, or below, normal.

Humid 5 anomnight.8.16.2018

You may notice a red area off San Diego. The media has made a great deal about “record warm Pacific waters” there. But just south of it is a blue blob off Baja California. Any headlines about “record cold Pacific waters?” Or just crickets? Do you see how foolish this bias can appear?

Also notice the tropical Atlantic between Cuba and West Africa is all light yellow. Just a few weeks ago it was all light blue. Does this represent dramatic warming? No. In some cases it can represent a tiny change from .01 below normal to .01 above normal. But what caused the warming? Was it trace amounts of CO2? No, it was enormous amounts of Saharan dust, swept by the Azores High off Africa, and all the way to Texas, and even from there north and then east to Ohio and then to here in New Hampshire (in trace amounts.) This dust, combined with slightly cooler SST, suppressed the formation of hurricanes and tropical storms. And what does that mean? More sunshine, warming the water and raising the SST as little as .01 degree, and changing the map’s hue from chilly blue to warm yellow. (I can understand that, but don’t understand what engineered the cooling of those waters, earlier.)

What is most important to our humid summer is the warm water off Cape Cod and Nova Scotia. I’m surprised the media hasn’t gone nuts about it yet, but perhaps they are distracted by the fact mild waters (and tasty seals) have lured Great White Sharks north to Cape Cod Beaches. (The media lately has seemed easily distracted by anything involving the word “white”.) I doubt they will be focused enough to see warm water off New England is actually a sign of “cold”, when it is surrounded by a horseshoe of colder water, called the “cold AMO” (Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation.) The AMO cycle is not due to turn “cold” for another five years, but is hovering close to that change already.

Humid 4 amo_short

Though they didn’t have the word “AMO” (which appeared around 1990) New England fishermen have long known dramatic swings in Atlantic conditions could cause populations of fish (and gulls) to shift dramatically north or south, once or twice in an average lifetime.  In order to be aware of it you needed to respect and heed grandfathers who respected and heeded their grandfathers. The modern media, which has an attention span of around four minutes, is likely unaware of the AMO and will be taken totally by surprise by the switch, and will likely become apoplectic.

Not that we don’t all become careless, when things only happen every thirty years, or every sixty years.  Humans have the tendency to farm the rich soil on the side of a volcano, and then be astonished when they blow.

Here in New England the best route up a steep hill is the route taken by a little brook, which has an uncanny way of finding the shallowest incline.  Road-building is assisted by the fact these little brooks have far more cobblestones than they could possibly need. The brook is moved to the side, and the cobblestones are used as the foundation for the road up the hill. And for thirty years everything is fine. Perhaps even for sixty years everything is hunky-dory.  Even the torrential rains of a summer thunderstorm stay in the brook at the side. But then….(ominous drum-roll, please)….there comes the summer that is so humid. How humid is it?  Thunderstorm follows thunderstorm, and the road winds up looking like this:

You see, the little brook didn’t have far more cobblestones than it could possibly need. It needed those cobblestones, once every sixty years.

I’m telling you this because I have a suspicion young whippersnappers in the media will look at the above picture and blame Global Warming. They will subscribe to the idea the solution to the above problem is to ban things and raise taxes to fund other things that do everything you can imagine, except fix the road.

Around these parts old-timers puff out their cheeks and shake their heads, for they know their taxes will have to go up, but it’s to fix the road, for another sixty years.

WHO IS SMARTER? SCIENTISTS OR WHALES?

Here is another fragment cut from a prior “Arctic Sea Ice” post. (Those posts are a notebook full of observations and doodles, and can be too long-winded for some.)

What I have been noticing, but don’t see at the moment, is how cold it has been up at the North Pole this past summer. It is gloomy, as it has been all summer, but the -10°C temperatures we saw a few days ago have vanished, as a recent probe of warm air now spears the Pole.

The summertime cold air doesn’t effect the melt of sea-ice in the short term, because most melt is due to the waters under the ice, but where those waters are exposed to such cold air the waters are chilled, and this does effect the melt of sea-ice in the long run, because the waters under the ice gradually get colder.

You don’t really notice the cold unless you have been a long-term escapist like me, and watched sea-ice for years. It doesn’t show up all that well in the Mean-temperatures-north-of-80°-latitude DMI graph, (though the recent mild invasion shows up).DMI2 0904B meanT_2015

However the unexpected cold air showed up all summer, especially south of 80° over towards O-buoys 10, 11, and 12. Look at my old posts if you don’t believe me. And, as a bumpkin ruled by common sense rather than science, one thing I am highly suspicious of is the simple fact there have been so few sunspots at a time there should be a lot. So forgive me if I blare a headline:

“QUIET SUN” PRODUCES STRING OF FOUR “SPOTLESS” DAYSSunspots 20150902 If you squint at this image you may see some itty-bitty spots at the equator to the left, but they don’t count, because in the old days a small telescope could never get an image this good. They are “sun-specks”, and scientists use them to become confused. The simple fact of the matter is that they would not be seen in the old days, and if you want to compare apples with apples you shouldn’t count them, when comparing the present to the past . And, while you might not agree with the host’s ideas about planets influencing the sun, an excellent “layman’s sunspot count” cam be found here:  http://www.landscheidt.info/?q=node/50

I bring this up because, in the past, when sunspots became few and far between, the earth got cold. Modern science can’t grasp the reason, and some conclude it was therefore “just a coincidence.” This is a bit like saying it is just a coincidence that your thumb hurts when you hammer it, because you can’t scientifically prove how nerves get the message to the brain. Just because you don’t know how a thing happens is not proof it isn’t happening.

Once again lying eyes come in handy. If you stay indoors by a computer, at least visit sites that look out windows. Then maybe you will witness the thawing Beaufort Sea refreezing all summer, when it should be thawing without interruption.

Anyway, here is a graph from the above-mentioned site, comparing our current lack of sunspots with the year 1798.Layman's Comp 20150904 sc5_sc24_1It sure does look like we are seeing, if anything, fewer sunspots than 1798. Is this a hint it may get colder? From scientists all I hear is a lot of, “there is not enough evidence to verify for certain, and therefore…” Then a lot of them use even less evidence to verify that it is getting warmer.

What is a bumpkin to do? Resort to using lying eyes. Are there any signs that it is getting colder? Not if you look where most scientists look. But if you look where Polar Bears look you see them make scientists look like imbeciles on a regular basis. So look to the behavior of other sea creatures, such as whales.

One of the biggest flips from warm to cold (and from cold to warm) involves the Atlantic Ocean, and something called the AMO, (Atlantic Decadal Oscillation). When it flips there is a huge migration of all sorts of sea creatures, and in the past it was primarily noticed by bumpkin fishermen whose livelihood depended upon finding where the fish schooled.  There are great stories of fishermen finding fishing grounds deserted, searching far and wide, and discovering the fish hundreds of miles north or south of where they once were. Only recently have scientists started to become interested in what was a matter of life and death for fishermen, and in a rather snooty manner some of these scientists tend to think they know more than mere fishermen.

Only in my lifetime was it determined that what fishermen knew is factual; the AMO does flip from “cold” to “warm” and back, though why, when and where it happens is still argued about. The AMO has been “warm” for a while, and some say it is likely to turn “cold”, but the data scientists use only show it is wavering on the verge, like a top wobblng at the end of a spin.AMO Sept 4 amo_shortThis is too wishy-washy to be an answer, and therefore a person who resorts to lying eyes must resort to people who actually leave their computers and walk the beaches, and even get in the water to swim and surf. They are the ones likely to see something unusual. (Cue for next sensational headline:)

ARCTIC WHALES SEEN UNUSUALLY FAR SOUTH

For many years the Bowhead whale was just another “Right Whale”,  so named because they were the right whale to hunt, primarily because they didn’t sink when they died. They are now known to be quite different from Right Whales, and a truly arctic species. For one thing, they have heads that can butt through ice two feet thick, and for another thing, when threatened they use ice as a hiding place to flee beneath.(Photo Credit: Dennis Scott/Corbus)

There was good money to be made hunting these whales, and many of our earliest records of sea-ice were from the voyages of daring men who risked their lives in the arctic. Some were my ancestors, and I’m proud of their daring, but less proud of their greed, which reduced the population of these whales from 50,000 to roughly 5,000. In fact, were it not for the discovery of fossil oil in the earth, these beautiful creatures might be extinct, however their population has increased to at least 30,000, if not to their their original levels. Now they are only hunted by Eskimo.

“Bowhead Whale 2002-08-10” by Ansgar Walk – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bowhead_Whale_2002-08-10.jpg#/media/File:Bowhead_Whale_2002-08-10.jpg

During the recent harvests, only 20-30 per year, of these whales, very old harpoon tips have been found in the blubber. Some are of slate, or basically “stone-age”, and an unexploded exploding harpoon from New Bedford in the 1890’s was also found, suggesting these whales can live up to (and perhaps over) 200 years.

In conclusion, obviously these whales have far more experience than Climate Scientists. When these whales head south, maybe they know something Climate Scientists don’t.

Therefore I sat up in interest when off the coast of Britain, where such whales had never, I repeat, NEVER, been seen before, this picture appeared for lying eyes:Whale bowheadwhale_561024

http://www.sott.net/article/293244-Rare-Arctic-bowhead-whale-seen-for-the-first-time-in-UK-waters

Some may say it was a fluke, a young male Bowhead only 99 years old out gallivanting far from home. But that is not the only whale far from home.

Another arctic species is the Beluga Whale, which are pure white when adult, because it helps them to camouflage themselves with sea ice, when hunted by polar bears who are also camouflaged, and by killer whales. They can only break through 3 inches of ice, but will trail bowhead whales, using the holes bowhead’s break through 2 feet of ice. They are the only white whale besides Moby Dick, and are extremely obvious when away from sea ice.Whale 2 220px-Beluga_premier.gov.ru-3

Once again we turn to not scientists, but the ordinary folk in Britain. Off Northern Ireland on July 30:Whale 3 Beluga_Whale_Dunseverick_1-1024x576 Photo Credit Gordon Watson

http://www.seawatchfoundation.org.uk/beluga-rare-arctic-visitor-to-the-british-isles/

And then at the end of August two more were spotted in the North Sea off Northumberland.

http://www.sott.net/article/301038-Wrong-place-wrong-time-Extremely-rare-Arctic-Beluga-whales-seen-off-cold-beach-in-Northumberland-UK

It should be noted that there are only 17 recorded sightings of Beluga Whales off the coast of Britain, most off the Scottish coast, and none before this summer’s (that I know of) from the coast of Ireland. So, as was the case with the Polar Bears, I wonder if the animals know more than our scientists. And once again it is not scientists who give us the really interesting pictures, despite all their grants and hours spent by computers, but rather it is ordinary people who go outside and use their lying eyes.

(A hat-tip to http://iceagenow.info/ which is a great source of links to gain information such as the above news about whales.)

LOCAL VIEW —Pneumonia; a writer’s ruin—

 pnemonia

I doubt anyone wants much to hear about my ten days with walking pneumonia, however therein lies the challenge:  A good writer can make anything interesting.

One interesting thing about pneumonia is that it makes interesting things dull.  Oxygen is darned important stuff. Little tanks of oxygen should be attached to the back of math books, with nozzles that spray into students’s faces. I, for one, might have found the classes more interesting. Many have told me that Math is actually an interesting subject, and all I can reply is that they obviously were getting more oxygen than I was.

The past ten days have been like a prolonged Math class. I kept waiting for the bell to ring, so I could rush out and escape the room and see life begin again. In fact I tried to keep myself going at the start, as often it seems to do more harm to give in to a cold, than to dress very warmly, eat very well, drink only one drink, sweat a lot, and sleep more than usual. Healthy work usually cures a cold, but not this time.

I felt very uneasy when I noticed lots of other old geezers my age were going down like dominoes,  and spending time in bed. Usually our immune systems have been exposed to so many bugs over the decades we can man the ship as the youth go down, but not this time. I’d bound from bed in the morning thinking, “I must be better by now,” but found I was weak as a kitten and slow as molasses and had a headache and feverish feeling starting in the middle of the morning, and by afternoon my temperature would be above a hundred. My IQ was well below that.

Finally I broke down and spent some time in bed. Antibiotics were not clearing my lungs, and proved my local doctor was quite correct when he told me the chest-cold afflicting the town was likely viral and not bacterial. I take viral pneumonia seriously, ever since it swiftly did in the creator of the Muppet’s.  (They’ve never been as good, ever since.)

It is very annoying to be stuck in bed when your IQ is greatly reduced and absolutely everything seems uninteresting. My main occupation was hacking up phlegm, and when I felt particularly congested I’d dress up like it was minus-forty when it actually was thawing, and go out to split some wood for the fire, as exercise seems to clear roughly a pound of phlegm from my system. Then I’d have a deep drink of water and crawl shuddering back to bed.

My dull mind got to thinking, as my fever spiked, about the expression “British Phlegm.”  I’d always thought it was a rather cool trait, (for example, when they arrive home and see ten firetrucks and the entire block ablaze and their home burning from cellar to attic, they calmly say something such as, “I must remember not to make the fire insurance payment for the next quarter, next week.”) Now it seemed a sort of insulting expression, equating the English with mucus.

Ordinarily I’d hop on that idea like a chicken on a worm, but a speedy response was too much like work, so I took a nap before I looked up the word “phlegmatic.”  I was informed it meant, “Having or suggesting a calm, sluggish temperament; unemotional or apathetic.” 

That described me to the T,  and, after another nap and a couple aspirin,  I discovered “phlegm” was one of the four “humors” that, according to ancient medicine, governed human health, vitality, intelligence and personality.

That also made sense, because when you can’t breathe and aren’t getting enough oxygen you do develop a sort of calm. There had been several occasions for sarcasm that I completely missed, after I got congested.  It wasn’t that I didn’t know sarcasm was suited for the situation; I simply couldn’t think of any.

However when I traced the roots of the word back to the roots in ancient Greek I became very tired. The root was from, phlegein, “to burn.” How could a bright fire come to mean a dullness? The aspirin was wearing off and I felt sweaty and very tired, so I took another nap. 

When I awoke I bounded from bed, certain I was better, but after around five false starts I crawled back into bed to reconsider the subject of phlegm.

It turns out the word “Phlegm” has even more ancient roots in the “Common Tongue” of ancient Europe, Indo-European.  The ancient word was “Bhel” and it basically meant extremely bright and white. It gave birth to some words that seem logical, such as “blaze”, “blanch”, “blush”, “beluga” and “blitzkrieg”.  However the word “blind” takes some thinking, as it seems the opposite of white, though of course white light can be blinding. Things get downright difficult to comprehend when you consider the fact :”Bhel” was also the root of words like “bleak” and “black.”

It was too much for my diminished IQ, so I took another nap. Awakening after midnight drenched in sweat, I decided a fever was good for dull wits, as you get some strange thinking sprinkled in. It made perfect sense to me that a bright blaze could make black charcoal, so the words blaze and black could be related. After an aspirin it stopped making so much sense, and I could only guess that some ancient suffix was involved, in the way we can use a suffix to turn “sun” into “sunless.”

I was wide awake in the dead of night, as I had slept so much during the day, so I thought I might compose a blog entry. I couldn’t even think of a first sentence. Weather maps made no sense. Instead I just wandered, and eventually got back to the subject of phlegm.

I’d wandered back to ancient India, which oddly has some words that are the same in Ireland. Perhaps there was some sort of pre-Tower-of-Babel civilization, some golden age more civil than we can imagine, that allowed a common tongue to be shared. But I’ll leave that for people with higher IQs and lower temperatures.

Back in the time of the Sanskrit scholars they may not have known of oxygen or oxygen tanks, but they did know air was necessary for fire, and for life. Air was “Vayu” and life was “Prana”, and they were so deeply interconnected it was impossible to separate them.

This made perfect sense to me in the dead of night. When you have pneumonia it is very obvious air is connected to life. I don’t need to sit cross-legged, and to learn how to breathe out of alternate nostrils, to know that.  I’ve seen it, been humbled by it, and am sick of it.

However I came across one ancient tale that tickled me. It involved a situation where all the various Hindu gods (with a small “G”) wondered who was most important to humans. So, each in turn, withdrew from humanity, (or one particular Job-like human,) to see how he’d fare.

[Don’t get me wrong. I believe there is only one God (with a capital “G”) and it irks me when Christians get too compartmentalized with Father-Son-Spirit, or distracted by Saints and the Virgin Mary. However it also irks me when psuedo-scientists miss all the wonder of clouds and sky and wind, thinking they can reduce it to jostling molecules of Nitrogen and Oxygen and H2O and some trace gases. Only when such scientists get old does their wonder return, and do they confess that even after a lifetime of study of something such as the AMO, they have barely scratched the surface. They are on the verge, in their wonder, of giving the AMO the status of a god (with a small “g”) for the AMO is beyond human understanding and control. Yet these same scientists, when they were young, called the ancients “quaint” when they called a breeze a sort of little angel or small god, called a “zephyr”.]

However the Sanskrit scholars of ancient times take the cake, when it comes to giving various powers of nature god-status, and picturing them as beings with wills of their own. (Where we speak of our “mind”, they have a god with a bull elephant head, prone to occasional fits rut-madness.)

In any case, all these gods began withdrawing their influence from man, and man suffered but survived, until it was the turn of the god of air.  He only started to stand up, and not only did man reel, but so did all the other gods. All the other gods then conceded that (not including God with a capital “G”), the god of air was most important.

Without Vayu there is no Prana. Pneumonia makes this disgustingly apparent. All your study, all your learning, all your projects, are put on hold.  At first you say, “when I get better” work will resume. Then, when five days sees you not better but worse, you start to say “if I get better.”

That word “when” takes too much for granted, and when it is replaced by “if” a writer is reduced to the proper point of humbleness. After all, it is an amazingly arrogant profession, (if you ever bother to think about it), and can use some cutting down to size.  It is important to remember you can’t even begin, without the mercy of a healing Creator.

Which leads me to a final mystery. Considering breathing and air is so important to the production of clearly articulated thoughts, while are so many young writers chain smokers?

I curse what that habit did to my lungs, but glad to say I feel better today, and able to make even pneumonia interesting.