LOCAL VIEW –Thirst Speaks–

Weather is unfair. Some get rain and some don’t. There is nothing particularly evil about this unfairness. It is just how the Creator made creation. Sometimes you get a bumper crop, and sometimes you are lucky to get a single turnip. The politicians in Washington can legislate all they want, but they aren’t going to alter the fall of raindrops from the clouds. Prayer might work, but legislation doesn’t.

One interesting thing about droughts is that they tend to perpetuate themselves. The dryness creates hotter temperatures which deflect moisture around the periphery of the core. This is quite obvious when the drought is gigantic, as the Dust Bowl was in 1936, but even in the cases of smaller and more local droughts rain has a strange propensity to snub those who need it most.

A current drought afflicts southern Vermont and New Hampshire, along their borders with Massachusetts, and today it was uncanny how the thunderstorms, moving east to west, avoided the lands that thirsted most. There were flash flood warnings blaring from the weather radio, as we dealt with dust. Here is a radar map of rain from this afternoon.

The impressive storms south of Boston and Albany and over Springfield were moving west to east, as were the string of lesser showers to the north approaching Concord. But most irksome to me was the storm right on the Massachusetts-New Hampshire border, approaching the coast. It was a cluster that had looked hopeful as it entered Vermont in the morning, but “dried up” and vanished from the radar as it crossed over me, and only reappeared and blew up to a big thunderstorm as it neared Portsmouth on the coast. Is that fair?

I know, even as I grouse about the extra work I must do watering my plants, that it is fair. The actions and reactions of nature are not only fair, they are beautiful. They are incredible harmony, and the only reason we complain is because we are not in harmony with the harmony. We have our own specific desires that are blind. For example, I transplanted some wet, cucumber seedlings into dusty soil, and failed to immediately water them, and the next day it was too late; they had withered and watering didn’t revive them. Never in my experience have cucumber seedlings needed to be watered so immediately; this June is “A First”. However I didn’t blame the drought; I blamed my inability to adapt to the “sumptuous variety of New England weather”. The weather itself is fair; what is unfair is our responses to it.

Sunday is suppose to be a Day Of Rest, and therefore I suppose working in my garden makes me a sinner, but I tried to lessen the eventual penalty I must pay by making my work into a sort of worship. Rather than cursing the drought I was praising the Creator for the amazing variety that makes my fingerprints different from all others, and also makes every summer unique. Not that I didn’t hope for rain. I hunched my eyebrows to the west, seeking the cumulus that was building.

Storms can build up from innocent-looking cumulus with surprising speed. In fact the vast expenditure needed to create the Doppler Radar produced images which shocked the indoors meteorologists who lobbied for it, which leads me to a bit of a sidetrack.

Back in those days congress didn’t just print money when they needed it, and they told the indoors meteorologists they needed to cut their budget in some areas before they would fund the expensive Doppler Radar. So what the indoor meteorologists did was to fire hundreds of outdoors weather-observers. They figured it was worth it, for they figured Doppler Radar would allow them to track individual thunderstorms in the manner that individual hurricanes were tracked. But what the Doppler Radar revealed was that there is no such thing as “an individual thunderstorm”. A storm was a “complex” of updrafts and down-bursts, forming “cells” of various types, sometimes fighting each other and sometimes assisting each other. The Doppler Radar revealed that, rather than a swirl like a hurricane that could be tracked, a thunder storm was a pulsating blob that made dividing amoebas look dull: breaking in two or into three, or becoming mega-cells, or vanishing, in a manner which was basically impossible to predict, from indoors. What was needed was outdoors observers, but those good people had been fired to save money. It was sort of funny to watch how the indoors meteorologists tried to save face. They made it sound like they were doing the public a favor by enlisting them as “volunteer” observers, called “spotters”. A job taxpayers once payed for is now done for free, but you get what you pay for. Around here a “spotter” caused complete chaos in early June by thinking a shred of cloud was a tornado. I’d take an old-fashioned outdoors observer any day, as some had decades of experience.

A further disrespect towards the old outdoors observers involves indoors meteorologists “correcting” the records they kept. Dr. James Hanson was notorious for such fudging of facts. I think it was done to make modern “Global Warming” look worse than the murderous heat and drought of 1936, but that gets us into politics, and it is unwise to go there.

I’d do the job, if only the indoors meteorologists would get off their high horses and confess Doppler Radar only proved they were ignorant. They closed hundreds of valuable stations, run by valuable outdoor observers, to get a gadget that basically tells you a thunderstorm is bad after it already is bad. An outdoor observer can do the same. But hell if I’ll do it if the people I do the favor for behave as if they are doing me the favor. The fact of the matter is they are not God, they have no control of the weather, and it is far better to be humble in such a situation than puff your ego on a high horse.

Not that I blame them for liking Doppler Radar. It is a cool gadget. Another cool gadget tells you just when lightning bolts hit, and even when you can expect to hear the thunder. I actually like this particular gadget more than Doppler Radar, for it will inform you the moment a ordinary shower becomes a thunder shower. You can even set it to make an audible click, the moment a nearby cloud first makes a bolt. This gadget produced the map below, as the Doppler Radar produced the map above.

This is a wonderful gadget, because, when you focus in on your local area, it not only shows you where the flash you just saw, arriving in your eyes at the speed-of-light, hit he ground, but also shows you a slowly enlarging circle, expanding at the-speed-of-sound, to tell you when to expect to hear the thunder. However even this gadget has its weakness. As an outdoors observer, engrossed with worshipful weeding of my garden on Sunday, I noticed I was hearing thunder this gadget didn’t admit existed.

The reason I could hear such thunder was obvious to me, although I am no Sherlock Holmes. Not all lightning hits the ground, but such lightning makes thunder. A storm can shoot bolts cloud to cloud, ten or even twenty miles from it’s core. Soft, cloud-to-cloud thunder can be heard by outside observers like me, even when gadgets are deaf.

I was in some ways glad it didn’t rain, as I had to weed the beans, and you can’t weed beans in a wet situation because doing so causes problems with a virus attacking the bean’s leaves. (No, it is not the Corona Virus and no, you don’t need to wear a mask. You simply weed when the leaves are dry).

Although drought may be good for beans when you weed them, after weeding they thirst for water. I had to water some flats of seedlings I intend to soon transplant, even as soft thunder muttered from both the north and south. The carrots and tomatoes were crying out for weeding, but I had to water first. It isn’t fair, but is just is how things are. And I eventually did weed some carrots and all the tomatoes, and also the peppers, as daylight faded and you actually could see the lightning to the north and the lightning to the south, which went along with the soft sky thunder. Yet still we remained dry.

As the late day June sun settled and the mosquitoes came out I decided enough worship was enough, and headed to my front stoop to relax with a worshipful beer. And it was then I felt I became a most blessed outdoors observer. I was witnessing stuff Doppler Radar misses.

Some storm to the south was a little closer than the others. The thunder was still soft, but a few flashes of lightning seemed brighter. And then I noticed, against slow moving higher clouds, speeding scud.

There was hardly a draft down where I sat, but the outflow of distant storms produced a wind, around a thousand feet up, of marvelous speed. (I can’t recall ever seeing scud moving so fast, outside of hurricanes). With an imagination like mine it was easy to see an angel on a speeding horse.

What this outflow did was to uplift a local cloud just enough to make it shower. At first it was just a few big drops, platting here or there, but then it became a soft roar in the crisp June foliage of parched trees, at first far away like a whisper, but then edging and sidling closer, until a brief down-burst hit the stoop I hearkened from.

In India they celebrate a monsoon’s first rain. The evening chorus of songbirds hushed at the approach of a downpour in a drought. It began as a sigh on the very edge of hearing, but became an approaching roar. All became giddy in a way only drought knows. My wife came out and stood beside me as the flooding baptism approached, and then began splatting fat, warm droplets down in a way that raised tiny clouds of the dust it pelted. And then all too soon the sigh faded away through the darkening trees. I looked up through parting clouds and saw the high heavens feathered with sunset’s crimson cirrus.

Through parched trees comes the sigh of marching rain,
And even evening birds bow heads, made mute
With gratitude. The drenched do not complain
For it’s been so dry that sunbeams refute
Green growing, and, as first fat drops pelt
The dirt, small puffs of dust are arising,
And now the sigh surrounds. I once felt
This way when a kiss brought a surprising
End to loneliness. But this shower’s brief
And already the soft sigh slides away
Through dimming evening; sweet mercy’s relief
Fades to memory’s grief, and dripping leaves pray
The way men pray when they confess they lack:
“Oh Lord, come back. Come back. Come back.”

************

P.S.

On Monday we got a mini-monsoon. The heat encouraged a general updraft to form a weak low over southern Maine, which sucked cool and moist maritime air inland and then south towards us, where it clashed with muggy air. At first the showers continued to dry up, as radar showed them approaching, but thunder thumped all around, and finally we got a few more showers. Around sixty miles to our south one locale got four inches and suffered wash-outs, but for the most part we dripped in a delightful summer drizzle. Who would ever think I could delight in drizzle?

Punky Wood (Part 1) –Defeat–

Slim was a man of around forty who I knew forty years ago when I lived up on the coast of Maine. He was skinny but strong; wore unfashionable glasses with thick, brown rims; had light brown hair graying at his temples, greased back like Elvis; chain-smoked; had a leathery, tanned face; and had the sort of pointed jaw, missing mass in the cheeks, that made me wonder if he had any molars left to pull, though it was hard to tell, for he hardly ever opened his mouth. I hung on his every word, which was easy to do, for he rarely spoke any. I know he had some coffee-stained front teeth, for he occasionally would grin helplessly, despite his shyness. Usually he was smiling due to the palaver of a fellow he worked with named Tubs, who was Slim’s opposite: Short, round, balding, jolly and very talkative. The two men seemingly had only one thing in common: They were hard workers, able to take on a wide variety of jobs and complete them with speed and skill.

I think I first saw the two men working in 1974. It was a simple job, delivering my mother a pick-up truck load of firewood. I admired the speed of their unloading. It took less than five minutes. Slim never touched the logs, because he used a couple of small hooks with wooden handles, specialized tools I have never seen anyone own or use since.

The two men worked like it was some sort of race, with the musically clopping logs flowing off the tailgate of the truck like water. They never needed to stop for a break because they completed the job so swiftly, nor did they grunt and grimace as if it was some big effort. As they worked Tubs was telling some story and Slim was nodding and smiling. Then they saw me watching and immediately became suspicious.

This was to be expected. In 1974 the Vietnam War wasn’t over, and I had long hair. Slim had seen action serving in Korea, some twenty years earlier. In fact some of his shyness may have been due to post-traumatic stress. I imagined my long hair automatically made me be an unpatriotic draft-dodger in his eyes, which made communication between us difficult.

The irony of the situation was that I was not what my long-hair suggested; I had unexpectedly broken my connection with the so-called “counter culture”, and perhaps was in some ways more conservative than Slim, and certainly more conservative than Tubs.

I had not intended to become conservative. I had started out by doing the expected and the acceptable (to hippies) things hippies did: Hitchhiking long distances; joining some loose confederations and cults called “communes”; becoming involved in (and eventually repulsed by) unsavory adventures involving sex and drugs; and, as a sort of conclusion, traveling to India to seek “enlightenment”. (The “Beatles” did it, Peter Townsend of the “Who” did it, and Melanie Safka did it when she was disillusioned).

To be blunt, “enlightenment”, as I then envisioned it, was a sort of Disney-world hallucination lacking the harshness and schizophrenia of LSD’s. I had somewhat vague hopes that some door would open in my forehead, and I would be swept into an experience of shimmering colors and lights, resulting in bliss. Others claimed they’d had such experiences. I hadn’t, and to be honest I really was uncertain where I was going or what I was after, as I headed to India. All I was really sure of was that I didn’t want to work a Real Job.

Instead of visions, or a meeting with any sort of con-artist-guru who promised such things, I had the good fortune to blunder into somewhat boring “good advice”, from the disciples of Meher Baba. (Meher Baba stated he was the Avatar.) Largely the advise they gave was not the sort that would get me out of working a Real Job, so I was not all that gratified.

For example, they stated I should not neglect “attending to my worldly responsibilities,” which initially sounded OK, because I felt a poet’s “responsibility” was to nibble an eraser, gaze dreamily at the sky, and avoid getting a Real Job. Then they seemed to suggest such behavior was deemed “responsible” only if God permitted such behavior to pay my bills, (via hard work, and also fate or “karma”). This amendment soured me slightly, though I kept my opinions to myself. Yet their advise was delivered in such a lovingly down-to-earth manner that I found myself not caring all that much about the subjects we discussed, and instead admiring their down-to-earth delivery. I started to think being down-to-earth might actually be a good thing, and not necessarily be unimaginative “conformity” and a sign I was a “square”.

I must have been a very odd American for the disciples of Meher Baba to have to deal with. Here I had traveled half-way around the world, yet I asked no questions. Somehow I felt asking questions was disrespectful. So I just observed, and kept my questions to myself. I was scheduled to visit for two weeks, but my TWA ticket allowed me to delay my departure, so I kept delaying, and observing. After nearly three months I headed home, because I knew my family and especially my mother would be upset if I skipped Christmas. Also I was flat broke and had run out of people to borrow from. Now I look back and want to slap my forehead, because I asked so few questions, but at the time it was just the way I was, namely a three-letter word: “Shy”.

Because I never asked for advice I can’t say I ever received any, per se. Perhaps I did hear others ask questions I felt were rude to ask, and listened intently to the answers they received. But largely the “advice” I received was contained in the “example” Meher Baba’s disciples set.

I think what impressed me most was that the followers of Meher Baba were not “groupies”, like hippies tended to be. Perhaps hippies were dead set against wearing uniforms, but they tended to be copy-cats and “uniform” in other ways. For example the “Dead-heads” (fans of the rock-group “The Grateful Dead”) agreed about certain things, and if you veered from their “norm” they could be disagreeable. They tended to be birds of a feather who flocked together. The disciples of Meher Baba, on the other hand, were strikingly individualistic, definitely not birds-of-a-feather. They were as different as different could be, yet strangely not in conflict. How was this possible?

That was the question I should have asked, but was too shy to ask. It was on my mind because I had witnessed hippy communes, made up of very similar and on-the-same-page people, disintegrate over minuscule differences tantamount to straws that could not even break a field mouse’s back, let alone a camel’s. How could Meher Baba’s disciples manage what hippies could not? But I never asked, and instead observed.

Meher Baba himself had died nearly five years earlier, on January 31, 1969, yet it was obvious his influence was still profound. However I was not satisfied with “influence” alone. I didn’t want to only see the sunburned people after the Sun had set. I wanted to see the Sun. I suppose I was like Doubting Thomas, refusing to believe in Christ until he himself could finger the wounds on a risen Christ’s hands.

I was not gifted with Thomas’s experiences, and it was frustrating to me, for I constantly met people who had experienced a “risen” Meher Baba.

There was some event called “The Last Darshan” that Meher Baba had been planning-for, scheduled between April and June, 1969, which you might think would have been cancelled when he inconveniently died in January. But people went ahead and the event was held, and the people (from all over the world) who attended the event stated Meher Baba was present in spirit, and that all sorts of amazing stuff happened. However I was not informed and did not attend and wasn’t a witness. I was not gifted with such grand experiences.

In some ways I am like the dour man from Missouri who always says, “Prove it”. I demand certainty. Even back at age twenty-one I had too often been played for the fool, too often been the laughable sucker and embarrassing chump, and I’d be damned if I’d allow it to happen to me again. But I received no countering certainty or “proof”, in terms of supernatural events.

This is not to say I didn’t own a private, secret, inner world, nor didn’t have intimate, muttered conversations with God. I just didn’t hear answers delivered in a booming baritone. My personal “miracles” tended to be coincidences, such as a butterfly landing on my nose, or a certain song coming on the radio, which couldn’t withstand determined cynicism. My “visions” were dismissable as being the result of an overly active imagination; the same psychologists who were amazed at my ability to “free-associate” completely shredded any hopes I might have that my fantasized images might mean something positive. They subjected my poetry to a sort of ruthless cross-examination, hyper-analyzing every symbol, supposedly to increase my self-awareness, but in fact increasing my doubtfulness. In the long run the awareness I developed was that I should keep such thoughts to myself. Rather than making me more outgoing psychology hardened my fortress of shyness.

All the same, hanging around Meher Baba’s disciples was a deeply moving experience. Perhaps people-who-were-highly-individualistic-and-different-yet-who-managed-to-lovingly-get-along struck me as a bit “supernatural”, in its own right. After all, my own parents were brilliant, charming, and in some ways very similar people, but got a divorce. And the political “hawks” and “doves” of the USA were not getting along, and the so-called “alternative” hippy lifestyles were crashing and burning everywhere I looked. Meher Baba’s disciples were different. I saw, in these kindly and generous foreigners, an example I desired to follow, and people I wished to emulate, though I was highly individualistic in my own right, and couldn’t see how I could be a true “follower” of Meher Baba. One might say I was attracted, and perhaps a “follower-from-a-safe-distance”.

Oddest was the lack of “rules” they gave me to follow. The “good advice” lacked all the commandments which many scriptures make into an elaborate and detailed system of “laws”. In some ways I found this disturbing, for in some ways I was aware that the most productive times of my life had involved some sort of brutal drill sergeant demanding discipline and laying-down-the-law, whether the “drill sergeant” was a strict school’s headmaster, or an inanimate and savage storm at sea.

For the most part Meher Baba seemed to forego issuing commandments, and instead to merely describe the problems inherent within addiction-to-creation, and describe the benefits of escaping creation into the embrace of the Creator, without (in my view) mapping out what rules and laws one should obey during the transition. But I did gather, without asking any questions, two things which might be called “laws”, although they were “good advice.”

I should not take drugs and should not indulge in promiscuous sex.

Absorbing this good advice, and accepting it, put me at odds with my hippy peers. Though I was dreaming about harmony, I was plunged into opposition.

When I returned to the United States I discovered I didn’t fit in where I had once fit in. I wanted to share what I had glimpsed to the cult-like groups I was associated with, but seemed unable to find the right words. I didn’t want to reject anyone, but was inarticulate, and felt I had a very slow mouth among very fast talkers. After experiencing ridicule for suggesting sober, prudish, down-to-earth behavior might be wise, I felt hurt, rejected by my peers, and gradually began to search for a different society, where I might fit in.

Looking back, it seems it would have been for the best if I had made the separations swift and dramatic, and as complete as the separation between civilian life and boot-camp. But I was not a quitter, and always held out hope for improvement in relationships that, in truth, were withering away. Unfortunately this meant that, rather than removing a forearm-band-aid swiftly, I made it a long, slow, painful, hair-plucking, and drawn-out process.

To me it seemed loyal and faithful to give people who had in some way betrayed me a second and third chance to betray me. I prolonged my misery, for I felt forgiveness was spiritual, and was confused about when one should “shake the dust from your heels” and leave people in the past. I felt I should forgive people “seven-times-seventy times”, and consequently handed “my pearls to swine”. Last but not least, I was in some ways atrociously arrogant, and it was inconceivable to me that others wouldn’t realize how marvelous I (or at least my poetry) was, understand the enormous error of their ways, and profusely apologize. I felt that, if I only was forgiving long enough, they would mend their ways. “Someday they’ll be sorry.”

It didn’t happen, but I am getting ahead of myself. At age twenty-one I was still full of optimism, and assumed I was moving to Maine only for a brief time. I felt I needed to retreat and regroup, and “get my head on straight,” but imagined that soon my self-imposed isolation would resolve into happy reconciliations and reunions, and the “communes” would become new-and-improved, and we would all stride forward together into the bright uplands of happy-ever-after. (My prediction was that world-wide crises would come to a climax in five or six years, around 1980, and happy-ever-after would happen soon afterwards.)

In some ways I was expectantly waiting for cold stones to get up and warmly dance around singing, and such situations are bound to become frustrating, as you wait, and wait, and wait. Worst is the simple fact that patience of this sort doesn’t pay a positive dividend, but rather one starts to see a sort of rot set in. “All things come to they who wait”, but the best lumber turns into punk if it sits unused. It is through action that spiritual truths are revealed. I was just beginning the process of learning this Truth the hard way, when I moved to Maine.

In conclusion, I was not the typical “long-hair” Slim and Tubs thought I was. I was an ex-hippy with a newfound respect for the down-to-earth, and Slim and Tubs were the very sort of down-to-earth people I respected, but they felt zero affinity towards the likes of me.

Actually an odd affinity did exist, because Slim and I were both very shy, though I suppose Slim would have been horrified (and perhaps even insulted) if anyone suggested there was any sort of similarity between the two of us. He had worked and paid his way since he was sixteen, whereas I mooched off my mother.

I didn’t actually live in my mother’s basement. My step-father had bought a lovely piece of property overlooking the ocean to retire upon, which had two smaller cottages a short ways down a steep hill from the main house, and then, down an even steeper embankment, a dock, and on the dock was a shack. The moment I laid eyes on the shack I felt it was perfect for a poet. It was a lovely abode, (when the weather was warm), but in the eyes of Slim and Tubs living there merely made me a shiftless layabout mooching off his mother.

I tended to sleep late, because I usually had stayed up late the night before writing. I had strong legs and good lungs, and, clutching a tall, oversized, bright-orange coffee cup, would sprint up the staircase from the dock and jog up a steep drive to my mother’s house, to take advantage of the fact her kitchen had an extra faucet that delivered boiling water. This skipped the bother of waiting for water to boil in my shack (which did have electricity.) I’d stir instant coffee and four spoons of sugar and cream into my oversized cup, and often was back down in the shack at my typewriter within minutes. I’d guzzle the coffee, and often sprint back up to my mother’s house only an hour later.

Because I was so addicted to caffeine, my visits were frequent, and from time to time I’d barge into my mother’s kitchen as she had coffee with various people. (The kitchen opened into a dining-room with a beautiful view.) On such occasions I felt it was rude not to pause briefly and pretend to be sociable for at least as long as it took to smoke a cigarette. (Smoking inside was commonplace back then.) Once in a while the persons my mother was having coffee with were Slim and Tubs.

Some women of wealth have an egalitarian streak, or perhaps a mere curiosity, which has them inviting the hired help into elegant dining rooms and serving them coffee from expensive china. I have often been flattered by such generosity, in my own time as a gardener and handyman, and have always tried to reciprocate by being polite, (and as witty and charming as I dare), and asking questions and nodding at the replies. Back in 1974 I knew far less about being “hired help”, and was fascinated by Slim and Tubs holding coffee cups with their pinkies raised, and chatting comfortably with my mother.

My mother was amazing when it came to making people comfortable, which at times made me uncomfortable. Certain aspects of her hospitality didn’t seem entirely honest. For example, she spoke with an elegant English accent, when in fact she was a poor girl who had grown up in a broken home in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. A few times when, as a teenager, I had pushed my luck with the good woman, I had heard that English accent completely vanish, and in surprise had backed away from a fierce Fitchburg wench whom no gentle poet would ever want to mess with.

Despite the fact I was aware there was a side of my mother she did not expose to the general public, I clung to the incongruous and childish belief she was innocent and saintly. For example, I assumed hippies knew more about sex, although my mother had given birth to six children. For another example, I felt hippies were more “experienced” because they had taken LSD, although hippies had amnesia about what they glimpsed when drugged, while my mother remembered with vivid clarity, and had 29 more actual years of actual experience than I had. There is something audaciously comical about youth deeming their elders naive, but I felt my mother was naive and needed my protection.

Not that I had a clue of the wheeling and dealing that was occurring beneath the polite chit-chat, as my mother had coffee with Slim and Tubs. The two men were to some degree on the lookout for a rich lady who would supply them with their next paycheck, and she was on the lookout for local, Maine-Yankee carpenters who could do good work for a tenth of what an interior designer from Boston would charge. I had no idea such skullduggery was involved. I assumed they were above-board and up-front. To be honest, I was incapable of protecting my mother from tricky salesmen, and equally incapable of protecting Slim and Tubs from tricky Moms, because I myself was living in the clouds of idealism.

One cold,January morning in 1975 I came bopping into her kitchen, rumpled and yawning, with my tall, orange cup, and discovered them deeply involved in a discussion about maple wood. The low winter sun was flashing through winter clouds, slanting in through a window that showed a beautiful view of a harbor.

They didn’t look out the window, for the view was old to them, and instead they sat midst sunlit blue curls and wisps of cigarette smoke, intently discussing kitchen counters.

I quickly determined my mother didn’t like the orange Formica counters on the island between the kitchen and dining room, and wanted to replace them with maple. She didn’t want straight-grained maple, neither the creamy sapwood nor the buttery heartwood, and desired a grain less uniform, with “character.” Therefore they were discussing the prices of bird’s-eye, burl, and fiddle-back maple boards, all of which were expensive and made my mother look very disappointed and vaguely critical. As they spoke Tubs did most of the talking, sitting back and expansively ruminating with a jovial and optimistic expression, deferring to Slim when my mother wanted prices. Slim sat hunched forward with his hands folded as if he was praying, for the most part nervously smiling and nodding as Tubs spoke, but occasionally barking the prices of maple boards of various types in an authoritative way, at which point my mother would scratch out calculations on a yellow, legal notebook on the dining-room table, coming up with answers that she looked at with disapproval. Then they apparently arrived at some sort of insurmountable quandary, at which point Tubs sat even further back, locked his fingers behind his neck as a pillow, and looked out the window with deep seriousness, his face unusually grave, as if determining the fate of nations. Then his face lit up and he turned towards my mother with an unspoken idea. At the same point Slim winced slightly, and shrunk down a half inch, as if silently willing Tubs to keep his big mouth shut, but Tubs spoke.

Apparently there was a sort of sugar-maple lumber which not many people knew about. It came from a maple tree near the end of its life, when the growth rings became skinny but before the rot set in and the wood became punky in places, and therefore became unusable. Slim had a word for it. (I want to say “checkered maple”, but search-engines produce no such word.) It was typically light yellow maple wood, but had dark, broad veins of deep brown and even black running through it. When a sawmill sliced up a maple log which produced such boards they tended to cast them aside as relatively worthless, though the planks were solid. Tubs knew where he could get such boards for next to nothing. He wondered if he could bring some boards by, for my mother to look at, to see what she thought of the unusual coloring.

My mother looked intrigued. She always liked being unique, and I could tell she liked the concept of having kitchen counters unlike anyone else’s. She also liked the price. She looked out the window thoughtfully. Tubs smiled serenely. Slim chewed his fingernails as if the suspense was killing him. Then my mother turned to Tubs and said she was very interested in seeing what such maple boards looked like. Tubs nodded and smilingly said he’d bring some boards by. Slim sagged from stiff tension to palatable relief. Then the topic turned to the molding up where the wall met the ceiling, and I headed back down to the shack with my coffee, toying with a poetic idea involving maple planks, which I thought I might insert into a long poem I was laboring on.

The year was not 1829, and I was no Alfred Tennyson. There was absolutely zero market for long poems in 1975, but I thought I could create one. I fostered this illusion because my hippy friends spent hours listening to record albums (video games hadn’t been invented). We would sit and listen to a just-released album together, and have long discussions about what the songs meant. Sometimes, rather than spending an hour listening to an album, I would read them a long poem. (As I recall such readings came about due to a particularly enthusiastic friend demanding I do it, and had nothing to do with me overcoming my shyness and “selling myself”.)

What then happened was extremely gratifying, for, rather than appearing bored stiff or stampeding to the door, people would listen with wide-eyed, rapt attention, laughing at all the right places and growing misty-eyed when I became maudlin. They urged me to write more, looked respectful and interested while I wrote, gathered around to listen when I announced I was done, and never once told me I should get a Real Job. Then, in India, I had written a long story-poem in a wonderfully inspired fit, and it was well-received among total strangers when I read it to them. Due to this encouragement I had the idea I could sell my long poems, if not as printed pages, then as record albums (because people liked the sound of my reading voice.)

But by retreating to Maine I had cut myself off from such encouragement, and I found myself fighting “writer’s block”. I didn’t like admitting I needed encouragement, seeing such a desire as a weakness, as being susceptible-to and swayed-by flattery, but it was obvious that I craved attention. Isolation left me feeling marginalized, ostracized because I had changed my attitude towards sex and drugs, and a sense of profound loneliness descended and began staining my inspiration with gray.

I fought this bleakness with all my might, for most of my poems were in one way or another about how life is brimming with beauty, and I intended them all to be pep-talks for the disillusioned. For example, I might write about a person depressed because their garden was full of weeds, and then describe a friend showing up and weeding with them, turning the dreary task into a rapture about botany, and bugs, and the beauty of cumulus and sunshine and sweat, until weeding seemed like a delight people would pay for, (the way people pay to labor and sweat in a gym.)

The poem I was currently struggling with was called “Armor”, and was based on the premise that people become so emotionally hurt, through undergoing traumatic experiences, that they psychologically don protective armor that makes them clank around clumsily in emotional steel, incapable of touching-with and being touched-by love.

The plot involved two old knights who had died in battle. One then reincarnates as a innocent child with no armor. Because the child has a new brain he has amnesia about past pain, but while wandering dreamily in a garden behind his childhood home he finds a doorway in time, and goes through it and meets his old friend, who still has his armor on and is refusing to be born again. The two then get into an argument about whether or not it is worthwhile being born again, and that is where my imagination ground to a halt.

I tried to force myself to finish the poem with sheer willpower, but had “lost the thread”. The plot refused to go the direction I intended. The old knight with armor was a real sourpuss, but he came up with excellent reasons not to be born, while the boy came across as a bit of a twerp, and his logic was lame. I grew frustrated, whereupon the boy in the poem lost his temper and seemed on the verge of putting armor back on and….and…and where the bleep was my poem headed? The poem started to disintegrate into seemingly pointless sidetracks; for example, I might find myself writing about planks made of maple trees, and how the grain of wood changes as the rot sets in.

Frustrated, I crumpled up a page and trudged moodily back up the hill with my orange coffee up. Tubs and Slim were up by the street, leaving, and I could see them regarding me from afar. Tubs was saying something to Slim, nudging him, and Slim was shaking his head sadly. I didn’t imagine they sympathized with the agony of an artist. As they drove off I felt very alone. Inside the house my mother was smoking and pouring over the numbers on her yellow, legal notepad and looking pleased, and, as an aside, without even looking up at me, asked me to drive to the Post Office and pick up the mail. Our postbox was only a half mile away, but I managed to play self-pitiful violins during the drive. Then, in the mail, I saw a light blue airmail letter addressed to me, from India.

I felt a surge of hope. I can’t really say what I was expecting for I wasn’t expecting such a letter. I suppose the simple fact a blue letter had appeared out of the blue suggested I was going to be recognized in some manner. I tore the letter open, and my hope immediately crashed. Indeed I was recognized, but what was recognized was $50.00 I owed.

I was hit by shame. The debt I owed was utterly different from owing a hippy $50.00. Several hippies owed me $50.00, (which was one reason I was flat broke), but I didn’t think it was a big deal. In hippy terms, in 1974, $50.00 was what you made washing dishes for half a week. Minimum wage was $2.00 an hour, (worth roughly $11.00 now, in 2020). But one thing that I had been shocked by in India was the huge disparity in standards-of-living between “them” and “us”.

I became aware being poor in that land meant working for roughly a penny an hour, though there didn’t seem to be a “minimum wage.” Many seemed to subsist on an income so small they could only buy one meal a day. It gave, “Give us this day our daily bread” a far more poignant meaning. However when they sat down for this “bread”, (often a pancake of millet flour called a chapatti, with a gravy made of lentils called “daal”,) they seemed far happier than hippies managed to be, though hippies ate far more.

It is embarrassing to owe money to a person in a “third world nation”. I handed my mother her mail without mentioning my disgrace, and headed back to my shack forgetting to refill my coffee cup. As I slumped by my typewriter my poem “Armor” seemed pointless. It seemed worse than pointless. After all, of what concern are the problems of a couple of imaginary and dead knights named “Siegfried” and “Heinrich”, to the people of India? I had no excuse for failing to repay the money I owed. All the excuses I used, (which other artists had taught me to utilize on Americans), became utterly hollow when I tried to use them on people who suffer under hot sun for a penny an hour. The people of India didn’t need some ridiculous poem. They needed $50.00. And this meant I needed to work a Real Job.

Worst was the fact the repayment was needed immediately. I glanced around the shack for something I could sell, but I really didn’t own much of value besides my car. I had a pile of LP albums, but no record player. Beyond that I had nothing but old clothes, books and papers. In fact, as I looked around, my entire life seemed more or less worthless.

I saw it wouldn’t take Sherlock Holmes to figure out the shack wasn’t inhabited by an illiterate clam-digger, and rather by some sort of intellectual. I always felt a clean desk was the sign of a lazy mind, and had six projects going on concurrently, but now they seemed like six silly ways of avoiding the fact I was doing nothing: The busy-work of a man suffering solitary confinement.

My interest in meteorology was demonstrated by notes of the daily readings of my max-min thermometer, and a graph of these readings as opposed to the average, with the time above-normal carefully shaded red and the time below-normal shaded blue. There were also numerous New York Times weather maps (far better then than they are now) clipped from my stepfather’s discarded papers and taped in chronological order on the wall. But what was the use of an avocation without a vocation?

There were also a few charts clipped from newspapers on the desk showing unemployment was rising to 10% in Maine as the Gross National Product crashed 84 billion dollars in the past year. I had an interest in economics, and had even passed my English university-level “A level exams” in economics (due to two terms frantically cramming under the tutelage of a pleasantly mad teacher in Scotland), but I had no clue how to turn such knowledge from an avocation to a vocation. However it did remind me to turn on my battered, crackling radio to listen to the noontime financial report.

I tried to forget my problems and focus on the news. They called the crashing GNP “stagflation” because prices were soaring even as economic growth slowed. It seemed obvious to me prices would soar, considering the Arab Oil Embargo had doubled the price of oil, but the snooty experts on the radio looked everywhere but at the obvious. One fellow stated that the government’s efforts to “stimulate” the economy made people buy bonds rather than investing in businesses, pointing at the component of GNP called “investment”, which had fallen to barely more than half of what it had been. Another fellow blamed women for getting fed up with being home-makers, and joining the work-force in such droves that it shrank wages and increased unemployment. A third fellow blamed “jittery” investors, because the communists in Vietnam seemed unlikely to abide by the terms of the peace-treaty Nixon and Mao worked at, with Nixon now disgraced and Mao now drooling at death’s door. The only good news was that exports, a minor component of GNP, had shot upwards. This was especially good news for coastal areas like Maine, but I shut the radio off, suddenly struck by the utter worthlessness of contemplating billions of dollars when I couldn’t even come up with fifty. Ordinarily I’d be intrigued by President Ford’s idea that tax-cuts might end the “stagflation”, but of what use are tax cuts when you make no money, and therefore pay no taxes?

My eyes roamed further along the desk to an absurd chart I had devised to better control my moods. It was based on my feeling that modern psychology was pathetic and in need of drastic improvements, and also on the then-popular idea of “biorhythms”. I was attempting to chart my inner weather the same way I charted the weather outside, thinking that, if I knew what my moods would be before they happened, I’d be better able to handle them; I’d be one step ahead; I’d have an umbrella if the forecast was rain. Now it all seemed worthless. You cannot predict the weather with perfect certainty, nor the economy with perfect certainty, nor your moods with perfect certainty, but one thing was perfectly certain: I needed fifty dollars.

I thrashed in irritation, and my eyes next chanced upon five separate volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica and a novel from the local library. My stepfather had noticed the five holes in his bookshelf, and had asked me to return the encyclopedias the night before, and also I could not afford even library fines when flat broke. With a sigh I prepared to gathered the books up and embark upon the journey back up the hill. Hell if I had time to pursue historical research, if I had to get a Real Job, but merely thinking that thought paused me yet again.

I glanced out the window at the harbor, thinking of how my mind always got sidetracked. I had two catagories for this sidetracking in the “mental activity” of my “biorhythms” chart, and I swiftly jotted a 1.25 in the “wondering” column and a .75 in the “wandering” column. Then I laid my hands on the pile of books without picking them up, thinking how my “research” had sprung from a visit Slim and Tubs paid after a prior job.

Both my mother and stepfather loved books, but when they first moved into their new home the inner living room wall only held two garish pictures, and a small table between them with a garish vase. My parents wanted the entire wall turned into floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, and my stepfather wanted a wall of his study made the same. Enter Slim and Tubs. After they were done they dropped by for a small, final payment, which could have been mailed, but they’d rather have coffee in the process of being paid. (Considering how cozy the local diner was, they were flattering my mother greatly by preferring her coffee, though they may have also been on the lookout for future employment).

Outside the landscape had been shuddering under the first arctic blast of winter, and Tubs came in overdressed as Slim entered as if he didn’t notice the cold. Tubs wore a very puffy parka that made him all the rounder, a sheepskin “mad bomber” hat with enormous ear-flaps down to his shoulders, and a gaudy scarf of a crimson plaid. Slim wore a baseball cap, a plaid shirt, and had his hands thrust deep into the pockets of his jeans. Perhaps his plaid shirt was a bit thicker than usual, but my mother exclaimed, “Poor soul! You must be frozen!” Slim smiled, but Tubs teased, “After minus forty on Chosin Reservoir, zero seems like a heat wave, to Slim.” Slim winced and shot Tubs an irritated glance, and my mother looked surprised, and then adopted a sympathetic expression that confused me. I couldn’t read the Greek on their faces. I should have asked some questions, but instead I was shy.

I retreated, and got the “K” encyclopedia to look up “Korean War” and see if I could find a mention of the “Chosin Reservoir”. It would have been far easier to simply ask Slim, as he’d been there, an actual eyewitness, but shyness made me into a parody of Sherlock Holmes, sleuthing when it was unnecessary.

Now such private-detectiving can be done via the internet. If you are too shy to talk to actual humans you can sleuth with the click of a mouse. But back in 1974-1975 I had to run up and down a hill, sleuthing with volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica, and then visit the local library, employing the Dewy Decimal System and card catalogs to discovered an obscure history that likely never sold many copies, with some name I can’t remember, (such as “The Chosin Few”).

What I discovered was a wonderful way to sidetrack; engrossing historical trivia which made it hard to be practical, and easy to forget to put wood in the shack’s stove until I noticed my nose was getting cold. Not that I would have discovered much, within the Encyclopedia Britannica. There were things not mentioned in the “K” volume that I found in the “C” volume, under “Cochin Reservoir”, and things not mentioned in the “C” volume that were mentioned in the three subsequent volumes I browsed, but I always had more questions than answers. The obscure autobiography from the local library was a wealth of information buried midst atrocious writing, but if I wanted better I surely should have interviewed Slim, but I was too shy.

In school the Korean War had been described as a “conflict” and a “stalemate”, which made it sound like nothing had been achieved, and even as if nothing had happened. Midst the drab facts of the encyclopedia I saw drab dots, but I could connect the dots, and saw that, as always, war was hell. Through that hell Slim, as a teenager, once walked.

To me the leaders on both sides appeared to be a bunch of idiots, with the UN particularly moronic in terms of gathering intelligence, and Mao particularly moronic in terms of logistics. For example, the UN forces had marched victoriously from the very south to the very north, and assumed they were “mopping up” the final North Korean troops. They even named a maneuver “Operation Home-By-Christmas.” But in fact they were facing 120,000 Chinese troops. Yet Mao, in his haste to prove Chinese could fight better than Europeans, proved Chinese leaders could be equally stupid as Europeans, (though perhaps not quite as stupid as the English at Verdun), for he sent 120,000 of his finest troops south without food and in summer clothing. The cold swiftly killed more of his best men than the UN forces did.

The plight of the foot soldiers on both sides was extreme. At minus forty nothing worked right. Batteries failed and tanks wouldn’t start and walkies-talkies went dead and diesel fuel turned to jelly and guns jammed. Confusion reined on both sides. (One drab phrase from the encyclopedia seemed especially lacking in compassion to me: “Failed to fortify their positions.” It may have been factual, but failed in its own right to comprehend the desperate extremes both sides faced.)

At one point the starving and freezing Chinese troops overran a UN base, and logically assumed the hugely outnumbered and routed UN troops would be hightailing it south. What they didn’t understand was that the UN didn’t understand. Rather than seeing they had been attacked by a huge army, the UN thought the attack was the deeds of desperate North Koreans near the end of their rope. If the Chinese were noted it was assumed they were only a few “advisers”. Therefore the tiny force counter-attacked the huge force, and found the Chinese had “failed to fortify their positions”. Why not? Because they were doing what men do when at their wits end and on the verge of starving and freezing to death: They were rummaging through captured supplies for warm clothing and food. Many had dropped their guns; and they were as surprised by the counter-attack as the UN forces had been by the initial attack, and the rout became a counter-rout. But this then fostered the illusion among the UN forces that they should continue attacking north, when what they should have done is to use the snatched reprieve to swiftly organize a defended retreat south. In the fog of war they probed north, and they soon again met the might of superior numbers and a counter-counter-attack, and were overrun a second time. Units were encircled and cut off, unable to retreat south, with Chinese troops on all sides, and in one of these trapped units was Slim.

During the day the air was filled with the nearly constant droning, roaring and booming of American airplanes and jets, attacking from a base to the south and five aircraft carriers, but as the sun fell and the cold grew fierce all became quiet, and under the dim glow of flares Slim awaited the inevitable Chinese attacks. The dark had a nightmarish quality; you snatched sleep during the day. The encyclopedia showed neat lines and arrows of red and blue, but the battle was an extended melee, a derangement.

Just days before Slim had been patrolling northward through a landscape much like Maine’s, right down to the scattered wood-frame houses and long stretches of wilderness between towns. He was wary, and scared of snipers, but only heard shots and explosions far away. The weather was brisk and autumnal, and he’d been dreaming of being home by Thanksgiving, when suddenly weather colder than he had ever experienced and Chinese troops came storming down from the north.

A man never knows what he can do until he has to. Slim saw sides of himself he never knew existed: Horror, terror, grief, and the rage of a cornered rat. He saw bravery isn’t what you want to be, but what you have to be. But even more disconcerting was elation and hilarity midst all the horror, brotherhood midst bestiality.

One time Slim spotted two Chinese laying in ambush. He was uphill, but they were looking down as a patrol of Slim’s comrades crossed the slope further down. Slim raised his gun to shoot them, but the gun jammed in the bitter cold, so Slim drew his knife and crept up behind them, his pulse thudding in his ears. Then he realized they were frozen to death. Slim heard his own voice first giggle, then sob a single sob, and then growl to himself in the voice of a sergeant, “Keep moving, Private. Move!”

To bolster courage every other word became “fucking”. “Fucking get fucking ammo fucking fast!”

During hand-to-hand fighting airstrikes dropped napalm, and in he hellish heat some Americans roasted along with the Chinese, and a man cursed, “Fuck if I ever fucking pray to God to make it fucking warmer, ever fucking again”. For some insane reason midst insanity this sarcasm caused Slim’s squad to dissolve briefly in paroxysms of helpless laughter, before they all abruptly regained their grimness.

Surrender didn’t seem to be an option for either side. This went against the history of the Chinese warlords, who had tended to defect whenever it was to their advantage, as squads and even as entire divisions, both when fighting Japan and in their own Civil War. Now they fought to the final man, perhaps because Mao had executed the warlords and all were unified under him, or perhaps because his troops knew if they stopped moving they’d freeze, and prisoners would be forced to stand still. Meanwhile the Americans had seen or heard that Koreans were brutal to prisoners: The South Koreans slaughtered the North Koreans as predictably as the Communists “purged” the Non-Communists. The fighting was do-or-die, with the Chinese determined to bottle up and wipe out the UN forces, and with the UN (largely American) forces desperately attempting to break out and force their way south. Retreat was not a matter of backing up. One American officer famously stated, “We’re not retreating. We’re advancing in a new direction.”

Slim’s unit had been ordered to take a hill overlooking the road south, but it hadn’t gone well and they’d been driven back. Slim squinted south with the highway blocked, doubting he’d ever see home again. His gun didn’t shoot and his commanding officers were dead . Half of his unit was dead or wounded, and it was so cold the medics had to thaw the small tubes of morphine in their mouths before they injected the wounded. Many of the fellows he was with were teenagers like he was, eighteen and nineteen years old. What to do? Plan A hadn’t worked; what was plan B?

In this desperate moment Slim glanced sideways over the Chosin Reservoir. It reminded him of a big lake in Maine, and midst a tidal wave of melancholy and nostalgia he remembered ice fishing, and a little voice in his head wondered, “Is the ice safe for fishing yet?” Then he abruptly shrieked, “That fucking ice has got to be fucking thick. It’s been fucking colder than a fucking witch’s tit for fucking days.”

It’s unclear who gave the orders or whether there was any order at all. It simply seemed smarter to move out over the ice, which could hold even jeeps, and go around the Chinese rather than fighting through them. So that is what was done, with the wounded brought along, some walking wounded and some dragged. As the Chinese froze, laying in ambush along the road, hundreds and hundreds of troops escaped over the ice.

Arriving at a hastily-constructed airbase at the southern end of the reservoir, with more than half of his comrades dead (1450 of 2500) Slim was surprised to find himself one of the few judged “able bodied” (385), and while more than a thousand were helicoptered out he was assigned to hold the base’s perimeter along with cooks pulled from the kitchen and clerks yanked from their typewriters, as the marines retreated south from the other side of the reservoir, and reinforcing marines battled up from the south. Slim got to spend a week in this lovely landscape.

Rather than praise, Slim found his army unit belittled by the marines for retreating in a disorganized manner. Slim vowed to pound the heck out of the first marine he met in a bar, but the bars were far to the south, and first they had to break out of their base and fight south through “Hellfire Valley”. The Chinese three times blew up a bridge on the road south, but the engineers kept replacing it, supplied by “flying boxcars”.

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If it were not for the Air Force they would have been overwhelmed, but in the end Slim made it to the port of Hungnam after two weeks of solid fighting, and then spent another two weeks defending the perimeter of that port as an evacuation like Dunkirk proceeded. The civilians had no desire to stay, and as Slim prepared to depart he saw 14,000 Koreans crowd aboard a cargo ship built to accommodate 12 passengers. (SS Meredith Victory) The next day, on Christmas Eve, Slim got to see North Korea astern, with massive fireworks occurring as the engineers blew up the entire port, so Mao couldn’t use it.

And now here I was, a quarter century later, and we were still fighting Mao, now in Vietnam. It had been going on since before I was born, and Slim had been there at the beginning, when Mao chose division over a United Korea.

I sighed and looked out over the mudflats. The tide was low. Even at winter you could smell the dead clams.

Actually, I mused, it had been longer than a quarter century. What year did Mao begin the Autumn Harvest Uprising? 1927? Nearly a half century ago. For nearly fifty years the drooling old man had been unable to make peace with his neighbors. For nearly fifty years he had been incapable of seeing any ideas but his own as worthy of anything but destruction. All traditions were his foe, all cultural variety was his foe, any power but his own was his foe, was “counter revolutionary”, and anyone outside was an “imperialist”. What an arrogant and paranoid madman! And what stopped his cancer from spreading? Shy teenagers like Slim.

If only people would, as John Lennon sang, “give peace a chance!” What a different world it would have been if people had chosen to get along, rather than choosing divorce, rather than choosing fifty years of murdering millions upon millions.

I shook my head and gathered up the books. Who was I to think I could solve the world’s problems? No one would pay a penny for my poetry, and I needed fifty dollars.

My mother shot me a curious look as I stomped into her house with a grim expression and began replacing the encyclopedias on the shelf. I was known for taking things out, and not for putting them away, so she knew something was up. However I was not about to tell her I needed fifty dollars. She’d fret, and I thought I’d rather face Chinese troops at forty below than face my mother’s worry.

As I drove to the library to return the book I pondered the fact that getting a Real Job would be admitting defeat, in terms of writing and being a poet. But Slim had been defeated at Chosin Reservoir, and it wasn’t the end of him, was it? I needed to adjust my attitude, and see my retreat was actually “advancing in a new direction.”

ARCTIC SEA ICE –Death Spiral Debunked For Umpteenth Time–

I have lost a lot of my interest in the arctic, because the nameless “left” has largely retreated from that battle. Not that they have surrendered, and confessed that their “Global Warming” panic was merely a political creation. In the last month one young Democrat running for president (in 2028) has claimed the world will end in 12 years “if we don’t do something” about Global Warming. Not to be outdone, a second Democrat candidate (for 2020) claimed the world would end in only 10 years, “if we don’t do something.” The political posturing gets far more attention than any actual facts about sea-ice, which makes truly interesting science hard to find.

Unfortunately (for such candidates) the public is growing jaded.  The situation is like being long ago told, by a commercial, “Buy Now! The sale ends at midnight!”  The ploy might have worked the first time, but a lot of midnights have passed since then, and yet the same inane advertisement keeps running. The public has realized the sale really doesn’t end at midnight, and all further exclaiming about such an “end” looks increasingly insincere, if not silly. No one is buying it…….or are they?

I find myself studying the delusion and the deluded more than the actual sea-ice. The arctic sea-ice was suppose to be gone by now. We’ve been hearing the Alarmist guff about an ice-free Pole for at least thirteen years. (I first heard an earlier hippy-version way back in 1971, back when we used to sit around deciding how the world was going to end, so we wouldn’t have to get a Real Job.) This headline’s from 2008:

The only way politicians can continue to repeat such refuted claims, without understanding it makes them look stupid, is because they have been educated that making such refuted claims makes them look wise. Not only have they been spoon-fed untruths, but they have not been taught to analyze and correct. They have “drunk the Kool-aid,” ingesting the poison of false values while blithely thinking it is virtuous to do so. I am turning into an old crank, for while my own children seem to have grown up with brains that function, young politicians make me feel that beyond my walls we have raised a generation of imbeciles.

While I do not like the word “reeducation”, (due to its association with communist atrocities and brutality), it seems to me these brainwashed people need to be awoken to the fact they have been lied to.  Not that I advocate any sort of forced “deprogramming”,  but mistaken people need to see their mistakes. But such persuasion is never easy, for a number of reasons.

First, the human ego never likes being told it is wrong. Being wrong involves crumpling up neatly-drawn plans and throwing stuff away and going back to the drawing board, which is work. In the game of “snakes and ladders”, facing-a-mistake is a snake, and people prefer ladders. People prefer progress, however, as engineers know, it is far better to face mistakes early, before you build, than to build and then have a building come crashing down. (“Global Warming” may be now be facing a political version of the latter.)

Second, young people have an innocent trust that their teachers know what they are talking about. Some teachers don’t, and only repeat what they see in books, in a robotic manner. It hurts young idealists to have their trust in teachers broken, and to understand some teachers define “teaching” as being more like a parrot, than as being a person who truly understands the subject they are talking about.

Third, people find it hard to believe that their fellow man could lie to their face, willingly and willfully, and with full knowledge they are perpetuating a deceit. One might expect such evil behavior in a “bad guy” with a black hat and twirled mustache who snickers “Nyah-ha-ha” in a movie, but not in someone they feel is a friend. To realize another is treating you as a sucker admits you have been, to some degree, a sucker, (up to that point, at least), and no one likes admitting they’ve been a fool.

The above difficulties are exacerbated when false values include making-money and/or gaining-awards and/or basking-in-the-flattery-of-social-prestige. We tend to prefer employment to being unemployed, financial security to anxiety, acceptance to rejection, and acclaim to being ostracized.  Because we cannot get everything we desire, we must at times compromise and, sad to say, some of our compromises are mistakes. For money we compromise when we shouldn’t, for acceptance we compromise when we shouldn’t, for peace we compromise when we shouldn’t, and so on.

In the case of Global Warming the exacerbation was extreme because literally trillions of dollars were involved. In attempting to seek out the origins of the fallacy, one suspects some very rich people had to be at Global Warming’s roots.

For this reason some suspect the very wealthy members of the “Club Of Rome”, (formed over a half century ago in 1968), have been behind much of the Global Warming advocacy. They announced, (in “The Limits To Growth“, published in 1972), that mankind was running out of resources and time. Because they had so much money and power, they seemed to feel God had placed them in the position to save mankind from a disaster, which they felt was sure to come if populations kept increasing as resources ran out. They gloomily foresaw the degradation of the environment to a degree where the entire planet would become an overgrazed, industrial wasteland and desert, (and they based their ideas on computer models, even back when only very rich men could afford computers). In 1970 they foresaw the disaster would be upon us by 1990.

Others pointed out, and continue to point out, that their computer models contained some underlying assumptions that were very pessimistic, and which over the past half-century have proven untrue.  Robert Solow, winner of the Noble prize for Economics, described the Club of Rome’s ideas as “amateurish” and “simplistic”. The Club Of Rome in fact didn’t see how innovative humanity can be, when faced with problems. (This has not discouraged the Club Of Rome from continuing to forecast doom, and their computer models continue to foresee the collapse of civilization, now confidently expected to occur in the middle of the 21st century.)

The Club of Rome likely does not stand alone on the pedestal of blame, but they publish their ideas, and therefore are more exposed. After the Soviet Union fell on Christmas, 1991, they didn’t rejoice at the end of the Cold War, but instead worried that mankind would lack an enemy to fight, stating, in The First Global Revolution, “Every state has been so used to classifying its neighbours as friend or foe, that the sudden absence of traditional adversaries has left governments and public opinion with a great void to fill. New enemies have to be identified, new strategies imagined, and new weapons devised.”

Particularly cynical (to me) is the statement by King & Schneider, “In searching for a common enemy against whom we can unite, we came up with the idea that pollution, the threat of global warming, water shortages, famine and the like, would fit the bill. In their totality and their interactions these phenomena do constitute a common threat which must be confronted by everyone together. But in designating these dangers as the enemy, we fall into the trap, which we have already warned readers about, namely mistaking symptoms for causes. All these dangers are caused by human intervention in natural processes, and it is only through changed attitudes and behaviour that they can be overcome. The real enemy then is humanity itself.”

This gloomy view of mankind and its future seemed to generate a need to create a scapegoat for man to fight, and furthermore to encourage a sort of “ends-justify-the-means” mentality wherein it was acceptable to lie, in the process of creating the scapegoat humanity could rally around fighting. I don’t know why they didn’t feel they could just tell the truth, but I imagine an element of condescending snobbishness was involved, wherein they felt humanity was just too stupid to be told the truth. In truth they themselves were the stupid ones, for in the end Highest Truth inevitably works its way to the surface, and it is then that liars have egg on their face.

In a sense we are now seeing that Abraham Lincoln spoke truth when he stated, “You cannot fool all of the people all of the time,” but Lincoln began that statement with, “You can fool some of the people all of the time”, and that is what we are now dealing with: A sort of residue of trusting people, brought up to see “carbon” as a scapegoat, and as a foe.

Some describe these trusting people as “sheeple”, which seems a bit snide and condescending to me. I actually find trusting people far easier to work with. But a problem occurs when it dawns on them they can’t trust. An entire range of reactions is then possible, from apathy to panic to fury to humor to a white-hot determination to stand for Truth.  History demonstrates that when faced with such duress some nations crumble, while others experience a “Finest Hour”.

It seems plain to me the United States has arrived at such a tipping point. I have no idea how things will turn out, but do know that at such times every voice matters. While it can be difficult and even dangerous to speak the voice of reason among the raging, often such a voice can turn the tide, and has great influence among the silent even if the speaker is shown the door. The “left” has been all too willing to utilize this “voice” in a shrieking and impolite manner, protesting as conservatives attempt to speak, but conservatives must persist, (hopefully in more soothing tones), if the United States is to remain a two-party-system where Freedom, especially Freedom Of Speech, is a way of life.

Therefore, yawning slightly, I will again debunk what has already been debunked. And that is the idea that the sea-ice over the North Pole is in a “Death Spiral”, and also that, if the sea-ice ever did melt completely away, it would have terrible consequences. While debunking I’ll also point out some attributes of the strange mental state called “Alarmism”.

The “Death Spiral” idea is silly because the sea-ice has melted away in the recent past, without terrible consequences, (and in fact likely with pleasant consequences, in many northern lands).

The evidence is there, but there has been an effort to hide it. I know this sounds a bit paranoid and crazy, but in order to create a “narrative” wherein people could become bug-eyed about sea-ice melting, one had to “erase” the fact it has happened before. The most notable incident involved a scientist being told “we have to erase the Medieval Warm Period”. However the effort to “erase” evidence that disproves the so-called “narrative” has been far more widespread and absurd. Because so much money has been involved, it has pulled the strings of weak people who allowed themselves become puppets for the production of propaganda. Meanwhile such manipulation  of monies completely baffled the honest scientists, who care far more about science than “propaganda”, even to a degree where they forget to deposit their paychecks at the bank, until the bank (or their wife) complains.

I wish I had the time to entertain you with all the examples of this silliness I have witnessed. The book would be hilarious, were it not for the fact some very decent and honest scientists have abruptly seen their funding denied, because their honesty clashed with the “narrative”.

I don’t have the time, and instead will merely mention the funding dried up, all of a sudden, when it came to placing cameras on the sea-ice on the Arctic Sea. Where we once could see what was going on up there, a sort of iron curtain has fallen. Only four years ago there were, at one point, eight functioning cameras sending us pictures. Now there are none. What happened?

I’ll give you my take, which is that initially the pictures supported the “narrative”, but then slowly such images began to undermine the “narrative”, at which point the pictures were no longer welcome. I know this sounds like a conspiracy theory, but it just seems odd that, even as it became far cheaper to place such cameras, suddenly there was no money available to do so.

Initially the cameras supported the “narrative” because they showed sea-ice melting in the summer. In actual fact, the sea-ice had always melted in the summer, but normal people didn’t know this. (I myself didn’t know this, back when I was normal.)

In fact, the sun never sets for six months, at the Pole. There is no “cool of the evening” because there is no evening. The sun just rides around the horizon, around and around, higher and higher, so of course temperatures rise. Temperatures commonly rise above freezing in May and then, on average, remain above freezing day after day, week after week, all the way to August. So is it any wonder the sea-ice melts?

This has nothing to do with Global Warming. It has been happening for millennium. But the cameras allowed us to see what only a few hundred arctic explorers had ever seen before. It was wonderful! It was beautiful! But I’m afraid it failed to be alarming enough.

Not that they didn’t try. The cameras showed the melt-water pools that form on the sea-ice during the summer, and sensationalist headlines made it sound like such pools were a new thing. But then a cantankerous old coot like myself would point out such pools were described by arctic explorers clear back to Henry Hudson in the 1600’s, and also that, when a crack formed in the ice, the water typically drained down and the pool vanished. This could result in embarrassment for Alarmists. For example, in 2013 they dubbed one such pool “Lake North Pole”, claiming it signified the beginning of The End, but no sooner had they drawn everyone’s attention to that camera’s view, when the pool drained and vanished, and instead the camera showed a view of a midsummer snow on polished sea-ice.

https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2013/07/28/lake-north-pole-vanishes/

The fact the cameras at times embarrassed Alarmists, showing freezing where Satellites indicated thaw, or snowfalls at the peak of the melt-season, or waters clotted with sea-ice in a location other “official” maps showed open water, made them seem unhelpful, to those most interested in the “narrative”. The cameras, initially supportive to the “narrative”, had become a liability. As a cynical old coot, I feel it is no great wonder that the funding dried up.

Nor is it a great wonder to me that richer Alarmists no longer invested in other arctic endeavors. We used to be able to get pictures from all sorts of crazy dudes who planned to prove how bad Global Warming was by being the first to row to the Pole in a bathtub. Or, well, maybe not a bathtub, but in other inadequate craft.

What amazed me most about such young adventurers was: They always got funded. The money was flowing like rivers, but now it has dried up. I think they tended to show too much sea-ice and not enough melting, and failed to support the “narrative.”

I was sad to see that, for the first time in years, there was no “Barneo” base at the Pole this April. Many tourists were willing to fork out $20,000 to ski at the Pole, but there was apparently not enough extra “science money” to make the truly marvelous event, (which even included a yearly marathon), worth the organizers getting over various political differences.

Officially the 2019 Barneo base didn’t happen because of bickering between Russia and Ukraine, but in the past such bickering was lubricated out of existence by a surging inflow of money. Now the money has dried up. Forgive me if I sound overly suspicious, but I think Barneo was also unhelpful to the “narrative”. There was something about the sight of jets landing on the ice (to unload wealthy tourists) that failed to support the idea the Pole would soon be an open ocean.

To me this seems to demonstrate how, as soon as you agree you must “erase” some element of Truth to promote your “narrative”, you have become compromised. Some idealism has egged-you-on into a predicament where you will wind up with egg-on-your-face.

This is not to say that the people who promoted the “narrative” didn’t mean well. They deemed their lies “white lies”. However when they had money and power they could seduce all sorts of people to do what they wanted, and to be at their beck and call. Sad to say, but many scientists, faced with a choice between working in the field they went to college to study, or flipping burgers in a fast-food joint, will chose to work in the field of science, even if it requires some compromise. Some “white lies.”

Nearly every job I’ve ever worked has involved putting up with stuff I’d rather not put-up-with. Compromise is part of life. But it should not involve too great a disregard of Truth.

I’ve worked for employers who demanded discipline. For example, I worked for a place where you could be fired if you “punched in” one second late. This seemed ridiculous to me, because some people tended to sit around the time-clock shooting the bull and drinking coffee for a half hour after they punched-in, while other got right to work. The Truth was that the time-stamp on the time-clock’s punch-card didn’t indicate how hard a man worked. But the boss didn’t want to hear my debate, so I compromised, for a while, and made sure to never be one second late. Eventually I would refuse to obey such discipline, and got fired, but I knew I deserved it. However I knew I could just go get another job. If I left a job in a factory I could go work in a cannery.

I think it isn’t so easy for scientists. It is harder for them to just go get another job. Albert Einstein did need to flee fascism and Germany, but if he had been driven to get a job running a fork lift, I shudder to think of the complete disaster which might have ensued. (To be honest, I didn’t always do so hot myself, as a poet operating a forklift.) (Cue sound-effect of much breaking glass.)

It seems a bit sad to me that funding is no longer flowing like wine, to study melting-at-the-Pole, because I know there are certain scientists who were hired, and asked to compromise a great deal, to make that subject their specialty. Employers shouldn’t just cut the funding for such faithful slaves. Sadly, whoever is funding the Global Warming idea is now treating some scientists like industrialists once treated coal miners, once the miners got old and were no longer useful. This is unwise. Kipling stated there is no fury like the fury of a woman scorned, but I think the fury of an abandoned slave may be as bad. When you deny a man all income, honor, and dignity, despite loyal service, a mere mouse may become a cornered rat.

Fortunately I don’t need to worry about losing income, honor and dignity, concerning sea-ice, because such study is only my hobby. True, due to some stuff I don’t understand concerning “search-engines”, my old posts about sea-ice used to get me over 700 views, and this post will likely get only 40, but this will not effect my income. Or my honor and dignity. After all, sea-ice is just my frickin’ hobby, and I’ll do it even if nobody “views.” The best things in life are free, but sometimes you are the only viewer. For example: That sunrise you saw, a while back. You might have wished there was someone you could share it with, but there wasn’t, yet it was majestic all the same. It was a joy just for you, and all your own (nor were you truly alone, in a spiritual sense).

Some Alarmists lack such joy, and sadly are lodged in unhappiness. They are unhappy because the sea-ice refuses to obey them. Here is the latest evidence:

The sea-ice “extent” graph seems to show a “recovery”. Rather than the “accelerating decline” predicted by “Death Spiral” theory, we are above the depths reached during the low-ice years in 2007 and 2012. The recent “maximum” was higher than last year’s, and, despite great excitement by Alarmists about a recent dip in “extent”, we are not in any way, shape or form headed towards an ice-free summer, this year.

As I look at the above graph, it with an awareness Alarmists seem to lack, concerning the past. I can only suppose it is because, where they must “erase” for the sake of a “narrative”, I simply accept history as it is.

And even most-recent history shows April cannot predict September’s minimum. In 2006 the extent in April was one of the lowest, in recent history, but by September the 2006 minimum was one of the highest, yet this highness, while making 2007 far higher than 2006 the next April, didn’t keep 2007 from having a September minimum which was the second lowest, in recent memory. Obviously the situation in April means little. If it meant much, 2006’s minimum would be lower than 2007’s, in September. In actual fact 2006 is one of the highest recent September extents, as 2007 is one of the lowest. April’s extent, in and of itself, is a lousy predictor.

Because I know recent history, I had a hard time getting all bent out of shape by a recent dip in the above “extent graph”, which some Alarmists claimed was proof all Capitalists should become Communists. Yes, you heard me right. They did claim such a preposterous thing. Look at the small downward blip in the graph, and imagine the leap of faith required to conclude it had such a huge political significance.

Forgive me,  but I didn’t even want to join the discussion.

Such discussion has always repelled me. This is a bit of a side track, but I think my dislike was formed by a mildly traumatic event at the end of my boyhood. Back when I was a grubby little boy some elders felt I might be improved by cleaning up what I wore, or having my hair cut more often, but I always found such fussing annoying. I had better things to do, and preferred hiking and fishing to being neat and tidy.

My slovenliness reached a peak around 1965, when, as youngest in my class, I was the last to show any sign of growing pubic hair, in the showers after gym class. I was the last true boy, and got in trouble with authorities by being grubby and careless, and wearing jeans to school ( illegal, back then) and having hair over the tops of my ears (also illegal) or wearing tattered sneakers, (you were suppose to wear shoes). I didn’t mean to rebel; I simply was neglectful. Meanwhile my pals were hit by hormones and abruptly became insanely interested in fashion and females.  They got in different trouble by daring to wear fashionable clothing, which broke certain school dress-codes. Their jet-black pants were too tight and too short; so tight about their ankles they could barely get them over their feet when they put them on, and they wore expensive footwear called “Beatle Boots” which the grown-ups banned because they were boots and not shoes. None of this made a lick of sense to me, for, after all, I was still a boy. What made sense was hiking and fishing.

I think the experience shaped me. Because I was youngest I saw, like the child seeing the Emperor had no clothes, that what was politically correct in 1965 was silly. My mind was impressed, and my thought was shaped in a way which saw the “fashion” others desired was actually repellent.

Therefore, when hormones hit me only a year later, I had no desire the wear pants tight around the ankle and Beatle-boots, because that seemed silly. Rather I would do what was not silly.  Quite accidentally I was seeking an “alternative lifestyle”. And what was the alternative? At that time it was to remain a child, a Huckleberry Finn, and to continue hiking and fishing, but to do so with the fever of an adolescent rather than the quietude of a boy. I learned to have a (nearly) complete disregard for fashion and political correctness. I had no idea this made me more adult than many adults. I was merely “thinking for myself”.

I think by 1967 the fashions of the politically correct became so shameful that many men have zealously burned all evidence, and developed amnesia. It was a fashion called “mod”. Men wore polka dots. I remember it quite clearly: Absurd, brightly colored polka dots. Not just ties, but sport coats. But nearly all evidence has been erased, like the Medieval Warm Period. What man would confess to being such a fool of fashion?

There was no way you were going to get me to dress in polka dots. Sorry, but even the slight chance, (very slight), that I could seduce a babe couldn’t trick me into wearing such peacock buffoonery. I stuck with my dirty jeans, and stuck with neglecting to get my hair cut until my shaggy locks got me rebuked by the school principle, and I stuck with hiking and fishing.

Then, in 1969, to my complete astonishment, dirty jeans and shaggy locks became fashionable and politically correct. As the youngest senior in my class I was abruptly the guy who was ahead of the curve, the guy who saw what was hip before all others, the guru of fashion.

I won’t pretend the flattery didn’t sway me. Every dog has his day. But, as fashion moved on to “disco”, I was like a guru wistfully watching all his disciples rush off to John Travolta.

Forgive me if I am belaboring my point, but it has been the experience of my life that a large part of “political correctness” is superficiality. It has next to nothing to do with the underlying Truth. At best “political correctness” is a dirty reflection through a warped mirror of what is actually occurring in the honest foundations of society, and at worst it is a complete misrepresentation.

There is much in my life I am not proud about, but one thing that makes me smile is that I still walk about in dirty jeans. I am what I am. I have been spared a great deal of bother and nuisance, by skipping fashion (most of the time) and instead focusing on work, and skipping political correctness, and instead focusing on Truth.

The Truth is that we are not threatened by the melting of arctic ice. The Truth also is we would be better off if the sea-ice totally melted. If it melted, we might return to climatic periods described as “Optimums”. If the sea-ice utterly melted northern climates under “arctic regimes” might instead experience “maritime regimes”.

In terms of Greenland, replacing the current “arctic regime” with a “maritime regime” would have a huge benefit. Permafrost would fade away, so you could dig a grave, as the Vikings once did. You could raise fodder, and deliver midwinter water, to 100,000 sheep and goats and 2000 cattle, as the Vikings once did. On good summers you could grow barley for beer, as the Vikings once did.

But some assume such evidence must be erased, along with other proof the Medieval Warm Period was warmer. What perverse ideology can be so stupid? Why erase what actually happened? Why erase actual experience which provides science with data, and which then corrects our past mistakes and furthers our future’s thought?

Who would do this? It is at this point my sense of humor kicks in, and I remember the persons who felt it was so dreadfully important to dress in “mod” fashions in 1967.  I always wondered how the minds of such people work. What are you telling yourself when you don a ridiculous polka-dot outfit? For that matter, what was Abraham Lincoln telling himself when he donned his stove-pipe hat? (I like to believe he was muttering curses under his breath, the way I did when my mother made me dress in a suit and go to dancing school, when I’d rather be fishing.)

And why did George Washington wear that silly wig? Oh…wait…..he didn’t wear a wig. That was his natural hair, (though he may have powdered it.) Wigs were for people who went prematurely bald, especially when they went bald as teenagers.

Why should you go bald at such an early age? It was a side-effect of a revenge Native Americans had upon Europeans. (No, not the addiction to tobacco.) The revenge was a sexually transmitted disease which Columbus (or his crew) brought back to Spain, and which swept through Europe as the worst epidemic since the Black Plague. To abruptly go bald (often in a patchy manner) as a teenager became a sign you had not been chaste, and to hide from the shame (made so blatant by the abrupt, patchy baldness), people wore wigs, if they could afford them. (Even a cheap wig cost a week’s wages), (but a side-effect was that wigs helped people avoid the annoyance of lice. They shaved what hair they had left, and if lice got in their wig they could just boil the wig. Problem solved). But, as wigs were expensive, they became status symbols, and the rich bought and wore amazingly tall and curly and flowing wigs, whereupon they were called “bigwigs”.

The irony is, of course, that wearing such a wig would not fool the wise, who would know you wore wear the hairpiece because you had been immoral and contracted a SID which might (before antibiotics) eventually rot your brain and cause tragic insanity.

But, to the simple, a bigwig is impressive. The wigs in the above painting may have costed more than a layman could make in half a year. (Isn’t it odd how people can turn hiding shame into a status symbol)?

In my humble opinion “Global Warming” is a sort of polka-dotted “bigwig” that silly people use to impress other silly people with. Alarmist dogma has little to do with virtue, just as contracting syphilis has little to do with virtue, but the dogma becomes a sort of “bigwig” that intellectually bald people use to hide their intellectual shame. In actual fact they may be as weakened and clipped as Samson was after Delilah was done with him, but, (by virtue signaling), the politically-correct state, “Look at me! I have more hair than Samson had, at his most mighty!”

I wonder if they think they are fooling themselves. After all, at some point men took off their “mod” suits, and they did not put those absurd outfits in the closet, and wait for such bizarre garb to come back into fashion. They threw the polka-dot suits into the rubbish, (or perhaps burned them), to destroy all evidence they had ever been so ridiculous.

In like manner Alarmists are backpedaling from their fashionable statements, regarding the Arctic being in a “Death-Spiral”.

One last-ditch effort to prove there was less ice, even when the “extent” increased, involved stating that, while the “extent” might have increased, the expanding ice was thinner and had become something they dubbed “rotten ice.” What mattered was suddenly not “extent”, but “volume”.

Of course measuring the “volume” was very difficult, and involved variables and margins-of-error much greater than measuring “extent”, (and indeed the best-science involving volume-measurement may be worse than the best-science is regarding what the weather will be ten days from now), but, for what it was worth, the “volume” graph was going down, even as the “extent” went flat and even rose slightly. “Volume” became the new talking-point, and the new proof the “Death-spiral” was ongoing.

But drat! Wouldn’t you just know it? Just as “Lake North Pole” vanished as soon as they got people looking at it, as soon as they got people looking at the “Volume” graph, it shot upwards last winter. Don’t you just hate it, when that happens?

I myself figured the sea-ice volume grew because last year a sort of “Wrong-way-flow” prevented sea-ice from being flushed south through Fram Strait in the more usual manner. At times these wrong-way winds even pushed the ordinarily-piled-up sea-ice away from Greenland’s north coast. ( Sensationalist Headline: “Open Water North Of Greenland Proves Sea-ice Is About To Vanish. Polar Bears Will Drown”).  This year has seen the wrong-way winds quit, and lots of sea-ice has been flushed south through Fram Strait to cool the Atlantic. As such sea-ice melts its “volume” drops to zero, and is subtracted from the total, so I expected the “Volume” graph to fall. Surprisingly, it hasn’t (so far):

If you are actually interested in arctic sea-ice, the refusal of “volume” to diminish is a fascinating development. But if you are interested in promoting a “narrative” it is incredibly annoying. This is one heck of a way to run a “Death Spiral”.

In fact, where we formally saw an attempt to “erase the Medieval War Period”, we may now be seeing an attempt to “erase the Death Spiral”.

I can’t say I blame whosoever may be involved. It is darned embarrassing to be predicting a sort of end-to-the-World, (though I reiterate that I think an ice-free Arctic Ocean would be a good thing), but then to, year after year, have your prediction be proven wrong. It seems quite normal and natural to change the subject. In a way it seems like burning an old, “mod” suit with blaring polka dots. Some things are best forgotten.

The problem is, we are not talking about mere silly outfits people chose to wear. We are talking about trillions of tax-dollars, the sweat of hard-working taxpayers, and how such dollars are spent. Are they spent wisely, or are they wasted on polka-dots?

With funding for cameras, and crazy adventurers, and the Barneo blue-ice jetport, all mysteriously vanished, just about the only pictures of sea-ice I can observe come from postings on the small-town websites of little communities in Alaska and Canada, who sit by the sea and have to deal with sea-ice, as it clogs their harbors every winter.  Often the ice can keep boats from bringing fresh groceries, and the local people must either hunker down and subsist on stored-up blubber and canned goods, or rely on icebreakers and airlifted goods.

On Labrador Island they rely on icebreakers and ferries with strengthened bows, but there were shortages last winter. There is always a struggle to get supplies across the Strait Of Belle Isle, due to sea-ice.

(First, I should note that, if the “Death Spiral” is real, that ice shouldn’t even be there. Last winter it was described as “the worst in thirty years”. But never mind that.)

Second, with all the advancements in technology, surely last winter should have seen more fresh vegetables than ever, out on the island.

The lady in the picture has been running her market forty years, and she stated last winter was the worst, in terms of getting fresh vegetables.

How is it possible that 40 years ago, way back in 1978, the Canadians who lived back then could do a better job delivering groceries than the modern generation of politically-correct idealists can do?

Attempting to poke into the details, I had to descend into the bizarre world of Canadian politics, which currently involves lots of polka-dots, and not much sanity. Apparently they replaced an old, tired, but adequate ferry called the “Apollo” with a ferry that butchers the English language with the ungrammatical name, “Qajaq”.

As a boy I learned it was very bad luck to ever use the letter “Q” without the letter “U” after it. (After all, look what happened to Iraq).  (Also, if I wrote “Q” without “U”, I might be kept after school, which was very bad luck). No good could possibly come of naming a ship “Qajaq”, but for Canadians it has become very stylish to write “Q” without a “U”,  as doing so is apparently a sort of virtue-signaling, indicative of “sensitivity” towards “indigenous peoples.”  (I’m not sure how sensitive naming a ferry “Qajaq” actually is, for I think in Inuit “qajaq” is the plural of “qyaq”, which is a skinny little kayak; in any case, an odd name for a  car-carrying ferry.)

Qajaq lived up to my superstitions. Even with the help of ice-breakers, it could not deliver the groceries, and for weeks couldn’t even leave port. The people who live out on the island, and the truck-drivers dependent on the ferry to earn their living, grew scornful of the politicians who had mismanaged. After around a month the coast guard used ice-breakers to barge a minimum of groceries out to Labrador Island, but the ships were not designed for cargo and many groceries froze solid and had to be returned.

I learned all sorts of bits about the Canadian government, eavesdropping in small town chat-rooms. Apparently a large amount of money was squandered on “cronies” who built a road to the ferry terminal, but not enough money was spent on the ferry itself. Also, although the politicians were very proud of the Qajaq, because it had only half the “carbon footprint” of the Apollo, the local people scornfully stated this goal was achieved only by having a puny engine, merely half as strong as Apollo’s, which meant that, even with a reinforced bow, that the Qajaq couldn’t push through sea-ice the Apollo had once shouldered through.

I bit my tongue, for it is not my place to butt into a neighbor’s business, but I did want to mention that their politicians seemed to spend far too much time being “sensitive” about naming their ships, and far too little time being “sensible” about shipping.

The way to avoid mismanagement is to hire sensible managers, and the way to be sensible is to take a hard look at facts. It is distinctly unhelpful to “erase” the facts,  yet much political-correctness seems aimed at not-allowing certain facts to be faced.  Certain subjects must not be broached, certain realities must be avoided, certain sleeping-dogs must not be disturbed even with a ten-foot-pole, until one is reduced to mincing about on eggs, more focused on polka-dots and big-wigs than what really matters. It is only then that politicians cease being helpful and begin to be hazards, more concerned with genuflecting than with making sure groceries are delivered. Even the most garrulous old store-owner knows there comes a time to “stop talking and to start stocking” (the shelves). When a politician can’t see this, and becomes more busy erasing things such as the Medieval Warm Period than with delivering the goods, then troubles arise. It is when shelves are empty that people tend to dust off an old Winston Churchill quote:

“The loyalties which center upon (the leader) are enormous. If he trips he must be sustained. If he makes mistakes they must be covered. If he sleeps he must not be wantonly disturbed. If he is no good he must be pole-axed…”

This was what got Donald Trump elected. People were sick of mismanagement. The politically-correct were horrified, and attempted to pole-ax Trump even before he took office, which demonstrates they did not read the rest of the Churchill quote:

“…But this last extreme process cannot be carried out every day; and certainly not in the days after (the leader) has been chosen.”

The simple fact of the matter is that what matters is not polka-dots, nor how big your wig is, but how you manage the cards dealt out to you. There are people dealt nothing but deuces who amaze all with their success, and there are those who are dealt aces who fall flat on their faces. (Hmm. Might be a poem in that.)

Some people, though seemingly dealt only deuces,
Become locomotives and never cabooses.
Other elite ones are dealt only aces
Yet traipse into trouble and fall on their faces.

It is true that a lot depends on your teammates; a fantastic soccer player will never be a winner if his goal-tender takes his eye off the ball to admire a blond babe in the stands; a great quarterback will have trouble completing a pass if his blockers are spineless and his coach is the moronic relative of a moronic owner. However some, even when dealt the worst hands, still manage to manage. There are ordinary people you meet every day who only manage to be ordinary by defying incredible odds. Conversely, there are pompous bigwigs who think their feces smell better than everyone else’s, utterly oblivious to an impending pole-ax.

The nice thing about a two-party system is that no actual pole-ax is involved. No guillotine is rolled out to chop off your head. There is no “Terror”, no Stalinist purges, no horrible Maoist “Cultural Revolution”, no “Night Of The Long Knives” where Hitler assassinated his best-friend Brown-Shirts although they had lifted him to power. Instead, in a two-party system, you are subjected to what the sports-world calls “being benched.” You are not kicked off the team, but you are told to go sit down and think about how you contributed to the fact the team lost the last game.

A problem arises when one wants so badly to have star-status they cannot abide even the thought of any sort of demotion. Their mother told them they were wonderful, and it hurts them tremendously when they find out they are merely ordinary. They received a trophy in school, (sometimes a “participation trophy” for doing nothing beyond showing up), and they expect life to give them another. They feel “entitled”, and feel they should be quarterback even if not gifted in that regard. Even if they are five-foot-two and can’t throw, they feel some “injustice” is involved if the best way they can help the team is to sell hot-dogs in the stands.  They have lost the ability to see the facts a good manager sees, preferring to “erase” certain aspects of Truth, and to live in a rosy dream-world that can only remain rosy if reality doesn’t rear its head with ugly repercussions.

If one erases things such as the “Medieval Warm Period”, one eventually winds up with a so-called “false narrative” one is dependent upon, and then one becomes overly focused on things such as naming a boat, or “carbon emissions”, and the repercussions are empty shelves. Karma then tends to be ruthless. What goes around comes around.

In a way it is amusing, for often a reason some get sidetracked is because they feel “life isn’t fair”, and then, after their sidetrack leads them deep into a forest of buffoonery involving polka-dots and big-wigs and other forms of virtue-signaling political-correctness, they become extremely indignant when it turns out life is fair, after all.

It is difficult to explain the unfairness of life, for God’s Creation involves a vast, intricate complexity beyond the capacity of the human psyche to completely comprehend. Why are some born rich and some born poor, some born beautiful and some born ugly, some born sharp and some born dull? Is it due to the Karma of past lives? Is it due to evil White Men exploiting? Is it due to carbon emissions? Is it due to eating too much beef and not enough kale? Or is it merely a given in life, called “troubles?”

Having spent most of my life attempting to avoid trouble but getting into plenty, I tend to feel troubles are part of life, (and that, in fact, life would be boring without them).

If anyone was going to successfully avoid trouble, I would think it would be a man with super-powers, who could walk on water, and raise the dead, and give sight to the blind, such as Jesus is believed by some to have been. But even Jesus didn’t seem to avoid trouble, nor promise his followers an easy road:  “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

This is not to say that some elements of truthfully facing-trouble don’t defy basic mathematics:

As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins.  “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others.”

To people only focused on the mathematics of money, and not the entirety of Truth, this statement made by Jesus is illogical. Their minds, in over-focusing on money, have “erased” other things that matter.

I seem to see, in history, a rising and falling of people nearly as predictable as the rising and falling of tides. Initially people focus on Truth in its vast and incomprehensible entirety,  and are made swiftly aware of their inabilities and mistakes, but are equally swift to respond to Truth’s corrections. People call Truth inanimate, but Truth does give people a swift boot in the posterior if they neglect to factor-in certain elements. Call it “Divine Intervention” or call it “Murphy’s Law”, Truth is swift to correct and discipline those people humble enough to admit their mistakes, and who eagerly learn from them. Because they are swift to learn they rise on a tide of Truth, and often gain prosperity, popularity, and power.

But then the rot sets in. People enjoy prosperity, popularity and power, and these three things are seen as being worthwhile in and of themselves, even to the point where Truth slips from the center of people’s attention. The “erasure” is slight at first, but the addiction is insidious, and slowly makes inroads upon the initial, steadfast focus on Truth. The tide is falling, though the people heading down often think they are richer, more famous, and more powerful than ever. Towards the end they become the butts of jokes, utterly focused on polka-dots and big-wigs, and amazingly blind to the Truth that brought about prosperity, popularity and power in the first place. This downfall is described by some as “being given to sin.”

This realization has been an unexpected side-effect of studying sea-ice. It has occurred because one cannot talk about what the sea-ice is actually doing, in actual terms, without at some point treading upon the vast and duck-like flat-feet of Alarmists, and being exposed to the sputtering bombast of their wrath.

(Pause, if you will, and reflect back upon the painting of the pompous “bigwigs” I portrayed earlier in this post. Better yet, go back and look at the picture, and imagine telling those gentlemen about the real reason they wore their wigs. Do you think they’d be nice, hearing your words?)

In other words, even if you want to talk about sea-ice and sea-ice alone, there are individuals who change the subject. They seem to prefer to distract one’s focus away from the Truth about sea-ice, and instead towards their personal ire. Their logic smells of red herrings. They don’t want Truth to be the center of attention, preferring that they themselves be the center. Have pity on them. They are very needy fellows, because they need help.

As interested as I am in sea-ice, I feel Alarmist’s cries for help must be respected. That is why I go on such long side-tracks, attempting to explain the antics of my fellow man, when sea-ice is often more interesting. To walk heedlessly past a person dressed in polka-dots and big-wigs, when they are crying out for help, is in some ways like walking past a person sinking in quicksand.

Of course, they are unaware they are crying out for help. Part of their derangement is that they think I am treading on their vast toes. Which is why solving their silly problem is taking so much longer than it should.

It is a pity Alarmists are so needy and require so much pampering, because there is actually some interesting stuff going on at the Pole. With the “Death Spiral” now a dogma undergoing what seems to require an erasure much like the “Medieval Warm Period’s”, there are far fewer pictures to look at, so we aren’t able to closely examine the changes we dimly see in other data.

What are the changes?

There was a shift in weather patterns that led to fewer charges of Atlantic air north over the Pole, especially in Fram Strait. But on the Pacific side there was a push of sea-ice north through Being Strait. If I had time I’d love to study this shifting pattern in greater detail, (rather than deal with the denials of those who, for over a decade, have called me “a denier. “)

The air was a little milder than normal over the Pole, when compared against thirty-year-norms, last winter, yet it was far colder than most recent winters.

Notice how the red line actually dipped below the green line twice during the depth of winter,  which hasn’t happened since 2015.  Also the “peaks” above normal were far more modest. Compare the warm surges last winter (above) with the warm surges the prior winter (below).

If you add up the area of the space between the red lines and green lines you get a rough estimate of the amount of chill the sea-ice was exposed to, which can allow you to make a guess at how much thicker the ice got. However the milder air also tends to lead to more snow, which further insulates the ice from chill, and may further decrease the thickness of the ice. Therefore, because last winter had colder temperatures, and likely less snow, the ice may have thickened more, which may partially explain the failure of volume to decrease, despite more sea-ice being exported south through Fram Strait.

However less snow may have a contrary effect, now that the sun has risen north of the Arctic Circle. The snow has the ability, due to its high albedo, to delay the melting. Less-deep snow may mean an earlier start to the formation of melt-water pools. (And here is where cameras would be such a help.)

Despite the fact temperatures (and likely humidity) have been above normal during recent winters, this has changed, year after year, during the month of May. Often May has seen the first below-normal temperatures in many months, and quite often temperatures have remained more often below-normal than above-normal through much of the following summer. I’ll be interested to see if it happens again this year.

The fact summer temperatures are below-normal tends to suggest the sunshine is weaker. The so-called “Quiet Sun” may be showing its effect. Oddly, the “Quiet Sun” may also be showing its effect even when it doesn’t shine at the Pole, during the winter, and may be causing the warmer winters at the Pole.

This is utterly contrary to ordinary thought. How could a weaker sun make it warmer?

Warming might happen because the sun’s energy does not merely manifest in a way measured by thermometers, but also as energy measured by anemometers. A weaker sun might lead to weaker winds. If those weaker winds happened to be Trade Winds, the result would be less up-welling of cold waters to the west of continents down towards the equator. Less cold water at the equator would allow there to be more warm water (an El Nino rather than a La Nina), and this leads to warmer and more-moist air heading north to the Pole.

The arctic is in many respects a desert, with air that is very cold and very dry. The introduction of even a slight amount of moisture can have a huge effect in terms of temperature. The same amount of evaporated moisture which would result in a very small temperature rise at the equator, (and might even lower temperatures if a  thunderstorm resulted), can result in a spike of winter temperatures at the Pole of over twenty degrees, (still below freezing). It is therefore wrong to give arctic temperatures the same “weight” as tropical temperatures.

In fact, if you give arctic temperatures the same “weight” as tropical temperatures, and created an “average” between the two, you might even create a statistical error, wherein the increase at the Pole would have the effect of “masking” a growing decrease elsewhere. A slight amount of mere moisture, at the Pole, could consequently corrupt the “Global Average Temperature”, which some politicians place so much importance upon.

I wish I had time to continue. I have only brought up two lovely variables which thermometers don’t measure, namely Trade Winds and humidity at the Pole. Truth is far more complex and beautiful, and includes far more subtlety than temperature, humidity and wind-speed. It is for the best, if we wish to be good stewards of the gift we call “our planet”, to remain humble, concerning our relationship with Truth. We must be constantly ready to be corrected.

The alternative seems to me to be an arrogant refusal to accept correction, and a behavior which seems basically adolescent. It seems but an immature, audacious certainty that “the science is settled”, and that Truth has nothing more it can teach us. It is the ossified enunciation of paralyzed thinking, addicted to polka-dots and enamored of big-wigs, and the great irony is that, in seeking to avoid correction, it invites more and greater corrections. In the end such Alarmism is simply a way of cruising for a bruising.

 

LOCAL VIEW –Hurricane Heights Demonstrated–

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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