LOCAL VIEW —A Whole Pnu Season—

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One topic I always enjoy is the Greenland Vikings. It’s been a while since I checked to see if there were any recent discoveries,  My listless mind did stir towards wakefulness when I saw that a Viking trading vessel had been discovered in the muddy riverbank in Memphis, Tennessee.  http://worldnewsdailyreport.com/usa-viking-ship-discovered-near-mississipi-river/

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But that sword looked familiar to me

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

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http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-highlands-islands-15333852

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

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LOCAL VIEW —A Boy’s Boredom—

Perhaps I’ve been working too hard, but a sort of fed-up feeling rose up in me today, and had me tired of any media but the outdoors. (Not that the outdoors is usually thought of as a “media”.)  All the people on various talk shows on the radio, both the political ones and the sports ones, struck me as being uninspired. I just felt sick of them, and fortunately one is able to turn a little nob and silence them.

The weather is a bit drab, midst a sort of winter drought. We do get rain, but the drought involves a lack of snow. Not that the little snow we have gotten hasn’t set some sort of record in terms of nuisance-per-inch. I can never remember having to shovel so much sand onto icy surfaces, after a measly total of four inches of snow since before Christmas. However all in all it has been a bit boring, in terms of drifts and high snow banks and howling winds, though there has just enough snow, mixed with just too little rain, to completely spoil the skating.

It reminds me of a certain January day in my boyhood, when the skating was no good and the sledding was no good, and all  there was to do was homework, and that was no good. The only sport was basketball, but I was the youngest and shortest boy in my class. Hormones seemed to be hitting everyone else, and they were all growing like weeds, as I remained the same. Therefore basketball was out of the question, unless I was in the mood to be humiliated, which I seldom was. It was a time when it seemed humiliating simply to be alive, and my mood was morbid and I might have malingered away into complete misery, were it not for the second-shortest boy in my class, who understood everything I was going through, and was a great friend.

This fellow had the endearing quality of having intense enthusiasm about whatever he happened to be doing at that particular moment. It is very difficult to remain properly moody and depressed, in the face of such enthusiasm. At times I even tried to avoid him, because I wanted to pout and be miserable, all alone, like a lady going through a box of Kleenex having a good cry over a book, or a blues-singer enjoying his sorrows in song, but my friend would come barging in and interrupt.  He would have seen an owl snoozing on a branch in the woods, and would state I simply had to go see it. He refused to take “No” for an answer, and, in the end, I usually had to concede it was worth the tramp through the trees to see an empty branch when an owl had supposedly reposed.

The most annoying quality he had was his ability to finish all his homework in what seemed like ten minutes. It took me an hour to even open a book, and just then he’d show up and give me an excuse to get an “F”. (Not that I minded all that much, until my report card came.) He was always dragging me off into other troubles as well, as he enthusiastically took me past “No Trespassing” signs to see what was down the train tracks, or in the quarry, or just beyond the reach of the junkyard dog. Not that I was unwilling. I soon learned that, while the fellow could be annoying, life was never boring when he was around.

His mother didn’t much like my mother, and the feeling was mutual, and they independently arrived at the conclusion the other’s son was a bad influence on their precious son. They were correct, as mothers usually are, but mothers might accidentally have their sons in dresses, if they had their way. Boys like trouble because boys are trouble, and we managed to find so much boyish trouble that, one January, we were banned from even telephoning each other. Fortunately he had received a couple “walkie-talkies” for Christmas, and he loaned me one. Unfortunately they only had a range of a mile, and our houses were slightly more than a mile apart. Only by stringing up elaborate systems of wires outside our bedroom windows could we hear, dim and remote, a faint voice fading in and out, midst vauge waves from the ionosphere.

To cut this long story short, one drab January afternoon, when I was up in my room and should have been doing my homework, we were conversing enthusiastically on the walkie-talkies, and he faded away, dimmer and dimmer, until he faded out. Nothing I did could improve the reception, and bring him back. I was abruptly confronted with what an antidepressant that friend was, and just how empty and stark and like-January life is, when a friend is gone.

(Perhaps this feeling returned because, at my age, I have to say good-bye to some old friends, who forge on before me. However this reality didn’t occur to me today, as I shut off the radio, and simply sniffed the weather.)

(Perhaps this mood hit me because some of my boyhood friend’s attributes are going into the creation of the character “Durf”, in the novel I’m working on. However I didn’t think of that either, as I looked across the dreary and drab January landscape.)

It was the strangest thing. I simply could remember being twelve, and bored out of my gourd, and that there was a beauty in that boredom.

Give credit to the boredom of boyhood,
To that ache drilling deep to the heart.
It urged me to trouble but led me to good.
Without it a man never would dare start
Questioning, probing, testing tradition.
He would be apron-strung and stay home,
Not seek to better the human condition,
Not shock a schoolmarm, daring to roam
Playing hooky. Give credit to boredom
For men on the moon. They’re glad to come home
So give credit to women for what we come
Home to, but do not make that a catacomb.
Instead see a crucial part of Good
Is born out of the boredom of boyhood.

Isn’t it amazing what can come from being just beyond the reach of the reception of a radio?

I am sort of starting to like being just beyond the reach of bad weather. The rain and mildness that swept over us last Sunday brewed up quite a storm to our north, and Quebec got clobbered. Not that the mainstream media cares much about Quebec, but they had sheets of freezing rain on one side of a storm that gave true blizzard conditions, powder snow drifting in temperatures of -40°, on its other side. (The mainstream media was more interested in a weak clipper that slid to our south.)

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The very edge of the arctic air did press south over us, as temperatures dropped to 16.5° Monday night and only rose to 29.5° on Tuesday, (-8.7° and -1.4° Celsius), but this is nothing, compared to the -40° (both Celsius and Fahrenheit) air that dropped towards us and then was sucked back up into the storm in Quebec. The southern edge of the arctic air was just enough to evaporate the first burst of snow from the Alberta Clipper, and send the second burst well south of us, towards Washington DC, which deserves to be cooled down.

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The edge of the arctic air, that depressed the clipper south, kept us below freezing all day, but swung the winds around to the ocean and kept the cruelest cold away, so we did get up to 30.9° (-0.6 Celsius).

Even as that clipper moved south of us, I deeply distrusted it, and watched like a hawk for signs it would explode and kick back snow over New Hampshire.

I am also suspicious of that mess over Texas. That seems likely to hit us. However, according to the American computer, that Texas mess will go just south of us, as will a follower from the Gulf of Mexico, even as the next Alberta Clippers dive south of us (or dry up before they get here). In fact, according to the American computer, there will be swaths of snow all around us, as New Hampshire remains drab and dry. A week from now the American “GFS” model predicts the following amounts of snow will have fallen (A Dr. Ryan Maue map from the Weatherbell site):

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It is somewhat amazing how all the storms miss New Hampshire. As a boy this would have caused me terrible misery, because snow was my Avatar and Messiah, the Rasool and Savior, who could rescue me from the oppression of schoolmarms, and a map such as the above was something like a true-believer learning the second-coming  has been delayed beyond the period of time they can expect to be alive.

As an old geezer I very much hope the maps are correct, and the second-coming is delayed. I’d much rather sit back in a mid-winter drought and contemplate stuff that occurred a half-century ago. I enjoy remembering old friendships, especially my old pal who was such a bad influence and got me into so much trouble.

The problem is, he was quite the interruption, and indeed there were times I wished he would get lost. I would want to get all morbid and wade in Kleenex like an old lady having herself a good cry, but he would bust in, bursting with enthusiasm, and drag me from my sweet violins of self pity.

Why is it that I have a strange feeling, as I look at the above map, that it is wrong? Why is it I have the feeling I will not be able to sit here, composing poetry? Why do I feel that,  instead, I will be gripping the reins of a bucking snow-blower attempting to keep a business’s parking lot business-like?

If and when that happens, I hope I adopt the right attitude. As I trudge about behind the snow-blower I hope I don’t feel a great writer like myself should be spared such drudgery, and instead should be placed on a silk pillow and allowed to compose in Persian luxury. Rather I hope I regard the snow as an interruption like my old friend,  dragging me from insipid yammering into vigor and activity and enthusiastic life.

I probably won’t. I’ll probably feel really, really sorry for myself, behind the snow blower. However, in memory of my boyhood buddy, I hope I shall do so enthusiastically.

LOCAL VIEW —DRATTED NORLUN WAVE BRINGS MORE SNOW—

I creaked out of bed before dawn to peer out the front door towards the streetlight, and saw a whirl of snow. Another inch had fallen, due what is called a “Norlun Wave.”

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For a better explanation than I can give, of Norlun Waves, Matt Noyes has produced some decent articles at his site. Here is one, with links in it to other articles he’s penned, plus links to papers about Norlun Waves by others.

http://www.mattnoyes.net/new_england_weather/2011/01/exactly-what-is-a-norlun-trough-and-how-do-you-forecast-weather-associated-with-it.html

If you have leisure you can spend a whole morning reading interesting stuff and mentally dabbling with the intricate wonder of the atmosphere, but I still have to clean up the mess from the last storm, so rather than be scientific I’ll grouch and grumble.

After many storms all the moisture is swept out to sea by roaring northwest winds that bring south a cold front and dry air.  Other storms have much less wind, and ripple away to the north leaving moisture and mild air behind.  It is the mild moisture that sets up the Norlun Trough.

As this mild air gets squeezed by rising pressures behind the storm the effected area doesn’t see pressures rise, as you would think, but rather pressures fall because the squeezed air rises.(I am so disgusted by the prospect of more snow-blowing and shoveling that I will use the most disgusting symbol I can think of:)  The air is squeezed like a pimple, and the building pressure shoots up like pus, reducing pressure at the surface. The uplift is increased by the latent heat released by water vapor condensing and freezing, and the pus comes raining back down as disgusting snow-flakes on my driveway. At this point, if my mood is better, I write lovely poems about the white fluff outside, trying to emulate the appreciation the Japanese have of snow and cherry blossoms, but I am so achy from yesterday’s work I only scowl. If I flower at all I am a flowering crab.

If I had the time to ponder the nuances of the maps, I’d probably study the way the uplift of a Norlun Trough extends west to the uplift created by the relatively warm water of the Great Lakes.  There might be an interesting linkage between the two events. Even if there isn’t, I could say there was, and stir up a lively discussion at some obscure site where weather geeks gather, and in the process of being told how wrong I was I might learn a thing or two. That seems such a fine way to fritter away the hours, when I am faced with the heavy, brown crud blocking the entrance to the Childcare.

I have noticed that many meteorologists have a poetic streak. I suppose it is an occupational hazard that comes from looking at clouds too much. However I have no time for poetry or for meteorology. It is souring my mood, and I look a little like Rodney Dangerfield in my mirror. “I get no respect.” Rather than throwing money at me to write poetry, people want me to hack away at frozen slush. All  I can say is, they’ll be sorry when I’m dead.

I noticed that some of the other fellows were muttering similar thoughts, during Thanksgiving Dinner.  Usually the guys allow the women to do most of the bustling, perhaps carrying a pie in from a car or carving a turkey, but for the most part feasting and then sitting about bloated, talking about hunting escapades or the nuances of football, but yesterday there was a more tired-looking group slouched in easy chairs, shaking their heads about the poor excuse for snow they’d had to deal with.

Usually the first foot of snow is cleaned up with precision, and the snowbanks have sharp corners and are built with geometric exactness. It is the exact opposite of April snow, which is going to melt so soon it is sloppily shoved aside and left to wilt in the high sunshine. On this side of winter everyone knows the snowbanks may last five more months, so care is taken to get off to a good start.

Yesterday was a lousy start.  Even though I had the Childcare drive clean at six o’clock on Wednesday night, six more inches had fallen by Thursday morning, and the ground is still so warm that the bottom four inches slumped down to a substance somewhere between very heavy snow and slush.  Then the town plows, which (due to budget problems) hadn’t really even started to plow until morning, shoved this heavy stuff from the roads into the entrances of every driveway in town, mingling it with sand and bits of tar torn from the road’s deteriorating surface, (un-repaired due to budget problems.)

When younger I laughed at old geezers who used snow-blowers, and often had my drive finished with a shovel while they were still cursing at their machines and trying to get  them started. Those days are gone, and I’ve now converted to the geezer world-view. However the snow-blowers struggled even with the uncompressed snow on the drives, and the piles at the end of the drives strangled them. The chutes plugged up with the snow, and when it did come out of the chutes it was a sort of brown soup that described a pathetic arc and landed three feet away, still in the driveway.  Even though it is illegal, most just shifted the snow back out onto the roads, which were brazenly bare and wet and snow-free.

My oldest son said he even had trouble with his plow.  If he tried to plow straight ahead his truck would slow to a stop with all four tires spinning, so he had to plow a sort of zig-zag pattern up driveways, shifting snow first to the right side, and then to the left. (I would have had him plow the Childcare, but have learned through bitter experience that plowing builds huge mountains in all the wrong places, making it nearly impossible to clear snow in following storms, and also effecting the septic system’s leach field.)

In any case, it looks like we are off to  a bad start, this winter. I am going to have to revert to primitive shoveling, and to use shovels meant for dirt, as the stuff blocking the Childcare entrance laughs at plastic snow shovels. Fortunately I have two younger sons in their early twenties to help me, though I must confess they seem less than pleased by the prospect. To them Thanksgiving means leisure.

I have a strong feeling leisure is going to be in short supply, before we see the last of this winter.