LOCAL VIEW –A Cold Day In June–

Cold June rtma_tmp2m_neus(35)

“If I’m so brilliant, why am I so stupid?”

I asked my wife that question yesterday, as I shivered. I’d practically frozen myself in pursuit of an idea that awoke me at 4:30 A.M.  I’d started typing in the predawn darkness and had to wrench myself away to work at 7:00. It was then I noticed I seemed shaky. Wondered it I was coming down with a fever. Felt pretty weak. My son is just getting over Lyme Disease he got from a tick bite. Wondered if I had it too, remembering I had a tick bite a couple weeks ago. Stopped in at the doctor’s. He took a blood sample to test. My blood pressure was very low, I was four pounds underweight,  and my temperature was…95.6°??? That’s not a fever; that’s practically hypothermia!

What a dingbat I am! Of course my metabolism is going to be at low ebb if I attempt to live on coffee alone, and just sit at a typewriter without getting any exercise, and lack even the brains turn up the heat, or wear a sweater, or start a fire in the wood-stove.

Start a fire in the wood-stove? But it’s June! I checked the dashboard thermometer as I drove through the blustery drizzle of day with a purplish-gray overcast. It read 48°. (9° Celsius). At 11:00 A.M. ? In June?

Oh well. Splitting wood is a good way to warm up. Then I bothered feed myself some hot soup. Eventually I stopped shivering, and walking about all clenched up, but it takes a while when you have foolishly allowed yourself to be chilled to the core.

You’d think I’d be old enough to know better. I blame the writing. It is when you think you are most brilliant, that you become most air-headed,  most absent-minded, and downright dumb.

So will I stop writing?

No way. But perhaps writers need to be cut down to size on a regular basis. Otherwise they’ll think their brilliant, and become all puffed up. (It’s not they who are brilliant; it’s what they are looking at.)

It’s a cold day in June, but that is how
God made it. Who am I to say it’s wrong?
The newly-leafed boughs are drenched, and they bow
And get in my way. Nasty mist rides strong
East winds from a gray sea that still recalls
Winter’s sea-ice, but who am I to say
This isn’t right? My old teeth split; gray hair falls
Like withered sepals. Lilacs fade away
And tulips look stupid without petals
And I glance up to God. He knows my thought.
There’s no fooling Him. He won’t give medals
For lies. I can only give what I’ve got,
And I think He smiles at my eye-rolling,
Preferring a chat to always controlling.



Joy Behar stated, “It’s one thing to talk to Jesus. It’s another to say Jesus talks to you. That’s called mental illness.” Although she later apologized, first to Vice President Pence and later to all Christians, (1), what she stated is a quite commonly-held view, even among Christians. There is a world of difference between the so-called “milk” or “lukewarm” Christians, who are judged as being sane, and the “meat” Christians, who are judged as being insane.

Two things seem to require further thought. First is, what makes up “belief”, and second, what makes up “sanity”?

One thing apparent to me is that much more “belief” is involved, in the ordinary thinking of ordinary people, than they care to admit. Teenagers ordinarily become aware of this when they first dare to question the Status Quo, and rather than answers get ultimatums, however in most cases youthful restlessness fades into resignation, and teenagers “settle down”. (This is just a nice way of saying “you can’t fight City Hall”, even if City Hall is corrupt.) Yet in the back of all minds, (very far back, in some cases), there remains a questioning silence, often never voiced, that doubts the values of the Status Quo.

I became interested in this silence when quite young. I suppose it was because I tended to be a loudmouth and was told to “shut up” a lot by three older siblings. Also I was skipped ahead a grade in school, and this made me smallest in my class, and unable to knock peers down, when they told me to “shut up” (though I did try, from time to time.) Because I had to be quiet, I looked inward, and discovered inward landscapes sometimes were more interesting than that which was going on outwardly. This was especially true in Algebra classes. I dreamed out the window a lot.

Once it became obvious I wasn’t going to be a mathematician, I decided I must be a poet. Unfortunately I wasn’t discouraged from this impractical idea, and in fact won two poetry awards as a teenager. (At times I wonder what my life would have been like if I hadn‘t won those awards, and instead had taken the other, more-practical fork-in-the-road).

As it was I conformed to nonconformity along with all the other nonconformists, with my hair long and my clothing ragged in a “hip” way, which was a sort of signal to society not to hire me, but also that I might be interesting to talk to. I walked with a notebook dangling from one arm at my side, which made me look thoughtful and interesting, which was helpful, back in the days when a great form of public transportation was hitchhiking.

As years past I became increasingly aware many of my fellow artists were con-artists, playing the role of an artist while producing very little true art. They were experts on the suffering of an artist, but not very good when it came time to stop talking and start doing. Those who did make any money had usually compromised to some demand of the Status Quo, even though we called such compromise “selling out”. They might become the demeaned servants of the ugly and elderly, (called “patrons”), or they might dedicate their talent to selling Chocolate Sugar Bombs Breakfast Cereal. I wasn’t tempted to sell out in this manner. I would like to say this was because I was virtuous, but mostly it was because the opportunities didn’t arise. The few times I was tempted I fortunately was in situations that made my skin crawl and I was repelled, (if not initially, then before the quicksand rose above my heart).

Eventually it became apparent that there was no money in poetry, and that I needed to work if I wanted to eat. I did attempt to get around working by learning about wild plants I could eat, but there was no such thing as wild cigarettes, and that addiction forced me to conform, to a certain degree. I became a working man.

By that time I knew a lot about the “bohemian” lifestyle, and very little about having any common sense, so I cannot say I “settled down”. I had learned to be thrifty, and not to mind discomfort, and didn’t mind sleeping in my car. I called myself a “free thinker”, but confess it was very lonely. As a drifter I was often on the outside, looking in at others in their happy social-groupings. I saw myself as a sort of detached anthropologist, taking note of what others “believed” in.

An example of this occurred when I was living in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. I was a working man in a landscape of people on vacation, and the most beautiful (in my young eyes) were the young ladies in bikinis strolling along the road by the shore. They showed no interest in me as I drove by in my tiny, dented car, but one day my boss had me drive his Cadillac to the repair shop, and I took the longer route, down by the beach, so I could continue my anthropological studies of bikinis. Much to my surprise a large number of the young ladies smiled at me. I glanced in the rear view mirror to see what was different about me, but I didn’t look any different. Then I abruptly realized what was different was the car I was driving.

Mind you, this was not merely one or two girls. I drove the Cadillac along four miles of the Grand Strand, and have never been smiled at so much in all my life. At first I smiled back, but it slowly sunk in that they did not believe in me. They believed in Cadillacs, and I decided I did not approve of that. After four miles they stopped smiling at the man in the Cadillac, once they saw he was frowning back at them.

Not that I am worth believing in. God is the only One worthy of worship. But I bring this up to demonstrate that even people who scoff at religion believe in something. It may not be Cadillacs, but even dedicated atheists believe in something.

And when you believe, you are listening to a voice in your head. It may not say, “Oh! Look! A Cadillac! Smile!” But it is there. And at this time a voice in my head began saying, “Women are not interested in me; they are interested in my wallet”. This explains why I was a bachelor so long. No woman likes hearing that. It may be true they want a good provider for any children the future may hold, but they’d much rather hear a man say he will slay dragons to make them happy, (or at least move out of his car.)

I wanted to hear a woman say she’d stick by my side, even if life’s dragons kicked my butt, and left me on crutches. In a sense what I wanted, and what many women wanted, was the concept of marriage, wherein the couple stick together “for better or for worse“. However “marriage” seemed terribly old-fashioned and outdated, and by 1980 many young men and women were seeking some “alternative” that avoided the pain many had experienced as children, when the divorce-rate soared from 5% towards 50% in the decade between 1964 and 1974. Because many people had lost faith in marriage, they didn’t “believe” in it. The alternative, (at times loosely described as “free love”), was not clearly defined in many minds, and because of this many were involved in situations that did not “feel right”. They often were recoiling from experiences of crude lust, which made them in a way “reactionary.” At times my simply bringing up the word “commitment” could make a young lady yell at me. They wanted to be free and “liberated”.

Initially getting yelled-at backed me off. It wasn’t anything like I wanted, which was to hear a woman say she’d stick by my side. However besides being a coward I was curious. Often it was obvious to me that the liberated woman was yelling about something I hadn’t said, (or at least hadn’t intended), and this suggested she was hearing some “voice in her head”.

Once I started actually talking to militant women, rather then observing them from a safe distance, I became aware the voice in their head was the voice of fear. There were nightmares in their past, and they feared a reoccurrence. I think one reason women wanted to be liberated from men, and be self-sufficient, was that they had never met a man who wasn’t a sleaze-bag, or (at the very least) a man who wouldn’t desert them. The other side of this coin was that I never met a woman who showed the slightest desire to stick by my side, or to accept me as I was. Instead I seemed to be hit by demands I be impossibly rich, kind, and undemanding.

It reminds me of an old quote, “I was searching for the perfect woman, but when I finally found her I discovered she was searching for the perfect man.” It is a quote that works both ways.

Eventually I decided that the best alternative to divorce is to stay married. Much of the pain children remember from a parent’s divorce is caused by the divorcing, but children blame the marriage. The solution then seems to be to avoid marriage, but that is to move in the exact opposite direction from where the true solution lies.

To use an analogy: Marriage can be like a leaky boat in a sea full of sharks. Some point out that bailing, and constantly caulking leaks, is very tiresome, while abandoning ship and swimming free of the burdensome ship would simplify things. Then these advisors smile, with the teeth of sharks.

In essence one is converting from faith in one thing (marriage) to faith in another (self-reliance.) It seems a simple matter of choice, but the difference is profound, for it is a shift from selflessness to selfishness, and from faith to doubt. Hardest of all to comprehend, by those who are displaying great courage by setting out all alone, is the fact the inner voice they are heeding is not a voice of courage, but of fear.

I cannot stress how important this distinction is, yet how difficult it is to see, when you are the one responding to fear. One is basically casting off the advice of saints for the advice of sharks, but one is never really aware of the compromise they have made by casting off, until they wind up on the casting couch.

Some women can’t imagine men can have the slightest idea of the degradation involved on a casting couch, but men can, if they ever were young and smooth poets, seeking help from an old and sleazy editor. I was once in those shoes, for once I thought art was judged on its merits, and naïvely walked into an old editor’s office thinking he was attracted to my poems. What then happened likely served me right, for I was operating under the assumption that “It is not what you know; it is who you know”, which is false. What you know does matter most.

To cut an embarrassing story short, I was a lot faster in those days, and when the editor got tired of pursuing me he leaned up against his desk and, shooting me a withering look, stated this Maxim: “No writer has ever succeeded without f—ing someone or getting f—ed by someone.” I replied, “Well then, I’ll be the first.” Let it suffice to say, I got no real help from the man. Nor did I ever succeed, in terms he could understand.

Sad to say, once you have abandoned the selflessness of saints and accepted the selfishness of sharks, you accept a reality that holds no real giving. All is a bargaining, and even bullying. You must “pay to play”, and if you refuse to pay then efforts will be made to prevent you from playing. Rather than a “getting a lucky break”, you will be marginalized, ostracized, blackballed.

Some do not like to admit such behavior occurs in places like Washington D.C. and Hollywood, yet it not only occurs, but it spreads like an insidious infection unless people stand up and dare to state it is wrong, and the people who dare to stand up risk being subjected to the very marginalization, ostracizing and blackballing they object to. It is for this reason some don’t dare, and instead learn the “right” things to say, and fear saying the “wrong” things. They study the latest fashions and fads, striving to be politically correct, and practice “virtue-signaling” to demonstrate how correct they are, regardless of the questioning silence in the back of their minds. That silence is drowned out by a louder voice of fear. It is fear of being marginalized, ostracized and blackballed.

I ran into this most recently when I started studying the facts behind Global Warming, and began to see there was scant evidence man-made CO2 was the cause. The questioning silence in the back of my mind produced a thing called “Truth”. Many who then rose to angrily protest against what I discovered had not studied the subject at all. They had no facts at their fingertips, and rather were “virtue-signaling” how politically correct they were by yelling at me. They threatened to marginalize, ostracize and blackball because they were afraid that, if they didn’t, they themselves would be marginalized, ostracized and blackballed.

But what might occur if that fear didn’t exist? What if the voice in their head stopped frightening them?

One nice thing might be that we could have a reasonable discussion about Global Warming. But one not-so-nice thing might be that people would turn on those who had been scaring them for so long.

No one likes to be bullied, and the one thing that big bullies fear most is seeing people stand up to them. In fact tyrants become increasingly oppressive in their fear of facing the rage of the people they oppress. They can never relax their marginalizing, ostracizing and blackballing; they can only increase it. The moment the fear is relaxed, the moment political correctness allows greater scope, all hell breaks lose.

Ann Coulter has an interesting take on this (2). She stated that as long as the Clinton’s were in power there was no uproar about casting couches in Hollywood. People merely shrugged and accepted the sleaze as the way things were done. The anguish of a woman taken advantage of was dismissed as a “bimbo eruption”. It was politically correct to look on President Clinton’s unethical behavior and to say, “Boys will be boys”. But then the Clinton’s lost power. Trump was elected. And then suddenly Harvy Weinstein couldn’t bully any more. The repressed rage of woman exploded as the “#Me Too Movement”.

What this suggests to me is that the voice of fear women had been listening to became quiet enough for women to hear the questioning silence behind it.

Christians aren’t the only ones who hear voices.

(1.) https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2018/03/13/vice-president-pence-is-right-joy-behar-publicly-apologizes-for-mocking-christianity/?utm_term=.7adda0138b6c

(2.) http://www.anncoulter.com/columns/2018-05-30.html


Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, before men had invented boats, there was a land where people loved to play softball. They built beautiful fields and stadiums, and a whole way of life grew up around the game. Unfortunately, as tends to happen when humans become involved with anything, the rot set in. Some became ball-hogs, while others sat on the bench and hardly got to play at all. One of these bench-warmers was named Tom.

Now it just so happened that Tom got bored of sitting on the bench, and asked if he could help out by keeping score, but even the role of score-keeper was a privileged position hogged by those who knew the right people. The best Tom could do was learn how to keep score by looking over another man’s shoulders, but once he had learned everything about score-keeping he had nothing left to do but twiddle his thumbs.

Then Tom noticed an old book with yellowed pages sitting on the end of the bench, which had, in golden letters on a black leather cover, the word “Rulebook.” Fascinated, Tom opened it and started to read.

It was while reading that Tom learned softball wasn’t the only game in town. In fact softball was based on an older game called hardball. Hardball had been abandoned because it was more dangerous, but Tom found himself increasingly curious about hardball, because the risk involved benefits softball lacked. The benefits were so amazing they seemed impossible. Tom got some of the other bench-warmers interested in these benefits, and during practices they even toyed with a version of hardball they concocted, played with a softball, in the marshy area they were given to practice in, out in the weeds in deep left field by the shore of a big pond.

Then a day came when Tom and a few other bench-warmers got to play. There was a ’flu epidemic, and the entire starting team was sick. People were amazed by the dazzling brilliance of Tom’s team, which came from the way they were conditioned, and was one of the benefits of practicing their facsimile of hardball. But soon the starting team was well, and Tom’s team had to sit back down on the bench. However, as the starting team waddled back out to play, their ineptitude was obvious to the onlookers. It was starkly contrasted by what the crowd has just seen, and murmuring and grumbling began. The joy had gone out of the game, and Tom felt sad.

A lot of quarreling started, and, although arguing is very much a part of baseball, this sort of bickering was of a sort that was especially dispiriting. Some even questioned the value of softball altogether, and there were shocking rumors of secret societies that played badminton. This was blasphemy, and  the starting team decided they needed to crack down on Tom’s practices, and claimed what he and his friends were doing was evil. The said they owned all the stadiums, and took all their balls home. Tom and his friends didn’t even have balls to practice with.

The next morning, while standing dejected out in the weeds of left field, Tom and his friends suddenly heard music out on the waters of the pond. When they looked they saw a small spot of gold rolling towards them across the water. It was a baseball, smaller and harder than a softball, dimpling the water as it rolled, but remaining perfectly dry. It rolled up to Tom and stopped at his feet, and he stooped over to pick it up.

Tom and his friends had a glorious practice that morning. The benefits shone from the baseball, and all who touched it found themselves laughing in sheer delight, and they sang rather than talked.

When the starting team arrived, (late as usual), for practice, they were strangely angered to see such joy. Incensed, they raged that Tom and his friends would be banned from baseball altogether. Tom seemed strangely untroubled. He put his ear up to the hardball, listened, and then announced they were leaving to build a ball-field of their own, across the pond.

The starting team laughed, and said it was impossible, because boats hadn’t been invented yet, and there was no way across the pond. Then their jaws dropped. Tom dropped the ball onto the water, and as it rolled away he and his teammates followed, walking on the waves, until they disappeared in the distance.

There was a long silence, and then, “Good riddance to bad rubbish,” muttered the captain of the starting team.

The starting team went back to playing softball, smugly certain of their superiority, but some of them glanced across the pond, from time to time, and felt a vague curiosity. Perhaps it could even be called a longing, though they would deny it was such.

To this day there are still rumors that, if you stand on the shores of the pond and gaze west on very dark nights, a dim golden glow can be seen at the very verge of sight. Some even claim that, when it is absolutely still, faint music and laughter can be heard. Of course, such legends are discouraged as being demoralizing, when they are not derided altogether. Yet just last week it was reported that Clancy MacLobber, star player of the Lake City Deadweights, was seen gazing west on the shores of the pond during a glorious sunset. The next morning he was missing.


“When are you going to learn to keep your big mouth shut?” growled old Beef Wafflegreen, elder of the Premmiproppa Good News Church, to his equally-old fellow-elder Dusty Snodgrass. They were walking down a sunny, springtime, country road with expressions fit for February.

Dusty replied, “The Bible says we are to lovingly correct.”

“Even when it makes the new preacher look like a pedophile?”

“I never said he was a pedophile. I only said little Pumpkin was uncomfortable.”

Beef shook his head. “I always said you had the brains of a turnip.”

“Oh? Well, you’ve got the heart.”

“Best part of a turnip”, countered Beef, before continuing, “And anyway, what do you expect? Preachers are suppose to ask girls to Sunday school. Who wants that job? And who wants to be asked? Heck if I ever wanted to go to Sunday school. Of course it’s awkward. It’s bound to be.”

“You were a boy”, replied Dusty. “You’d rather be fishing. It’s different with girls.” He waved an arm while walking, becoming expansive. “Think back to a school dance when we were punks. The boys were on one side of a gym. Most would rather be fishing. The girls were on the other side of the gym. Most would rather be dancing. They were miserable because none of the boys had the guts to ask. But I said “most“. There were also a few girls who felt like the boys. They would rather be fishing. And those ones don’t want to be asked. The preacher’s suppose to know the difference.”

“Eh? What the fudge are you going on about?” exploded Beef.

Dusty adopted a slightly condescending air. “They problem with you, Beef, is that you don’t understand women.”

“Likely so. You can go all girly better than me, ‘cause you have seven daughters. But get on with it. What are you driving at? Are you saying little Pumpkin is one of those girls who don’t want to be asked?”

“Exactly. Maybe you aren’t quite so dumb as you look.”

Beef furrowed his brow. “But how the heck’s the preacher to know? It’s not like girls have labels affixed to them.”

“Sheesh Beef. You’ve got to play it by ear. Most girls glow like a sunrise when asked. But Pumpkin got all squirmy, and blushed like it hurt.”

Beef sighed. “I suppose you’re right. But the preacher’s madder than a wet hen. He says you’ve started the whole town talking, and his reputation is ruined. You know how those whack-job Flatlanders, who have moved in, are. They think all churches should be outlawed, and all preachers are creeps.”

“Well, that’s their problem”, countered Dusty. “They’re afraid to talk about anything, ‘cause it might not be acceptable. You can’t even talk about the weather any more, without them shrieking and fainting.”

“Right: That Global Warming malarkey.”

“Yup. They’re always shrieking and fainting about stuff. And they call us prudes.”

“Yup. ‘Political correctness,’ they call it. A pile of manure if I ever saw it, but they are big on it. And the preacher’s afraid he’s dead meat, if-’n’-when he don’t kowtow to that nonsense.”

Dusty winced. “A preacher’s s’pose to know better than that. Christians are s’pose to face lions. He’s suppose to set the example. We’re suppose to be able to talk about what makes some girls comfortable and some girls uncomfortable without dreading that some Gestapo will come in and arrest us.”

“I see what you’re saying,” agreed Beef, but he was still shaking his head. “Yet I still wish you had kept your big mouth shut. The preacher’s a fit to be tied, I tell you.”

The two men were approaching a quaint, old church. It had seen better days, and the paint was peeling badly. As they neared a choir ceased singing, and a slightly prissy, sing-song female voice began speaking.

“Widow Hicks doin’ the Children’s Sermon,” grunted Dusty.

“Aye-yup”, agreed Beef. “And you’ve got to credit Pastor Clinkerfuss. We went three years without a kid in our church. Nice to have some kids in the church again. That’s why you should shut your mouth. Clinkerfuss does good.”

“Taint Christian to be silent,” was all Dusty would reply, as the men entered.

The sanctuary of the Premmiproppa Good News Church would be in the National Historic Register, of anyone knew it existed. The pews were beautifully carved long ago by men who loved wood, and the stain-glass windows each told an individual story, with each elaborate. Generations had carefully cleaned and dusted the room, and despite its age it did not smell musty. It held a mood, an atmosphere, all its own.

There was room in the pews for roughly two hundred people, if the people were crowded in (and if there was no such thing as fire codes), but only forty-five sat in the church on this particular Sunday morning. Thirty were ancient people, and some had sat in the same pews for half a century. But fifteen were from three young families, and the old-timers were smiling in happy disbelief as Widow Hicks finished her children’s sermon, and nine children skipped and pranced back down the aisle to their parents. Then Pastor Clinkerfuss arose and wearily walked to the pulpit to give his sermon.

Pastor Clinkerfuss looked the way an innocent man looks, when he has been accused of being a pedophile. He was gaunt, with dark circles under his eyes, and his hands were shaking slightly. His face was an ashen gray, but when his eyes arose and he spotted Dusty Snodgrass at the back of the sanctuary he abruptly flushed bright pink. He fought himself, quivering, and then his better judgment lost.

He spoke with scathing sarcasm, “Well, well, well. Will you look who has condescended to come wandering in. If it isn’t Brother Snodgrass, the oh-so-wise elder of this church. The man who thinks he is so smart that, though he has never been to divinity school, he can correct me. The man overseeing a church sinking into obscurity, who has utterly derailed my efforts to revive it. I must defer to his great and hoary wisdom, which has landed us in utter and complete embarrassment. Brother Snodgrass, seeing as you are so ancient and so wise, will you please give the message?”

With that Pastor Clinkerfuss stalked to the front pew and sat down, looking at his toes and folding his arms.

Beef Wafflegreen hastened away to the side, and Dusty, with his eyes very round, took a deep breath. Then, in a surprisingly relaxed way, he wandered down to the front of the church and mounted to the pulpit. He tapped the outdated microphone, cleared his throat, and then began,

“Well, this is danged awkward.”

There was a ripple of laughter among the old-timers of the church. This was the most fun they’d had in years.

Dusty looked thoughtfully to the side, and then raised is palms and prayed, “Lord, you say that when we land ourselves in this sort of trouble, you will supply us with the words to say. I pray you give me the words.”

There was then a long pause, and then Dusty chuckled, “I’m still waiting!”

Another wave of laughter rippled across the pews, but it abruptly ceased when Dusty exclaimed, “Oh wow!” The silence grew as he reiterated, “Oh wow, wow, wow! Oh wow!” Then he hitched up his belt.

“I think the message is this:” he then began, with his voice full of excitement. “Truth is bound to get you in trouble. No one wants to hear it. It reminds me of a funny poem:

Give them sugar. Give them spice.
Cook them brownies that taste nice
But never, never give advice.

Yes, you laugh at that, until you think about Jesus. He gave good advice, didn’t He? But did anyone want to hear it? No. Instead they killed Him, or thought they killed Him, and why? For telling the Truth.

Back then they got to see you can’t kill Truth, ‘cause they got to see Him walking around after he was dead, but that happened a long, long time ago, and also Jesus said he’d be back again any day, and that kept folk excited. But folk now have been waiting for His second coming two thousand years, and it hasn’t happened. So maybe some are starting to think God forgot, and maybe Truth now can be killed. It sure seems that way, when our preacher lands in such a pack of trouble for trying to be kind, but instead making Pumpkin squirm and blush. Maybe being kind can even be outlawed, ‘cause it isn’t up to the standards of Flatlanders.”

Dusty rubbed under his lower lip thoughtfully a moment, before continuing, “What the Flatlanders want is no grief. I don’t blame them, but then I think about what grief has brought me. What has it brought me?”

A strange look of elation filled the old man’s face. “You know something? All the crap I take for telling the Truth is worth it, ’cause the grief makes me wiser. They say ‘You cannot sing the blues until you pay the dues,’ but it is even better than that.”

Dusty laughed a mad laugh, and continued “One funny thing about Jesus is that he said we have to lift up and carry our cross long before he actually carried his own cross. First He talked the talk, and then He walked the walk. But still the Flatlanders wonder, ‘Is it really worth it?’ Is the grief you get for Truth really worth it?”

The old man again chuckled, and then said, “They’ll never know, unless they try it. I can say it is uplifting all I want, but why should they believe me?”

There was a gasp from the congregation, and Widow Hicks fainted. Dusty Snodgrass was slowly rising into the air. He laughed in delight, “Well, this is danged awkward.”

The pity is that the congregation was so astounded that not a single person took a picture with their cell phone, which is why the miracle never appeared on Facebook.

ARCTIC SEA-ICE -Rise and Fall Of Spike and Hype and Poppycock–UPDATED

I was going to headline this post “Polar Temperatures Plunge”, but that would too obviously be “click-bait”. Also, despite “the plunge”, temperatures are still above normal at the Pole, and therefore such hype would be misleading.

Alarmists resort to such hype all the time, so I suppose I could say, “they started it”, like schoolboys after a brawl. And some, for example Tony Heller at the Real Climate Science Site, can be forgiven if at times they simply make factual statements that perhaps are incomplete, and leave it up to Alarmists to complete the picture.

As an example (of my own invention), in the graph below the “spike” ends with a plunge back towards normal. One might measure that plunge (I haven’t), and might discover it was the biggest fall in temperatures between February 26 and February 28 on record. Then one could call it an “unprecedented” fall in temperatures in the headline, and only mention in paragraph twenty-two (if at all) that there have been greater plunges on other dates, and that temperatures are still above normal, and also that there may have been greater plunges back before records were started in 1958. In this manner one would tell no lies, but serve the ball back into the Alarmist’s  court, and force them to run around digging all up the data that would counter the impression created by your headline. Alarmists certainly deserve such treatment, because they have been forcing Skeptics to play this sort of ball since 1986.

DMI5 0303 meanT_2018

Today I am not in the mood to play ball with Alarmists, for the weather phenomenon we have just witnessed is more interesting than they are.  I’m sorry if this hurts their feelings. I know how they love attention. I will mention some of their hype in passing, but largely focus on the pattern, and all the things it suggests to my over-active imagination.

For those in a hurry, the pattern first developed a cross-polar-flow from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and then went through an amazing flip that turned it right around to a cross-polar-flow from the Pacific to the Atlantic. Big deal. You are dismissed.

For those in less of a hurry, here are the details:

When I last posted the play-by-play maps, we wound up with a fascinating double-inflow to the Pole.


Those who follow my posts know I suffer from an over-active imagination. Many scientists do not suffer from this problem. They have no imagination at all.

I freely recognize my abundance of imagination may see things that are not actual fact. For example, once when I was far at sea, very hungry,  and a long, long way from a good meal, I looked up at afternoon cumulus tainted a Rembrandt yellow-orange, and I’ll be danged if the clouds didn’t look like something. They didn’t look like a lamb or a fluffy puppy, or anything simple like that, but rather like an elaborate Rembrandt painting of a Christmas dinner, complete with a plump mother bringing in the roast goose. Doubt me if you will, but I could even smell the food. My mouth watered. I shrugged it off as a hallucination; for sailors suffer a sort of partial sensory-deprivation (hand in hand with a sensory-over-stimulation),  and see differently than lubbers do, and they have to be on guard lest “sirens” tempt them to jump overboard. In any case, even if I had taken a picture of those clouds you would be unlikely to see what I saw. (Nor would I today, sad to say.) The incredible, beautiful scene was, as they say, a “figment”. It was a figment of my imagination.

Many scientists avoid figments like the plague. Poor fellows. They do not know what they are missing. The reason I turned away from science to art was that I far prefer figments to drab and dreary facts. In fact the divorce between art and science would be complete and terminal, were it not for a few scientists who astounded me by having imaginations, and liking figments. It amazed me that a scientist actually could have a mind.

This happened at an early age, in grade school, during a class I don’t think they teach any more, called “Geography”. A lot of the class was very boring, involving endless factoids regarding what city was capital of what nation, (many of the nations don’t even exist any more, so my memorization was somewhat in vain). However Geography also involved some basic Geology, which caught my imagination. I liked the sea, and mountains, and volcanoes. (Especially volcanoes). Therefore, during the more boring part of the class, my eyes would wander to the maps on the wall. I (along with roughly 200,000 other bored schoolboys) noticed South America was a puzzle piece that fit nicely against Africa. Of course, doing that fitting was a “figment”, but, boys being boys, it happened a lot. And, if you do it a lot, some of the fits of puzzle pieces are extraordinary. For example, the two coasts of the Red Sea fit together like hands to a glove. Still, the idea of land moving, and spreading that far apart, seemed preposterous. Yet, boys being boys, imagination went beyond the books.

Teachers, at that time, mostly taught by the book. If the book said up was down, (or Global Warming was a fact), they would go by the book. And the book, at that time, had an interesting explanation for the erection of mountain ranges. (I remember it because I got an “A” on that test.)

Mountains were erected, “scientists stated”, because the planet was cooling. Once the entire planet was molten lava, “scientists stated”, but it had gradually cooled. As it cooled the surface skimmed over with a crust of cooled lava. Then, as the planet continued to cool, the crust not only got thicker, but it obeyed a scientific law. As things cool they get smaller. (Every engineer knows this,  and allows for expansion due to heating and for contraction due to cooling). However the skin of crust on the surface of the earth did not allow for contraction, and didn’t put in the “spacers” good engineers put in concrete sidewalks and highways. Therefore, as the earth shrank, the crust crumpled “like the skin of a shriveled apple,” and mountains arose.

I loved this idea as a boy. The logic seemed majestic to me. But there was a small problem. Back in those days children still knew what a shriveled apple looked like, (because we didn’t import apples from the southern hemisphere, and had to depend on the local supply), and when, towards spring, I took a shriveled apple from my brown, paper bag, (lunch boxes were for snobs), I noted the wrinkles were evenly distributed.  On the skin of earth, (I noted when daydreaming at maps in Geography class), mountains were not so evenly distributed. I was especially struck by how mountains were a spine only to the west, in South America.

Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t figure out the theory of Continental Drift by myself, in Grade school. However my over-active imagination was seeing things that didn’t add up. I was in second grade, and Eisenhower was still president, before scientists began the research that, in only a few years, blew the minds of geologists.

What a great time to be a geologist! They were allowed to have imagination.

In only six years I was entering eighth grade, feeling the first dangerous effects of adolescent hormones,  and Johnson was president and was confident he could make poverty a thing of the past. I knew all about the new discoveries concerning Continental Drift, for there were Scientific American articles about the subject,  and an enthusiastic relative kept me informed. And it was just then I came face to face with an elderly science teacher who was still teaching by the book.

Oh what a glory it was, (considering I was slow to grow and was the most stunted boy in my class), to stand up to this know-it-all teacher and tell her she was wrong. And I have to admit she did respond in a wonderful way. When I slapped the evidence, (Scientific American articles, because it was worth reading back then,)  down in front of her, she did not shame me by calling me a “skeptic”. She actually read what I showed her, and actually changed her mind. How I wish Alarmists of today had the elasticity-of-mind which that old lady, close to retirement, displayed. (How many Alarmists actually read Skeptic writings?)

But I blame that glorious moment  of my youth for causing me to drift towards being overly imaginative. It is not pragmatic to put too much weight on our imaginations. Even sailors know this, and refrain from jumping into the sea though alluring “sirens” beckon. But I thought “figments” had power, when I mastered my eighth grade teacher, at a height of four foot eleven. It gave me the “figment” (also called the “false impression”) that when I grew to be six feet tall I could master bankers, and they would give me good money to write the “figments” called bad poetry. I was wrong.

So here it is, fifty years later. I am a little wiser. For example, I know President Johnson didn’t eradicate poverty, (first hand), and also think I may understand a little about what Jesus meant when he stated “Blessèd are the poor”. (IE: If you eradicate poverty you eradicate blessings; [take that, Karl Marx]). The most beautiful music and poetry and wisdom springs from suffering. (IE: “You gotta pay the dues if you want to sing the blues”). However this wisdom I’ve gleaned doesn’t matter a hill of beans in the unimaginative landscape of dullard scientists.

I actually like science, for it is a study of Truth, and I apologize to all good scientists for stating scientists lack imagination, but they do. They remind me of myself when I have to do my taxes (which I’m now doing). When doing taxes you have to stop living life in order to sift through receipts, because the nosy government insists on knowing, and gives the IRS great power. And life grinds to a halt. And you can’t help but ask yourself, “Wouldn’t life be easier without receipts? Wouldn’t we get more done without all this paperwork?” In like manner, in terms of imagination, certain scientists are like the IRS. They care more for receipts than for life, in that they care more for data than for discovery.

Me? I am a mad poet, and therefore care more for discovery than data. After all, how are we to know Truth that is not known, if we rely on what is already known, and do not bother discover?

In the world of orthodox science discovery is a laborious process, involving six thousand facts for a single utterance. It’s a long run for a slide so short it amounts to a jolt to a halt. To poets Truth is a heck of a lot easier. Poets just describe what they see. In the world of science this is called “observation”. But poets take it a step farther. How can I explain?

Let me put it this way:  In a courtroom a witness is constrained. He can only state what he saw. If he states what he thought, a lawyer will holler, “Objection!” This is in one way being a stickler for the Truth, but it can approach absurdity. For example, if you saw a man jump from the seventh story window, ran downstairs, and saw him dead on the pavement, you’d conclude the man jumped to his death, but the lawyer would object, “But did you see the man hit the pavement?” What a waste of time! Do scientists really insist on wasting time in this manner?

Poets are lucky, for they can tell lawyers to go f— themselves. Scientists can’t, for science is governed by tedious, worldly laws poets don’t need to care a fig about. Who needs figs when you have figments?

However there is a tangent point between the world of poets and the world of science. It exists because both study Truth.

Both study Beauty. A poet who agonized between science (becoming a surgeon) and becoming unscientific (becoming a poet) was John Keats, and one of his most famous poems states, “Beauty is Truth.”

Unfortunately science has yet to come up with a thermometer or barometer that can measure beauty. Karl Marx be damned; beauty is beyond the measure of money and all economists.

Therefore, when I tell you what  I have observed about arctic sea-ice, you need to know the observations spring from beyond the measure of bankers and money. It is beyond the measure of data from scientists and thermometers. It is just stuff that is simply, as we say in New Hampshire, “wicked beautiful”. (By the way, the misuse of the word “wicked” originated in New Hampshire. Boston copied us.)

But, to be beautiful, beauty must stand out against that which is ugly (or at least plain). Beauty calls the plain inferior. It seems hurtful to call another’s ideas plain, (or at least inadequate), but some ideas failed to explain what was occurring at the Pole.

I’ve explained in past posts how elegant ideas such as the interaction between the Ferrel and Polar Cell, and the positive and negative AO, failed to describe what Truth showed us was occurring at the Pole. It was a bit like saying mountains arose because the earth shrank like a withered apple. It was an idea that didn’t work, and begged for a new idea. A figment was required.

Because the elegant ideas of hard-working scientists were failing to see what my over-active imagination was seeing, I decided to share what I see in the clouds. Lord knows, I lack data. I’m not funded, and do this for the joy of it.

That is why I issue a “Poppycock and Balderdash Warning”. I’m a witness defying the lawyers by going a little bit farther than actual observations, and suggesting a thing or two (which is what makes poetry different from science).

Those of you who have put up with me for five years, with me tediously prattling while looking at DMI maps of isobars and isotherms in the Arctic, have seen me slowly start to suggest that some ideas which are missed by conventional concepts may be involved. Likely my ideas are comical and unscientific errors, but they are errors based upon fact, and as my ideas are ridiculed and debunked the process will force conventional concepts to be adjusted.

Here are my past ideas in a nutshell:

Ralpheena FullSizeRender

The above is not a highfalutin theory submitted to a scientific journal for peer review, but rather figments ( more formally called “a preliminary sketch of ideas from a witness’s notebook of observations”). While I respect the elegant and traditional ideas of positive and negative AO and Ferrel and Polar Cells,   the recent past has been an exception to their rule, and has in fact made a shambles of their rule. Therefore I’m trying to come up with something that explains the exception to their rule. I don’t mean disrespect, but all rules have exceptions.

The circles represent views down at the North Pole. The upper section holds ideas I had about the anomalous area of polar low pressure that kept reappearing last year, which I dubbed “Ralph.”  I concocted an idea the north Pole was like a chimney, and the “draft” had increased through some unknown process, (though I’ll venture some ideas about what controls the “damper” later). I felt the process was aided by the extra heat made available by the “super” El Nino of 2015. As that heat faded I felt the “draft” would lessen, Ralph would vanish, and instead we’d return to the traditional “zonal” flow sketched at the lower left. To my delight I was utterly wrong, and something new and interesting developed. Rather than a single “feeder-band” feeding into a counterclockwise swirl, there were two “feeder-bands” feeding into a clockwise swirl. It was draining off the earth’s heat through the “chimney”, but in an opposite way, like a Ying to Ralph’s Yang. I decided it needed a name, so I dubbed it Ralpheena, and sketched it out to the lower left.

None of this seemed to give me any ability to predict. I was mostly looking backwards and puzzling over what I saw. My lone prediction, (of a “zonal” pattern), had gone down in flames, and I didn’t feel inclined to embarrass myself further. (I knew my forecast was in trouble way back in October, when D’Aleo and Bastardi predicted a negative NAO at the end of the winter, which tends to be very loopy and not zonal.) Instead I decided to simply watch.

For the moment I’ll just post the maps. One thing I  found fascinating is how the high pressure swung around to be exactly where Bastardi and D’Aleo said it would be. Those fellows amaze me.

I’ll add comments later. But duty calls.


We begin back on the 18th of February. The isotherms in the DMI temperature maps clearly showed the two mild feeds of “Ralpheena”, one from the Pacific and one from the Atlantic. This persisted into the 21st, at which point low pressure on the Pacific side interfered with the Pacific inflow.

The inflows always create low pressure, because the milder air has to rise in the colder environment it enters. But what goes up must come down, and therefore the inflow will also pump nearby high pressure (though I never am sure where). In the case of “Ralpheena” the high pressure seemed to be atop the Pole.

The Atlantic feed included a big gale that crashed into the southeast coast of Greenland on the 20th. Very cold temperatures in the Canadian Archipelago made headlines up there, but nowhere else (except the “Ice Age Now” site). Milder than normal temperatures in Svalbard did make the mainstream news.

The high pressure started to get nudged off the Pole towards Eurasia by the 21st. The low pressure created by the Pacific feed directed the inflow of Pacific air away from the Pole even as the Atlantic feed was pulled closer to the Pole. The mechanics seemed to involve the Atlantic feed clashing with cold air over the Archipelago, and generating low pressure on the Canadian side, contributing to the nudging of the high pressure towards Europe. The weak low northwest of Greenland could be called a weak “Ralph”.  Another gale approached Greenland from the southeast.

By the 23rd the high pressure towards Eurasia was pumped up, and the contrast between it and the Ralph-like low pressure towards Greenland were generating a surge of Atlantic air up over the Pole.  The south side of the high was creating east winds over Europe, and a major outbreak of Siberian air was moving from east to west towards and into Europe. Yet another major gale approached southeast Greenland, riding the southerly surge from the Atlantic.

By the 24th the gale hitting Greenland was a monster, with pressures down near 940 mb. Tremendous amounts of snow were increasing Greenland’s icecap. This generates no headlines. The air transited Greenland, releasing much latent heat as it snowed itself out, and descended to the north from over 10,000 feet as a Chinook (or Foehn) wind. Temperatures on the north coast were above freezing for a day, and the strong winds pushed the ice off the coast and created a polynya of open water. This did generate headlines, though the polynya was swiftly freezing over. (Note the temperature maps at no point are above freezing at the Pole).

At this point the hoopla about the “warm” Pole reached a cresendo, I think to counter the news of “The Beast From The East”. (A Dutch commenter noted he could find no Headlines in Dutch newspapers about their canals freezing and people skating, but instead gathered the news from a Turkish newspaper.)

The Hoopla spoke of temperatures thirty degrees above normal at the Pole, open water by  Greenland’s coast, a brief time of above-freezing temperatures on Greenland’s north coast, and created the impression that melting was extreme and ongoing. There still was not yet much mention in the media of temperatures thirty degrees below normal roaring from Siberia into southeast Europe, as what came to be known as “The Beast From The East” gathered steam and became blatantly apparent.

Note the “Ralph-like” low forming north of Greenland, where warm Atlantic and Chinook air clashes with the cold air over the Archipelago. (Also note that at this point Bastardi and D’Aleo’s forecast of a blocking high forming over Greenland and Canada looks dubious.)

By the 26th the Atlantic flow is streaming as a cross-polar-flow all the way to the Pacific. Sea-ice is pushed north in Fram Strait and from Svalbard (making headlines) and, for one of the few times this winter, sea-ice is spread south through Bering Strait (making no headlines). Svalbard does experience a thaw, but note that above-freezing temperatures never reach the Pole. Much of the mild air must have risen, which likely, when it decended, was what pumped the high pressure as it started to slide down over Scandinavia. The “Beast From The East” clobbered Europe, south of these maps.

By the 27th the cross-polar-flow startws to be bent and repressed to the Eurasian side of the Pole. A good map from the “Tropical Tidbits” site showed the milder (but below freezing) stream extending all the way to the Pacific, and also showed howslender it was, compared to the bulk of bitterly cold arctic air it penetrated.

What shows less well is how this flow was pinched off, down at its source in the Atlantic. (This is because surface air temperatures immediately look warmer, once over water, even though that air retains much of its chill only a hundred feet above the water.) A west-to-east flow came under the big storms crashing into Greenland even as the high pressure over Europe brought a east-to-west flow (the “Beast From The East”) from the other direction. The winds, meeting and curving up to the north, made the southerly flow increasingly arctic in origin, (though moderated by their passage over the Atlantic). Also the “pinch” formed a gale much further south than the Greenland gales, and this gale, unable to head north due to the high pressure, rolled steadily east towards Spain, driving moisture into the cold air over Europe and creating deep snows.

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By 12z on the 27th the cross-polar-flow was disintergrating, and the Ralph-like feature, (complete with the Ralph-like counterclockwise hook in the isotherm map), was forming between the Pole and the Kara Sea. The high pressure had decended over Scandinavia, (with some record lows set over Greenland Norway), and was spreading across the Atlantic to Greenland, which had in 48 hours switched from being attractive to gales to attracting high pressure.

24 hours later high pressure is building strongly over Greenland, and the negative NAO promised by Bastardi and D’Aleo has appeared, as it were, out of the blue. One has to have great respect for the analogues they use, considering they foresaw the development in October, whereas the computer models only started to see the development ten days beforehand (and I couldn’t see how it was going to happen only four days beforehand.)

The high pressure over Greenland pushed the Ralph-like feature down towards Russia, and with remarkable speed (to me at least) we had the situation completely reversed from when there were gales over Greenland and high Pressure over Russia. The Atlantic-to-Pacific flow was flipped around to Pacific-to-Atlantic, with the process completed by March 2.

At this point the cold was building back at the Pole, (ignored by the media) and something interesting occurred. As part of the blocking high settled down into Canada, part was left behind at the Pole. With a plume of milder air feeding north through Bering Strait, I wondered if the pattern was trying to revert to a “Ralpheena” situation, or to become a more “traditional” zonal pattern.  The Pacific feed had faded by March 6, so now I watch and wonder. My forecast? “Continued wonder”.

I should mention that the sea-ice blown north from Svalbard hasn’t blown back, but the north winds have grown a fresh skin of “baby ice” over those waters. The sea-ice blown south in Bering Strait is starting to be blown north again. The polynya north of Greenland that the media made such a fuss about is skimmed over. One interesting thing (which I’ll likely write about later) is that the Laptev Sea’s export of sea-ice to the north is less this year; the polynyas that usually form along its coast as the sea-ice is pushed north have been rare. This should decrease the ice in the Central Arctic, but in fact the ice in the Central Arctic is thicker than last year.

I also want to play around with the idea of the Pole as a “chimney”, whose “draw” is controlled by a “damper”, but this post is getting too long.

I’ll close by mentioning that once the high pressure arrived in Greenland it created a classic “blocking pattern”, and we saw a magnificent gale explode off the east coast of the USA:

Blocking 1 download

To the lower left in the above picture you can see the shallow, light-turquoise waters of the Bahamas, with the deeper, darker-blue “Tongue Of The Ocean” penetrating those reefs from the north. Nassau,  sheltered at the north of the Tongue Of The Ocean, is protected from all directions except due north. The huge gale was to the due north, over a thousand miles away. Joe Bastardi shared this picture he received from a friend of the breakwater at the mouth of Nassau Harbor yesterday.

Blocking 2 unnamed(2)

I recall sailing into that harbor in far more tranquil conditions. I can’t imagine being down there in a sailboat now. The sky is blue and the sun is warm, but the waves just start getting bigger…and bigger….and bigger….

Up here in New England the huge breakers ate away at the beach by the shore, but all the sand sucked away from the dunes builds an off-shore bar that breaks waves further out, and tends to protect the beach from the next big storm (scheduled to arrive tomorrow.)

I’m thinking I’ll take time off from taxes and bring my grandchildren to the scoured shoreline this coming weekend, to see what the sea has uncovered. (Hopefully a small chest of gold coins). Already the old timbers of a 250-year-old ship appeared from under the washed-away sands, up in Wells, Maine.

Blocking 3 FullSizeRender

Stay tuned.

LOCAL VIEW –The Thaw Before The Thtorm–

I have just past my sixty-fifth birthday, with no hope of retirement, and what used to be a joke isn’t all that funny any more. The joke? “I took my retirement back when I was young and could enjoy it”. Ha ha ha. Not all that funny, when you have heard it for the ninety-seventh time,  but I’m getting to be one of those old men who gets repetitive.

It’s also not all that funny when most of my friends are down in Florida, retired. In the old fable of the Grasshopper and the Ant, they were the ants, and squandered their youth loyally sticking to a tedious job, as I was free as a bird, because I was the grasshopper, making music as they worked. Now they have pensions and I don’t. Serves me right, I suppose, but that doesn’t mean I’m all that happy about the situation. If you detect a trace of bitterness in my words, it is because poets are suppose to die young; the grasshopper is suppose to be cut down by the first frost. I don’t see many grasshoppers around these parts bouncing about through the deep snows, but me? The snow gets me hopping, because the alternative is not pretty.

The motto of New Hampshire is “Live Free Or Die”, but in the winter sometimes it is more like “Get your Walkways Snow-Free or Die”, especially if your business depends on clean walkways, and the State Inspector will close you down if every fire-escape isn’t shoveled. I am not prone to foul language, but I have shocked myself with some of the choice vocabulary escaping my lips as I deal with the drifts, even while getting texts on my cellphone from friends reclining by sunny pools in Florida. Can it be that I am becoming a jealous and bitter old coot?

Temperatures have recently been above normal, but that isn’t really helpful this far north. Seven degrees above normal is still below freezing, and it is more likely to snow in this area, with temperatures up around freezing.

Last weekend just enough cold air slid south between southerly warm-sectors to give us snow, even though the warm-sectors were attached to storms that passed well to our north, which usually gives us rain. Saturday the forecast was for 1-3 inches, but Sunday morning dawned upon a fall of 7 inches. Rather than Sunday being a scripturally-correct (as opposed to politically-correct) “day of rest”, I had to clear up the parking lot and paths of my workplace, to prepare for Monday morning. It is bad enough I don’t get to retire to Florida; I don’t even get to rest on Sundays. (Bring out the violins, please.)

To be honest, the workweek’s forecast was for such nice, mild temperatures that I did the minimum of snow-clearing. I cleared the front entrance and the parking lot, but left the mild temperatures to clear the fire escapes and back stairs. If the dreaded inspector had leapt from bed early on Monday Morning, (unlikely), he would seen a reason to “write me up”, as the seven inches had only wilted to four.

Thtorm 1 FullSizeRender

However I will  confess that a fall of sticky, wet snow does make running a Childcare easier, in terms of “curriculum”. This is especially true because certain youths do not seem to be born to sit in rows as children, to train them to sit in cubicles as adults, but rather are born to shift heavy weights outside.

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However so strong was the thaw that, despite the production of seven large snowballs, within twenty-four hours the warmth (and destructive older children) left little sign of the efforts.

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However it did allow me to send texts back to my pals lounging in Florida, which may be just a little bit mean. Or maybe not. After all, if they expect me to rejoice over how they are escaping winter, lounging by a pool, then they should rejoice over how the winter they thought they were escaping isn’t happening, and how I am not suffering, right? So today I sent them this:

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But you will notice, though the thaw continues tomorrow, there is a suspicious-looking snowflake on Thursday. After all, this is February, and New Hampshire isn’t Florida.

The sad fact of the matter is that old-timers always fretted when there was an especially warm spell in the middle of the winter. In some ways their worry seemed comical, as if they were dour pessimists who couldn’t enjoy good weather, for “it will have to be paid for.” However they had a method behind their glowering madness. Some of the biggest storms in the history of the east of the USA were preceded by delightful weather. The legendary “Blizzard of 1888” gave New York City four feet of snow with gusts of hurricane force hurtling between the tall building and heaping drifts to second-story windows. Such a storm would shut down the New York City even with modern plows. But it occurred between March 11 and March 14. What was the situation in New York City on March 10?

March 10, 1888 was a lovely early-spring day in New York City, with temperatures well up into the fifties. People had no idea of what was coming.

I have lost the link I once kept, but one wonderful discovery I once made, while wandering the web, was the description of the Blizzard of 1888 from the eyes of a fisherman who fished south of Long Island. Back in those days sailors had no GPS, computer forecasts, or even engines. They were called sailors because they sailed.

This sailor had headed out in delightful early-spring weather. Then the storm “blew up”. The fisherman described the sky becoming as purple as concord grapes with amazing speed, with flashes of lightning. Then he described the amazing battle with sails and sheets in screaming wind and blinding snow he endured just to get to shore alive, without a single fish to sell. Many other sailors didn’t make it. People paid a high price for fish in 1888, especially the fishermen’s wives.


So I actually should be thankful to even make it to age sixty-five. One-hundred-thirty years ago not all that many made it. Still, I do manage to grouse a fair amount. There are days when sinking at sea seems like heaven to me, when I compare it dealing with a pack of small hellions at a Childcare.

And, in case you wonder, I have been at sea in a small boat in a big storm, and I do know the desperation involved. It is a hugely humbling experience, and little dignity is involved, for a roaring storm cares little about our mortal concept of “dignity”. Yet there is more dignity in that desperate situation than in being a sixty-five year old man dealing with a bunch of little whiny brats children experiencing challenges  to their sense of well-being and self-esteem.  Do modern children respect their elders? I think not.

Often I derive great joy from small children, but Lord Jesus didn’t say “derive great joy” from the little children. He said “suffer the little children”.

And at age sixty-five I confess there are days I roll my eyes to the sky and ask questions that are less than grateful. Is this the culmination of my life? To be a fucking babysitter childcare professional?

There is a story which likely isn’t true, but which makes many smile, involving a children’s-show radio personality called “Uncle Bob” or some such thing, who muttered at the end of a show, when he thought the microphone  was turned off and he was off the air, “That ought to keep the little bastards quiet for another week.” Even if the story is an urban myth, the fact it makes people chuckle (rather than look indignant) seems to suggest children are not all goodness and light, and are things we must “suffer”.

At age sixty-five I’d rather sit by a pool in Florida and study scripture. The fact I chose to take my retirement when I was young and could enjoy it seems like a bad choice to me now. However the choice of fisherman to go out fishing on March 10, 1888 likely seemed like a bad choice to them, on March 11. No matter how we chose to direct the course of our lives, we are bound to sail headlong into storms.

In New Hampshire this happens every cotton-picking year, and is called “winter”. Many retire here, but many don’t last long. Norman Rockwell be damned; pristine snowscapes get old after Christmas, and by February winter gets so old that they shortened the month to 28 days, just to speed up the progress to spring. As March arrives the last thing anyone wants is a huge storm.

However the future does not look tranquil to me. I had hopes that the so-called “arctic vortex” would keep the cold air trapped in a tight circle, whirling at the Pole, but instead that vortex moved south into Canada, and has been making the Canadian Archipelago so cold that even the Eskimos have been staying indoors.

Arctic chill at 85F below zero – So cold, Eskimos advised to stay inside!

My hope was that the cold would wobble back up to the Pole, where it belongs, but that would involve a positive NAO. Instead the exact opposite seems to be developing.

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If the NOA crashes (and I am deeply hoping this forecast is utterly wrong) then the so-called “arctic vortex” becomes deranged, and in layman’s terms this means the cold doesn’t stay north where it belongs. Instead it comes south to bump into the nice, juicy air of our thaw, and all hell can break loose. 1888 can reoccur.

When I look north I can see the amazing cold sitting there up in Canada, in maps Dr Ryan Maue’s hard work makes available at the Weatherbell site.

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The pink in the above map, up in Canada, represents the one temperature where Fahrenheit and Celsius actually agree, -40°. However I wonder to myself, “Is that normal, up there?” Fortunately Dr. Maue also has produced an “anomaly map”, which tells us if temperatures are above-normal or below-normal.

Thtorm 6 gfs_t2m_anomf_noram_1

The second map shows that the temperatures are thirty-degrees-below-normal, even by Canadian standards. To have that air come south and mingle with air that is thirty-degrees-above-normal by the standards of Chicago seems unwise to me. It is like mixing gasoline with a fire.

But it hasn’t happened yet. It is an amazingly mild night for February in New Hampshire, with temperatures above 50°F (10°C). Tomorrow it might touch 70°F (21°C).

Alfed E Neuman what-me-worry


In the warm thaw before the storm I bask
My old bones, like a sailboat sliding
Through slack seas, and try not to glumly ask
What the clouds on high foretell, for deciding
The word on high speaks of a hurricane
Spoils the brief joy of a midwinter day
Which smells like a rose midst the jabbing pain
Of thorns. Roses are brief, but thorns stay
All year. I’ll take flowers when they come,
Well aware that soon enough my loose belt
Will need to be hitched. For a time I’ll strum
My harp; not drum my fingers. I have felt
Cruel sleet before, and know it is best
To face a fierce storm after getting some rest.



Thursday’s text to friends in Florida:

Thtorm 7 FullSizeRender

And a map to remember:

20180221 satsfc

They call it an anal ysis? Hmm…

LOCAL VIEW –Dust Versus Crust–

Robert Frost wrote a poem I often recite in the winter woods, as it is short and easy to remember:

The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree

Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I rued.

This poem seems to typify the way a northern mind grasps at straws of beauty, in order to survive the general state of depression that deepens as the long northern winter goes on and on and on (and on.)

After Christmas, what holiday is there? New Years? What is that? Is turning a page on the calendar really worth rejoicing about? And the birthdays of defunct people, who had far more dignity than modern politicians, tends to depress me more than they inspire me, for I am reminded how dark our days are. And finally, you have to admit “Ground Hog’s Day” seems downright desperate, in terms of holidays.

Eventually we have to become self reliant, and display the sort of guts Robert Frost displayed, finding the beauty he shared in his poem. It was a dark day, a day he “rued”, yet he found something bright, not only for himself, but for me, (for he shared it with me [and countless others] though he never knew me).

It is nice to be able to share, but apparently some at Google do not think certain individuals, such as myself, should be sharing. If they feel a certain view is politically incorrect, (such as my view that arctic sea-ice is not going to be melted away by 2013 as promised, because it hasn’t), then they will seek to prevent people from sharing their views by artificially reducing the possibility their posts will be seen on Google’s search engine.  Power corrupts, and Google has apparently sunk to the level of a third world dictatorship, by virtually “disappearing” political opponents.

To be honest, I prefer being virtually “disappeared” to the reality version, for in many ways being unknown and unseen is everyday, for artists. Even Robert Frost went years without being well known, and many artists are simply not born for fame. Great singers have remained the cherished property of a small church choir their entire lives, radiating their beauty to a select few, making a poor congregation wealthy even as the world never knows what it is missing. This actually happens more often than not; the greatest comics perform before a crowd of eight at a backwater bar, as the wealthy go impoverished.

Despite obvious shortcomings, wealth and power tricks and fools people, and therefore those at Google deem it wise to stifle Freedom of Speech, and consequently live in a sort of self-created deafness. At best perhaps some think that, like members of Boston’s old, Puritan “Watch and Ward” society, they protect the innocent from some sort of “porn”, (by studying a great deal of it themselves). But the poor are neither as innocent nor naive as some suspect, and the soap that cleans a slum is not made by calling slums illegal, nor by making talk about back alleys be whispers.

In any case, where bringing up a topic such as “arctic sea-ice” once was a way to generate “hits” at a website, now it generates dead silence.

I find this a bit winter-like, and depressing. To share, and generate a will to censor rather than reciprocal sharing, is like being warm and catchinga cold blast from the north. It seems the upper crust is attempting to forbid sharing, in a sense denying the dust that delights, and leaving only a day “rued”.

The snow is glued to the swaying forest
And the northern blasts can’t shake any loose.
There seems no subtlety to this contest.
There is something solid in the crunch of boots
Across a frozen scene, something as starched
As the hairstyles of evening newscasters.
Where is the dust of snow falling from arched
Hemlocks, jostled by crows, that old masters
Wrote poems about? Is it too delicate
And too precious for times given to louts?
No, for the crunch of boots pontificate
Of a glue that was wet, before “Ins” became “Outs”.
Warm wet winds during the night, as I sleep,
Makes all trees birches, with oaths they must keep.

Dust and Crust 1 FullSizeRender

Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against sitting in a warm penthouse sipping brandy. I’d do it myself, if invited. Nor do I have anything against an above-it-all attitude. (Brandy has that effect.) It is just that feeling above it all can result in one looking down their nose and becoming haughty, and sneering that others are mere children, mere dogs.

Be that way, if you must. The children and dog will not mind, as long as you leave them alone to play. The dog will play keep-away with a stick, delighting in the attention of ten kids running after it.

Dust and Crust 2 FullSizeRender

Do you know what I think? I think those who scorn children and dogs are strangely threatened by the fact children and dogs have no real interest in money or fame, and would rather play in the snow than perch in a penthouse. Therefore they want to butt in and make children and dogs see they are important. They demand respect. They will outlaw sharing, unless you obey their rules.

But life goes on outside Silicon Valley. Alas for the Googlites, who make a winter without warmth, even in sunny California.