its all fun n games

Reader, persons who have never witnessed a hurricane, such as not unfrequently desolates the sultry climates of the south, can scarcely form an idea of their terrific grandeur. One would think that, not content with laying waste all on land, it must needs sweep the waters of the shallows quite dry to quench its thirst.  John James Audubon

 

 

I’ve ridden out hurricanes aboard ship while in the Navy.  The bow of the ship rising out of the water, the sonar dome shimming and vibrating the ship as it settles, and waves rushing up the forecastle and crashing into the superstructure.   With the ship listing 20 to 30 degrees port and starboard,  I have witnessed, some might say, stupidly,  the seemingly close wind-whipped waves briefly from the watertight doorway outside my workspaces.   I’ve been lashed by wind, water, and debris in 40, 50, and 60 knot gusts while ashore in the Tidewater region (Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Hampton Roads) of Virginia.  In all of these experiences,  my shipmates and I were not trying to go through the middle of the maelstrom with its 30-  or 40- foot seas.   Our ships, which can withstand tremendous steel-bending punishment from waves at sea, would be hammered at the pier.   Fortunately, most storms diminish in intensity before making landfall.  But the rain that comes with these storms moving across the land at ten to fifteen miles per hour drench the land with feet, not inches of rain.

I know many will hunker down to ride out the storm coming ashore today in  North Carolina.  I also know that it will likely be widespread power outages, and take weeks to restore.     Be safe out there.

 

 

Quest for non-Fire, Ice Tea and a Paleo-donut

In the late summer in the American West, life has challenges including “excessive heat” warnings, brush and forest fires, snarled traffic, and where to go for a getaway that is  not “tourist pricey”.     Living in a region that everyone heads toward:  beaches, nearby islands, amusement parks, and mountain retreats, I want to avoid all these in summer.   Of course,  getting out away from the crowds of people for the weekend leaves the desert  and the deep sea.   Without a boat of my own, the sea is out of the question and the desert – only a few foolhardy migrants and the Border Patrol are out there in August.

Last weekend, in a spur-of-the-moment outing to celebrate my birthday,  my spouse and I thought we would go to Catalina Island off the coast southeast of  Los Angeles.  With no ferry seats on a return trip that day,  we looked elsewhere.  The popular amusement parks like Disneyland were off-limits, not because of the crowds, but because our annual Pass does not permit entry during the popular summer months for tourists.  And Nature was also causing chaos.   Brush fires along destinations we alternately considered were, like the Spirit blocking the Apostle Paul’s travel to Asia, directing me to go north up the I-15 freeway.  And so we went to Temecula, about sixty miles north of San Diego.

Yet no road trip with my wife is properly prepared unless she has a large cup of  fresh – or at least, recently-brewed UNSWEETENED ice tea at launch and part-way through the adventure.  I could write reviews on scores of places , “convenience” stores and “fast food” drive-in windows, who must not sell a lot of unsweetened, fresh tea.  When you no longer tolerate sugary soft drinks, water is about the only other choice. Even the dozen brands of bottled iced tea are a last resort.   Does anyone really like a passion-fruit-flavored Iced Tea beverage?  (For my European and British-tradition tea drinking readers,  while you have no idea whatsoever about “iced” tea as a beverage,  it is consumed by the millions of gallons annually in the United States. I have had Britons and Irishmen in those respective countries look at me as completely mad when I described brewed tea, refrigerated and poured over ice.)

Once her tea is secured, and the approximate travel time between consumption and the need for the first bathroom stop is calculated in my driving computer ( my head) we set off.  As anyone in Mid-Life, who travels frequently with their spouse, that is, fifty-ish,  the climate control in the vehicle is a frequent issue.  I generally like the air conditioning ON in the car anytime the outside temperature is above 75F.    Normally we are at opposite extremes -when she is cold I am hot.   When I am comfortable, she pulls out a sweatshirt or a jacket.  If roll a window down, she wants it up.  And so on.

At least now with our lifestyle that can at times be confused with the “Atkins diet”, the “Keto diet”, “Paleo diet” or “vegetarian”-ish, we do not bother with correcting folks.  I can eat anything, though I choose more often to eat healthy food and in smaller portions.  So what is the meaning of “Paleo donuts”?

The Paleo diet seems to be at odds with any encounter with donuts.  However, as some may be aware,  I have been focusing on a better diet and exercise for much of the last eight or nine months.  I do not subscribe to fads, particularly ones identified with the eating habits of extinct people.  But on our travels into Temecula, we found a farmers’ market I talked about in an earlier post .   I spotted a vendor offering samples of donuts and like a smart aleck, opined that that they would have to be gluten-free or Paleo -diet friendly for me to accept.   Those were.

When someone has the opportunity to eat his own words, and if they are in a donut,  I will.  Without regret or “cheating”.  A sliver at a time.

 

weather-guessers and almanacs

big_rig_crash_i_15_010918b_1515512437872_75653689_ver1.0_900_675
traffic is a nightmare when it rains in San Diego

In spite of PhDs and supercomputers,  I have observed in The Old Farmer’s Almanac having as good or better record for tracking weather.   OFA18_Continuity__59367.1499713920The natural world – with and without man’s intervention –  is often unpredictable.  After the firestorms particularly in southern California last month, residents knew it would only be a matter of time before the winter rains came and turned the barren hillsides into avalanches of mud.   Today mud, rain and debris adds insult to ashen injury.   Newscasters will converge on the latest personal tragedy,  but other people will also mobilize to render aid, help clean up and show their compassion and humanity.

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last week in Boston. Courtesy of Weather Channel.

Across the country, last week in New England and other parts of the Northeast,  a blizzard some were likening to an icy hurricane made life difficult;  the Southwest was balmy and dry.  Perhaps on one winter Sunday morning,  a frozen water heater supply pipe in an attic burst;   for someone else, it may have been navigating sixty miles along unplowed Virginia highway (without snow tires) when an overnight snow caught everyone by surprise.  Or equally resilient, a Pennsylvania widow in her 70s, shovels ten-foot drifts of Lake (Erie)-effect snow every winter to get to her car.    In the Southeast and Appalachia,  weather inflicts misery most years.  “If the crick don’t rise” (and flood the house) is not a quaint form of speech.  In Norfolk, Virginia,  with the threat of an approaching hurricane,  ships put to sea; residents ashore advise newcomers how to avoid the oddly deep ditches on either side of local roads.  For the unwary, hurricanes and late summer downpours may turn cars into submarines.

In California and along the West Coast,  a severe earthquake – once or twice in a person’s lifetime – randomly strikes.   Few flee the state because of activity along the San Andreas fault.  People adapt equally to the weather.   When it rains in winter, fire season the following year may be bad.  Sunshine and predictable temperatures offset even those who lose their property to wildfire.   They rebuild.   In 2017, wine country was devastated by wildfire, then southern California from Ventura northwest to Santa Barbara and to the south,  part of  Riverside county and northern San Diego county went ablaze as well.

Firefighters keep watch on the Thomas wildfire in the hills and canyons outside Montecito, California
Thomas fire, Montecito, Calfornia (Reuters)

Wildfires is the natural disaster that most Californians fear.  It affects most Californians as most of the population live in the regions that prior residents and stewards  have done their best and worst to preserve from fire.   It may take decades for the land to recover.   But Nature heals itself in time.   So I do not spend a lot of time worrying about the weather or climate science or climate change.   I take care of my property and help others where I am able.

 

 

 

My Ant Can Kick Your Weathercenter Uncle’s Butt any Day!

Ants are a heck of a lot more accurate than weathermen on TV.   Monitoring these ants diligently preparing their nest and moving material and food to and fro, I have received confirmation that they know environmental changes before we do.
In April 1900, an article in the New York Times appeared to confirm the practice – in the age of science / dawn of a new century – noting the behavior of insects including bees and ants, to predict weather fairly reliably.  A hundred ten years later, and we might still find our superior technology at a disadvantage.  This past week, in a particularly cloudless day, these Arizona ants were busy preparing for a downpour, (corroborated by similar observation over a number of years) which by the following day proved to be accurate.   And despite the weatherman on TV stating that there was a minimal chance of precipitation in the following 24 hours,  the ants proved to be the ones prepared.
If technology and wizardry can be outdone by an insect, it doesn’t say much about our Global Warming paranoid- environmentalism, now does it?     I may listen to the TV News, but in a cloudless sky, my money is on the ants predicting whether or not to bring my GoreTex with me tomorrow.