How Hot Is It?

Punked Out Michigan Fox Squirrel

Punked Out Michigan Fox Squirrel

How hot is it? It is too darn hot. You may think it is hot where you live, but you’d be wrong. Today it was 97 °F here in Saint Louis, which is hot, but not the hottest high Fahrenheit temperature in the country. That honor belongs in the southern tip of Texas, with had 99 °F. That’s just how hot the mercury feels, but if you want to know how hot you’d feel, you need to consult the heat index. Today’s high heat index in Saint Louis was 110 °F. Nowhere else in the country came within five degrees of that number today. The heat index or what is sometimes referred to the misery index is based upon a formula that looks at both heat and humidity and we have plenty of both. If you add to the misery index the heat and humidity crazed humanity that now represents the denizens of Saint Louis, you get the Missouri index (pronounced like misery), which we are also in the lead for too. Global warming was always supposed to be a bad thing, but climate change offered some wiggle room. I mean, some climates would get worst and some should get better. There should be winners and losers. I was hoping that Saint Louis would win the lottery and maybe get San Diego’s climate. That would be nice, don’t you think?

It’s too darn hot
It’s too darn hot

I’d like to sup with my baby tonight
Refill the cup with my baby tonight
I’d like to sup with my baby tonight
Fill the cup with my baby tonight

But I ain’t up to my baby tonight
‘Cause it’s too darn hot
It’s too darn hot
It’s too darn hot

Uneven Pavement

Uneven Pavement

Uneven Pavement

Fresh asphalt, as black as pavement can be, almost still sticky in the summer’s heat, stinking of newly out gassed long chained hydrocarbons, with a riding surface as smooth as glass, bicycling on it felt like butter. On Saturday, we reaped our first rewards for enduring yet another long season of road repair. Our regular bike commute to Forest Park had become a trek through a warzone. Our path to the park was littered with potholes that threatened to grow to the size of foxholes. Parallel trenches lined both sides of the roadway, for eventual placement of new installations, curbs.

Wydown, arguably once the most bike friendly street in Saint Louis had had its bike lane torn up for new water-lines and had been left roughly patched, making this once glorious bicycling boulevard a pain in the ass to ride. Even our passage through the Clayton neighborhood to reach Wydown was more an exercise in off-roading than city street riding, what with long-term road neglect colliding head-on with belatedly addressing road repair. So imagine our surprise when after we had clawed our way through to Wydown, we were greeted with pristine fresh asphalt.

This stretch of new pavement didn’t last long, less than half a mile, but it served as a tangible promise of more to come. The last time I rode Wydown to the park, this now buttery section of roadway had been the worst. The bike lane had been all but obliterated and the interior curb had also been trenched out. This left not enough road width for cars to safely pass me, so they impatiently trailed behind me by mere feet, revving their engines and squealing their brakes. I may have embellished a bit there, but it still felt pretty hairy. But that is now all in the past, just a bad memory, at least for this small section of heaven. The rest of Wydown is still about as I left it, which is to say not great, but at least safely passable.

Our second pleasant surprise of the ride occurred when we reached the park. Part of the bike path had also been replaced with fresh asphalt. Running from the top of Skinker to the History Museum, about a third of the way around the park, was now pretty much all also like butter. The pavement was so creamy that it felt that we were coasting downhill, both ways.

It remains to be seen how much more of the bike path will be rebuilt. I suspect that it will not be much more. About half of the remainder of the outer loop is relatively new construction, so I don’t expect any work to be done there and it appears that the last third of the loop, a third that is also old pathway, has already seen some spot repair work. I suspect that at least for the bike path, what you see now is all that we’ll get, but I could be wrong. The contractor’s construction equipment is still strewn about the park, so there may yet be another phase of work to come.

The work on Wydown and in the neighboring hoods of Clayton is sure to continue. More buttery asphalt is sure to come. It is just a matter of time. I look forward to more steady progress yet to come.

Facebook Follies

On Saturday morning our email account got hacked.  Val alerted me to this fact.  By the time I became aware of the problem some twenty to thirty spam emails had been sent out under our name.  They were sent to all of our friends and family members.  I don’t know if it was just a coincidence or not, but when I logged off of our email account the spamming emails stopped.

Another coincidence or possibly a clue, was that just two days earlier, I had set up a Facebook account.  As part of the setup process I allowed the sharing of my Yahoo/AT&T email contacts list.  In retrospect I think that this was a mistake.  Interestingly and possibly another clue, my Facebook account’s password had been changed.  I’ve changed all my passwords, but I don’t know if that will stop it or not.  Anyway the damage has been done.  I can only hope that whoever or whatever hacked our email account has moved on. 

Picture above our a pair of Eurasian Tree Sparrows or ETS that were at our bird feeders on Saturday morning.  As it name implies the ETS is indigenous to eastern Europe and parts of Asia.  In North America, it is quite rare.  The only sizable  population is established around Saint Louis and neighbouring parts of Illinois.

Pictured above and in today’s header are different parts of Dale Chihuly’s Blue Chandelier sculpture.  It is a two-story tall piece that hangs in the entrance way of the Ridgeway Center at the Missouri Botanical Gardens.  I have always tried to photograph the whole piece, but without much success.  I think that doing closeup photos of the sculpture works a lot better. 

The orchid show is ongoing now at the Garden and will continue long enough for Jane to see it too.  I visited it on Saturday afternoon and took lots of pictures.  So you all can expect to see lots of orchid pictures, beautifying this blog, in the coming week.

I biked in the Park on Saturday afternoon.  The weather was sunny and near sixty degrees, so the Park was mobbed.  I decided to bail from the Park and go over to the Gardens and view the orchid show.  On the way back home, again in the Park, I was assailed.  I was riding along and an occupant of a  passing car through something at me.  It hit me in the elbow.  It didn’t hurt, I think that it was a plastic wrapped food item.  I think the laughter from the passing car stung the most.  Anyway, I got sixteen miles.

Osage Orange Redux


I got a nice email the other day from Sam about the archaeological significance of the Osage Orange, so without her permission, but hopefully with her forgiveness, I’ll quote from that email:

North American archaeologists are quite interested in Osage
Oranges.  The trees really had a limited range in late prehistory, yet
the wood makes the best bows around–positively legendary in the
chronicles of early exploration and settlement.  Frank Schambach was
thinking about all the nifty goodies buried at Spiro, Oklahoma, and the
fact that archaeologists really didn’t have an explanation for how all
the high-value material derived from a wide-ranging long-distance
trading network had ended up there–more than anywhere else across the
contemporary Southeast.  He figured they had to have something
of high value that they were trading for all the fancy goods they were
putting in the graves.  He postulated that to be Osage Orange bows/bow

On another, but related subject, I’ve started reading Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick.  I’m about halfway through it now.  It certainly talks about the Pilgrims, but also about their Indian neighbors.  Sick and somewhat lost, the Pilgrims landed on Cape Cod, when they had originally set off for what is now New York.  Low on supplies, their first interaction with their new neighbors was to steal some of their corn.

They eventually settled at what is now Plymouth, MA.  Plymouth was founded on the site of a deserted Indian village.  It was deserted because in the years immediately preceding the Pilgrims arrival, European fisherman had brought European diseases to what is now known as New England.  These diseases decimated some of the Indian nations.  The effects of disease were not uniform, some nations were badly hurt while others were not.  The Indians knew that the Europeans were the source of the disease.  They thought of it as a European weapon.  Some even confused the Pilgrim’s gunpowder barrels as the source of the disease.  Probably because the Pilgrim’s matchlock guns were so ineffective that they couldn’t be the Pilgrim’s real weapons.  An Indian with a bow could fire five times as fast as a Pilgrim with a matchlock and their respective weapon’s ranges were about the same.

The uneven ravages of disease precipitated an imbalance of power among the New England Indian Nations.  As it turns out the Indian Nation most affect by disease made the first approaches to the Pilgrims.  By this time the Pilgrims were also decimated by disease.  After the Pilgrim’s first winter a peace treaty was made.  Months later the Pilgrims decided that they should reciprocate and visit their Indian neighbors.  They sent two men southeast and eventually found their Indian allies, near Fall River, MA, mine and my mother’s birth place.  I’ve read up through the first Thanksgiving, in the fall of the Pilgrim’s first year and the arrival of the second wave of Pilgrims.  We all know where this story is going, but it is interesting to see how it gets there.

Who Ate Here? We Did.


This is a shout out to Sam!  This Majestic Restaurant & Bar is in the Central West End.  Anne and I had breakfast there on Saturday morning.  This Majestic is well, think the My Big Fat Greek Wedding restaurant, only tone it down a bit since this is Saint Louis, not Hollywood.  Anne ordered Bill’s Omelet with gyro meat, feta cheese, tomatoes and onions.  I ordered the just eggs over easy, bacon, fried potatoes and toast.  The waitress let us both know that Anne had made the correct choice and I had not.  She even came back at the end of the meal to make sure I really understood.