How Cold Is It?

X-Country Skiing

X-Country Skiing

No, I don’t have cabin fever, why do you ask? Work was closed today, so I didn’t even have to pretend to be sick. I’ve already called the employee hotline and work will be open tomorrow. I’ve been off work for 17 days now and I am almost looking forward to going back to work tomorrow. Maybe I do have a touch of cabin fever?

I did get the cross-country skis out and skied up and down the street a few times. Anne made be come back inside every 15 minutes, she was afraid that I would frostbite my nose off. I used my new Go Pro camera to take the above photo. Thanks again, Jay! Anne wasn’t willing to venture outside today, but she did get some exercise. She did the “7 Minute Workout”, which reminded me of the hitchhiker scene from the movie, Something About Mary. She’ll be off again tomorrow, so maybe she can work up to the “8 Minute Workout”?

Hitchhiker: You heard of this thing, the 8-Minute Abs?
Ted: Yeah, sure, 8-Minute Abs. Yeah, the exercise video.
Hitchhiker: Yeah, this is going to blow that right out of the water. Listen to this: 7… Minute… Abs.

I did spend waste a large part of the day online, but I did come across a video where a Wisconsin man turns a pot full of boiling water into snow, simply by tossing it into the air. I had to try to repeat it. He had a temperature of -25 °F to work with, so I wasn’t sure if I could repeat the experiment with this afternoon’s -3 °F. As it turns out, I could, as the following video demonstrates. According to an online article on the subject, boiling water has a greater viscosity than room temperature water. This increased viscosity creates smaller water droplets, which freeze faster than the alternative. The lesson from this science experiment is that unless your temperature has a minus sign in front of it, then it is not really cold where you are. Sorry. And we’re not talking about wind chill here either. These are absolute temperatures. It was -8 °F here this morning.

The Blizzard of ‘14

Anne-bominable Snow Person

Anne-bominable Snow Person

Yes siree sonny, I remember the Blizzard of ’14. Some like the Weather Channel, said it was some sort of Ion storm, probably caused by some flaring in the solar corona. Others say it was an Arctic vortex, sweeping down upon us from the North Pole, like some sort of black hole of absolute zero. And to think just a little over a week ago, we were expecting nice things for all the good little boys and girls from that direction. I think that it was just one of those good old-fashioned, garden variety blizzards and not the kind that they sell at Dairy Queen. A blizzard is a blizzard and that’s all it is, it ain’t no more. It doesn’t need any fancy names. Just let it be what it wants to be, because it’s going to anyway.

So, we got our foot of snow. Now the mercury is rocketing downward and the wind is howling loudly like a banshee. Anne is spending all day staring through the kitchen window. I guess if it gets much worst, I’ll have to let her in.

Thank you, Mister Jackson.

PS – The current top picture in Chris’s Camera on the sidebar, Gravity At Work – Golden Sunset, Asilomar Beach – Pebble Beach, CA, has gotten over 75,000 hits in the first two days that it has been posted. Chris said that there was a boy knocking over the other piles of stones, but Chris prevented him from knocking over this one, at least until he got the shot.

Four and Twenty Blackbirds

Four and Twenty Birds of Many Colors

Four and Twenty Birds of Many Colors

Sing a song of sixpence,
A pocket full of rye.
Four and twenty blackbirds,
Baked in a pie.

Anne suggested that the above pictured birds might prefer remaining etched across the sky, instead of being baked into some pie. Recipes contemporary with this rhyme’s origins describe the making of such pies, so that the birds are left alive and then fly out when the pies are cut open. Even if baking doesn’t kill the birds, which is not supposed to happen, it has to be uncomfortable for them. Who would want to eat such a pie that had held twenty-four birds under duress for some period of time? Even the most flakey of crust must become somewhat sodden under such circumstances. Even if such pies were never meant to be edible, but rather were considered to be entertainments, what host would want to shower their guest with the foul droppings of over excited fowl?

Today and for some days now Anne has been toiling over a hot stove in preparation for our Thanksgiving supper. We met for a shopping date last night at the grocery store and purchased the bulk of our feast’s larder. She had today off and has tomorrow off too, so most of the preparation work should be done before Thursday. This will make a nice break from the past. Usually, our holiday cooking regimen involves marathon participation from the two of us. I’m getting off rather easily this year, because I still have to work and Anne has the time off. While she is still innovating this year, with some new to Thanksgiving dishes, she has not gone all revolutionary on us. We’ll still have plenty of the traditional dishes to serve.

Our dinner party will be smaller this year. It will be just Anne, Dave and I. Dan is staying in LA for this holiday. On the plus side, we shouldn’t be impacted by the current Storm-of-the-Century du jour. Boreas is named for the Greek god of the cold north wind and is the bringer of winter. It should pass us by, leaving us unscathed, but then go on and impact the Northeastern seaboard and snarl airline traffic nationwide. This oncoming storm and the very cold weather that preceded it all this week, herald a bitter winter. If that is not enough, the rings on the wooly bears and the Farmers Almanac both forecast the same. So, on the eve of this Thanksgiving, let’s be thankful for those friends and family members that we can gather and also thankful for our new furnace.

A Bad Southwester

It was shorts and tee-shirt weather today. It got up to 77 °F and was as windy as all get out. Anne and I had a lovely breakfast at the Southwest Diner, on Southwest Avenue and features Southwest cuisine. They had a movie poster on the wall there for a 1950s gangster film, featuring Steve McQueen. Called “The Great Saint Louis Bank Robbery”, this black and white motion picture was based upon actual events. It even included some of the participating policemen and bank employees as extras. It was filmed on location at Southwest Bank, where the robbery occurred and which still stands there and operates to this day. After breakfast, we drove over to Southwest and Kingshighway and took a picture of the bank’s trademark golden eagle.

Since we were so close then, we decided to visit the botanical gardens next. We had been listening to KDHX, the non-corporate public radio station in town. So, just as we were pulling into the garden’s parking lot, Gordon Lightfoot’s “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” came on the air. Anne claimed a driveway moment, so we sat in the car and listen to the song in its entirety. Today was a week after the anniversary of that wreck, but the unseasonably warm weather and the forecast for storms today must have led the DJ to channel those November witches of long ago.

I kept a weather eye on the sky and the other one on my iPhone weather App. We stayed close to the Climatron, so we could duck into it at a moment’s notice, which we did at the first sign of rain. The YouTube video shows those unfortunates who hesitated only a minute. At the height of the storm, I got to thinking that maybe taking cover in an all glass (really Plexiglas) building wasn’t the best of ideas. This thought was confirmed a moment later, when the climate control fans at the apex of the dome kicked on with a very loud thud. It scared the bejesus out of everyone.

Rainbow at the Garden

Rainbow at the Garden

The storm cell passed over us quickly, leaving only minor damage at the gardens, mostly downed limbs and damage to one of the holiday lights displays. However, when the storm line crossed into Illinois it exploded into dozens of tornadoes that raced across that state and then on to Indiana. We warned Dave, who eventually took the hint. After the storms passed, there were reports of scattered, but widespread power outages. We decided that maybe we should check on the house and headed for home, but there were no problems there. Later, one of our Facebook friend, Chris Romer, published a wind map of the Eastern US. It showed all of the winds funneling up through Michigan. He subtitled it, “Canada is sucking the soul out of America.”

We lucked out today. We dodged a bullet. We have the luxury to read about others misfortune. As that movie poster said, “Real as the screaming headlines – True as the bullets that wrote them.”

Looking Fierce, Dear!

This is what you should do if you ever find yourself in a room with four orcs

This is what you should do if you ever find yourself in a room with four orcs

Maybe it was the heat, maybe it was the miles, maybe it was me, maybe it was that I asked her to look fierce for the picture, nah it was probably the heat. I woke up in the Lou this morning, still with a body clock set to Pacific Time. Consequently, our usual dawn launch bike ride was launched closer to the crack of noon today. It was hot out, but hey this is Saint Louis, what else can you expect. We bicycled over to Tower Grove Park for this year’s rendition of the International Festival. This is a great festival, but some how it always manages to be so ungodly hot. This year was no different. We ended up stopping off at the gardens for a wee bit of a cool down, both ways. On the way out, we caught a sale of the garden’s daylilies. We had the luck to arrive, just when they were going on sale, buy one, and get one free. I’ll plant the roots tomorrow morning. We saw the Rack + Clutch, Free-Range Fashion step van again and I managed to cajole Anne into at least looking inside. When we finally arrived at the festival, our first stop was the Model UN booth, where Bobbi was hanging out. She went to high school and played D&D with Dan. I know what she would say if told, “You’re in a room with four orcs.” I can hear her now, “I smell bacon!” Our next stop was the Scottish booths. There were about a half-dozen of them. It is here where Anne posed with her six-foot two-handed claymore. Looking fierce, dear! They had a listing of the clans and their septs and under Clan Farquharson could be found Sept Finlayson. They also were doing sheaf tosses. I got a good picture of this game. We ate in Afghanistan and then set out to explore the rest of the world. Of particular note in our explorations was an East Saint Louis African music and dance troupe, headed by a guy nick-named Sunny, who trained under Katherine Dunham. Sunny was also the name of Dunham’s older brother.

Warbling Vireo Nest with Eggs

Warbling Vireo Nest with Two Eggs

Warbling Vireo Nest with Two Eggs

A couple of days ago, Anne sent and I posted a photograph of a Warbling Vireo, with just its head sticking out of its nest. At that time, she also sent another photo shot from the same angle as the one above. That one has no eggs in it, while this one has two. Maybe there will be baby birds soon?

Today I worked. I also worked out. I biked to work today. Working on the weekend is no fun, but biking to work on the weekend was a joy. None of the rushing, scary, smog belching traffic that usually accompanies biking to work were present today. An additional plus was that almost all of my route was over smooth new pavement. New pavement is always a joy while bicycling.

After I returned home, I got my hair cut and then mowed the lawn, a double shearing. What is behind all of this frenetic activity is a spell of unusually pleasant Saint Louis weather. With highs only in the seventies and lows in the fifties that are hovering near the record low, I find that I have to pinch myself to remind me that I’m not dreaming all of this.