Category Archives: Weather

Daylight Saving Time

My favorite day of the year is rapidly approaching.  That would be the day of the Winter Solstice, when the days start to get longer.  At least in the middle of northern hemisphere where I live.

My used-to-be favorite day was the day DST started.  Now it has been extended from some time in March until early November.  Only when this happened did I start to ask, Why?

I always thought that the idea of DST was to give farmers more daylight hours to harvest crops.  Now from what I read, the idea was to conserve energy, so that people used less incandescent light.  Really?  What is wrong with this picture, logically speaking?  You use artificial light in the morning, you use it in the evening.  What’s the difference? Did farm wives cook breakfast in the dark? I don’t think so.

Why don’t we just measure time naturally, by the way the Earth turns?  Since we sort of invented time anyway, why don’t we just stick to the program we agreed on in the beginning and stop messing with it?

I more or less hate real time. In real time, it gets dark this time of year around 5:30 P.M.  In summer, it gets dark at 9:00 P.M.  Which is due to DST, because it adds an hour.  Otherwise, it would be dark at 8:00 P.M.

I ask you:  what difference does that really make?  You either get up in the dark, or you go to bed in the dark, and sometimes both.  Making the clock say a different thing is really pointless.

I have a lot of trouble with DST.  I’m fairly good with the “fall back” part when we get an extra hour of sleep, but I’m terrible with the “spring forward” part when we lose an hour of sleep.  Regardless of whether we are on DST or standard time, here is something you can count on:  I will always be late for work.

In summer, I can come home from work and have three hours to read and watch the wildlife in my back yard.  And decompress.  In winter, I come home and it’s already too dark to read outside.  Also, it’s too cold to sit at the picnic table in my back yard, but cold isn’t as much of an issue to me as light.

I need light.  I need warm too (that’s why I live in Florida).

But north Florida is not as warm as I’d like.  (Into every life, a little rain must fall.)  I used to live in south Florida, and in the winter it was too cold for me too. I need to live in like, Guatemala.  I wonder if they have DST?

The May 9th Flood

Which always amused me, since it happened on May 8th, 1995.  Now when I look for it on Google, it’s called the May 8th flood, or sometimes the May 8th-9th flood.  Both are kind of true.  In New Orleans, it happened on May 8th.  On May 9th, the storm had moved across Lake Ponchartrain and began flooding the so-called North Shore.  Lacombe got 34.76 inches of rain.  In New Orleans where I lived, near the French Quarter, we got about 18 inches in 5 hours.  After the storm moved over the Lake, it came back and rained some more in New Orleans.

It was the worst flood in New Orleans between Hurricane Betsy in 1965 and Katrina in 2005.  Only this was not a hurricane.  It was not even hurricane season yet.  It was just a freak thunderstorm that wouldn’t go away.  Actually, a frontal system that wouldn’t move and kept producing new thunderstorms.

On May 8th, I was sick, and stayed home from work.  I was awake off and on.  I woke up about 5:30 P.M., probably by the thunder.  The lightning and thunder were almost continuous.  It looked like there was a giant strobe light in the sky.  My dog, who was very scared of storms, was trembling uncontrollably.  (Now would have been the time for dog tranquilizers.  Maybe some people tranquilizers too.)  This is how sick I was:  I went back to sleep.

About 11:30, my cell phone rang.  My friend Lebron who lived six blocks down the street said, Get up and move your car!  I said, Whaa, uh, huh…?  He said Wake up!  Go move your car!  At least onto the sidewalk.  I said, ‘kay.  I’ll look into it.  Yawn.  He said, Phyllis!  (Aka, Fakename.)  Our dogs are swimming in the street!  They had two Lab mixes.  That got my attention.  I went and peeked out the door, and it was too late.  The rear end of my car had been moved out into the street and the interior light was on.  The computer which ran the car, basically, was under the passenger side floorboard.  Under at least a foot of water.  I went back to sleep.

The next morning, there was water in the car up to the bottom of the dashboard.  It was a goner.  My brand-new (well, two year-old) Saturn SC2, teal colored with the moon roof, the leather seating, and the killer stereo system.  Gone.  Poof.   The insurance paid me just enough to put down a down payment on another car.  But I lost about $12,000–all the payments I’d made so far.  Insurance meant that I didn’t have to keep making payments on a dead car.

But I was safe, and so were my friends.  The things that really matter were good.  Six people did die as a result of the flood.  At least 5 of whom drove into flood waters, at least two of them unintentionally.  The sixth was a baby who was possibly thrown intentionally into a canal.

I post this as Hurricane Sandy approaches the mid-Atlantic and Northeast Atlantic shore.  It looks to be less of a wind event and more of a water event.  But I am more scared of water than of wind.

Let’s Make Small Talk, Shall We?

Small talk is way underrated.  And what do people make small talk about?  Sports and weather.  No wonder news programs have segments of both, at least here in the U.S.  That way you have something to talk about the next day at work.

It might be intellectually gratifying not to ever open your mouth unless you have something profound and philosophical to say, but that is not a path to happy social interaction.  On that note, there is a new book called Quiet, about introverts and how they think.  And why you shouldn’t hate them.  I might read it.

I am personally schizophrenic about it.  I’m fanatic about having time alone.  Every day, I come home from work and decompress by sitting at my picnic table in the back yard for about an hour and a half reading. On the other hand, my job is very public, and I love that too.  I love meeting and talking to people I otherwise would have never have had the opportunity to meet.  I love little strange and random encounters with other people which mostly happen in the grocery store.

Case in point:  I have these sunglass thingies which attach to your regular eyeglasses and flip up and down.  So one day I’m standing at the customer service desk at the grocery store and a guy next to me says, I see you have your eyelids flipped up.  (What?  This made no sense to me.)  He says, your sunglasses.  Did you know those were invented by baseball players?  (What?)  He says baseball players flip them up when they have to look at the sky to catch a fly ball.  I have absolutely no idea whether that’s true or not.  But how could you resist that conversation?

Of course, that small talk thing can also be taken to extremes, for example, if that’s all you do and you can’t stop yourself.  I have a person like that in my office at work, and I have yet to come up with a way to stifle her.  Even though I’m in charge.  I keep hoping someone else will hurt her feelings and make her shut up.  But she’s remarkably immune to any hint that she might be boring everyone.

Mondays are the absolute worst. We have to hear about every movie she watched…for three days!  Because she and her boyfriend watch one every night. We have to hear about whether or not they saw the end or fell asleep watching it, and whether or not the boyfriend turned over in bed, and whether the bedroom window was open, and what they had for dinner and who cooked it.   Are you getting the picture here?

I have asked my assistant manager to speak to her about it nicely.  Because I can be nice, but by the time I speak to you about something, I am never perceived as nice.  It’s not that I’m bad at it, it’s a perception issue that I can’t overcome.  Comes with the territory.

One of the issues this person has is with temperature (thus, window open or closed, window air conditioner on or not, etc. )  She’s like Goldilocks.  The porridge is always too hot or too cold, it’s never just right. One day she said she was hot in the office and I said I would turn the temp down a degree, but it seemed to me she was never happy.  She said (bravely) that she thought I was wrong.  That she made an effort every day to come to work happy.

Well.  It’s like she just has to get this stuff out of her head.  I get that!  It’s why I write a blog!  I would recommend that to her, but she doesn’t have access to the Internet.  Wonder how I know that?

On the other hand, except at work, I am very good at small talk about the weather.  Unfortunately I am not equipped to hibernate.  I’d like to.  Wake me up in February.  It’s getting cooler.  The days are shorter.  I hate it.  I hate it when people say the air is “crisp”.  I hate crisp.

Clothing and the Metric System

The inspiration for this is the fact that it’s getting cooler now in north Florida, down to about 64 at night.  Needless to say, that’s Fahrenheit.  I never think about the metric issue until I start thinking about the weather.  Then I think of my friend Sue in Canada.  She taught me this great quickie formula for conversion of Fahrenheit to Centigrade, or vice versa, which bypasses all that dividing or multiplying by 9/5 or 5/9.  So here you go:  To convert F to C, subtract 30, then divide in half.  So, 64F is approximately 17C.  Sue would consider that balmy.

On the other hand, some days, Sue posts on Facebook that it is expected to reach 27 (!) and she is going to die!  I think, me too!  I need to build a fire!  Then I remember.  27C is about 84F.  I consider that balmy.

And don’t get me started on kilometers.  All I can say is that lucky for me, most modern cars have speedometers for measurements of both.  Otherwise, driving in Canada, as I have done, I would have no idea whether or not I was obeying the speed limit.  Not that I take that into account in any case.  I go with the flow, and correct according to road conditions, and hope that works out.

Sue lives in a border/tourist town between Canada and the U.S. on the St. Lawrence River, and they have learned all sorts of conversion tables in their heads.  Centigrade to Fahrenheit.  Kilometers to miles.  Canadian dollars to the U.S. dollar.   Clothing sizes.

Yes, clothing sizes.  It dawned on me that sizes for women’s clothing in other countries might be different from that in the U.S.  Not that it has anything to do with the metric system, but I was right.

Most of us have long been suspicious that clothing manufacturers or distributors in the U.S. deliberately reduce the sizes of clothes so that women don’t get depressed about how fat they are.  So, size 12 in the U.S., which as far as I know is still considered average, would be a 14 in the UK and Canada.   And they are probably fudging a bit too.

This is no more evident than when we hire a new female employee at work.  We provide free uniforms to them, so as part of the orientation process we ask, What size do you wear?  The answers are hilarious.  I wear a 4, they say.  I look at these women and silently think, okay.  You are 6 inches taller than me and weigh at least 40 pounds more than me.  (And I weigh somewhere between 115 and 120 and wear a 10 or sometimes 12.)  You wear a 4 in an alternate universe.  So mentally, I just always add 8.  If you think you wear a 4, I order a 12.

But speaking of depressing, in shoes, I wear a 6 1/2 U.S. , but they don’t seem to make half-sizes for the U.S. any more.  So I have to choose between a 6 and a 7.  In the U.S., a 6 is a 4 1/2  and a 7 is a 5 1/2.  In Europe, a 7 in the U.S. is a size 39.  Okay, that would depress me.

Now that “winter” is coming on–a relative term, and it won’t happen for a couple of months yet–I have to take stock of my “winter” clothing.  I have to find my gloves, and my furry caps, and buy some tights, and get a suede brush for my boots.  I have to wash my workaday jacket and have my actual coat cleaned (for the longest time I didn’t even have a coat).  I should buy socks too.

I hate cold weather.  I don’t like waking up in the dark.  I don’t like wearing so many clothes.  I don’t like not being able to sit in the back yard at my picnic table and read.  This is worse than preparing for hurricane season.  Much, much worse.  I just have to remind myself that I only have to hunker down and endure it for about two months, because by February it will be spring.

I could be the poster child for Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Miscellaneous Musings: March 20, 2010

Reading with Fakename:  I am now reading “Julie and Julia”, which was a little slow at the beginning but is getting funnier by the page.  I would have liked to see the movie, and may yet do so.  I can sometimes see a movie after reading the book, but I can never go in the opposite direction, i.e., see the movie first.  I’m now at a section where Julie is learning to cook omelets per Julia’s instructions.  As far as I can tell, there is nothing political about this book, unless you want to count Julia Child having worked for the OSS, and it would be a big stretch to make an issue out of that.  But speaking of political…

Facebook, Comment #1:  One of my friends posted a link to something called the Nolan Chart survey, which is shamelessly Libertarian.  However, the survey itself was surprisingly thoughtful.  My score was “centrist”–no surprise there–but leaning in a conservative direction.  There you have it.  No survey is foolproof.  It’s either wrong, or…I don’t know myself as well as I think I do.  I still have to say that it was much better than surveys which claim to predict your personality based on your astrological sign. 

Public Radio:  I am a rabid fan of NPR, and last week, I did my third stint of answering the phones during the Spring pledge drive.  I absolutely love doing it, and I’m not sure exactly why.  But there is a sort of competitiveness (for example, in a two hour shift, in five phone calls, I brought in $800), mixed with a sort of pleasure at brief connections with people who are doing a good thing, mixed with recognition.  The volunteer coordinator said, You have great customer service!  (I said, I’ve had a lot of practice—so maybe that’s the thing.  My usual calls are to curse me out.)  But I have a technique, which boils down to, establish a rapport first…which you have about 5 seconds to do.  Never ask how much they’re pledging right off the bat.   I have a theory that if the donor likes you, they give more.  But before I preen too much, it has a lot to do with who’s on the air at the time, and my phone answering group had two great people who were sharp, funny, and well-known in the community.  In short, it was fun.  But speaking of brief connections, that brings me to…

Facebook Comment #2:  I guess I have arrived, since I’ve now been unfriended by someone.  (Who knew that “unfriend” would ever become a word?)  Being unfriended actually hurt my feelings more than I would have suspected.  I’m mystified and sad about it to an extent.  Just not enough to actually pretend be a different person. 

The Florida Wine Festival:  It could have been better, but it’s rude to criticize when you got free tickets.  I took my friend Judith, who doesn’t get out of the house much–not that I do either, although she has a better excuse–but what did us in in the end was the weather.  By the time we left it was in the low 60’s, which means, in Florida, that you need a parka and a campfire. 

Cats:  Cats and dogs are fairly predictable.  Cats, I’d say, are a little less predictable.  Anyone who has ever owned a cat and seen it jump a foot in the air from a four-footed standstill, then land and go skittering down the hallway after a possible dust mote would have to agree.  My cat has always been fond of fishing from the water bowl she shares with the dogs.  This requires her to drop things into the bowl so she can fish them out.  Lately she has escalated this behavior, but she gets bored easily, and I find myself having to fish things out of the waterbowl that she has abandoned.  Random pieces of bubble wrap (where did that come from?) for example.  You can’t just leave the things in there, because the dogs consider the water bowl to have been contaminated by alien dragons, and would die of thirst before they ever drank a drop from it again.  Never mind that they are perfectly happy to drink from any muddy rain puddle in the yard, coated with mosquito larvae on top and possibly containing a dead baby bird on the bottom. 

In seeking a way to summarize here, I find there is no way to do it.  These are merely topics that have grabbed my attention and tell you only things about me.  I’m not able to extrapolate into some broad theory of life and how it should be lived.  There is way too much of that going around in my opinion.  If I could be so arrogant as to have a theory, my advice would be:  Have fun.  Develop the ability to find delight in the simplest of everyday things.  Be amused. 

Weird News

First, a Fakename health update.  I was suddenly stricken on Wednesday evening with what, according to the doctor, is a stomach virus they are seeing a lot of.  I knew I was in trouble on Wednesday evening when I threw up, because that never happens to me.  Some people can get squeamish and nauseated at the sight of a raw oyster, or of a picture of certain delicacy from the Phillipines (duck embryos) which shall remain unpictured here.  Not me.  I have the classic iron stomach.  I don’t eat much at a time, but I can and will eat almost anything (exceptions:  duck embryos and mountain oysters).  The last time I even felt queasy was over three years ago, and then I turned out to have appendicitis. 

So as I said, I knew this was something out of the ordinary.  Therefore, I went to the doctor on Thursday morning, which I try to avoid unless gangrene seems to be setting in.  The doctor gave me a prescription to control the nausea and vomiting, and basically said, Good luck.  It will take 1-3 days for this to run its course.  It will get worse before it gets better.  Come back if you get a whole lot worse.

By 3:00 P.M. Thursday, I was asleep, and slept off and on until 8:00 A.M. this morning.  During the two short periods I was awake in between these times, I mostly did two things:  a) watched several episodes of the Twilight Zone marathon on the Sci-Fi Channel, b) became entranced by weird news on 

A lot of weird news seems to happen in Russia.  There’s this one:  “Feral Girl gets brought up by mongrels in Russia”.   She lived in the back yard with her grandmother’s dogs.  The same dogs who killed her brother in that same back yard two years ago.  And this is not the only time this has happened. 

And this one:  “Accident-free crossing crossing built for frogs in Belarus”.  Here in Tallahassee, there is a hue and cry over a planned wildlife tunnel costing $3.4 million that is popularly known as the “Turtle Tunnel”.  Some senator from Oklahoma (Oklahoma!) made it his Number Four example of how the stimulus money is going to wasteful projects.  I hear there is a planned “Tea Party” to protest it tomorrow.  Senator Whoever needs to confine himself to Bleeping Oklahoma, and not concern himself with Florida, where it’s possible his only knowledge is confined to Disneyworld, if that. 

And more news from Russia:  a guy who was breaking up with his girlfriend made the mistake of drinking too much and falling asleep in their apartment, which he was moving out of.  Hint:  Never, ever do this unless you’re a very light sleeper.  She attached some firecrackers to his penis, and lit them.  This isn’t really even funny, since he may not live.  And the question is whether he will even want to live. 

In our own Tallahassee version of weird news, a 14-year old girl was killed on Tuesday while riding north from here on the way to Georgia with her father.  While we’ve been hoping for rain, my limited knowledge of meteorology tells me that the end of a heat wave such as we’ve been having often results in violent storms, and such was the case.  So at the exact moment this young girl was traveling, an oak tree fell, crushing the car and killing her.  It’s almost too strange to comprehend.  If they had been going slower…or faster…or started on the trip a minute later or a minute earlier…I’ts like The Bridge Over The River Kwai. 

Besides being fascinated by things that don’t usually attract my attention, and feeling sick, and possibly being delerious (did I mention I have a fever?), I am disappointed.  I had important plans for this weekend.  Bridge collapses and falling oak trees and viruses just don’t operate on your schedule.

You Make Me Feel Like Dancing

Do you ever have those days when everything just seems perfect?  Of course you don’t.  I mean between global warming and the U.S. financial meltdown and the fact that you might come down with swine flu and the fact that you ran out of AA batteries and your TV remote control won’t work, life totally sucks. 

No wait.  Of course you do.  Some days you wake up and all those things are still happening, but you’re like, What the hell!  What pretty leaves that tree has!  Oh look–there’s a frog!  That cloud up in the sky looks like a fuzzy little lamb!  Is that cute or what? 

Okay, that might be exaggerating but I am pretty much having a fuzzy-lamb kind of day.  First of all—no, let’s start with second of all–I didn’t have to go to work today.  I took an officially approved day off.  Don’t get me wrong, I like my job, which some people find completely incomprehensible, but who cares?  I get to use my brain, I have a lot of freedom, I get to meet a lot of people, I get to learn things.  But sometimes you just need a break. 

So third of all, it rained.  Which considerably cooled off the spot on Earth I inhabit, and after two weeks of enduring a record heat wave with air conditioning in my office that is limping and on life support, that is nothing but net.  Not to mention that however hot it remains, I’m not there.  I’ve soldiered bravely, and given more breaks to the people who work for me than I’ve taken myself, but you know, sometimes you just have to take a break yourself.  You’re no good to them or yourself if you collapse.

So the combination of all the above has put me in a this-is-a-great-day-to-be-alive sort of mood.  And I came up with the perfect song to express it.  Try not to focus on the details!  This video is 33 years old.  I didn’t even know they had video in 1976.  Okay, just kidding.  Kind of.  ( I refer you back to my previous posts regarding being digitally challenged.) Let’s dance!

I Wish It Would Rain

I thought I heard distant thunder during the 10 minutes I spent outdoors today, but it must have been the sound of entire neighborhoods committing suicide by cannon.  It is soooo hot.

Dropping by the grocery store after work, and stepping out of your car onto the asphalt parking lot is like voluntarily stepping into a giant oven. 

At my office, the air conditioning is not up to the task of meeting temperatures of 100 degrees or higher for a week and a half every day. The temp inside my office today was 88.  That’s one degree higher than it’s been since last Monday.  I have permission to get an estimate to install more AC, but they can’t even be there until Thursday to even give me an estimate. 

It’s verging on abuse to have to be there.  I decided today that I’m going to start giving my employees a day off with pay, at least one during the week, and we will fill in for each other.  I’m not going to tell anybody, I’m just going to do it.  If I get caught, what are they going to do?  Execute me?

Oh no…it is now 9:50 P.M. and it is storming!  Omg….thank you to the rain gods.  The Temptations may have been gloomy for lost love reasons, but I’ve been pretty gloomy myself for the last two weeks because….it is soooo hot. 

Global Cooling

I’m personally hoping for that right about now.  I mean, I’m not looking for another Ice Age, I would just like for the planet to cool off by say, 15 degrees.  This minute. 

On Thursday evening at 6:15  here in Tallahassee, the temperature was 99 degrees with a heat index of 106.  Yesterday, the actual temp at 6:15 was only 98, with a heat index of only 104 or so, but at some time during the day, it made it up to the projected high of 101.  It’s been like this for a week. 

Apparently there is a ridge of high pressure that has parked itself over the entire southeastern U.S. and it resists all efforts to budge it.  I’m like, can we just break it down with a missile of some kind?  I mean, we are all prepared to shoot down any rocket the North Koreans care to fire, so if we have that kind of technology, what about a little domestic help here?  You know, cloud seeding or something. 

I will grant that we here in the South are a bit more prepared for record heat waves than people in, for example. Chicago.  Still, I have to tell you, we are suffering.  It really is hard from one year to the next to remember how hot it was, how cold it was, how bad the storms were, etc., but I can say with confidence that I’ve never been through an extended period of heat like this. 

Now enter the Global Warming Deniers.  There is a guy right here on WordPress whose mission seems to be to debunk any suggestion of global warming.  Anthony Watts, whose blog is called Watts Up With That?  Cute name.  Weird attitude. 

The GWD’s always, it seems to me, aren’t so much about denying that the planet is warming, but about denying that humans have any role to play in it.  Not so with Watts.  It just isn’t happening.  At all.  For any reason. He cherry-picks scientists who agree with him.  I guess what it will take for him to be a believer is for the ocean to rise up to Omaha or wherever the hell he lives, at which point he will either drown or be smothered by dead polar bears.

The planet is just going through a phase, they say.  It’s always gone through phases.  Oh, good point. But around here, it looks like record high temperatures for a long period of time, and more frequent and severe hurricanes probably mean something.

Thunderstorms in Fakeworld

We just experienced a thunderstorm here in Tallahassee which I would classify as Medium on the Fakename Thunderstorm Scale.  The dogs apparently disagree, and have classified it as Serious on the Fakedog Thunderstorm Scale. 

The fearless Doberman is cowering in the bathroom and refuses to come out.  The 45 pound Girl Dog is trying to develop mouse bones so that she can crawl under the two-inch opening under the couch.  The 25 pound Beast is hiding under a table.  If you ever want to do harm to me, just show up during a storm. 

The cat, meanwhile, is yawning and asking if she can go out yet.  She can go out anytime she wants, but she objects to water falling on her from the sky.  I know this because she tells me so, loudly.  Like it’s my fault.  Mere thunder and lightning are no obstacle.  This is the cat who can get so spooked by a turtle that she jumps three feet in the air.  Go figure. 

This is a good time to remember that hurricane season, which lasts from June 1st to November 30th, is only days away.  Time to stock up on bottled water, matches, charcoal, batteries, and the ever important Spam.  And Jack Daniels.  Oh you should also refresh your First Aid kit.  I always forget that, because if a hurricane really affects me it will be because a tree fell on me.  In that case, I’m going to need a lot more than a Bandaid and a weather radio. 

If I sound flip, well, it’s because I am in a sense.  There is only so much you can do.  For those of you out there who think we are nuts to live in Hurricane Alley, I say to you:  floods, tornados, earthquakes, ice storms, avalanches, and volcanoes.  Our Governor Charlie (soon to be Senator Charlie, if I’m right) has been pushing for a national catastrophy fund, or CAT fund for short. 

I second that motion, and so does Fakedog, who would like to come out of the bathroom.