The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A flash, a rumble, and other things Mother throws at us

Pearl recently wrote a rather beautiful piece about the beginning of Autumn. And Braja did one about rain (or maybe shoes, not really sure) over at Lost and Found in India. Since I love to steal ideas (not having too many of my own fit for public display), I thought I might talk about the seasons and weather as we know them here in Paradise. You don't mind, do you? Good... I thought not.

I suppose I am a bit strange because I find weather fascinating. I have lived in almost deserts, in places with 4 distinct seasons, and traveled to (and through) all sorts of climates. Finding yourself needing a light jacket while on a tropical island (Oahu) in summertime can mystify as can wearing a heavy jacket to school and dragging in home in the afternoon while sweating profusely. Walking out from work to find your car encased in an inch thick layer of ice can be upsetting but not so bad as having to follow a snowplow through town in order to drive home. Rain so heavy that you are completely soaked (to your underwear... assuming you wear any) just taking ten steps to get to your car makes you wonder if you can actually drive through it. Storms that rage for 20 or more hours as you lie awake and wonder if the roof will hold might make you wonder why you chose to live there.

Weather, good and bad, is amazing. And it has entertained me, irritated me, helped and hindered me as I am sure it has done for you. We tolerate it, enjoy it, prepare for it, and are surprised by it.

My only interest in it when very young was curiosity and play. A nice sunny summer day meant I could go out and play in my bare feet. Snow in winter meant riding a sled down the street in front of my house or on the slope to the east of The Woods near my home. Rain meant staying in and watching the dreariness through my upstairs bedroom window. A child's view is all. One of my strongest early childhood memories is of looking out my window down the street in a snowstorm heavy enough to obscure the houses a half block away. Everything was off-white that day, dusk-like and gray. The clouds so thick and heavy they blocked most of the light and made early afternoon seem like dusk.

Thunderstorms filled me with awe and wonder then and still do today. As the storm moved in, the air seemed clean and fresh, the smell of the air changed (I suppose it had something to do with the ozone), and excitement grew in me. I would watch the lightning strike, the brilliant jagged bolt of light from cloud to ground (or tree or house) followed by the crack (or sometimes the slow building base rumble) of thunder that I often felt in the soles of my feet just before I realized I was hearing it. There was that time that a camp counselor almost bought it when a pine tree was struck very near to the tent I was in. Since then, the soles of my feet have been quite sensitive to lightning strikes nearby.

I became much more interested in the weather when I began surfing at age 18. Back then, weather maps in the paper were filled with information about isobars and cold and warm fronts as well as general wind direction and temperatures. Our local paper showed a weather map that covered the whole continental U.S. (and part of Canada). I learned to predict the weather fairly well. It was important to me in terms of what effect it might have on surf conditions. Surfing was just becoming popular in south Florida and there was no emphasis on surf conditions beyond small boat advisories and such. These were somewhat useful.

After joining the Navy and going out to sea, I learned the old adage/rhyme of "Red sky at night, sailors delight. Red sky at dawning, sailors take warning" wasn't accurate at all. I eventually decided that it probably applied more to the Atlantic (and in the vicinity of Europe and the British Isles, or maybe the Caribbean) than the vast Pacific Ocean. I would have loved to have been assigned to some meteorology rating than the one I was given (SONAR) but the Navy does as it pleases and I was just a tiny cog in a huge and complicated machine.

I also tracked tropical storms and hurricanes each year in my early teens but never tried to make predictions where they would strike land (if they did). I learned quickly how capricious they were. Back then there were no weather satellites and weather radar was in its infancy and quite limited. TV stations did not have it. Knowledge and tracking of these storms was crude, depending on reports from ships and planes at sea and then by investigation by Hurricane Hunter planes. These planes and crews flew into the storms and gathered all the information they could about them. Still do but they aren't needed as much. Satellites can show us the size of the storm and its eye and gather just as much info about wind speed and pressure. So many things influence the path of these large storms that we need computer programs to give us a fair idea about where they are headed. Still, it doesn't seem to me that we are much more accurate than we were back in the 50's.

Ok, that was just about weather with nothing much about seasons. Seems like that will have to wait for another day.

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