Thursday, May 28, 2009

It's been a flurry of activity around here. Spring finally arrived, and with summer just around the corner, I needed to get a lot accomplished in a hurry! Add to it the fact that I ran out of fertilizer materials, and the places that I used to get them don't stock them anymore, lots of kids' projects due, forms filled out for the summer and next year, garden-fu, house-fu, financial-fu, computer-fu, and generally feeling run-down-fu.

Griping aside, the weather has been fantastic. I took these photos this morning:

From the top, we're getting close to strawberries! Mr. E's apple tree went bonkers again this year. I'll have lots of thinning to do. The cherries went bonkers, too, for the first time. I hope the weather is dry enough for them to not get diseased. I love how pears start out up-side-down. I might get 5-6 pounds this year! And the lacy flowers are caraway. I'm looking forward to using my food dehydrator on the seed, as I never get it dry enough to store well.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Cliff Mass - Book vs Blog

If you haven't figured it out already, I'm a total weather geek. I have my cheap weather station out by the veggie garden, I check three different weather reports at least twice a day (and if there's a storm coming, more than that), and at times I try to figure out what the weather's going to be like at my house.

So when Cliff Mass published his The Weather of the Pacific Northwest, you know I was jumping up and down to get my hands on a copy. And, well, I am rather disappointed.

First of all, the book is set up awkwardly. The figures referred to in the text are often on following pages, so one has turn pages back and forth to reference the figures. This isn't Cliff Mass's fault, but rather the publisher's, and I hope if there are subsequent printings of the book, that this will be addressed.

The book is very repetitive. It's as if he expects everyone to either skip chapters and go straight to the stormy stuff, or have the memory of a gnat. Over and over again, he re-explains the effects of rising and sinking air. Okay, we get it already! Once would have been sufficient, and he could've saved ten pages of the book.

The book covers too large an area. I think of Cliff Mass as a PUGET SOUND forecaster, not a NORTHWEST forecaster. And as such, I would have preferred seeing the book limited to the Puget Sound region. The heat of southern Oregon, the ice storms of Portland, why there's such good wind surfing on the Columbia - these things seem out of place in a book that's 75% about Western Washington.

Lastly, some authors just put me to sleep. I'm not sure why, but they do. I mean, I'm really excited about this topic, I should be reading the book cover to cover without stopping, right? Yet night after night, I would get through a page and a half and fall asleep. The writing is rather dry. Professorial, maybe? His excitement over weather which you hear when he speaks just isn't coming through to me.


I just love Cliff Mass's blog: Cliff Mass Weather Blog. Here his enthusiasm shines, and I'm reading each word with relish. The things that are going through weather forecasters' heads are there for you to see - and why they screwed up. The topics are always timely - I'm not reading about snowstorms in July, I'm reading about either what just happened, or what's about to happen. Almost experiential learning.

Anyway, I feel I'm learning much more from his blog than his book. I finally found out why there are radar blips when there isn't a cloud in the sky! The figures are right there where you need them, too, and they're better than those in the book. I'm sure I learned something from his book that I didn't get out of a library's textbook on weather, but it's lost on all the minutiae that makes Puget Sound weather so appealing.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Noticing Things

I am always amazed how people can be so busy that they either don't notice things, or don't stop to do the right thing. I can be guilty of it, too, but today, for whatever reason, I was living in the moment, and aware of all that was around me. The frogs, the rain, the birds, the blackberries blooming their purple-pinkness.

And the water pouring out of the ground by the school gate.

Now, it was impossible to not notice that all this water was pouring onto the walkway. You had to walk through it to get to the gate. About a hundred people did so this morning, and apparently I was the only one to either think "why?" or to do something about it.

Right next to the walkway, water was bubbling up out of the ground, forming the stream that you had to walk through by the gate. It was coming out about as fast as a garden hose turned on three-fourths of the whole way, so not an insignificant amount of water.

Two possible scenarios cropped up in my mind: either this could be a spring, which is kinda cool, or there was a water main break, which is decidedly not cool. Either way, it would need to be dealt with - if a spring, they would need to reroute the water so it would stop washing away the walkway. The reasons for dealing with a water main break are obvious.

I told the office staff, who told the custodian, who called maintenance. They told me I was the only one to mention it, and were puzzled why nobody had mentioned it before. I left the custodian and the maintenance worker to their devices. I'm betting on the water company being there right now.