August 30, 2011

Goodnight Irene

The last update to the post below was at 11:00 pm on Saturday as hurricane Irene drew near. She was a category 1 storm at that point but showing signs of weakening. In the early morning hours an Sunday she hit with whatever force she had left. Depending oh which reports you listened to she was still a hurricane or she had fallen to a tropical storm. Some were arguing that it was a difference without a distinction. If the top winds were 75 mph it was a hurricane if they were 74 it was a tropical storm.

And they have a valid point. I don’t really know that answer. I know that sometime around 5:00 Sunday morning, with the wind howling outside my bedroom window, we lost our electricity. As I am typing this it is 8:45 Monday evening. I am sitting in the dark at the dining room table, the only light coming from the screen and the backlit keyboard. The utility company cannot yet provide an estimate for when power will be restored.

I am only writing this now because I spent a good chunk of the afternoon at my mother-in-laws business two towns over where they have power charging my battery. It had been run down to nothing playing a movie for the kids!

About those kids. We have two very electronic children. Or perhaps I should say two children who are very much a product of the electronic age. Two days without electricity has been something of a trauma for them and despite my best efforts I have yet to be able to convince them to see it as a great adventure. There was a brief glimmer of hope when the watched the great delight with which I took my first sip of coffee this morning.

I did run out to a Duncan Donuts or Starbucks or convenience store in some part of town that had their power. I heated a pot of water on the gas grill and slowly poured it into the filter basket of the drip coffee maker. I know that on the McGiver scale of rugged ingenuity it ranks fairly low, but my goal was simply to show them that life goes on, and with a little imagination its can go on with some degree of normalcy.

The real twist to the situation is that school is scheduled to start this week. The son is supposed to go for orientation as a new middle school student on Wednesday and full school days are scheduled to start on Thursday. I think that schedule is going to have to change as it is likely that larger areas of town, including several schools, will not have power by then.

But if there is school or not, tomorrow marks the third day with no power, which means the third day with no hot water. Tomorrow we need to deal with getting clean. Tomorrow, could be cold showers for everyone day. Somehow I don’t think that is going to help with developing that sense of a great adventure.

The last problem we have to deal with is heat. It’s hot out. All of our air conditioners run on electricity. If there was ever an appliance that would make sense to run by soar power, it’s the air conditioner. It would be poetic to have the very thing causing the heat, provide the power to beat the heat. Opening windows is problematic due to the number of people nearby who are running generators 24/7. I can’t blame them, my neighbor is still trying to get the water out of his basement. But the noise is annoying.

That’s all for now. I’ll keep adding more until we get the power back and I can post this.

UPDATE: Power was restored at about 3:00 this afternoon. We had gone back down the road to recharge batteries when we got the call from my very happy wife. The school board announced that schools were now scheduled to open on Tuesday, September 6 (subject to change). The orientation for incoming middle school students has been cancelled. This worries me a bit because on whatever day schools eventually open there will be a lot of disoriented new students at middle school.

We are focused now on getting back to normalcy. I need to check the fridge and see what needs to be tossed. There is laundry to be done, but there is always laundry to be done.

There is a back log of work.

The grass needs cutting.

I need sleep.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 05:35 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment

August 26, 2011

Preparing For an Unwelcome Guest. UPDATED

My favorite weather site - particularly for tracking storms during hurricane season is StormPulse. It presents the relevant information in a simple easy to understand format and when when you want it, you dig deeper into some of the Weather Geek stuff.

This is very useful information to have, particularly when the approaching storm has the potential to impact your life. We don't often get hurricanes all the way up here in the Northeast. If a hurricane tracks up the coast it usually weakens to a tropical storm or even a tropical depression and we get a windy rainy day. This happens because hurricanes love warm water. Hurricanes feed on warm water. The Ocean in the Northeast is usually too cold to sustain a hurricane.

But there is the phenomenon know as the Atlantic multidecadal oscillation.

The Atlantic multidecadal oscillation (AMO) is a mode of variability occurring in the North Atlantic Ocean and which has its principal expression in the sea surface temperature (SST) field. While there is some support for this mode in models and in historical observations, controversy exists with regard to its amplitude, and in particular, the attribution of sea surface temperature change to natural or anthropogenic causes, especially in tropical Atlantic areas important for hurricane development.

In simple terms there's a cycle in ocean currents in the Atlantic that every few decades results in warmer ocean surface temperatures at higher latitudes. Remember that bit about hurricanes liking warmer water?


I just grabbed this screen shot of the 5:00 update on Irene over at StormPulse.

You can see the arrow I added indicating what is the National Hurricane Center forecast track for the eye of Irene. You can also see the little arrow I drew indicating approximately where my house is located. The distance between my house and that forecast line is less than 10 miles.

Irene will make herself felt starting late Saturday, but it will be Sunday when the real fun starts. I'm not too worried about the actual storm itself, but it's aftermath. I just got an automated Emergency Notice call from the town advising people to expect to be without power for up to a week.

I'm ready for that. We have food, a full tank of propane for the grill, lots of water, ample flashlights and batteries, a lot of candles.

There are things I'm not ready for. My business which is all done on this computer needs electricity! Losing a week of billable hours is going to hurt.

The impact to Hold the Mayo will be minimal. How often do I actually post anything these days!

UPDATE: I do want to note that the line where the shading changes indicating Irene weakening to a tropical storm is a lot closer than it used to be too. If there's any significant change at the 8:00 or 11:00 updates I'll post a grab of that too. (Sorry I wont be checking the 2:00 am update!)

UPDATE: I checked the 8:00 update and there is no change in the forecast.

NOTE: One additional positive is that all of the really bad wind will be out of the east. There are no trees on the east of our property or the neighbors that would pose a threat to our house if they were to fall.

11:00 UPDATE: The forecast has moved slightly and is now about 10 miles east of the house. The forecast for downgrading to a tropical storm has moved further away.

11:00 am Saturday Update: Cloudy and starting to get dark. Rain should begin soon. Irene is currently battering the Carolinas as the category 1 storm she will be when she hits here.  Little change in the forecast track - only an oscillation back to where it was when I took the screen shot above.

2:00 pm Saturday: Still no change to the forecast. Still expecting a category 1 hurricane to make landfall within to mikes of where I sit. I believe I've done almost everything possible. the AC's will come out of the windows later and the side door to the garage will be dead bolted as well.

5:00 pm Saturday: Slight shift in the forecast track to the east but not enough to really matter. The downgrade to tropical storm forecast is back to where it was last night so the storm will be weakening rapidly as it his us.

11:00 pm Saturday: I think they must be done tweaking the forecast is hasn't changed all that much over the course of the day. It is raining consistently and fairly heavily. A robo call from the town advises people to stay off the roads. Hurricane force winds are expected by around 7:00 am tomorrow. All that remains to be seen is when we lose the power and for how long. This may be the last update for a while!

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 04:37 PM | No Comments | Add Comment

August 14, 2011

Iowa Straw Man

They held the Iowa Straw Man Contest in Ames yesterday. (I know they call it a Straw Poll but it means just as much.) The current frontrunner for the GOP nomination had the good sense not to bother participating. (So far that's his blind squirrel moment.)

Apparently the contest was won by Michele Bachman.

Who cares?

Apparently Tim Pawlenty cares. He is the straw man who was knocked down. After finishing third he has withdrawn from the race. 


If finishing third in the Ames Straw Man Contest is enough to convince him to quit, I don't want him in the White House anyway. We need someone with a little more fight in them than that.

As truly unimportant as I think the Ames circus is, it was rendered even more meaningless by the official announcement of Texas Governor Rick Perry that he is running for President.

I don't know much about Governor Perry yet but what little I do know I like. For instance, almost half of all jobs created in the U.S. in the last 2 years were created in Texas. They must be doing something right. Or as in the case when it government they must be a lot fewer things wrong. What it seems to be is that the Texas state government is just doing a lot fewer things.

Scott Johnson at Powerline laments the withdrawal of Pawlenty from the campaign.

Pawlenty is the generic Republican candidate at a time when the generic Republican seems to be what is called for to match up against Obama.

I argued in the comments there that last thing we need is more of the same old GOP - Generic Ordinary Politicians. I didn't need to bring up Bob Dole or John McCain because some else already had and they threw in Gerald Ford for good measure.

Johnson goes on to note that Perry is "far from a generic Republican candidate." 

For me, that's a good thing.

Paul Rhae argues that Perry's entry into the race makes him the the "not-Romney" candidate. A position Rhae suggests was previously held by Michele Bachman. What neither Rhae nor Johnson acknowledge is that if Tim Pawlenty filled the role of Generic Republican, his withdrawal cedes that spot to Mitt Romney.

Perry is the anti-Romney. More importantly he seems to be the Anti-Obama. A role I don't think Mitt RomneyCare can effectively play.

I'm not a registered Republican, so I don't get a vote in who they nominate to run for office, but that does not prevent me from picking and supporting a favorite. It's too early to make that call now and whoever they nominate I will likely support from an any one except The One perspective. However based one soundbite from his campaign announcement I suspect I am going to like Perry. (Time will tell.)

"And I’ll promise you this: I’ll work every day to make Washington, D.C. as inconsequential in your life as I can. "

I am wary of any statement by a politician that includes the phrase "I promise," but if that idea idea motivates Perry's policies and political philosophy I could see myself supporting his campaign.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 11:02 AM | No Comments | Add Comment

August 01, 2011

The Powerline Prize

It's official, I did not win the Powerline Prize. I knew I was going to up against a lot of great talent but I had an idea I thought worth entering.

I wanted to create something simple and hopefully emotionally powerful. This meant I needed to work with a fundamental and powerful symbol and I chose the flag.

The title of the piece is Red Ink.

Posted by: Stephen Macklin at 07:25 PM | No Comments | Add Comment

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