THE CHANGING SEASONS, JANUARY 2020 – Marilyn Armstrong

The Changing Seasons, January 2020


This hasn’t been a normal January. We had no measurable snow and only 4 out of 31 days have been lower than average January temperature. Every other day was higher than average bringing this month in as the third warmest recorded.

Most of my pictures this month were birds. Without snow to make the landscape interesting, there hasn’t been much to photograph. Glad I have the birds!

At the very end, I realized my Christmas cactus is blooming again and my big purple orchid is about to bloom too.

Orchid ready to bloom

I almost missed it!

Icy small canal off the Mumford Dam

Wide view of mid-winter on the Mumford


About The Changing Seasons

The Changing Seasons is a monthly challenge where bloggers around the world share what’s been happening in their month.

If you would like to join in, here are the guidelines:

The Changing Seasons Version 1 (Photographic):

  • Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery that you feel represent your month
  • Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.
  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so that others can find them

The Changing Seasons Version 2 (Choose the format):

  • Each month, post a photo, recipe, painting, drawing, video, whatever that you feel says something about your month
  • Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!
  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so others can find them.

If you do a ping-back to Su Leslie’s original post, she can update it with links to all of yours.

WINTER GOLDFINCHES IN THE LIGHT OF RECENT SNOW – Marilyn Armstrong

WINTERING WITH THE GOLDFINCHES

Snow was supposedly on the way, but our forecasts have more like guesswork than science lately. I no longer trust them. But I do trust our birds. They always know when snow is coming. The day before, they had barely bothered to show up at the feeders. Today, there was a flock of Goldfinches and at least one of every bird we normally see.

Two little Goldfinches sitting on a feeder …

Two (of many) Goldfinches on their feeder

Today, again, we also had lots of birds. Whenever they did something interesting, I had my camera pointed in the other direction. Talk about Murphy’s Law!

Goldfinches all over the big feeder, too.

Close up!

This is a classic. Point your camera left and all the action is to the right. Take a picture and half a second later, they are airborne and I missed it again. Moreover, the best shots will always be exactly when my battery goes flat.

 

OPTIMISM SEEMS A BIT MISPLACED AT THE MOMENT – Marilyn Armstrong

I started reading an article about what’s going on in Tasmania and Australia. The apocalyptic heat. The fires. The dying animals. The dying giant kelp. Dead koalas falling from the trees. I got about halfway through the article and couldn’t read anymore.

I am trying to keep my hopes up but it’s hard going. We are having a non-winter. A few days of cold, a bit of snow, then the temperature zips up to shirtsleeve levels again. And still, the idiot in the White House keeps making it worse. Then there’s the moron in Brazil burning down the rain forest because things aren’t bad enough.

That was the most depressing newspaper article I’ve ever read. If you have any doubt that climate change is real, check it out for yourself. Following is just a piece of it. If you are subscribed to the Washington Post, you can use the link under the title to read the whole thing. Otherwise, these are sections. Maybe as much as you can handle.


2°C: BEYOND THE LIMIT
On land, Australia’s rising heat is ‘apocalyptic.’ In the ocean, it’s worse.

BRUNY ISLAND, Tasmania — Even before the ocean caught fever and reached temperatures no one had ever seen, Australia’s ancient giant kelp was cooked.

Australia is a poster child for climate change. Wildfires are currently raging on the outskirts of its most iconic city and drought is choking a significant portion of the country.

Nearly 100 fires are burning in New South Wales, nearly half of them out of control. Residents of the state, where Sydney sits, wear breathing masks to tolerate the heavy smoke, which has drifted more than 500 miles south to the outskirts of Melbourne.

This is happening even though average atmospheric temperatures in Australia have yet to increase by 2 degrees Celsius.

The ocean is another story.

A stretch of the Tasman Sea right along Tasmania’s eastern coast has already warmed by just a fraction below 2 degrees Celsius, according to ocean temperature data from the Hadley Center, the U.K. government research agency on climate change.

The bats, called flying foxes, cannot survive temperatures above 42 degrees Celsius. Another 10,000 black flying foxes, a different species, also died. Bodies plopped into meadows, backyard gardens and swimming pools.

A month later, more than 100 ringtail possums fell dead in Victoria when temperatures topped 35 degrees Celsius for four consecutive days.

The warming waters off Tasmania are not just killing the giant kelp, but transforming life for marine animals.

Warm-water species are swimming south to places where they could not have survived a few years ago. Kingfish, sea urchins, zooplankton and even microbes from the warmer north near the mainland now occupy waters closer to the South Pole.

“There’s about 60 or 70 species of fish that now have established populations in Tasmania that used not to be here,” said Craig Johnson, who leads the ecology and biodiversity center at the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies at the University of Tasmania. “You might see them occasionally as sort of vagrants, but they certainly did not have established populations.”

But the region’s indigenous cold-water species have no place to go. Animals such as the prehistoric-looking red handfish are accustomed to the frigid water closer to the shore. They cannot live in the deep-water abyss between the bottom tip of Tasmania and Antarctica.

“It’s a geographic climate trap,” Johnson said. Marine animals unique to Australia — the wallabies and koalas of the deep — could easily vanish. “So there’s going to be a whole bunch of species here that we expect will just go extinct.

“You know, it’s not a happy story.”

“It’s getting hotter and that heat, it’s affecting not only the giant kelp, but the color of the abalone is changing,” Dillon said.

“We just take too much out of the Earth and we don’t put it back,” Dillon said. “Australia is one of the worst if you know about coal. How much coal do we need to dig up? And we’re too stupid to see what this is causing . . . because we make money out of it.”

And now, Australia is caught in a record-breaking heatwave. 

The apocalypse

The heartbreaking video went viral late in November: A koala bear slowly walked through wildfire.

The marsupial, euthanized days later because its burns didn’t heal, was just one victim of the many wildfires that started burning in the Australian spring and are still going at the start of summer.

At least nine people have died and 700 homes have been destroyed. One woman in New South Wales took a few of her house’s charred remains to Australia’s Parliament in early December with a message for Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

“Morrison, your climate crisis destroyed my home,” Melinda Plesman wrote in bold red letters.

Morrison is an ardent supporter of coal excavation in a country that produced 44 million tons in 2017. Australia is the world’s leading exporter of coal, mostly to Asia, and the fourth-largest producer.

A few weeks before the koala — nicknamed Lewis — was euthanized, the newly re-elected prime minister took his advocacy for coal to a new level. He pledged to outlaw environmental demonstrations, calling the protests a “new breed of radical activism” that is “apocalyptic in tone.”

One month later, a Sydney Morning Herald headline described conditions in Australia’s most iconic city as “apocalyptic,” as residents choked in a smoky haze from bush fires. A coalition of doctors and climate researchers declared it a public health emergency.

The bush fires have arrived amid record heat and particularly dry conditions that experts say are being made more common thanks to climate change.

Fire!

The country experienced a five-day heatwave in the state of Victoria that shattered records. The Friday before Christmas was the hottest December day on record, measuring 47.9 degrees Celsius at the Horsham weather station.

Rescuers searching for human survivors in the scorched remains of forests have discovered koalas, a creature found only in Australia, burned to death in eucalyptus trees where they sought shelter. At the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital, where Lewis was put down, it was called “a national tragedy.”

The tragedy playing out underwater is much worse, but invisible to most.


There is quite a bit more and these are clips, not the entire piece. If for some reason you are still convinced that this is some kind of overblown rhetoric by a crazy bunch of scientists, take a look at maps and see if you are living in an area that has already met or exceeded the 2 degree Celsius limit. This area already has. New Jersey has.

So I’m going to try and not think about this right now. I’m going to try to believe that we can fix this. Somehow, some way. Because the time we thought we had isn’t really there. This is terrifying information and it affects ALL of us. You can make yourself a billionaire, but when the world is on fire, your money won’t make the flames disappear.

WINTER YET TO COME – Rich Paschall

Winter In The Air, Rich Paschall

It’s not in the air now. It was, but not now. Back in late October winter arrived before we could even rake up all the leaves. In fact, many of the trees still had their leaves. There was no chance to clean up. And snow appeared in time for Halloween.

The problem with early snow is that the Streets and Sanitation Department takes that as the sign to put away the street sweepers and bring out the snowplows. November remained cold, but little additional snow was ever sighted. The leaves came down throughout the month.

Then December brought warmer temperatures. We actually had several days in the ’60s and expect at least one more warm day. I raked leaves December 22 and 23rd in the pleasant fall weather.

No worries about Winter, however.  He will be here soon. You will feel it in the air.

MORE OF GARRY’S WORLD IN WHITE – Garry Armstrong

I took a lot of pictures and each day Marilyn processes a few. Then I post them. This is mostly Aldrich Street, down the road from the house — and then, our house. With bushels of snow.

Down by the bar at the end of the road

As Aldrich breaks off from Route 146A

A bench on the Common with snow

Our 1928 Fordson tractor

Looking for work?

Home sweet home with our mailbox and our across the street neighbor’s mailbox

Oh, look! Mail!

Home. With snow.

We’re expected warm weather, rain, very cold weather, a bit of snow, a bit of sleet, more warm weather. These days, a forecast is everything you can think of that isn’t summer in one ten minute narration on television.

And if you wait until the end of the news, they will have revised it. Completely. Isn’t it great that there’s no such thing as climate change?

FAREWELL OCTOBER – Marilyn Armstrong

END OF THE AUTUMN – ANOTHER YEAR PASSES

It’s the last day of October and most of the trees are bare. It has been raining all week and last night’s wind and rain finally finished off the trees. So, in this vintage version of the old Inn around the corner, we say gooodbye and hope that winter is more kindly this year.

Photo by Garry Armstrong, processing by Marilyn Armstrong.

The 1700s Inn at at the end of our road. It has been added to, but the basic building remains. Until recently, it was a restaurant. Maybe it will be again.

ALMOST THE END OF THE LINE – Marilyn Armstrong

ALMOST THE END OF THE LINE

Hard to imagine October is done. Finito. My favorite month. The only thing about it I don’t like is that winter is right behind it.

The cold is closing in quickly. I don’t have a good feeling about this winter. Last year, we had basically “late Autumn” until March. Then it snowed like mad for a few weeks. The rest of the season was not snowy. We had a lot of rain and mud and ice, but hardly any snow until my birthday.

Woods and fence blizzard

Welcome to my 72 birthday. It was a 15-inch blizzard. And there I was, thinking we were going to get through winter without snow. One year (during the past 20) we had a snow-free winter, but the following year we had so much snow we had to have our roof shoveled three times to keep it from caving in.

That’s the really bad part of really good attic insulation. The heat from the house never gets to your roof, so the tons of snow never melts. Each subsequent snow piles on top of earlier blizzards.

Farewell, October

The winters of 2015 and 2016 were both like living in Mongolia or maybe Antarctica. One of our cars (we had two back then) was literally buried. You literally could not see it. Driving down our narrow roads was like driving in a tunnel with the snow 10 feet high on both sides from the plowing. I remember when Kaity was very young and she asked if the giant piles of snow and ice were going to become glaciers which they were studying in school.

I explained that I didn’t think so, but who could tell anymore?

Nonetheless, this is still nominally October, so let’s think orange and pumpkin-flavored donuts.

BUILT ON THE ROCK ~ OCTOBER 28, 2019 ~ MELANIE B CEE

Garry is forever telling me that I do make a difference even though I usually can’t see how. But this is actual evidence that I have made a difference to at least one person and hopefully, a few others. The diagnosis that we are killing the world we need to live in is incontrovertible. It’s not a rumor, it’s not fake anything. It’s real and it is happening now. 

A year ago, I had dozens of birds. This year, I have half the species of last year. We have southern Eastern Equine Mosquitoes killing people and mindless spraying of poison over our woods. Which quite probably explains why the birds are gone. We’ve lost 30 million birds over the past 10 years and stand to lose at least that many in the next few.

There is a mass extinction in progress — and we are as much on the bloc as the now-defunct Black Rhinoceros. If this scares you, terrifies you, haunts you? Find out more. Tell others. Do everything you can to help save the world we know and love.


CONTROVERSIALBADGE

This post will contain two subjects that tend to get people riled.   The first is religion and the second is climate change or whatever trendy name they’ve slapped on that today.

If either really irritates you to the point of stroking out, please feel free to read no further.  It’s okay.


I follow an “LDS” (formerly the Mormons) blog entitled “By Common Consent.” I like it because the hosts allow a variety of opinions and invite some interesting people to write about their experiences.  Not all of them could be counted among the ‘faithful’ and some apparently have had negative experiences with the Church. All that is required of the reader of that blog is to be respectful. Regardless of the content of the piece that’s shared.   They don’t accept writers who are really far out there, extremists and any kind of hate or bigotry writing (speech). It pays to remember that the blog is LDS based though.  Because most of the content is about the LDS Church and beliefs and rites.  

The content today was about the testimony. Now I admit that I naively believed that only Mormons bore their testimonies.  That it might be an odd concept to the person who isn’t a member. I’ve since revised my thinking to include the fact that everyone (religiously-inclined anyhow) has a testimony and that each religion deals with that idea in its own way.   A testimony, in case you don’t know, is (my interpretation, which probably is flawed) the relationship, based in faith, that a person has with God and to a lesser degree, their preferred religion.   

In the LDS Church, one gets up (or has the opportunity to do so) once a month in “Fast and Testimony” Meeting and share their testimony.   To me personally, it’s an opportunity to talk about how one’s life is blessed by having God in their life or influencing their actions and decisions. A chance to humbly thank God for all the bounty He may have provided to the individual. It’s not about who got married, or had a kid, or went to Bura-Bura on vacation.  It’s not for bragging or being entitled or any other close-minded crap that such people tend to think is interesting.

Too often though it is about the latter and not the former. God isn’t thanked at all if He’s thought of. That kind of testimony is one reason **Koff-koff excuse koff-koff ** that I’m not very active in the church currently.   I find the sometimes smug attitude sickening and distracting from why I personally go to church – to improve my relationship with God.

God reminds man though, that we’re not to judge others. We have enough things of our own to worry about (i.e. our own business) without thinking snide things about other people. I sometimes find that hard to do.  

Today the woman writing the BCC post asked the rhetorical question: “So tell me – do you think voicing criticism has the potential to damage testimony, and if so, do we have a responsibility toward each other to take care with how we share it?”   

I have a huge problem with idiots. I think that’s well documented.  And my viewpoint about the question had nothing to do with the author being an idiot. The idiot part comes in from the idea of having politically correct (touchy-feely) censorship of one’s most intimate inner thoughts. Which are what the testimony IS (in my opinion).   

But I get why she asked the question too. There are people in the LDS Church who view testimony meeting as a chance to air every slight and grievance they ever had, real or imagined. To be acid-tongued and sharp with those in alleged authority with whom they take exception. To belittle others. To me?  That’s not a testimony, that’s bile – regurgitated. So sit down and shut up and don’t blast a spiritual event with garbage.

I asked a question today on SYW about where the line is drawn between honest debate and hate speech (verbal bullying).   I’m interested to see what people say about that too.   Where do we stop being overly sensitive and start with real disagreement with someone’s harsh words?   Is that censorship too?

As a good blogging buddy used to write:  “No answers here…”


The second part of this post is about a personal terror.   The very idea scares the crap out of me and keeps me awake nights.  Wakes me up in a cold sweat. I’ve heard a huge variety of opinion on climate change and what that is going to mean to the world I once knew (because she’s a’changin’ and she ain’t gonna be the same).   

The video clip I shared is about 5 minutes and the fellow speaking is a sensible person (IMHO) who has a realistic manner and speech.   What he said in this video clip scared me silly.   He wasn’t even trying to frighten.  He was stating facts, backed up by scientists and really incredibly smart people (well, presumably).   I don’t know who Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez even is, never heard of her before today. Another benefit (I suspect) of living a largely mushroom life.  I don’t CARE who she is just to be clear. Don’t let the title of the video mislead you. But be prepared for a shock.

Judy Dykstra-Brown is the one who brought the blog and video clip to my attention.  I’m not sure whether to be grateful or horrified that what I’ve thought for a lot of years now is coming true. And that right soon. Dang.

One of the points made in the video has been supported (unwittingly) by Marilyn of Serendipity and her blogs over the summer about the mosquito problems in her area.  

The things talked about in that video are real. As Beau says “It’s not fake science and it’s not fake news.  It simply IS.”   

How these two subjects overlap in one sense is that the LDS Church has cautioned its members for YEARS (longer than I’ve been alive) to start saving at least seven years’ worth of food, and obviously water.  Mormons have been ridiculed and poked fun at for being “dooms-dayers” and weird because they allegedly stockpile that way. Well, who is laughing NOW?  

This ought to cover my posts on Pet Peeve Monday – even though it’s not a pet peeve, it’s quickly becoming part of my social phobia/anxiety disorder.

Also, this post might fit into the 31 Days of October Challenge.   If the material shared isn’t a horror story, I don’t know what might be.   

Can we stop the world long enough for me to get off?   I think I’ve had enough of this particular Tunnel of Terror ride. 


https://bycommonconsent.com/2019/10/28/testimony-and-its-opposite/

https://judydykstrabrown.com/2019/10/28/beau-of-the-fifth-column-and-climate-change/

https://beckiesmentalmess.blog/2019/10/28/the-monday-peeve-7/

https://lavent69.blog/2019/09/30/the-31-days-of-october-challenge/

INSTIGATE A PERSONAL SEARCH FOR WEATHER-RELATED HOME DAMAGE – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Instigate

I don’t have much time today — heart doctor followup in a few hours.

This has been an exceptionally busy week with doctor appointments for either Garry or me for every day, not counting Labor Day. Plus, I’m still trying to figure out what to do with our house.

Damaged gutters from falling branches

As we drove to the doctor yesterday, I was looking at all the houses as we passed and realized that every vinyl-sided house appeared — on one or more walls — like ours. Even houses that began the year in near-perfect condition were obviously rain-damaged. Even cedar shakes are soaked through, dark and wet looking — which means the walls behind them are wet too.

The whole house looks kind of like this. The green mold is dampness and rain

We are not going to be alone trying to get our so-called insurance companies to pay for the damage. There has been a calamitous amount of storm damage this year. Are ALL the insurance companies going to claim it’s “just” normal wear and tear? Even homes that were normally perfectly maintained look beaten.

This looks exactly like our house. Same color vinyl and everything

From as far away as Alberta (Canada) to Arizona (where it doesn’t rain!), to parts of southern California, reports are coming in that this has been the rainiest period anyone can remember — and most of the people saying that are not kids. They are our age, a little more or less.

Foundations break apart from the never-ending rain

I got a letter from the insurance company promising to send an adjuster one day soon. Except the adjuster came and went last Friday. Good to know MAPFRE is right up to date! If they don’t even know they already sent an adjuster, I can be pretty sure they haven’t even looked at our claim, much less done anything with it.

When the trunks of the trees and the earth are wet enough, trees fall

The good news? The adjuster said that the damage is confined to just that wall and is NOT spreading to the rest of the house — and that he was able to measure for actual water which means damage is very recent.

For all of you who haven’t yet taken a good look at your houses, maybe this is a good time to do it. Instigate a family investigation of every part of your house, from the roof to foundation. Look closely at everything.

The weather isn’t going to improve and I wonder if any place is going to be safe after a while. When you get down to it, our houses are only permanent for as long as they want to be. If the weather keeps getting crazier, no one’s house is going to be secure unless it’s on top of a hill and built from natural stone. Even castles have rooves, siding, and foundations that can be water-damaged. Many already have been.

Then, there are plagues of insects that appear. We have never had a plague (two, actually) of lethal virus-bearing mosquitoes until this year. We’ve had a few bad ones that came up on vegetable trucks or cars, but not like this summer. They too are part of the changing climate.

When the trees get sufficiently soaked through trunk and root, they collapse. It’s all mud with nothing to hold them firmly in the ground. Crops won’t grow in mud, either.

Hard not to notice something bad is going on underneath, but insurance can’t see it

And now, as they track Dorian up the coast, so far they are predicting it will mangle parts of the Carolinas. With a little bit of luck, most of the worst of it will miss our area — except (naturally) a lot of rain, wind, thunder, and lightning. What a shock! We haven’t seen (sarcasm font start here) much of that.

Climate change.

Is it legal to yearn that Mara Lago will blowdown or sink during a category 5 hurricane? Can we at least hope that he who has brought so much trouble on us will reap the whirlwind? Surely something wet with howling wind is bound to hit him.

I get a little thrill merely thinking about it.

SHARING MY VERY DAMP WORLD – Marilyn Armstrong

Share Your World 9-3-19

From Melanie: Wow. September. Where did the summer go?  I’m not at all sure…anyway.  This week finds us with some more questions, but this week they’re all ‘deep’ ones requiring a little thought. Enjoy!”

I know where MY summer went and I hope I can forget it ASAP.

Spring was long, nasty, cold, and full of hard-driving rainstorms with lots of wind. We didn’t get a real winter. No real snow at all, so we got our first blizzard (the only blizzard, actually) around my birthday in early March.

Finally, it started to warm up, but mostly, it rained. And rained. The wind howled and sometimes it was raining so hard and for so long the house sounded like a loud faucet was running somewhere. Now that Garry can hear, he was amazed at how loud rain can be. It reminded me why I didn’t spend the extra money on a steel roof … and why I wish I had — at the same time.

Raiin on the window

A steel roof is forever, or at least as close to forever as any roof can get. It’s also noisy. Rain, sleet, hale … it’s like a million little beasties racing madly around your roof. Not to mention that they cost at least four times what a standard asphalt roof costs. But they never leak and they don’t grow lichens or other greenery, either. Win some, lose some. You take your best guess and hope it works out.

As soon as it warmed up, we grew a million daylilies and that was great, but we’d get one day of sun or at least gray skies followed by three days of howling winds and torrential rain. It was mud city. You couldn’t even mow your lawn because it was sodden.

That was followed — finally — in August, with lovely, cool dry weather. And Eastern Equine Encephalitis mosquitoes and all the nice autumn fairs got canceled because the killer mosquitoes were out.

Aw, c’mon! Really?

This was approximately when I realized something was wrong on the south-west side of the house. All that rain, you know? The climate change that hasn’t arrived seems to indeed have arrived. At least here it has.

Now, we need to strip off the vinyl, remove the mush that’s underneath it, and replace the wall, or at least most of the lower level with a new wall. Get rid of the rotting door and replace it with a window (we never use the door anyway) and get a carpenter to repair the wooden doors to the shop.

Rainy morning squirrel shaking rain off his coat

I’m wishing we’d had time to powerwash the house because it’s green with mold. Did you know vinyl can grow green mold? It’s not lethal or poisonous. It actually looks like green pollen that got stuck. It just isn’t attractive.

It made me realize for all the years we’ve been paying insurance on our houses — since 1965 — they have yet to actually pay for any damage to any house in any state. Talk about being taken over by corporations. You know all those advertisements about how insurance companies are protecting you? They aren’t.

It’s a lie. The only thing they are protecting is the value of the property owned by the mortgage company. I can’t even calculate how many years we’ve paid home insurance and it never crossed my mind that they don’t cover anything except a tree falling on the house (unless they decide you should have taken down the tree in which case it’s your fault anyway), and fire. They might cover home invasion, but I’m not sure.

I’m still thinking about the post I will write about this, how we are forced — absolutely required — to pay for home insurance or we can’t get a mortgage. Why don’t we read all the little tiny print on the policy? Because we have to have insurance, so no matter what it says, we will sign it.

It’s just like accepting the terms of your operating system for your PC or Mac. Sign or don’t use your computer. There is no option to argue about the terms, so you sign. Nobody reads them.

The most common lie everyone everywhere tells is that they read and understand the terms of that contract. NO ONE reads it and if we did understand it, what difference would it make? We can’t NOT sign it.

And now, on to the questions.

QUESTIONS:

When you’re 90 years old, what do you suppose will matter most to you?

Breathing.

What’s the best way to spend a rainy afternoon?

Brooding on how we used to sometimes have sunshine and playing bridge on the computer.

What is one thing you don’t understand about yourself?

How I lived long enough to see the world change into this bizarre, hate-filled mess.

When was the last time you tried something to look ‘cool’ (hip), but it ended in utter embarrassment?  Details?

About a year ago, my granddaughter dyed my hair to get the yellow out of it. It wasn’t utter embarrassment. It actually looked pretty good.

We have a lot of iron in our well water and it turns everything pink or yellow — Including my white hair. I bought some more of the same dye. I hope I don’t make a total mess of the project.

BISHKEK ANYONE? – RICH PASCHALL

 Where in the world is … ?  by Rich Paschall

One of many things that surprises me about “modern” education is the absence of geography as part of the school curriculums. When I’ve asked any young person during the last two decades if they’ve taken geography in school, the answer is usually the same.  “Geography?  What’s that?”

When I was in school, we studied geography.  We had geography books.  The classroom had maps so we could understand where in the world we were and where the rest of the world was.  These were huge maps that rolled up like a window shade.  There were pictures pinned to a bulletin board of various places we could study.

Geography courses were our window to the rest of the world, our introduction to other people and cultures. I always found it interesting, although I did not know at the time just how useful it would become.

Earth

There were many things about geography that I did not find so interesting.  The topography was lost on someone who lived in an area that is completely flat.  Information about crops and commerce held no delight at the grade school level.  The local currency meant nothing to a boy with a tiny allowance.

Climate was interesting, however, to someone who had experienced the severity of all four seasons.  I could not imagine living somewhere that had a colder climate then we have in winter.  I did imagine that places with warmer weather throughout the year would be great to visit, especially in winter.  Pictures of green mountains or long, sandy beaches fueled my imagination.  I did not think I would ever get to travel much, but the views of great scenery and different types of structures were the joys of my young fantasy vacations.

Lost Dutchman now found

With the news of the world more available than ever, you would think that geography would be an important field of study to more than the CIA.  Perhaps those in charge of various school boards around the country do not think so.  Can you match these cities recently in the news with their countries?


Match the city with the country to which it belongs:

City                              Country
Mogadishu                United States
Castañer                    Israel
Bishkek                      Turkey
Ankara                       Kyrgyzstan
Tiberias                     Somalia


When I was first working in freight forwarding, a young person was trying to pronounce the name written on one of the folders. She may have been filing items by destination. To just look at it, you would not think it a mystery, but this uneducated person was lost.

“Tell a, Tayla, tellavi…”

At that, a very annoyed supervisor in another group yelled over to our area, “Tel Aviv! Tel Aviv! It’s in the news sometimes.”

It was the capital of Israel at the time, and it is the only international airport in the country. I guess we are always stunned by people who do not know the capital cities or the largest airports of any country.

Do they know their own state’s capital?

By the way, the supervisor shouting the name of the city across the office remains one of our favorite air freight stories. It also points to the deficiency in our education on geography.

Another part of Earth

When I got a job in air freight, I think I already had a good idea of the capitals and major cities of most countries, and now I have come to learn their airport codes as well. The locations of major hubs of commerce and the airlines that fly there are key to our success.

You could put Asian freight on Lufthansa, who makes its first stop in Frankfurt, but it may make more sense to put it on a carrier going west to Asia.  It really depends where you are. If you are on the east coast, for example, it might be better to send it east.  Lufthansa does go to most places in the world.  If you are in Chicago, west is usually better.

Oh, come on … take a wild guess!

We can send your Shanghai freight from Chicago on a European carrier, but the distance will be greater to fly east, the cost will likely be more and the time of travel will be greater. No plane would have the range to go nonstop.  However, there are Chinese carriers, as well as American Airlines, who fly nonstop from ORD (Chicago, O’Hare) to PVG (Shanghai, China).

Because of competition, you are likely to get a good rate for the faster transit.  In freight forwarding, it is important to have an idea where everything is located in order to make the best routing decisions.

This is true for your vacation trip as well.  When I tell people I have gone to Alsace, France, they usually conclude I must have flown to Paris.  The truth is, I usually fly to Frankfurt, Germany which is about the same distance from Strasbourg and is usually cheaper.  I have also considered the Euro-Airport at Mulhouse, France which is closer, and the airport at Zürich, Switzerland.

Strasbourg, France

Grab a map and discover the world.

Here are the answers, although I am tempted to tell you to grab a Geography book or just Google it.

1 – Mogadishu is the capital of war-torn Somalia.
2 – Bishkek is the capital of Kyrgyzstan.
3 – Ankara is the capital of the Republic of Turkey.  You probably thought it was Istanbul.
4 – You can swim in the Sea of Galilee from Tiberias, a favorite city of the Roman Emporer who originally built the city.
5 – Castaner is a mountain community in Puerto Rico that was devastated by the hurricane.  Yes, it is part of the US.  But there is a city (town) of the same name in the United Kingdom.
6 – Can you find Ouagadougou on a map?
7 – Do you own a map?

SHARE MY WORLD ASSUMING WORD PRESS DOESN’T CRUMBLE – Marilyn Armstrong

Share Your World – 8-20-19

QUESTIONS:   

What would be your solution to the overpopulation of the earth?  Earth has finite resources and humanity seems to be breeding themselves to extinction.   Some countries have tried restricting the number of children a couple or a person can have, with little success.  So what other viable options are there for reducing the number of people? 

Let me start out by pointing out that I don’t have answers. I mostly have fears.

Although overpopulation is a major part of our problems of surviving on Earth — especially in places like China and India where over-population has been an issue for centuries — the even bigger problem is over-building and mindless destruction of our natural environment. Water and earth pollution, as well as the poisons we use to “protect” our vegetables and other plants.

The fundamental combination of ingredients we use to increase nutrients in the soil — nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium — although they are essential to healthy plant growth, fertilizer needs to be used in moderation based on the rain for the region. More rain means the soil gets “washed.” In arid regions, such”fertilizers” are poison.

Weed poisons — Monsanto seems to make a lot of them — not only poison our water, but also kill the birds. A few years ago, we had robins nesting on our porch and all over the woods until one neighbor decided to use Monsanto weed poison.

The robins fell over dead in their nests. Baby robins were never born.

Dry lake at Manchaug

It was horrible and really depressing. Although a few robins have returned, they are relatively rare now instead of (as they used to be) the most common summertime bird.

Dried out Mumford River in Uxbridge

Nitrogen, a major part of fertilizer, is only viable in areas that get plenty of rain. Without the rain, the nitrogen builds up in the soil, sinks down and poisons the aquifer. It happened in Israel while I lived there. I worked at the part of the university which monitored the condition of the country’s air and water. Israel is a dry country with a climate much like Arizona. Our people went from one Kibbutz to the next Kibbutz warning all of them that continuing to use nitrogen-based fertilizer would poison the aquifer by 1985.

We were wrong.

It poisoned the aquifer in 1982. Now, there is no aquifer in the country. All the water comes in tankers from Turkey or from the Sea of Galilee (called “The Galil – pronounced “Ga-leel”). In an arid climate, rainy and dry years are normal events. One always prayers for normal rain, but droughts are part of the climate pattern and can last for years.

This is why part of the annual prayer cycle includes the autumnal prayers for rain. On a good year, there will be rain clouds by late October or early November. On a bad year, you may see very little rain at all and not until December. Considering that spring starts in January, that doesn’t leave much time for rain.

Empty dam at Manchaug

A few years ago, The Galil was more than 13 meters lower than normal and I don’t know how it’s doing now. I understand they have added desalinization plants that are helping, but the population of the country has more than doubled (tripled?) since I left in 1987.

FYI, a meter is one yard plus 3 inches, so 13 meters is just under 120 feet below normal. Boats that sank during the time of Jesus were showing up because the water was so low.

We don’t merely overpopulate the world. We misuse it. The combination is lethal, at least for mammals, of which we are one. Between our enthusiasm for killing anything we think looks good stuffed and hanging on a wall and the natural destruction that farming and housing cause … the rate of destruction of large mammals is insane and with our current idiotic president, getting worse day-by-day.

There really isn’t a lot of time left to fix the climate to make this world livable for the next generations. We aren’t waiting for climate change. It has arrived. And when you live in cities like New York and Boston which actually lie below sea level, a rise in sea levels won’t take long to swamp our shorelines. East and west coast cities are in imminent danger and the flooding in the midwest is catastrophic.

Whatever we SHOULD be doing to fix our climate? We aren’t doing it.

What’s invisible but you wish people could see?

Roaring Dam: Photo: Garry Armstrong – Behind the dam is a mountain of poisonous soil from the factories and mills that used the Blackstone to dump their pollution over the years. They can’t take down the dams because it would release the poisoned soil.

The poisons in the soil, air, and water.

What’s the most ridiculous fact you know?

I think life is ridiculous, our government is idiotic, and an awful lot of our population is incredibly stupid. There’s no way I could pick out one part of that as the MOST ridiculous.

What are the unwritten rules of where you work? If you don’t work (retired or unemployed) what are the unwritten rules you live your life by?

Dogs eat first.

How do you feel about putting pineapple on pizza?

Pineapple is delicious on ham and I love fresh pineapple. It doesn’t belong on pizza. But other countries put even worse stuff on pizza like peas and corn. El yucko.

Toilet paper, over or under?

Over. Even the patent for the toilet paper roll shows it over, not under. The only reason for putting it underneath is that you have kittens who think unrolling the entire roll is tons of fun.

What’s the best type of cheese?

Remains of the feast

Cheese!

I’m torn between blue/Roquefort, strong cheddar, hard parmesan, and romano. But really, I just like cheese! Almost all cheese except whatever that yellow mushy stuff they call “American” cheese is. Whatever you call it, it ain’t cheese.

RAINDROPS KEEP FALLING ON MY HEAD, GARDEN, CAR, BIRDS, SQUIRRELS … Marilyn Armstrong

A Photo a Week Challenge: Raindrops

It has been raining more in the past few months than in any other months in the history of weather records, which is more than 200 years. April was the rainiest month ever recorded. Surprisingly, I don’t have a lot of rain pictures because I got pretty sulky about the rain and refused to go out unless it was a doctor’s appointment or grocery shopping. But I have a lot of pictures of birds and squirrels in the rain.

They don’t seem to mind. Or maybe having no choice in the matter, rain is just there, like the wind and the trees. It’s life in the big woods. Like snow and heat. When outside is home, the weather is life.

This squirrel is actually shaking off the raindrops.

Rain on Election day. Probably should have known it wasn’t going our way.

Rain on the window

Rain on the feeder’s roof

Rain on the Cowbirds

THE CHANGING SEASONS: FEBRUARY 2019 – Marilyn and Garry Armstrong

The Changing Seasons: February 2019

This has been a very strange winter. Instead of what we usually get — mountains of snow accompanied by very cold weather — we got a tiny bit of snow, a fair amount of sleet, and a lot of rain and wind.

Photo: Garry Armstrong – House and some snow

Aldrich Street – Photo: Garry Armstrong

In a lot of ways, this is a good summary of this winter. A little snow, a lot of sleet, and when this picture was taken, 60 mph winds were blowing.

And of course, there were the birds. Two bird feeders, about 100 pounds of birdseed … and one Panasonic 4/3 telephoto 100-300 mm lens later …

And of course, our Christmas cactus that has been in more or less continuous bloom since Thanksgiving ..

And more pictures from Garry.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

If you look beyond the fence, you’ll see Gibbs and the Duke by the front steps

Photo: Garry Armstrong

The Changing Seasons Version One (photographic):

    • Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery that you feel represent your month
    • Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.
    • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so that others can find them

Bonnie and living room

The Changing Seasons Version Two (you choose the format):

    • Each month, post a photo, recipe, painting, drawing, video, whatever that you feel says something about your month
    • Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!
    • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so others can find them.

Three bright birds

If you do a ping-back to this post, Su-Leslie will update it with links to all the other photographers.

WEATHER AND WINTER – Marilyn Armstrong

Our weather is weird. In the past decade, we’ve had winters where we are buried in 12 feet (about three meters) of snow next to winters where we don’t get any snow — or so little, we never need to shovel. Or this winter where mostly, it has been so warm with a day or two of cold, then more warm weather. We’ve had the rainiest spring, fall, and winter ever recorded or remembered. It’s pouring right now.

Cold Cardinal Monday

It’s late January — and our dogs are picking up ticks. The ground has not frozen.

Two days ago it was -4 Fahrenheit (-20 Celsius) and today, it’s 50 Fahrenheit (10 Celsius) and it’s pouring rain. Three days ago, we got snow and then freezing rain, winding up with an inch of solid ice on everything. It was like cement. Immovable.

Today is Thursday. It’s warm, raining hard, and blowing a gale.  Everything is washing away. Not a bird in sight because the wind is too strong and they dare not fly. The wind is so powerful our 150-foot (46-meter) oak trees are swaying in the wind like grass. Kind of scary because should one of them fall we are underneath the trees. Big trees. Very big.

An early January morning

Germany used to be a cold country. So was Switzerland. Now they get spring and summer before us. Although New England has always had erratic weather patterns, we had seasonal winds and water temperature that was typical year-to-year. We knew where the weather came from and what it meant. Now, we know nothing. The northern storms are not coming down. Our storms are coming up from the south or the west. No more “Montreal Express” to bring down the arctic weather.

How come ticks are alive in January? We’re going to have massive invasions of insects because of how warm it has been through much of what ought to be winter. Parts of our house are damp and beginning to rot from the rain.

The sun from the east

We get cold days, but just a day or two at a time. Then, it warms up overnight and it’s sort of spring again. I don’t mind not having icy roads, but I mind not having seasons! I never thought I’d hear myself say it, but I actually miss the snow.

We’ve always been weak on Spring. We used to laugh that we got exactly enough time to race down to the local department store — when we had department stores — and buy a bathing suit between the last snow and the first daffodils.

This year, we also missed Autumn, the one really good season we get around here.

Are we getting climate change? It would appear we are in the middle of it. The winds are not blowing from the same directions they used to. The ocean is too warm. Birds are not migrating. Bears aren’t hibernating.

What is our world doing about it? Not much.

And eastern morning …

As for the depression that comes with winter darkness, that’s the only thing that hasn’t changed. I write my way through it. I take pictures of birds. It helps.

Writing helps most. It gets dreary in the winter. Dark until well into the morning and dark again long before dinner. We may change the weather, but so far, we have not managed to change the rotation of the earth or how it circles the sun — or tilts towards or away from the burning orb in the middle.

Last March!

Even among the many who believe in climate change, no one has any idea what to do about it. It’s such a big thing and we are little tiny people living in a damaged world.

THE CHANGING SEASONS AND CHANGING FAST – JANUARY 2019 – Marilyn Armstrong

The Changing Seasons: January 2019

I can truly say that this entire month has been about birds. There have been a few more pictures here and there, but effectively? Birds. All birds all the time.

The birds help keep me sane in an insane world.

And there are so many MORE bird pictures. Buy a couple of feeders, get a good lens and a camera and you don’t have to worry about the world. You just have to worry about catching a picture of a chickadee diving off the feeder.

One Mourning Dove

And there are many woodpeckers, either a lot of Goldfinches or Warblers or both (take your pick, I personally have given up identifying anything) … and a new bird, the “house finch” — a little red finch that came from Texas via a whole lot of pet stores who weren’t allowed to sell wild birds in cages, so they just let them go and now, they live here.

House Finch

About The Changing Seasons

The Changing Seasons is a monthly challenge where bloggers around the world share what’s been happening in their month — and show how the weather has changed. Right now, there’s a lot of weather changing because this thing called “climate change” is affecting many countries all over the world.

You can call it whatever you want, but it’s here and it’s going to get a lot worse. If we can do nothing else, we can take pictures and talk about … the weather. Because the weather matter and it’s going to matter more and more as we ignore the problems this planet faces.


If you would like to join in, here are the guidelines:

The Changing Seasons Version One (photographic):

  • Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery that you feel represent your month
  • Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.
  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so that others can find them

The Changing Seasons Version Two (you choose the format):

  • Each month, post a photo, recipe, painting, drawing, video, whatever that you feel says something about your month
  • Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!
  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons so others can find them.

If you do a ping-back to SuLeslie’s post at the following link:

https://zimmerbitch.wordpress.com/2019/01/26/the-changing-seasons-january-2019/

she can update your post with links to everyone else’s.