Archive for January, 2013

2012: Another Year of Weather

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

This final week of January, much of the country has experienced all 4 seasons, with snow immediately followed by a warm spike. A record high temperature in Northern Virginia was accompanied by flood warnings, and a winter tornado watch.  A 40 degree overnight temperature plunge should quickly restore the snow that was snarling commutes the day before yesterday. All this meteorological drama reminds me that this is the time of year when I blog about how extreme the weather has been since our return from England.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, “2012 was a historic year for extreme weather that included drought, wildfires, hurricanes and storms.” Unlike last year’s record-setting tornado activity, that form of violent weather was below average this year.  2012 did start with some unusual winter tornado activity, but after a severe spring outbreak, the country experienced a record-setting stretch of days without a tornado fatality (a record that came to an end today). It was the warmest year on record in the contiguous United States, with Cleveland, Akron and Columbus (presumably Heiser Hollow), and Washington Dulles all experiencing their hottest years ever.

Elizabeth and I were in Japan when the June 2012 Derecho blew from Chicago to Delaware, taking out my parents’ power at the cabin, and several quick hours and 325 miles downwind, blowing all the furniture off our Northern Virginia deck, making Kirk’s the-parents-are-away party especially memorable.  A violent and deadly complex of thunderstorms that knocked out power to millions of homes, most people were not familiar with derechos, although it turns out that the most severe storm in my memory, which caused several fatalities in Cleveland during the 1969 4th of July celebration, was also a derecho. I stayed in Japan during a period that was so hot that the government asked salarymen to leave their neckties at home.  Elizabeth returned to a powerless house with a backyard full of branches and a freezer full of garbage.

Although much of America experienced droughts this year, and it was a record setting year for wildfire damage, after last year’s record rainfall, the relatively normal rainfall in Ohio and Virginia was welcome. But it was stinking hot, with both house and cabin experiencing record heat waves. Then the hurricane season started, with 2012 tying 2011 as the third most destructive year


Hurricane Sandy, nicknamed ‘Frankenstorm’ because it started as a hurricane and then merged with a nor’easter, impacted 29 states. Its $60+ billion in damage made it the #2 most destructive storm after 2005’s Hurricane Katrina (the most costly natural disaster in US history). Although the eye went relatively close to our new Northern Virginia townhouse, encouraging most DC area residents to stay home, the damage here was relatively light.  NYC was hit with record-setting storm surges, knocking out power in some areas for weeks. Hunkered down in his college dorm in Long Island, Kirk experienced his 2nd week-long weather-related power outage. (A little poetry in honor of Sandy.) Recovery from Sandy was hampered by an early November Nor’easter that dumped snow on an area where thousands were homeless.

Last year, the weather ran hot & cold, but more of the former than the latter.

There’s No Joy in Beantown

Sunday, January 20th, 2013

The gridiron wasn’t brilliant for the Beantown 11 that day;

The score stood 28 to 13, with but 1 quarter more to play,

There was ease in Brady’s swagger as he stepped up to the line;

There was bomb in Brady’s play call as the coach held up a sign.

And when, responding to Gisella, he made a little wink.

The fans had no idea, he’d be so quickly in the drink.

And now the leather covered ovoid came hurtling through the air,

And Brady stood a-watching it without even mussing his hair.

Thrown by his mighty forearm, its true the pass was caught,

Tipped by a leaping Raven, it wasn’t the receiver that he’d sought.

American Melodrama

Tuesday, January 1st, 2013

Snively Whiplash and Dudley Doright tied Sweet Nell to the train tracks, but promised her that they’d return in 2 years, before the train arrived, to set her free. They apologized, but said that she’d be fine and that she shouldn’t worry, explaining that tying damsels to train tracks was only done for the best of intentions. But as the purported arrival of the train grew nearer, Snively and Dudley just couldn’t seem to agree on how to untie Sweet Nell.

Now unlike most melodramas, this one was special. Sweet Nell wasn’t just a cast member, she was the audience too. Part of Nell wanted Snively to be the one to untie her, while the other part of her longed for Dudley to be the hero. Sweet Nell watched the news every night, and reviewed blogs every couple of hours to see when, or even if, she’d be freed from her cruel (albeit artificial) fate. She didn’t know if it would be Whiplash or Doright, both, or neither—but it was exciting. Tied to the tracks, Sweet Nell spent hours talking, even arguing, with herself.

What Nell didn’t see was that out of the corners of their eyes, Snively and Dudley were sneaking quick looks at each other, just to make sure that the other one was following the script. Nell, still tied to the rails, and avidly watching every moment of melodrama, didn’t know that out of sight of the camera, her two competing saviors were sharing beers. Only hours before midnight, Snively and Dudley announced that they still had not figured out how to untie Sweet Nell. Oh, the tension was mounting.

Would Sweet Nell be freed to be tied up another day?

Would Snively be the hero, or would Dudley be the hero?

Then, just before the train was arrived, both of them, together,  untied Sweet Nell, rushing her away from the tracks.  Both of them stood up on nearby picnic tables, bragging simultaneously  “Sweet Nell, Sweet Nell, I saved you from the train.  He wanted you to be destroyed, but I wanted to save you. And I did!”  Snively and Dudley held out their arms to Sweet Nell, whispering “pick me, pick me, I saved you from the train.”

Who would Sweet Nell choose?

Would they have to share Sweet Nell? Maybe they could take turns, switching roles every couple of years.

Would Sweet Nell remember who tied her to the tracks?

Did anybody actually see a train?

Does it matter?

Tune in next year, for the next exciting episode of Authentic American Melodrama.