I know why the weather is wierd

Astute North American winter weather watchers know, as does anyone living on the Eastern Seaboard, that this winter’s weather in the US has been really weird. Not just slightly unusual, but waaaay off in terms of the snowfall expected at various points along the coast – and elsewhere.

The various early snowstorms were not really that unusual – sure, a few records may have been set the first time DC and Maryland were snowed over, but that’s to be expected now and then.

I began to be suspicious that something was up when we had several storms in a row – or rather, not-storms here in Massachusetts, but with real storms in the mid-Atlantic. Having that once is unusual, but it’s been a regularly recurring thing this year.

The thing that tipped me off something was truly out of balance was the complete non-storm earlier this month. A significant storm was forecast for Thursday the 11th. It was a picture-perfect forecast, coming the afternoon beforehand, and resulted in many local schools closing, and various snow emergencies being declared. And then… nothing happened. A few flurries. Very disappointing – well, perhaps not to some schoolchildren!

Now a total mix-up in New England weather forecasting isn’t that odd – happens every couple of days – what was truly out of balance was the parking ticket amnesty declared. Since there wasn’t any snow, but there were a lot of parking tickets given out due to the snow emergency, a lot of people were upset at having to pay unfair parking fines. And – gasp – the Mayor granted an amnesty and discounted the tickets! Unbelievable! A Boston politician giving up income that was legally theirs? Something was clearly unbalanced in the Force.

Once again this week, the Greater Boston area is looking forward to a not-storm for several days: plenty of rain and snow, but temps in the mid-thirties; hence, no real accumulation, and not much positive for the winter weather lovers (albeit the mountains may do better for the skiers if it stays cold enough up there). Instead, snow is forecast across all sorts of places in the south and midwest that rarely ever see snow.

I’ve finally figured out what’s causing it.

It’s us.

The people of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

It’s our fault. You know why?

We sent a Republican to fill Kennedy’s seat [1].

This winter’s weather is karmic payback for the imbalance in our local politics. Think about it – Boston area weather is a mess, but isn’t getting great snow (the one pretty & skiable saving grace of bad winters). On the other hand, DC and the Mid-Atlantic are getting pounded repeatedly – regularly stopping work in our Capitol. The connection’s pretty clear, I think.


[1] For those not fortunate enough to live in this Great Commonwealth, this is referring to the long-held US Senate seat of Ted Kennedy, which was recently won by the Republican Scott Brown in a special election held due to Kennedy’s death last year. And while Massachusetts has a history of electing the occasional Republican to local political offices, it has widely been seen as a staunchly Democratic state when it comes to Federal offices.

A frosty morning… oh, and THANKSGIVING FIRST

It was startling to be driving in to work this morning and noticing the frost all around, and even ice on the puddles. Ah, winter, are you truly here already? At least it makes for a beautiful sunrise over the fields by Soldier’s Field Road (albeit brief as you drive by).

It’s also startling to realize just how early Thanksgiving seems to be coming this year: in just one short week Americans will be getting ready for the big treks to (or from) family. I think part of it was all the activity around ApacheCon – along with doing my usual conference planner work, I was also pretty busy with some ASF organization work. (OK, pretty busy is quite an understatement.)

In any case, I’m glad that at least one store (Macy’s, I think) is explicitly holding off on the rest of the “holiday season” until after Thanksgiving. Reminder: there’s only a few more days to get on the “THANKSGIVING FIRST” bandwagon to decry the many establishments who put up Christmas decorations far too early in the season. I remember seeing some tree decorations displayed next to the Halloween candy recently… and also made the mistake a few weeks ago of walking into the Cambridgeside Galleria, which is all done up in it’s Christmas finery. I love the winter holiday season too, but I have the sense when I’m celebrating it early to do it privately.

Something’s not right…

Now I know we shoveled a few days ago. And I’m pretty sure we shoveled last night. And we did everything else you’re supposed to do, too. I’d already been shopping for milk, bread, and eggs, and made sure the shovels were there, and gotten snow tires on my car. Plus parking my car the right direction to get out if there’s snow. Plus getting everything laid out for perfect french toast.

But there’s still snow on the ground – a lot of it. I really thought we shoveled. And I’m pretty sure we made the french toast: it was delicious, even though I didn’t fully dry out the bread like the recipe says. I couldn’t remember shoveling and eating french toast if I didn’t do them, right?

Right?

Oh, no. Oh no oh no, oh no.

You don’t think I’m stuck in one of those time loops, do you?

Oh, no.

A temporal causality loop or something, like the Enterprise has been in a half-dozen times or so. Yikes! and it’s almost the holidays, I’d hate to miss Christmas just because I was in loop 15,9727 of this darn snowstorm!

Oh, no.

I really am in a loop; I’ve posted the same blog posting twice in the space of a month! Hmmm… must get more lattes and increase my coding speed at work, and increase my creative juices for my blog!

It sure is pretty though. I just hope it stays nice and clean and white, before melting then freezing again. At least the snowflakes were light and fluffy and smaller than the average puppy.

Signs Of Impending Financial Doom: Potholes

In this first of a series of classes about financial indicators, let us turn now to potholes. Everyone open your economics books to page 235, and … What? Of course some economics book somewhere uses potholes as an indicator – those economists have a theory about everything. They always use the same graph with two angled lines to explain everything, but it’s always tracking something different.

Potholes. Is it just me, or are there a lot more of them this year, considering how early it is in the winter? Yes, I grew up in New England, and yes, I understand frost heaves and plow damage. But there seem to be a lot of potholes already, even though we’ve had less than a handful of bad storms. If this trend continues throughout the winter, we’ll all need 4×4’s to drive through some towns pretty soon.

Most of them are the simple “patch the snowplow chipped up”, and aren’t very deep. But some stretches of roadway have dozens, in big long zigzag lines wherever there was previous road repair. There are a handful of larger potholes, although we all know that once they start, it’s only a matter of time until they grow. I’ve seen a few that expose two layers of pavement below on some roads that have been frequently patched instead of being resurfaced.

Only a few wheel-sized potholes of death so far, and no car-swallowing ones, at least not on my commute. But is this some freak factor of the recent Ice Of Slippery Death storms? Or is this a hidden financial crisis indicator that as yet is under reported in the media? Could this be the key to understanding financial markets? Might New England road maintenance expenditures not be a forerunner of a larger metric, like, I dunno, salt futures? Enquiring minds want to know!

Pothole Resources

On state highways:

To report a pothole on a state highway, contact your District Headquarters. To find out which MassHighway District your city or town belongs to, Click here.

Interesting. Googling “report a pothole” turns up a lot of links in Hawaii. Also, someone has reportedly use a hovercraft and GPS to create a map of Barbados potholes – they’re not just for frost heaves anymore!

Something’s not right…

Now I know we shoveled yesterday. And I’m pretty sure we shoveled this morning. And we did everything else you’re supposed to do, too. I’d already been shopping for milk, bread, and eggs, and made sure the shovels were there, and gotten snow tires on my car. Plus putting the big silver windshield cover on my wife’s 4WD in the driveway. Plus getting everything laid out for perfect french toast.

But there’s still snow on the ground – a lot of it. I really thought we shoveled. And I’m pretty sure we made the french toast: it was delicious, even though I didn’t fully dry out the bread like the recipe says. I couldn’t remember shoveling and eating french toast if I didn’t do them, right?

Right?

Oh, no. Oh no oh no, oh no.

You don’t think I’m stuck in one of those time loops, do you?

Oh, no.

A temporal causality loop or something, like the Enterprise has been in a half-dozen times or so. Yikes! and it’s almost the holidays, I’d hate to miss Christmas just because I was in loop 13,497 of this darn snowstorm!

Oh, no.

I really am in a loop; I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve said oh, no, now. OK, think. Think, think, think. I’ve got to send myself a message. Now I’m not Data, so I can’t program anything to broadcast in subspace, but… hmmm. I know! I could write something in the snow!

Wait, there’s too much snow. Guess we’d better shovel some. Hmmm. I seem to remember shoveling already.

I take back my night is dark posting

Wow – what you get for not reading the news is not realizing that about one million of your fellow New Englanders are still out of power from yesterday’s ice storm. Between that and reading tales of woe in Boston-area commutes (just heavy rain here, not ice), I’m really thankful we stayed around home today!

I thank the gods for the sea breeze. We live close enough to the coast around Boston that we get Boston weather, which is notably different from Metrowest weather a mere 6 miles to the west. Summers are cooler, and winters are warmer than just on the other side of the ring of hills. Hey, isn’t there a historical/geographical name for this ring of hills (most of them drumlins)?

Score one for Ning – some locals have created the Ice Storm Help Network already. Neat. Sadly, if your power is out, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to participate in the network, at least sans iPhone. And even then, I wouldn’t be surprised about cell towers being out.

As for us, we got our christmas tree this morning at Mahoney’s in Winchester, and the weather was cool but nice. They have all the usual holiday displays and plants – it’s actually a great place to walk around in the winter, since you can meander through the warm greenhouse when it’s cold outside. And this year they have a couple of really cute displays of stuffed animals from Hansa. Not only are the stuffed animals very detailed (and cute), they’re laid out in a couple of spots complete with plants all around, almost like a jungle (in potting supply greenhouse) or christmas wonderland. It took a while to get our little one away from all the fun.