Archive for November, 2018

RETURNING TO JERK JUNCTION

November 20, 2018

“In War: Resolution, In Defeat: Defiance, In Victory: Magnanimity In Peace: Good Will.” Winston S. Churchill

Last month, while in Safeway, I encountered a lady in the bread aisle, carefully examining a loaf, right where I wanted to go. I mean carefully.  I could not get to the loaf I wanted, and she seemed oblivious to everything else but that loaf of bread.

Rather than disturb her, I took Suck it Up Lane to the next aisle to get some yogurt and then returned, figuring she might be gone.  Nope, she was still checking out that same loaf of bread.  

I had enough of Suck it Up Lane, so I turned on Excuse Me Way, reached around her leg, got the loaf I wanted, and left.  She never moved, and I think, although I couldn’t swear to it at a Senate hearing, that she gave me a dirty look.  So be it.  If she wanted to be on Jerk Road, I wasn’t going to follow her, although jerk is usually a masculine noun.  In any case, shoppers usually excuse themselves a lot at the store; if not, well, one probably owns property on Jerk Road. 

Suck it Up Lane is for wanting to yell at people but not doing it.  There is also Winston Churchill Boulevard: “In victory, “Magnanimity.”  That means when the winner doesn’t lord it over the loser.  You don’t brag, you don’t rub their nose in it, you don’t laugh at them, and you don’t become a jerk.  Instead, you try to be generous, hoping one day that when you lose, which you will, that you may be treated the same way.  In other words, jerks put up Trump/Pence signs before the midterm elections, since neither of the two was running.  A jerk will drive his pickup slowly through the neighborhood with a big American flag flying from the bed, proclaiming patriotism, as if the rest of us were somehow deficient.  Blatantly showing the flag doesn’t make one patriotic any more than singing the Star Spangled Banner makes one a diva or knowing the difference between its and it’s—or your and you’re— makes one a published author.  Only jerks keep obsessing about Hillary Clinton, yelling, “Lock her up”  at rallies designed to stoke the base, where they also scream obscenities. Only jerks keep harping on her emails when the president’s own daughter did the same thing.  Only jerks keep harping on chain migration when the president’s in-laws got citizenship that way.

That’s a tall order.  I thought of the jerks who put up the sign east of Walterville for the Republican congressional candidate and another set of jerks who did the same out by Dexter, on the way up to Willamette Pass.  I found I could drive by without looking at those signs, since they are for only a month every two years, the perennial congressional candidate is a hypocrite, and I have discussed him before.  I wish he would go away, but he won’t. 

It was the signs for the president and vice president placed near the congressman sign that made those doing it jerks. Yes, they were on Jerk Road, near Highway 126 or 58.  They were lording over the fact they won.  Yes, they did win the electoral college, at least in the votes counted if perhaps not all the ones actually cast.  They are glad, not only that they got the kind of country they seem to think it should be, but really glad that My Side is upset.  They take delight in knowing we lost.  That’s right down the centerline of Jerk Road.

But in My Side’s defeat, there is Defiance Avenue, defiance of bullies, who live in the past, with a vision of an America that never existed the way they think it did. They want to take America back to a time of (old) white men’s ruling most everything, segregation, women’s place in society, few or no regulations, no abortion under any circumstances, no birth control, pregnancy and raising the child a woman’s problem.  

Lack of adequate, known, safety and other regulations has led to several million’s dying from lung cancer, transportation-related accidents, firearms, bad food, water, and air, suboptimal medical and mental health care.

The Other Side too often disparages and ignores science, even as they enjoy the electronic and much healthier world it helped develop.  Without proof, they say, “It’ll (the climate) will change back.” When? Why? How?

Here in Lane County, The Other Side’s incumbent  wanted to define a county commissioner’s race by who was better for the timber industry.  He discussed timber and so-called Oregon values in his ads.  He was funded by the timber industry, and after listening to his commercial, I realized he was out of touch with both the electorate and the time. I’m not an expert on body language, but he sure looked and sounded angry.  He was only three years younger than I, which is no compliment.  His opponent, a woman 25 years younger, runs a property management service that my wife and I used for two years with total satisfaction.  Timber is still important here, but it doesn’t define Oregon. Many of us resent being called environmental extremists for being upset at aerial spraying, clear cuts that leave slash and later burn (accelerating at least two major fires in 2017), polluted waterways, a forest management timeline of only 10 years, rather than 100, or even 200, the idea that we can cut again in 40 years, rather than 100, the unsightly scars that are replaced by monoculture forests, and the assumption that the soil will be just as good for second and third growth as it was for the original old growth.  He lost by 12%.  We flipped the commissioners from 4-1 Other Side to 3-2 My Side.  This is the kind of change we need locally that is going to directly help my life.  I’m not jeering at the ex-incumbent.  I’m hoping we can have a county more suited to the 2020s than the 1920s, when timber workers truly thought our forests were infinite.

Jerks cheer when the president thinks body slamming a reporter is a good thing, rather than Jerk Expressway behavior and should end, especially given the number of close associates to the president who have actually been charged, are in jail, or face prison time.  The new Supreme Court justice once said about being a good judge: “In short, don’t be a jerk.”  And a few days later, he was a jerk, still being confirmed, not surprisingly.    

I have traveled Jerk Road more than I care to admit, but I try to take the first exit I find. That requires a JerkMeter, called self-awareness, and a JPS, Jerk Positioning System, otherwise known as compassion or a conscience, so that one can quickly find his way off.  

Yes, his way off.

CONFESSIONS FROM A MODEL RIDER

November 11, 2018

This past summer, the first in Eugene’s records to have no rain in June, July, and August, the driest 11 month period on record, was almost not the driest.  In late July the weather models showed a significant storm system about 10 days out, then 9 then 8 then 7 then 6 days that was going to deliver a big soaker in early August, almost unheard of.  Given how dry we had been, this was eagerly awaited, and after all, 6 day forecasts aren’t too bad.  At 6 days out, the TV meteorologists were all over this storm.  The next morning, first thing I did was check the models: to my chagrin, both the GFS and the Euro forecasted that storm wasn’t going to happen.  It was gone.  Kaputt.  Sayonara.  Weg. Hasta la bye-bye. Evaporated from fantasy.  Never happening.  It was a real bummer to me, and as I learned recently, to many others as well.

For those few of you who are model riders, like me, it’s OK.  I understand. I feel your pain.  

I follow the Portland Weather Blog (TV weather caster Mark Nelsen), and the California Weather Blog (Daniel Swain), Cliff Mass in Seattle, reading their comments, but it wasn’t until I read an article in Bay Nature that I realized there was a kindred group down in the Bay Area.  They coined the term “model rider,” not me.

A model rider logs on a few times daily to check the long range weather models: the GFS, or Global Forecast System (American); the ECMWF (the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, or the Euro), and the GEM model (Global Environment Multiscale, Canadian.)  I don’t check the latter too often, but I look at the other two.  I even get the detailed European ones, which I have to pay for, but it’s worth it. I have access to world wide weather on the world wide web, and I can look at high pressure domes baking Scandinavia, or get 2 meter temps in Casablanca, should I want to.  I don’t, but I do have the anomalies (differences from normal) for the upper level winds, the 3,9, and 14 km models for precipitation, the jet stream, and the low level winds.  I can get local temperature forecasts using seven different models, four of which I had never heard of.  I can scan what I need in a few minutes, and if I’m traveling, I can check out a lot of other stuff.  I can get 500 mb heights for the upper level, anomalies, or departures from normal, all color coded, run them fast or slow out 3, 10, or 16 days, and even 46 days if I want to take a look at the precipitation anomaly.

Following the models gives me an idea of what I might expect in the long range.  I have watched the models come into agreement about a storm, or a prolonged high pressure system (more on that shortly), or a big wind event, days before it makes the forecasts or even the National Weather Service forecast discussions, which are also about four times a day.  I follow them in several places—Portland is my home area, but I also look at Medford, Seattle, Reno, and Sacramento.  Some of these—Medford especially—give a great synoptic summary, how something we have here, like a persistent high pressure system, which many of us refer to as a “Death Ridge,” is related to and stays as a result of deep troughing, or low pressure, downstream on the East Coast.   Medford is realistic; Portland is a little behind.  This morning, Medford said the next storm was more than a week away and might split.  Portland was still talking about the sprinkles Wednesday that won’t hit where I live. Medford NWS used the term “sacrificial front,” the first front that slams into a high pressure system, weakening both the front and the system, but allowing a second and additional fronts to break through. 

That assumes the high pressure system doesn’t build back in behind the front, which it often does.  That has happened a lot this year.  

The Bay Area group refers to forecasts out 200-300 hours as “fantasyland.”  They are right, and they confirm what I discovered my first winter here:  numerous models kept showing big storms that were going to hit us in the long range time frame.  About 7 days out, those storms disappeared from the models.  For those of us who think rain is good, like real weather, these models sometimes pull a “pull the football up,” referring to Lucy and Charlie Brown, in the classic Peanuts cartoon, where Charlie Brown hoped it wouldn’t happen and always got fooled by Lucy at the end.  Fantasyland is really wet.  Reality is really dry.

It’s not often I read something where the comments and feeling expressed match mine so perfectly:  if the models say persisting high pressure is going to set up for two weeks, persisting high pressure will set up for at least two weeks.  If the models say it’s going to rain in 7 days, there will be a high pressure system instead.  We model riders know that.  Storms get delayed a day, then 2 days later delayed another 2 days, then disappear. Want wet weather? Fantasyland awaits.

One of the commentators  on the Portland weather blog was bemoaning that “Seattle got all the good stuff,” meaning weather.  I wrote back and said that those of us (like me) in the South Valley thought that Portland got all the good stuff. Nobody is happy, unless we get some good action.   

The models over predict the rain we do get:  I cancelled a hike in the Cascades last week because of what was going to be a good soaking with a lot of wind in the mountains.  I was leery about cancelling it, because in my own mind I knew we were going to get minimal rain down here, because that has been the pattern for almost the last eleven months.  That’s what a drought is, and we are in a severe one.  We got minimal rain.  I wouldn’t have needed rain gear.

I waited 20 years in Arizona for the drought to break, and it finally did—after I left.  I stopped looking at the Climate Prediction Center for Arizona, because it invariably predicted higher than normal temperatures and less than normal rain.  And for at least seven years that I looked, it was always right.

The latest GFS model said 10 days ago showed a good rain this weekend, then the models backed the rain off until the following Wednesday.  What I am now hearing from the forecast discussions is “rain later this month, near Thanksgiving.”  The problem is that Thanksgiving this year is early.  Besides, for the last few runs, the models have shown dry weather out 10 days.  Today, they show nothing for 16.  Thanksgiving is the 22nd.  

Maybe they meant “rain later this year, near Christmas.”  Or, as I learned to say during the monsoonal busts in Arizona, “maybe it will rain next year.”

Bummer.