Too Hot

I love how there are still scientists out there who will not commit to saying that climate change is at least part of the cause of our recent severe weather. July was the hottest on record of any month since such records have been kept, and the last 12 months were the warmest such stretch. This isn’t a new thing here people. How many times do we get to hear “last month was the warmest on record” before enough of us wise up to the problem. The New York times reported this today, interviewing Jake Crouch, “a climatologist at the agency’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C.” They wrote “Asked whether the July heat record was linked to rising atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases, Mr. Crouch said he could not draw that conclusion.” I get the impression that scientists are afraid to draw the obvious conclusion not because they are scientists but because they are afraid.

At least three scientists, James Hanson, Makiko Sato and Reto Reudy, have been willing to state that climate change is making a difference is out weather. In their report, Perception of Climate Change, they write:

“Climate dice,” describing the chance of unusually warm or cool seasons, have become more and more “loaded” in the past 30 y, coincident with rapid global warming. The distribution of seasonal mean temperature anomalies has shifted toward higher temperatures and the range of anomalies has increased. An important change is the emergence of a category of summertime extremely hot outliers, more than three standard deviations (3σ) warmer than the climatology of the 1951–1980 base period. This hot extreme, which covered much less than 1% of Earth’s surface during the base period, now typically covers about 10% of the land area. It follows that we can state, with a high degree of confidence, that extreme anomalies such as those in Texas and Oklahoma in 2011 and Moscow in 2010 were a consequence of global warming because their likelihood in the absence of global warming was exceedingly small. 

Note the last sentence. They took some heat for this. There are plenty of people who, mysteriously, continue to look (or not look) at the science and fail to see the problem for what it is. I am a bit mystified by what anyone has to gain by perpetuating the “hoax” of global warming. What scientist wants to be wrong? Why claim something isn’t true? In the science community a falsehood will get found out eventually. It’s not like this is a good thing. That is why it is a problem. Sure, you can call global warming a theory and say it isn’t proven. You wouldn’t be wrong. But you can say gravity is a theory, too. Go ahead and tell people that isn’t real.

Anyway, it has been to hot around here this summer. When we get rain, we get a big storm blasting through. Eighty degrees is now a normal daily temperature. That used to be hot, and plenty uncommon for me. We now use an air conditioner at night too often. What gives with that here? It is not just because we are getting older and can’t stand the same old heat. It ain’t the same old heat. Somebody needs to put in a lake at our house.

Call it controversial. Call it a theory. Call it a debate. Heck, call it Fred. It is not going away. It is hot and the weather is crazy. At some point human caused climate change will be a matter of general knowledge in the United States. We’ll catch up to the rest of the world eventually. In the meantime I am going to go make some cool drinks.


UPDATE: Here is another Times article that offers some perspective on the “new normal” with this gem: “it is increasingly clear that we already live in the era of human-induced climate change, with a growing frequency of weather and climate extremes like heat waves, droughts, floods and fires.” That cool drink is going to come in handy.

More Hot Painting

I didn’t get started as early as yesterday, but I did get some painting done on the house today. I got started about 8:30 because I needed new brushes, so I zipped to the hardware store before I could I could begin. I was working on the siding where there is a lot of trim, so it was slow going. I kept at it for a few hours, until 12:15 or so, then washed up and headed in for lunch. This is a big project for sure. I don’t really want to be painting when it is 88 degrees, as it was when I quit, but I need to paint while the sun shines, even if it is hot. Wicked hot.

Tomorrow I plan to paint under cover–walls under the roof of the porch, so it will be shaded, and if we do get those “slight chance of” showers I can keep working. Then I have the lattice to paint. That took pretty much forever when I primed it the other day and I assume it will take close to that or more with the regular old paint. Two more days of painting what I primed, then sanding (the part for my sander came in today) and more primer. Overwhelming, that is what you might call it.

I need to look into getting a sprayer. This house of ours is way too big to paint with brushes. We’ll see. Maybe I can rent one? We’ll see. For now I have brush work to do, and a deck to finish sanding, and some walls to sand. Oy. It will be hot again in the morning, but I will call it quits by lunch time. Then I will have the whole afternoon to sweat.

Where I Left Off

Lattice Waiting for Paint

Paint on House Siding

The Last Paint Left in the Brush

Holy Hotcakes

So it has been hot. We have ourselves a heat wave. Records are falling, power is failing and people are slumping. I spent the morning painting the porch. My wife had said she did not want to me to do that, but when the weather is good for painting outside, I’m on it. I primed the porch and walls nearby two days ago. That took about ten hours. Today I was less ambitious. I only painted for four and a half hours. The thing is, it helped with the heat. It was 77 degrees when I started and the thermometer rose the whole time, but gradually. I was in the shade so when I was ready to knock off it felt hot, but no hotter than when I started. I am glad I quit then, however.

I saw 95 degrees as the high temperature here. That is hot enough. The children spent several hours swimming in a pool and I joined them after lunch. That felt good. I could handle living on a lake, no joke. A pool is nice, but a lake is the way to go. No chemicals and more water.

Yesterday the temperature was over 90 as well, but I missed most of that. I spent the day at the office–the air conditioned office. That felt good. People used to just deal with this kind of heat. Granted, it didn’t typically last so long (we will have temperatures in the 80’s until Saturday, then one day of high 70’s, then back to 80’s and hotter again) but they dealt. People used to escape to Vermont to escape the heat of the city, however. Bad strategy these days.

Tomorrow I will paint again. A high of 95 is forecast. I will need to get started early and crank. No dilly dallying. Too bad I need to replace my brushes, which means a trip to the hardware store before I can start. But so be it. It will be hot, but I need to get this painting done. If I wait until it cools down, we will get rain. I would rather choose to do it in the heat than not have a choice to paint at all. And once I clean up, I will go swimming. Maybe even in a lake.

Hinesburg July 4th Parade 2010

Went to the parade. Sweated. My son and I waited in the sun while the girls in the family scooted off to ride a float. They handed 0ut candy while we watched the procession. We ate a slice of pizza afterwards at Good Times Cafe. Skipped the festivities. Too hot. Watched the fireworks in the swarm of mosquitoes from the home of friends in town. A good show, especially with the neighbors starting things off. It is hot again today. And tomorrow. Heat wave, baby.

On the Way to the Start

Girl Scout Float

Lots and Lots of Firetrucks...

And Classic Cars...

And My Favorite Tractor...

And of Course Llamas

Even the founding fathers would approve of llamas. I have not doubt.

Slaving Away Over a Hot Desk


It’s back to work time for this boy.  No more lounging away the summer days on a ladder with a paint can in one hand and a brush in the other and beads of sweat dripping into the eyes one can’t wipe clear because of the protective rubber gloves.  No more happy encounters with cucumber beetles who wish to share their produce with those who live inside the house.  Alas, it is back to Excel spreadsheets and phone calls and eventually, talking with students about their promising futures.  Starting yesterday, my brain had to rev up like a DVD just inserted into its cozy drive.  I think it is still spinning.

I did not break a sweat as I prepared for the upcoming academic year.  I went to meetings.  Sometimes I break a sweat at meetings because I have to present or I have to be responsible for enough that my armpits drip.  Nervousness they tell me.  My friend Spike refers to that as squirreling.  No squirreling today.  I didn’t even break a sweat when I blasted out the house for a quick bike ride before prepping dinner.  It was raining.

Did I mention dinner?  I baked up a summer vegetable gratin again.  I had to wait a couple of days from gathering all the ingredients as we had family engagements the past two evenings (last night we posed for family photos–it’s nice to have someone just tell me where to stand once in a while).  Think fresh tomatoes, three kinds of summer squash, potatoes dug up just two days ago, parmesan cheese and fresh herbs.  All baked together into a bubbling and steaming delight.  Two words:  Ooh baby.  My daughter ate it.  My son would not.  We fed him oatmeal.

This job I’ve got means working at home, often evenings, sometimes weekends.  Already I am thinking about what I might get done as my spouse tucks the children into bed.  I resisted actually doing anything so foolhardy this evening, however.  Instead I read about ten interesting deserts (one in Brazil is littered with lagoons when it rains) and a list of weird allergies (people really can be allergic to water, apparently.  And sex.).  Then I decided to bust out the old blog and get cracking.

I hung out with a friend recently who said that she never reads blogs because all they are is a bunch of people boring anyone who happens to stumble across them with repeated fannings over their boyfriends or overly detailed descriptions of their new puppies foibles.  I tried to tell her she might be able to find something that caters to her sense of humor or to her modern and refined wit, but she was skeptical.   Certainly I wasn’t going to point her here.

Did I tell you about my new puppy?  My sister-in-law’s kids are so in love with it.  And the way it wiggles its little hiney.  SO cute!

Anyway, summer is still here.  It is in the 80’s for Christopher’s sake.  Two days ago it was 91 degrees and the air was pretty much saturated.  It felt like Florida, where my electric bill would be like ten times what it is here in Vermont since I would pretty much be required to have an air conditioner running at all times.  I did wish we had an extra fan the other night.  We let the children use them and just sweated into the sheets.  Now I have to wear pants in this heat.  I just can’t bring myself to wear shorts at a school.  Maybe I should when it gets this hot, however.  But what difference would it make?  I will either distract students with my balding pate glistening with rills of sweat, or I will distract them with my Discobolos-like calves.

I can’t win.  Not in this heat.

Fire in the Stove

When I was growing up we had a wood stove to heat our house.  Mostly, this was an economical choice.  It was a lot less expensive to burn wood than oil, especially in our old house with its old furnace.  It got me hooked, however, not just for its penny-wise benefits, but for the heat it produces and the process it requires.

Back in the day we would get a truck load of logs delivered to the house and prep it all summer.  A full-sized logging truck would back down the driveway and unload with the claw.  I remember raising the power line to the house with a long board (safety first!) so the truck would fit under it.  Then we had a pile of logs to cut.

At first my dad did it all, but then I was allowed to help out.  I used the chain saw at some point and I definitely helped split once we had stove length pieces.  We borrowed a homemade log splitter from John Coile, one the tallest men I have ever met, and spent days busting them into logs that would fit into the stove.

We then, of course, had to stack it in the wood shed, rotating through the dry stuff from the previous year.  It was, indeed, a lot of work.  And we still had to start and maintain the fire once winter came.  It saved us money, sure, but I enjoyed all that work.  I learned to love to split wood.  And I learned how to start a fire and keep one going.  Now, married and with my own children, we have a stove and we keep it fired up.

It does save money.  We might get a tank refill of propane that costs us as much as a cord of wood.  We save hundreds of dollars each winter.  I like that the resource is both local and renewable as well.  It produces more greenhouse gases from our house, but probably fewer if you account for extraction and transportation of fossil fuels.  What I really love, however, is the ritual if it all.

I love to rise early on a cold morning, the house chilly, the clouds low, and crank up a fire.  I love to sit next to the stove with a book.  I love to feed the stove, carry in wood, split logs into kindling.  It is more work than turning the thermostat dial, but not all good things come easy.  I have no expectations that heating with wood is simple or takes little labor.  It is a task.  I emptied the ash bucket for the first time this winter, for example.  I had forgotten about that task.  Even that, however, helps us build compost when I dump the ashes on the compost pile.

We have a fire in the stove right now and I sit next to it as I write.  We have enough kindling and firewood indoors to start a fire tomorrow.  We will be warm when we head to bed and the house will cool as we sleep.  When we are gone during the day tomorrow, the propane will kick in.  I can live with that.  When I get home after a day of work away, I will pile up some wood and take a match to it.  Then I will warm my back and know that we will stay toasty, even in the worst of weather.