February 2017 weather rollercoaster

She was TICKED and rightly so.

It snowed – again – in Albany, NY in February 2017. It snowed so little last winter, and indeed this one (less than 17 inches to date by February 9) that when it actually took place, people were SHOCKED. They complained it was cold, in upstate New York, in winter; oh, please.

And they have forgotten how to shovel. If you do it frequently, it’s much easier. If you get down to the sidewalk level, then the pavement gets a chance to dry up. but if you don’t, the covering turns to ice, and it’s pain to walk on. And if you live on a corner lot, clear to the street in BOTH directions!

There were school closings and delays in the area on the 9th and the 13th. The latter in particular got on my nerves. I noticed that Albany schools had a two-hour delay, as did the school my wife teaches in, and I confirmed this at 6:30 a.m. on the Times Union newspaper website. I’m watching CBS News This Morning, which starts at 7, not particularly paying attention to the closing scrolling along the bottom. But I did happen to notice that Albany city schools were shown as CLOSED! What?

I ran upstairs to the laptop in the office and saw that I had an email from Albany SNN (School News Network) that the schools were indeed closed, posted at 7:08 a.m.! I also confirmed on the TU website. It was called SO late that, as I was out shoveling the walk, and my wife digging out the car, she saw a teacher at the Daughter’s old school who had not heard about the closing, only the delay. She was TICKED and rightly so.

There’s a basic arithmetic rule in my household that apply to snow days:
* If the Wife’s school delay/closing is greater than, or equal to, the Daughter’s school delay/closing, this is good.
* If the Wife’s school delay/closing is less than the Daughter’s school delay/closing, this is a PITA.

I rushed to work, took care of a couple must-do tasks, and less than two hours later was taking a bus home and taking 3/4 of a day “vacation.”

And after these two storms, which brought the seasonal total to a mere 41 inches (less than average), it got warm. The snow went away as the temperature reached the upper 60s (upper teens C), breaking a couple daily records, 69F on the 23rd, and 74F on the 24th (!) before going back to more seasonable temperatures. I even rode my bike to work work a couple days. (I need to – ouch – do that more often.)

December rambling #1: 21st Century Schizoid Man

If Hollywood designed the perfect candidate to represent the anti-Christ for evangelicals, he would be thrice married, twice divorced, a builder of casinos, a sexual predator (unless the women are ugly), a liar…


New York Times investigation: Guards punish black inmates more severely than whites inside New York State prisons

The Essential Selfishness of School Choice

Why didn’t Andrew Cuomo’s special-session wish list include closure of LLC loophole?

Reagan press aide’s response to AIDS crisis

John Key departs as New Zealand prime minister, and the civility of opposition leader Andrew Little was stunning, compared with American politics

The long history of the U.S. interfering with elections elsewhere

John Glenn Dies At 95. He was the first American to orbit the earth, before his political career. He was a Presbyterian ruling elder, for whom one of my pastors was named.

Faux news

From Richard S. Vosko: Benjamin Corey, who studies theology and culture said, “the problem isn’t that people write things that are untrue, but that so many people are quick to believe things that are untrue.”

Fake news is like Jessica Rabbit and No facts? What does that mean?

Weather Channel: Note to Breitbart: Earth Is Not Cooling, Climate Change Is Real and Please Stop Using Our Video to Mislead Americans

Despite social media outrage, the “Fisher Price Happy Hour Playset” is not real

Fake Or Real? How To Self-Check The News And Get The Facts

Revealing fakery – and stupidity

I was telling one of my sisters, just this weekend, what a pain this “fake news” is for a librarian, who deals with the dispensing of information every day.

Sorry to burst your bubble, but don’t all Americans live in their own little worlds?


The Trump Dump: Tracking the New Administration’s People and Policies

If Hollywood designed the perfect candidate to represent the anti-Christ for evangelicals, he would be thrice married, twice divorced, a builder of casinos, a sexual predator (unless the women are ugly), a liar and a man so in love with himself that his fondest wish is to die in his own arms.
– From an Oklahoma pastor

Demagogue in Chief


War Is Peace. Freedom Is Slavery. Trump Won In A Landslide.


Trump to Remain Executive Producer on ‘Celebrity Apprentice’

The president-elect is issuing statements to world leaders that benefit his family’s corporate empire

Fox’s Shepard Smith Debunks Trump’s False Claims Scrubbing Russia Of Involvement In The US Election

This is what happens when Donald Trump attacks a private citizen on Twitter

Saturday Night Live Is Basically Just Reciting Facts About Donald Trump Now

Only a ‘Love Army’ Will Conquer Trump

It’s difficult to deny his incredible impact on the news this year ― for better or worse

Will Ivanka Trump Be the Most Powerful First Daughter in History? If she weren’t doing the family business, I’d have no problem with her unpaid advising her father in govt. It’s, as Big Brother and the Holding Company noted, The Combination of the Two that’s the REAL problem.


1843 Magazine/The Economist: The Scientists Who Make Apps Addictive

Altruistic People Have More Sexual Partners

Metric matters

Will Lacey was just a baby when doctors diagnosed a rare form of cancer and told his family there was only one end. Nobody then could imagine the journey ahead


Denzel Washington reunites with his childhood librarian for her 99th birthday

Medieval graffiti ‘peacock’ discovered in Sudbury church

NOT ME: One of those held hostage was Roger Green, who said he spent the entire time praying

Now I Know: Ring Around the Lunar Orbit and NASA-L and When Your Brain Nose Something Is Missing and Home Sweet Apartment Building

Color of 2017: Greenery

How is ketchup made?


Greg Lake, Emerson, Lake & Palmer Co-Founder, Dead at 69 – the first Greg Lake vocal I recall: 21st Century Schizoid Man – King Crimson ; also from that album, Epitath; Welcome Back My Friends – Emerson, Lake and Palmer

Bob Dylan’s Nobel Prize in Literature was accepted on his behalf by the musician Patti Smith -it was transcendent; Bob Dylan’s Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech

Ravel, Bolero

Cantina Auditions

Ain’t No Sunshine

Come Together With More High-Caliber Beatles Analysis

The Definitive List of the 41 Best-Selling Cast Recordings of All Time

What if, instead of writing and starring in Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda et al. had instead done Sweeney Todd

The Secret Jewish History of Robbie Robertson and The Band

Leon Russell in the Dark

The Four Functions of a Church Choir

The Great Guitar Drought of 1960-1963

J is for scientist Joseph Henry

Joseph Henry created a program to study weather patterns in North America, a project that eventually led to the creation of the National Weather Service.

Joseph Henry (December 17, 1797 – May 13, 1878) was born in Albany, New York, to William and Ann Henry, two immigrants from Scotland. “In 1819 he was persuaded by some influential friends to pursue a more academic career, he entered Albany Academy, where he was given free tuition. He was so poor, even with free tuition, Joseph Henry had to support himself with teaching and private tutoring positions.”

Henry excelled academically. He “discovered the electromagnetic phenomenon of self-inductance,” which I shan’t attempt to explain, but it’s a big deal.

“The SI [international standard] unit of inductance, the henry, is named in his honor. Henry’s work on the electromagnetic relay was the basis of the practical electrical telegraph.”

After teaching at the precursor of Princeton University, and excelling as a scientist, he became the first Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, always working “tirelessly to support the field of American science.”

“Henry focused the Smithsonian on research, publications, and international exchanges. The system of international exchanges begins in 1849, with the Smithsonian providing a clearinghouse function for the exchange of literary and scientific works between societies and individuals in this country and abroad. Also by 1849, he created a program to study weather patterns in North America, a project that eventually led to the creation of the National Weather Service.”

The Albany (NY) School District science fair is named after Joseph Henry.

See the glass window? I view it almost every week, as it is a Tiffany creation, found in the Assembly Hall of First Presbyterian Church of Albany. Mr. Henry was baptized in the church, albeit in an earlier building.

Here is a memoir of Joseph Henry by Simon Newcomb, read in 1880, shortly after his death in his quarters in the Smithsonian Castle in Washington, DC.

ABC Wednesday – Round 19

I just want the information, please

waterissacredmniwiconinodapl1. I get an alert from WSOC-TV in Charlotte, NC on Facebook when a significant news story comes along. On Friday, the sky turned black around 5 pm, the result of a storm. As I watch the picture, a stream of FB emojis scrolls along the lower part of the screen. Sad faces, wow faces, likes at different levels floating along the screen.

A bit later, another alert: an accident that killed two people. A bunch of mostly sad faces, a few wow, and of course, the like button, buzzing across the screen as we see an aerial photo of automotive devastation.

It is a case of “Because we can, we do.” How are you FEELING about this piece of news, Carolina? This not only in bad taste, but a distraction from what’s taking place.

Maybe we can do this for the 2017 State of the Union. Wait, wait, I was saying I thought it was a BAD idea. (Expect someone will do this next year.)

2. I was watching the US Open tennis tournament on ESPN2. There was an exciting 4th Round match going on between Rafael Nadal and Lucas Pouille. They would cut away to commentators, not the ones who were following the match, but other people, interview people with less-than-insightful questions. This is during the match, where we miss some court action to find out, if Pouille wins, there will be three French in the next round. What in the water over there? or something equally banal.

I like watching tennis. Commentators telling me first-serve percentage or the number of unforced errors is fine. Taking me away from the action is not.

3. Meanwhile, I find it really odd that I had seen not one story, on NBC or CBS, at least, about the Standing Rock Sioux protest in North Dakota, with tribes gathering together to block construction of a crude oil pipeline until a confrontation took place, and still zero on the evening news. This story from The Guardian lays it out.

I HAVE read several stories elsewhere, many from the “alternative” press, such as Indian Country Today and Democracy Now and Common Dreams and Nation of Change and Truthout.

I am pleased to note that the Presbyterian Church (USA) offers support for the tribe’s efforts to halt the pipeline beneath the Missouri River.

ADDENDUM (06:10): North Dakota activates National Guard to protect the pipeline instead of our tribes


The winter of my discontent

Friday the 13th, my lovely bride got up at 4 a.m. and drove me to the train station.

tired.ferretIt’s cold, it’s snowy, but it’s also winter in upstate New York, so I’m not one to complain. (I save my vexation about the weather for the summer.)

So the stuff outside is not specifically bothering me, though if I were to, it would sound like The Grounds for Violence – Key of Bart. People who don’t shovel their walkways, ESPECIALLY at the corners, and make it difficult to walk; now THEY really bug me.

I did fall down outside recently, trudging through the white stuff, and had a difficult time getting up. You’d think the snow would be more forgiving, but I guess not when it’s 10F/-12C. Landing in it managed to bang up both shoulders, my left knee, and my right thigh; my back and ribs are hurting, too.

This is Black History Month and, at church, I’d somehow gotten myself involved with not only the adult education for February but most of January as well. The annual luncheon process became more complicated by ANOTHER event in February at church.

Because the calendar fell as it did, I was unable to go to the annual Midwinter’s gathering in my college town area, which I often find restorative, because it clashed with RESPONSIBILITIES at church; it’s only a problem when February 1 is on a Sunday.

The Daughter’s church musical is on March 1, which has meant attending extra rehearsals.

A big issue in my life is work, which has become stressful. We had had five librarians working on reference questions. One has been out on maternity from Thanksgiving, returning at the end of February. But another left to take another job at the end of January, and I will miss seeing her every day. Worse, there is no promise the position will be filled.

So for most of February, we’ve had three librarians, except on those days when one of us was out – at least twice because of the weather – and we had but two. Yet the workload did not ebb.

Surely, it’s THREE funerals in seven weeks that have worn on me. They were actually all very nice events in their own ways. I spoke at two of them.

I think that sense of loss has made the deaths of public figures, such as Bob Simon and Lesley Gore – my, I LOVED You Don’t Own Me – somehow more poignant.

Basically, it’s that I’m damn tired. The Tuesday before my cousin Robert’s funeral, a cousin called, waking me at 10:30 p.m. telling the funeral as on THAT Friday. I went back to sleep, but then woke up again at 1 a.m., trying to problem-solve how to get there by looking at Amtrak and Greyhound schedules. I never DID go back to sleep.

When I got home Wednesday evening, I was SO exhausted that I changed into my pajamas at 7 p.m. A half-hour later, the doorbell rang. One of my church buddies was there to pick me up to take me to a meeting, something I had asked him to do only two days earlier. I ran upstairs to get dressed and went out.

Friday the 13th, my lovely bride got up at 4 a.m. and drove me to the train station a half-hour later. Took the Amtrak to New York City, the subway to Queens, and then a bus to the funeral parlor. At the end of the day, got a train to Penn Station, then the Amtrak back to Albany (or rather Rensselaer, on the other side of the river), and waited for the CDTA bus; got home at 11:15 p.m.

It’s all made me rather impatient. After an Islamic center in Houston, TX was torched, some Facebook friend of mine, someone I knew in childhood, wrote: “May HaShem forgive me, but I don’t think it could happen to a more deserving group of individuals…Terrorists, whatever you choose to call them, but human they are NOT…!!!”

Someone unknown to me replied to her, “Such comments are disgusting and a real Chillul Hashem“. I just unfriended her, only the second time I’ve done that. Can’t be bothered with the debate.

Some of this will likely get better. The weather will break, a coworker will return, the play will be over. Now if I can be sure there won’t be any more funerals to attend anytime soon, I’d be a whole lot better.
“What Makes Us Happy?” (The Atlantic, June 2009).