Looking at my weather app to see what I should wear this morning — I’ve been switching back and forth the last couple of days between outfits one would wear six months apart in a sane universe — I saw something I’d never seen before.
I’ve seen advisories about poor air quality before, which warn that people with chronic respiratory conditions — people like me — should probably not spend time outside exerting themselves.
But this was new. I’d never been told the weather is “unhealthy.” Not that I recall. So I clicked for more info. (see image below)
Which was more startling. I’d definitely never seen a warning that “EVERYONE may begin to experience health effects.”
It went on to say that the problem was “particles” that “typically result from wildfires, smokestacks, bacteria, or small dust particles.” Which is not what I would call “specific.”
Wanting to narrow that down, I did something I seldom do — I turned to television weather. No, I didn’t turn on the TV and wait for something to come on telling me about the weather. I’ve never understood how anyone cares so much about weather that they’re willing to do that. I went to a TV station’s website, and called up the most recent weather report.
The guy went on and on and on about temperatures, and wind speeds, and yadda-yadda, and never once mentioned the quality of the air.
My wife assumes it’s the pollen I wrote about yesterday. And she’s out cleaning the deck wearing a mask.
Me, I’m going to do my 10,000 steps today on my elliptical trainer, right here in my home office.
But you know, I’d still like to know what it IS, and what about it caused the app to give me this unprecedented (as well as I can remember) advisory.
So far, it’s just behaving like a mobster in the protection racket in a B movie: “Ya oughta stay inside, if ya know what’s good for youse. Doin’ udderwise could be… unhealthy…”
In the foreground the old boards, in the background the new ones. In the far background, you can see some new ones that we’ve stained.
For the last few weekends, we’ve been engaged in a project.
The deck on the back of our house has two layers of boards, running perpendicular to each other. I don’t know whether this is standard deck construction, but that is what we have. I suspect the top layer is newer than the other. When we bought the house 21 years ago, the deck was a roofed, screened-in porch. Since the roof was removed, the top layer of deck boards haven’t weathered well. So we’re replacing them with new, treated boards. We’re also spacing them a bit so we don’t get standing water on the deck any more.
We’re doing it in stages. We’ll tear up a section — a tedious process that involves various implements of destruction (hammers, flat bar, crow bar, my old cat’s paw I’ve had since I worked construction while in college, and occasionally my reciprocating saw). Then we clean and repaint the boards underneath. Then we buy enough lumber to do about ten rows. Then we repeat. We’re a little bit past halfway done now.
Of course, the last couple of weekends have been brutal, thanks to the weather. What, I must ask, will August be like if May is like this?
But it’s made worse by the way the weather app on my iPhone keeps taunting me. I keep consulting it with the thought, “Let’s see whether the heat is going to try to kill me again today.”
For some reason, when I tap to call it up, it does not default to the weather where I am. Oh, no. The first thing I see is the weather in Dublin. So on Saturday, I was told the high would be 67, and the next day it would be 63, and the day after that 58, with a fine sprinkling of God’s generous rain. I could almost hear it add, “And would ye be after havin’ a Guinness after yer toil today, me lad?”
When we were in Ireland, the difference between the weather here and there was not that huge. A little cooler, and I was glad most days to have taken my water-resistant winter coat, although some days I took it off for a short while. Decent weather for the end of winter and start of spring.
But now, it’s like being on different planets. Ireland is the sane, normal, temperate planet. And West Columbia is on the one ruined by greenhouse gases. I’m reminded of the line from “The Matrix” to the effect that “It was us that scorched the sky.”
Last week was absurd for May. This coming week will be more so. Why must we live like this?
Other good listens for precisely this weather, this time of year, in this latitude, is John Lennon’s “Imagine” album. Not the title track so much because it’s overdone (and, good as it is, overrated). Go with “Jealous Guy” or something along those lines. You want to listen to this in an empty room (like the one in the video) with lots of reverb.
Finally, these climatic conditions are also conducive to the enjoyment of some of Rod Stewart’s early hits, such as “Maggie May,” “Handbags and Gladrags” and “Mandolin Wind.” All very autumnal.
That is all. You may go… And I must get back to work. The music helps…
Well, this is kind of cool to know. I received this via email over the weekend:
Thank you for being an American Red Cross platelet donor. Your platelets may be a lifesaving gift to patients in need, including cancer and trauma patients, individuals undergoing major surgeries, patients with blood disorders and premature babies.
After first ensuring local needs were met, your donation on 9/12/2017 was sent to Hospital Municipal De Cayey in Cayey, PR and Hospital Menonita de Caguas in Caguas, PR to help patients in need. Your donations are on their way to change lives!
Platelets have a very short life span – only 5 days! It’s critical for us to collect platelets continuously to ensure they’re available for patients when they need them. Your ongoing donations are greatly appreciated.
On behalf of the hospitals and patients we serve, thank you for being a Red Cross platelet donor!
That was actually several days before the hurricane. So, while I’m glad to have helped Puerto Rico, I guess my timing was a little off.
Here’s hoping that they sent my most recent donation, on Sept. 25, to Dominica. They really need help there…
A couple of days ago, the Peace Corps evacuated all personnel from Dominica, including my youngest daughter. She rode on a fishing boat, boarded at the only functioning wharf, to St. Lucia, four hours away. We were finally able to speak to her — via Facetime — late Thursday night. Right after we spoke, she posted this on Facebook:
Just got to St. Lucia. I’m fine. Please keep Dominica in your thoughts. The country is completely devastated. I don’t even want to explain the apocalyptic catastrophe we witnessed today on the way out. It is utterly heartbreaking. I can only rest knowing that the strength of the Dominican people will prevail.
The Peace Corps will spend the next 45 days assessing whether to send personnel back in.
That’s great for us, because it means my daughter will be coming home this week. But she and others are terribly worried about their friends left behind — whom they can’t contact. As I understand it, they were evacuated in large part because the places where they stayed were destroyed, as well as the places where they worked, such as schools and other public facilities. My daughter didn’t get the chance even to see the village where she lives — she was evacuated straight from the hotel in Roseau where the PC folks had sheltered during the storm. But she’s heard that 95 percent of roofs in her community were destroyed.
In other words, Dominica is for the moment in dire need of different kinds of help than what the Peace Corps folks were there to provide. Right now, they need food, water, tarps to replace roofs, electrical power, basic communications. Everything is down.
For a powerful evocation of the situation, see the speech above that Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit delivered at the United Nations on Saturday. The video is above. Here are excerpts:
I come to you straight from the front line of the war on climate change….
Mr. President warmer air and sea temperatures have permanently altered the climate between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn.
Heat is the fuel that takes ordinary storms – storms we could normally master in our sleep – and supercharges them into a devastating force.
In the past we would prepare for one heavy storm a year.
Now, thousands of storms form on a breeze in the mid-Atlantic and line up to pound us with maximum force and fury.
Before this century no other generation had seen more than one category 5 hurricane in their lifetime.
In this century, this has happened twice…and notably it has happened in the space of just two weeks.
And may I add Mr. President, that we are only mid-way into this year’s hurricane season….
We as a country and as a region did not start this war against nature! We did not provoke it! The war has come to us!!…
While the big countries talk, the small island nations suffer. We need action….and we need it NOW!!
We in the Caribbean do not produce greenhouse gases or sulphate aerosols. We do not pollute or overfish our oceans. We have made no contribution to global warming that can move the needle.
But yet, we are among the main victims…on the frontline!
I repeat – we are shouldering the consequences of the actions of others!
Actions that endanger our very existence…and all for the enrichment of a few elsewhere.
We dug graves today in Dominica!
We buried loved ones yesterday and I am sure that as I return home tomorrow, we shall discover additional fatalities, as a consequence of this encounter.
Our homes are flattened!
Our buildings roofless!
Our water pipes smashed…and road infrastructure destroyed!
Our hospital is without power!…and schools have disappeared beneath the rubble.
Our crops are uprooted.
Where there was green there is now only dust and dirt!
The desolation is beyond imagination.
Mr. President, fellow leaders – The stars have fallen…..!
Eden is broken!!…
The time has come for the international community to make a stand and to decide; whether it will be shoulder to shoulder with those suffering the ravages of climate change worldwide; Whether we can mitigate the consequences of unprecedented increases in sea temperatures and levels; whether to help us rebuild sustainable livelihoods; or whether the international community will merely show some pity now, and then flee….; relieved to know that this time it was not you….
Today we need all the things required in a natural disaster that has affected an entire nation.
We need water, food and emergency shelter.
We need roads, bridges and new infrastructure.
But we also need capabilities of delivery….
I call upon those with substantial military capacities to lend us the rescue and rebuilding equipment that may be standing idle waiting for a war; Let Dominica today be that war. ….because currently, our landscape reflects a zone of war.
MIAMI — U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) directed the U.S. Navy amphibious ship USS Wasp to the Leeward Islands, where it will support U.S. State Department assistance to U.S. citizens in Dominica, as well as U.S. foreign disaster assistance requested by Caribbean nations impacted by Hurricanes Irma and Maria and led by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
The ship’s arrival will expand the mission of Joint Task Force-Leeward Islands (JTF-LI), which deployed to San Juan, Puerto Rico Sept. 9 to support U.S. relief operations in St. Martin. To date, the task force has purified more than 22,000 gallons and distributed more than 7,000 gallons of water, delivered nine water purification systems, as well as high-capacity forklifts and vehicles to help the Dutch and French governments offload and distribute aid to the island’s residents.
USS Wasp arrived off the coast of Dominica today with two embarked SH-60 Sea Hawk helicopters, bringing the total military helicopters flying missions for the task force to 10.
The task force is scheduled to begin its support to USAID-led assistance to the government of Dominica over the next 24 hours.
The airlift and transport capabilities of amphibious ships make them uniquely suited to support the delivery and distribution of much-needed relief supplies, as well as transport humanitarian assistance personnel in the immediate aftermath of a natural disaster….
Beyond that, I’m concerned at the moment about whether our country is adequately responding. The release says Wasp is there to support “USAID-led assistance to the government of Dominica.” But elsewhere, I read that USAID has so far allocated only $100,000 to the effort, according to Dominica News Online:
Working through the United States Agency for International Development’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA), the Government of the United States committed USD$100,000 to provide immediate humanitarian assistance, and will be working closely with the Dominica Red Cross to address the most critical needs. According to the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), 100 percent of the country was affected by Maria’s Category 4 fury, with approximately 56,890 persons impacted….
One hopes that’s just the beginning of what we do — funding needs assessment before sending the real help. The Brits — Dominica was once a British colony — had needs-assessment people on the ground last week, and now they’ve pledged £5 million. Which is more like it.
In the meantime, if you’d like to do something personally to help, here are a couple of small ways you can:
Tarps for Dominica — Reports indicate that most homes on the island have lost part or all of their roofs. This is an effort to provide the most basic shelter for the moment by raising funds through Gofundme for 1,000 tarps.
Caribbean Strong — To quote from Facebook, “Carib Brewery will donate $5 for every post shared using the hashtag #BeCaribbeanStrong! We are starting with $500,000.00 and our goal is to raise $1,000,000.000 from September 21st to October 31st. Lookout for our digital thermometer to know when we have reached the $1M pledge! Share with our hashtag today to contribute toward relief efforts!”
I’ll share more as I know more…
Screengrab from video by The Evening Standard of London.
Maria had battered the island nation of Dominica a day earlier. Prime Minister Skerrit described the damage as “mind-boggling” and wrote on Facebook that he had to be rescued after winds ripped the roof off his official residence. But little information has emerged since then, with the storm having taken out phone and power lines on the island.
And that’s the way things still stand. My wife has had two conversations with stateside Peace Corps officials. In the first, they said all PC personnel are safe and accounted for.
That’s it. We haven’t spoken with our daughter or been able to communicate in writing. Which we’re anxious to be able to do.
And there have been virtually no news reports. I’ve grabbed the images above and below from the Facebook page of WIC News, “Your home for Caribbean and global news you can trust.” I hope they don’t mind my using them.
This morning, I knew that Hurricane Maria was headed toward Dominica, the tiny Caribbean island where my daughter lives in sight of the sea.
But I was reading that it was a Category 1, and I knew that my daughter would be with the other Peace Corps personnel in a hotel in the city of Roseau — a place U.S. officials considered safe.
I’d heard that by the time the storm reached Puerto Rico it might be a Category 4, and I took that to mean AFTER Dominica. And I had exchanged Facebook messages with my daughter, and she seemed unworried. This was the third time this month the Peace Corps people had gathered at that hotel ahead of a storm, and to her, it seems to have become something of a routine.
So I was shocked when I got come and learned that it was bearing down on Dominica as a Category 4.
And I realized my mistake: American news is tailored to American audiences. And too few Americans are familiar with the Caribbean, beyond a vague notion that Puerto Rico is there. So when that report said it would be a Category 4 when it reached Puerto Rico, it was assuming I didn’t care about Dominica.
But I do. A lot.
Now, American news media have caught on to the existence of the island, and are reporting such things as ”
It’s supposed to hit at about 9 p.m. We’re trying to stay in touch with my daughter, but how long will they have wi-fi? If they lose that, and phone service, we’ll just have to wait. Like this is the 19th century or something.
Anyway, that’s what’s on my mind and in my heart tonight. Prayers will be appreciated.
That headline may seem jarring, given that our governor has just pre-emptively declared a state of emergency in anticipation of a storm that may or may not make landfall in South Carolina days from now.
We are, it seems, at “OpCon4.”
But last night, the Category 5 hurricane passed north of the island of Dominica, where my daughter lives and works for the Peace Corps.
She and other Peace Corps personnel went through several days of uncertain waiting to find out whether they’d be evacuated to another island. Then, with the path reducing the threat to Dominica to tropical-storm level, they were simply gathered together in a hotel and stayed on the island.
The weather is fine now, she reports, but Peace Corps officials are having them stay where they are another night, until it’s certain that roads are clear.
Quite right, too. I’m all for caution.
As for the threat to SC, well, I’m concerned, of course. And the effects could be terrible, as we saw last week in Texas. But we live on a biggish landmass, and at the moment I’m less worried than I was the last couple of days…
OK, people are going to start throwing brickbats at me for being mean and uncaring, an apathetic monster.
But I’m not. In fact, I have relatives I saw just the other day down at the beach who have thus far been unable to return to their homes in Lake Charles. I get the human cost. I care.
I’m just asking, how much coverage of Hurricane Harvey do we need? And my tentative answer is, “Maybe a little less than we’re getting.” Or maybe the same amount, played a little bit differently. Or maybe I’m wrong. It’s just a gut thing, based on my experience the last few days.
I ask this as a guy who has spent most of his life as a newspaper editor, figuring out how best to deploy finite resources — people, space, time. You can’t cover everything, so what will you cover, and to what extent? And how will you present it?
I was part of the team at The State that was a runner-up for the Pulitzer in 1989 for our coverage of Hugo (we’d have won it, too, if San Francisco hadn’t had an earthquake in the middle of the World Series). I’m proud of that wall-to-wall coverage that went on for days, weeks, while our state struggled to recover.
But as someone who is sitting outside the affected area, looking at national media outlets, I have to think the coverage, and/or the play, may be a tad excessive.
You may recall — if you’ve read anything other than Harvey coverage — that a lot of people accused Trump of burying the pardon of Joe Arpaio by doing it as the storm bore down on the Texas coast. But here’s the thing about that: News organizations can still cover such a political development, and play it prominently — if they choose to.
The last couple of days, I’ve started wondering about news organizations’ willingness to do so.
In the past day, North Korea fired a missile over Japan. Meanwhile, it was learned that a guy who worked for Trump reached out to a high Russian official for help in building a Trump tower in Moscow at the height of last year’s election.
You will say, But that’s just petty politics, and we need to take a break from that stuff when there’s something that affects real people happening — such as a big storm.
Well, yes and no. Assertions such as that always bring me back to the First Amendment. The reason the press has that special protection in the Constitution is so that it can make you aware of things you need to know in order to be an informed, empowered voter.
The kinds of decisions that you, as a citizen, are called on to make with regard to Harvey, are limited. You can volunteer to go help, if you see a way you can do so and make a real contribution. You can give money, or donate food or clothing, or give blood, if those things are identified as needs. You can tell your congressman you want him to vote to fully fund FEMA.
And I think that coverage that a) communicates the situation fully, and b) clearly shows how you can help is all to the good. Give us that coverage, and plenty of it.
But cover the other stuff, too. And, yes, that is definitely happening, or I wouldn’t know about those things. But I get the impression that these other important stories are getting pushed to the margins.
Look at the home pages of The Washington Post and The New York Times, above and below. Those screenshots contain nothing but headlines about Harvey. If you scrolled down on both of those pages, for at least another half a screen, it would be all Harvey.
And to me, that seems a bit… off. What’s wrong with letting people know, in their first glance at your news offerings, that there are other important things happening as well — such as the aforementioned missile over Japan? Harvey could still get the biggest headlines, and the most of them. But give us some balance, some perspective.
It’s a big planet, and most of it is not affected by Harvey. There’s a lot of other stuff going on. Don’t hold back from telling us anything we need to know about Harvey. But tell us the other stuff as well, and don’t bury it.
These days I drive a 1997 Volvo. It’s a great car, although a bit worse for wear. It was my father-in-law’s car, and my wife inherited it from him. The last few months I’ve been driving it, because our larger, newer Buick is more suitable for my wife to chauffeur the grandchildren in.
I love it, especially in the winter, as it’s the only vehicle among our three with heated seats. I hate having hot, dry air in my face. So I fire up the seat, and let the air I’m breathing stay relatively cool. It’s great.
But, being from Sweden, the car gets seriously traumatized by Columbia summers. For one thing, it has air-conditioning that probably works great in a place where a hot summer’s day is about 75 degrees, but tends to get overwhelmed by our Famously Hot days. But that’s OK; I stay comfortable enough.
I can’t say the same for the car. It freaks out, and the most dramatic manifestation of this is that it starts lying pathologically. On a typical summer day, it pretty much always claims that the temperature is 10 degrees higher than it is. It’s like it’s making excuses: You expect air-conditioning to deal with this kinda heat? Are you nuts?!?
Today, I left it parked with the windows and sunroof open, so it wouldn’t get too hot. I came back to the car, and it was claiming that the temp was 108 degrees!
I was riding down on the elevator this morning with a gentleman who regularly breaks his fast at the same place I do.
He was wearing his usual LBJ-style Stetson and some Clemson suspenders, having retired quite a few years back from the extension service.
As we stepped onto the elevator, as people tend to do, we started talking about the weather. (Yes, I know — we should all try harder than that.) Mindful of my audience, I expressed the wish that recently planted fields not be washed away, and mentioned how much nicer it would be if instead of getting our rain all at once, we could have a nice, steady drizzle for a number of days (my wife, the gardener, once told me that was better for crops).
He remarked that the weather used to be kinder that way, long ago. Then he said:
“When I was a boy, 75 years ago, we never heard of hurricanes. We called them…” and he paused to reach back for the term… “September Gales.”
That certainly sounds like a gentler, less menacing time.
I didn’t realize that term was a thing until I looked it up. Turns out it inspired a poem in The New Yorker, back in September 1960:
No, I wasn’t making a point about anything. Just sharing…
I’ve got to stop by the Food Lion to make some routine purchases for the weekend, and I’m already dreading having to fight the “Oh, my God; we’re all gonna die!” crowd stocking up on bread and such because the world will be coming to an end with a few flakes of snow.
So I rewatched the video above, to get me into a mood for laughing at the situation…
A front moving through the area has picked up some of that smoke and has created some hazy conditions.
“Visibility is reduced and people with respiratory issues should be extra cautious outdoors for the rest of the afternoon,” said WIS First Alert Meteorologist Ben Tanner. “Until the wind speed increases mid/late afternoon, smoke will continue to be a problem.”…
So, we have this to contend with as well. I just pass it on, thinking y’all might have been as curious as I was…
Have any of y’all been to the beach since the hurricane?
My parents are there having some cleanup done around their house in Surfside — the house my grandfather built, and left to my Mom — and my mother sent me this picture, with the caption, “No sand dunes.”
Wow. The dunes we’ve had for the last couple of decades had been artificially restored, but over the years the sea oats had grown on them, and they had become at least natural-looking.
Below is a shot I took of some of my grandchildren playing in an extreme high tide that came all the way up to the dunes — which you can see at left — in July 2015.
A couple of post=hurricane stories from down on the coast are making me feel like I’m missing out, stuck here in the Midlands.
First, there’s this item from the Sun News about the million-year-old Megalodon shark’s tooth someone found north of Myrtle Beach. My whole family spends a good bit of their beach time with eyes down looking for sharks’-tooth fossils, and if any of us found anything like this, we could retire happy from the search.
I’m just interested in collecting any stories you have of evacuating, or dealing with kids being home from school, or being prevented from doing things you had planned, or whatever.
My club was closed for breakfast this morning, so I made a smoothie and coffee at home. That’s about it for me personally.
My wife was taking care of all four of our grandchildren who live here into town this morning. They were having a good time when I left.
All that bottled water I bought Tuesday night is sitting there in my garage, probably to await the next emergency.
But then… the storm is still headed this way, and I don’t place absolute faith in those projections that say it will continue to glance off the coast. As I read the map, if it were to continue in the direction it’s going in right now, and not turn for the land or anything else, it would be coming straight at us, with the dangerous west side of the storm blowing straight through Columbia.
Normally, I don’t. I tend to take what comes, and react accordingly. But with the governor talking about evacuating the entire coast starting Wednesday, for a storm that might (OK, probably will) hit us this weekend, I thought y’all might want to talk about it.
So talk… For starters, anybody out there making plans, or changing plans?…
Look at those beautiful green lines of flowing traffic!
The story on the front page of The State about flood-related traffic jams seemed a bit out of sync to me (although I understand plenty of others continue to have trouble), because I read it right after my easiest crossing of the river since the floods.
Opening Jarvis Klapman really made a huge difference. I left the house worried that I was going to be late because I had less than an hour to get downtown… and it was a breeze. I couldn’t believe how well things were flowing on Sunset, until I saw the reason why — cars whizzing overhead on the Jarvis Klapman overpass.
You really don’t appreciate a simple thing like having a 15-20-minute commute until you lose it for a few days. And I would never have thought that closing Jarvis Klapman — which is never particularly crowded — would turn Gervais, Meeting, Sunset, Knox Abbott and Blossom into parking lots at rush hour.