Sunday, September 30, 2012
Sunny and dry, and that's a problem
Here it is, the end of September, and the weather is glorious! Bright sun all day and an afternoon high of 68, with the overnight low expected to come to a nice cool 50. Nothing better than snuggling under blanket and quilt! Seattle’s 10-day forecast, according to the Weather Channel, shows nothing but sunny days one after another. It may get a bit warmer or cooler, within a fairly narrow range centered around 66, each afternoon, and the overnight readings are anticipated to fall into the mid-upper 40s.
Tempering this wonderfulness is the observation that it’s actually been too clear here. Although our string of no-precipitation days officially ended at 48 (July 23-September 8), the “rain” has been only the merest of sprinkles—0.01 inches on each of three days in the middle of the month, though I don’t recall seeing more than three or four drops the whole time.
Bright weather west of the Cascades means that it’ll be even drier than usual on the other side of the passes. As in parched, sunbaked, arid. As in tinderbox. As in wild fires.
As reported by the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center, it’s been a very bad year for fires. Their current Large Fire Map looks like this:
Clearly, the hot spots lie right along the eastern slopes of the Cascades. The biggest of them, Table Mountain (over 60 square miles, in Cle Elum) and the Wenatchee Complex (more than 85 square miles, west of Wenatchee), were touched off by lightning strikes on, respectively, September 8 and 9. Yep, while Seattle was cloudy with a few sprinkles, the other side of the mountains saw thunderstorms (but no rain).
Three weeks later, neither of those fires has been contained, much less extinguished. NWCC estimates that Table Mountain is 55% contained, with containment expected within a week or so. The Wenatchee Complex is only 45% contained, with no containment estimate given. Those fires are on steep, extremely difficult terrain. Under the command of the Forest Service, over 2000 firefighters, on foot and in helicopters, are combating the two fires. Hundreds of homes and other structures have been destroyed, with nearly 1000 more still threatened.
Every once in a while, when the wind blows from the east, Seattle gets just the slightest whiff of smoke in the air. I’m sure it’s stronger and more frequent on the Eastside, and still worse in Snoqualmie and North Bend. But it must be rather hellish on the other side of the Cascades.
Obvious as it may be, this isn’t the time or place to drone on about funding cuts in federal and state services. Nor is it the time or place to say a lot about how the teahadists, libertarians, anti-government types, and wingnuts are undoubtedly pleading for more federal and state manpower, equipment, disaster relief, etc., etc.
I’m sure that if their heads weren’t pounding from all the smoke they’ve been inhaling, they’d recognize just how dissonant their cognition turns out to be.
Wednesday, September 12, 2012
That’s what the scale said this afternoon.
I don’t know how long it’s been since my weight started with a 1 instead of a 2. Two decades? Three? Yeah, I was wearing only my underwear at the time (what do jeans, shirt, and sneakers weigh?), but it’s a momentous milestone no matter how you slice it.
The interesting point is that I haven’t really been trying to lose weight. Oh, I go to a gym a few times a month. But I’m not particularly diligent about eating low-cal stuff. I don’t eschew butter, cream cheese, red meat. Not by any means.
So how have I lost 20-plus pounds in the last several months? I can’t really say, except that I am enjoying more vegetables, such as the lentil-and-kale soup I whipped up a few days ago. And I do think twice before choosing whether to go for a second helping.
I’m now at the next-to-last hole on my belt, and by jeans are mighty loose at the waist. So next time I shop for pants, I’m going to give the next size down a try. I expect they’ll be too tight ... but not nearly as too-tight as they would have been for many, many years. But if it turns out that they fit, what a feeling of accomplishment that would be!