Archive for the 'Weather' Category


“Paging spring. Please report to the customer service counter.”

With each drearily passing day, I grow increasingly impatient with this bleak, grey, cold April. For a couple of weeks, it was odd — even funny. But now? Now it’s just irritating. Add the rain up here in the Northeast, and I can hardly bear it. I felt almost human yesterday when the sun came out for about five minutes. Then it began to rain more. We had rugby training last night outdoors in a constant light, but cold, rain. Mud can be fun — and it was — but let’s be reasonable with this temperature!

Frank Deford pointed out on NPR this morning that April is never a “seasonable” month. We always complain about April. But the problem this year is, rather than an unseasonable April, we’re experiencing a 61-day March.

This might help to explain:

(Where can I get me a pair of those shoes? Mr. Snowmiser does not shop at Payless, I can tell you!)

Of course, when the spring does come (and go — quickly) I’ll just be complaining about the heat and humidity.


Sick Time

As spring takes its sweet time getting here, I am reminded that, in this period of seasonal transition, i.e. April (the best April Fool’s joke I’ve seen in a while is yesterday’s temperature), one is well served to guard against germs and other nasties roaming the range. They seem to really sock it to you this time of year as the changing conditions play havoc with immune systems everywhere. I myself just got over my annual cold relatively unscathed. Now, right on schedule, it’s time for some minor throat trauma.

It’s around this time last year that I was fighting off an as yet undefinitively identified infection that was threatening to eat away the roof of my mouth. I can still feel the scars where the festering craters of decay had formed. I can still see the puzzled faces of the doctors with their pen lights aimed into my mouth (What is that?). I can still hear the otorhinolaryngologist wagging his finger, implying that my fondness for sex with men was probably at the root of my problem. (I still can’t figure that one out.) I can feel the needle pushed deep into my ass cheek for the first of a series of three just-in-case injections. (Praise Jesus, I didn’t need installments 2 or 3.)

The best part was the weight I lost avoiding, at first, solid food, and then all food, full stop.

Now we wait for the summer sun to come and burn off the fog of infection. Until then, people are getting pretty gross.

Yesterday while staring out my office window toward the street, I saw a woman sneeze on her kid. She was facing my building, pushing a little girl in an open stroller across the street. She reared back like a pitcher winding up for a fastball and let loose what looked to be an enormously satisfying sneeze. A thick mist issued from her face directly downward, raining droplets of biological refuse, visible from three stories up, onto her precious little charge.

She sniffed back some gack and carried on without pause.

Good luck, kid, I thought.

A day later, another woman on the subway let go of the chrome pole she was grasping so she could sneeze at her hand, only half covering her face, and then put it back exactly where it was on that pole. Another woman on the pole, wisely wearing gloves, registered her shock with a flurry of incredulous blinking and stepped aside to join a companion a few feet away.


It’s Snowing in the Bathroom

I work on the top floor of a 19th century building tenement building converted into office space. Lots of quirks. Lots of character. One colleague’s office has a sink. There are random non-functioning fireplaces scattered about the premises. That kind of thing. And I thought I had seen it all until this morning, when I walked into the bathroom (which includes a shower) nearest my office to blow my nose and felt little crystals of dropping down all around me. It was like Winona Ryder stumbling out into the backyard while Edward Scissorhands is carving an ice sculpture. (Well… all right. On a much smaller scale.) Apparently, when the wind picks up, ice particles are getting through a crack in the seal on the skylight.


Drip, Drip, Drop

Sometimes I prefer to be rained on than to use an umbrella.


Norway, José

KARE 11, a TV station in the Twin Cities, has issued an ad campaign in — what else? — Norwegian. At the end, he even says, “Ya, you betcha.” They’re promoting their new weatherman. And let me tell you, weather(man) or not — this kid is a little hunk of cute.

With a name like Sven Sundgaard, he sounds like he owns a coffee shop in Lake Wobegon. What choice is there? It begs for a little Scandinavian navel-gazing.


Summer is Dead. Long Live Summer.

This morning, in the kitchen, brewing coffee and cobbling together a meager lunch, with windows open all over the apartment and no air conditioning on, I noticed a coolness in the cross-breeze that wasn’t there yesterday. There was a dry, still and cold aspect to the morning air that made my arm hair stand up and my insides go soft. I love the first time every year I notice this coolness. It didn’t last long. It may be wishful thinking, but there will be more mornings like this in the weeks to come. And one day, in mid-September, I’ll realize that it’s here — it’s really here. Autumn is knocking on the door now, and summer is too hungover to get off the couch to answer. But it won’t be long before the Tylenol kicks in and summer will step out for a Big Bacon Classic and let autumn in for a while in its absence.


The Nice Thing About 95° and 50% Humidity …

… is that I don’t have to moisturize. My skin is plenty moist all by itself. If I did use any sort of lotion, it would only work back out of my pores and run down my face in great rivers of heavy, milky sludge anyway.

I’ve been showering three times a day at least during this heat wave. Normally, the soap would be burning my skin to a tight, dry, scaly mess. With conditions as they are, an hour after toweling off, my face has excreted a shiny, greasy sheen of salt and sebum. I could scrape my face with a strigil, like those ancient Olympians, and use the oil to read by lamplight tonight (thereby conserving electricity, thankyouverymuch, Mr. Bloomberg).

The downside is that my legs, unable to breathe under my oppressive chinos, are breaking out in a marvelous display of angry-looking epidermal eruptions. I feel pretty.

Can’t we just skip ahead to mid-September?


Feel it on My Fingertips. Hear it on my Window Pane.

For some rainstorms, umbrellas just don’t matter.

I am shivering in my air conditioned office now, while my pants hang immodestly over my office door and my socks hang over the doorknob. They’re nearly dry, but not completely. My shoes are another matter. Since removing them with a satisfying shlurrp! and far more effort than I am used to, I’ve set them on the floor to air out a bit. They may never be dry again.

This morning when I exited the F train, people were huddled at the foot of the steps that lead from the station out to the surface. Between the time I had entered the train in Queens and exited on the Lower East Side, the skies had opened up and let loose a torrent. I decided that I would walk the five blocks to my office rather than wait out the worst of the downpour. Who knew how long that wait might be? And I was already 10 minutes late for work.

My umbrella was strong, and it withheld the rain pretty well for about half a block. Then I realized my error. It wasn’t just the water coming down, but also the water that had already fallen. Some of the curbs were banking very high, very dramatically moving rivers, as the sudden flood rushed to the nearest sewage drains. I couldn’t even leap over some of them, so my shoes were drenched in short order.

The back of my pants from the knees down were soon soaked through. My socks were like cold rags. And my umbrella was beginning to sag under the pressure of so many gallons per second.

But my hair was still cute.

I was thrilled with the suddenly cooler temperature. This cloudburst represented a major victory against my arch nemesis, the high humidity we’ve seen in recent days. Usually it reduces me to a sweaty mess because nothing evaporates on some of the worst mornings. Today I was even wetter for a different reason, but at least I wasn’t boiling over from the heat.

What choice do we pedestrians have but to get wet when it rains? Should I stop and wait under and awning? Why delay the inevitable? I’m already soaked. Should I walk faster? or run the rest of the way? If so, I’d only splash myself from underneath and probably slip in these tractionless shoes anyway. Wet as I was, it made little sense to do anything but push onward. I was laughing for much of the way, it was so ridiculous and futile.

As the intensity surged up and down at intervals, I toyed with the idea of folding up my umbrella and, Lear-like, face the tempest as a simple man against nature. Sometimes the wind would pick up and send the rain sideways. What was the point of fighting this storm? My head and some portion of my shoulders were relatively dry. But little else.

Thank god my bag stayed dry. I love my sporty WNYC tote! When I got to work, I locked my office door behind me and changed into the post-gym clothes I brought with me. I feel like a fool wearing shorts and sneakers at work, but today I’d rather be dry than appropriately dressed.


New York Lesson No. 328: Umbrella Graveyard

As cold weather siezes us by the short and curlies, I begin to see more and more the signs of winter. I have lost count of the number of single gloves I have found littering the sidewalks and subway platforms of New York. Makes me sad, really. Sometimes I see a complete pair left behind by a passeger in a hurry or a distracted mom or a fussy child. But when I see one glove, it reminds me of when I lose one glove. It’s an incomplete loss; I’m left with one glove, which I can neither use nor bring myself to throw away. (It’s a perfectly good glove.) I’d rather lose two gloves: They’re both gone for good and I know where I stand.

The dead-glove phenomenon reminds me of the springtime equivalent: abandoned busted umbrellas. New York sidewalks become a graveyard of umbrella carcasses whenever it rains. First, it must be noted that New Yorkers will pull out their umbrellas at the first sign of any precipitation, be it a single drop (probably from someone’s high-rise air conditioner, anyway), a misty drizzle, a light snow flurry — whatever. (Those of us from Michigan and Minnesota wonder: “an umbrella in the snow?“)

They’re ubiquitous and cheap, and therefore easy to leave behind. How they miss the garbage cans on nearly every corner remains a mystery to me. Maybe the useless, impotent spines of a stripped and torn umbrella, shreds of soggy fabric flopping in the wind, are more demonstrative. You can count on it — someone right here earlier today had a hell of a time. Right here. You can almost feel their anguish, their rage, their frantic searching for a 99-cent store, their wet pant cuffs and sopping socks. It’s a testament to man’s struggle against nature. Poetry, almost.



Hell and High Water

I was on my way to work this morning after listening to gruesome and horrifying NPR reports from Louisiana and Mississippi, and I couldn’t help but recall the terrible 1997 Red River Valley flood of Grand Forks, North Dakota. I recalled the copy editor’s dream headline “Come hell and high water” that leapt off the front page of the April 20, 1997, Grand Forks Herald. (There’s an interesting back story here about the perseverance of journalists, despite the flooding and burning down of the newspaper’s headquarters, for those who care to read it. This small-town paper won a Pulitzer for their remarkable coverage.)

“Well,” I thought, “as much as New Orleans is dealing with — and it’s a lot — at least they don’t have fires on top of it all.” That’s something, right?

When I got to work and opened the New York Times online, I saw that a chemical plant near the French Quarter had exploded. So much for the luxury of no fires.

the untallied hours