Global Warming in My Neighborhood

I’m out in my yard today cleaning up the refuse from the trees (leaves) and I notice that my next door neighbor’s camellias are blooming. I don’t know a heck of a lot about camellias, but I don’t recall seeing them bloom in December before. But my general understanding is that they bloom in the spring. I remember Bob Edwards talking with Red Barber, years ago, about the camellias blooming at Barber’s place. But December? Not in Virginia.

And then I was in the garden, vacuuming up leaves where the tomato plants I hadn’t yanked up at the end of the season were, and found a bunch of them. We haven’t had a hard freeze yet, although I recall from my youth several long before December was done. One in particular when I was playing little league football and it was early November and the high that day was nine degrees F, and we were practicing after dark and it was cold. Or COLD.

And I remember the old days when we would burn the leaves after raking them and stand close to the fires because it was COLD. And so tomorrow it is supposed to be about 65 F.

So I guess I will be rolling with it, whipping up some tempura batter and making some fried green tomatoes.

Lights Out? (3)

Woke up to reports of more than 7 million people without power. Wow. I feel your pain, having been without power for days before.

The very fine novelist Bret Lott, with whom I roomed at Bread Loaf when we were fellows there, showed me pictures of his former house in Charleston, SC, after one of the big hurricanes in the early 1990s. If I recall correctly, he was without power for a couple of weeks. Plus there were trees down everywhere and it was pretty difficult to get out by car.

If you depend on electricity for hot water—well, let’s just all agree that cold showers aren’t all that much fun after the first few microseconds.

Mediabistro has a page up for how people can help victims/survivors (those affected in a not-nice way).

For those of us who do have power and no trees down or some other kind of damage, it’s easy to assume that, hey, all is back to normal. In Fairfax County, Va., where I live, there are still four or five schools closed due to powerlessness. So things are not back to normal.

And I guess it’s going to be a while before New York City has wrung out its socks and shaken all the water out of its ears.

According to Mediabistro:

In addition, the New York City Public Advocate’s Office is looking for volunteers to help with clean-up efforts.

So if you’re in New York and don’t have any place better to be, maybe you could slap on your boots and roll up your sleeves and give ’em a hand.

Maybe some Wall Street zillionaires will chip in a few bucks to help get things up and running—seriously, how else is your maid or nanny going to get to work? (I.e. your place.)

Lights Out? (2)

I get up this morning (after watching several episodes of Fringe last night) and the lights are still on. Which is to say the power is on. But then I turn on the TV and there are some 70,000 people without power in the Virginia area, which is nothing, really, compared to the crapstorm that New Yorkers are facing as they wake up this morning.

(Thanks to my son for sending me the link to this video, which I saw again on the news this morning:

(First of all, how does he find this stuff? He has grown up with YouTube as a source of entertainment, education, and news, and I cannot even begin to think of a parallel in my own life. It made me laugh, even though I didn’t want to. But more, it made me wonder what it’s like to be, as they say, a digital native (my son) as opposed to a digital migrant (me).)

But back to the point. There are 70,000 people without power. Or there were this morning. There are (according to the news) 52 trees down on houses. There is phenomenal flooding. But I’m more or less cozy—as cozy as a cranky, get-off-my-lawn type can be, anyway—and up and working. Yay for me.

I guess that because of all the planning before the storm, the power’s going to come on more quickly than it did back during the derecho, but that emergency planning – what about it? Why aren’t their assets in place all the time? Why don’t we have that kind of readiness as standard operating procedure?

I’m guessing that Dominion Virginia Power is breathing a tremendous sigh of relief this morning as is probably Pepco, but the very large wet bullet this area dodged hit New York and New Jersey in the gut. I’m guessing that if power lines and been buried, there would be significantly fewer power outages today in the DC metro area.

But it seems self-evident that there is very little (not that I’m an expert) that could’ve been done to prevent the kind of flooding that New York has going on right now in the subways and commuter tunnels. Perhaps if the new tunnel hadn’t been killed by the governor of New Jersey, the New York area might be on its way to a kind of new-and-improved tunnel that might be better equipped to deal with this sort of thing. I have no idea.


I Am an Idiot (seriously)

Have you ever been looking for a job and you see one that looks PERFECT. Interesting work, all of your interests, potentially good salary, good benefits and all of that?

And then you do something that totally screws your chances of ever getting it.

I’m talking about screwing up the cover letter so stupidly that even if they do read it, they’ll be passing it around the office going, Look at this clown.

In my cover letter, I make the claim of being a “maniacal” copy editor. Which I am, most of the time. Doesn’t matter what I’m reading, I’m editing it.

Not long ago I heard a BBC interview with novelist Richard Ford, one of my all time heroes, and he said that writing was his way (I’m paraphrasing here) of making sense out of an unruly mind. I was standing in the kitchen and my feet pretty much got glued to the spot. The most orderly place in my universe is the putative page. That really struck me. I’m not the only one!

And so yesterday, after uploading and editing my resume and cover letter and hitting send, I was closing and saving my cover letter, and there was a MASSIVE error in the second sentence. This is what it looked like:

I have worked in , internal communications….

A freakin’ comma in the middle of the sentence for no reason but carelessness. Of course I remember reordering the parallel structure of the sentence, and I remember how somehow in dragging and dropping the S and comma got left off the other noun I was moving.

I should just have written:

Me rite reel gud.

That Hero Guy?

There’s always some hero guy at work. The one who comes into the office no matter what the weather, and even if the authorities say again and again not to do it. But rain, snow, hurricanes, whatever, this guy—and there are more of him/her than just one—is there. Probably just bored, and maybe looking for the BlackBerry Brown Nose Award or something for his dedication.

Not that he/she needs to be there any more or less than the good folks who are at home. He or she’s the one who wants the perfect attendance score, the gold star for just showing up.

This guy/gal? Not a hero. Stay at home. Let our first responders do what they do best, and do what best needs to be done. We don’t give these brave men and women the honor or respect they deserve. Particularly not by getting out on the roads when they’ve asked you not to.

So when Mayor Bloomberg or Gov. Cuomo, or my home, Fairfax County, asks you to shelter in place or evacuate, don’t be a “hero.” Leave that to the real heroes. The first responders. Just do the right thing and stay out of their way.

Lights out? [U]

I grew up in the Washington, DC area and in the first 20-something years of my life, I don’t remember the power going out. I vaguely remember it going out once—but I may be just giving Mother Nature the benefit of the doubt.

But then also, in those days when the most sophisticated electronics I had were a transister radio, and later, a stereo system, a TV, and a Smith-Corona typewriter, we weren’t as dependent on electricity, so maybe it wasn’t that big of a deal.

Then again, I’ve always been dependent on food, and I grew up with an electric stove. So….

But the real point of this post is that even if we could prevent 95 percent of the power outages in the DC metro area, I don’t think we would. If we had wanted to, we would have. Continue reading

Prepping for Frankenstorm

The rule usually seems to be the case that if you prepare for it, it won’t happen—and boy do I wish that were going to be the case this time around. Yeah, I don’t think we are going to be that lucky. This one looks pretty sure to cause a lot of problems. This is the Washington Post‘s take.

So it was out to Domed Teapot, my favorite home DIY store. Lots of people doing lots of shopping. Major racks of batteries. Guessing all of the generators are long gone. Not that I could afford one.

I hate having power out, but it’s not so bad if it’s just for a couple of days. Doesn’t seem that there’s much I can do other than what I have. So, here’s to Sandy. Oh, yeah, better stock up on beer!

There is nothing better than warm beer when your power is out. And apparently diapers.

Laid Off, Let Go, Reduced by/in Force

I cannot express how deeply, profoundly, I loathe the locution “let go” as a euphemism for getting laid off. I know I’m not the first person to notice the lameness of let go—it sounds like the person being let go is somehow being done a favor, like you caught a jarful of fireflies and your mom tells you to let them go.

People, after being let go, probably do not leave the building saying, “Free at last!” Some might. I didn’t. Being laid off sucks, but it’s just business. Continue reading

Two Days to Mental Health!

The radio ad sounded too bizarre to be true. In two visits, the clinic would restore your mental health. And you could sleep through the whole thing.

My son and I were driving back home from a fishing and camping trip, and I would have sworn that was what I heard. What?!? I probably said. The ad went on to say that you could sleep through the whole thing. Just what had I missed during our short camping trip?

Turns out, it was dental health, not mental health. It was one of those pain-free dental clinics. Boy, for a moment there, I thought there was something really great going on. Ah, well.

Pickles, Firecrackers, and Blue Garlic [U]

This is the first time I’ve made pickles this early in the year—usually it’s August, when I’ve given up on my cucumber plants producing enough (last year they did, but I was out of town and when I got back they were either rotten or the size of watermelons) and caved and bought a load at the farmer’s market.

This year, the only thing that went into the pickles that didn’t grow in my yard—that is, vegetable things—was the garlic. Some of the garlic came from the farmer’s market and some came from the Giant around the corner. The only reason I’m making a big deal out of the garlic is because some of it turned blue. Not just blue, but a sort of neon aqua. Continue reading