Archive for September 2008

Beware of bachelorettes

Posted: Monday, September 29, 2008 at 3:45 pm
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We had lunch at my brother-in-law’s brother’s restaurant in Sloterdijk, west of Amsterdam. Dick owns an upscale place that caters to a business crowd, and he was able to explain the quaint no-smoking ban they have in bars and restaurants here. You are not allowed to smoke tobacco indoors unless you in a so-called "coffee shop", and the substance you are smoking is pure marijuana. No mixing allowed, so you can’t get around the law by smoking a Camel that is merely laced with marijuana.
This evening, we were taking a walk after the financial world come to an end on CNN International. I really wanted a coffee, but could not find a real coffee shop. The coffee shop we passed was of the cannabis kind, and the smell was unmistakable outside its doors. Through the front windows we saw men and women sucking on their weed with the same off-handed smoking style that Bogie and Bacall used in the movies.
While waslking through a nearby park, I was visciously attacked by a bride-to-be and her bridesmaids. It is a tradition that the bachelorette party pull off a number of stunts, and one of them is to decorate an innocent male bystander with ribbons and crepe paper. Not one of the prouder moments of my life, I must admit. My wife witnessed the whole ugly scene.
As for the business at hand, I will attend the European Meteorological Society meetings starting tomorrow. Some of my colleagues are starting to arrive. One came in from Switzerland, and told me she was relieved she had moved her money into a safe place before she left. That was even before I told her the House vote on the bailout failed. It sounds like finances may cast a shadow over what is supposed to be a discussion of meteorology and climatology among the scientists gathered here.

Dreary day in Holland

Posted: Monday, September 29, 2008 at 6:17 am
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The big news in Europe is the federal financial bailout in America. The fact is that when America sneezes, Europe gets a cold – and the financial picture here is getting chilly. Today the Benelux governments (Belgium, Netherlands, Luxumbourg) followed suit by dumping billions of dollars (that’s real money here) into the financial giant Fortis. It is the lead story on all of the newscasts, and countless analysts are being called upon to tell the people what this financial mess is all about. Nobody seems to know, although seeing CNN International with a big "America’s Financial Crisis" graphic reinforced with ominous music doesn’t exactly reassure Europeans.
I wish they would show CNN International in America. It would be good for everyone to see how our country is portrayed to the rest of the world. Let’s just say if the despots who run Iran and Venezuela got together to create a television network to bash the U.S., CNN International would be it.
 In the few days I have been here in Amsterdam, I have yet to see a news story about the price of gasoline. Perhaps that is because people in Holland use their bicycles for going to work, play, and everything in between. They don’t ride ten-speeds, but workhorse single gear bicycles with old-fashioned coaster brakes. Getting smoked by a bicycle if you stroll inattentively across a bike lane seems more likely than getting hit by a car. Those who don’t pedal save money by driving motorscooters or even tiny automobiles. We saw this red golf cart-sized thing that is even smaller than those cute little smart cars a few brave souls drive in America.
It does seem odd that the ancestral home of Shell Oil would do so much to utilize less gasoline. It is not just an environmental concern. In a land where there is more water than land, the Dutch utilize every inch. That includes saving space by not laying down big wide streets like we have in the States.

I know what I like

Posted: Sunday, September 28, 2008 at 12:00 am
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Even though it is one of the finest art museums in the world, I wasn’t crazy about visiting Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum. After my wife agreed we could walk to the nearby Heineken Experience (theme park with beer) afterwards, I figured why not.
Let me admit that I am no art expert, although I did take a semester-long art class at the British Museum as a college student in London many years ago. But I do believe security measures implemented in recent years have ruined things for those who appreciate art and want to see world class paintings up close. Most of the paintings in the Rijsmuseum – and the Van Gogh museum next door – have had panes of glass inserted into the frames. That makes it very difficult to see the detail of the individual brush strokes, and to me it makes the painting look just like it does in a picture book. What’s the point of spending money to see it in person?
Excessively large paintings like the "Night Watch" (ten feet feet high and 14 feet wide) are too big to be placed behind glass. So people anxious to see Rembrandt’s masterpiece are kept back several feet, staring at both the painting and stern-faced security person standing next to it.
You cannot really blame the museums, I suppose. A few years ago some lunatic slashed one of the Rijksmuseum’s prized properties, and some insurers now insist on glass protection. Museums have created a little of their own bad will in recent years by banning cameras, even if one promises not to use the flash (which they claim ruins paint colors through excessive light exposure).
Since I am a baseball fan, not an art fan, I spent little time worrying about these issues. I dutifully looked at each painting in the building. But the final joke of the day was on me. The renovation of the Heineken Experience is months behind schedule, so it doesn’t reopen until October 20th.

Arrival in A'dam

Posted: Saturday, September 27, 2008 at 12:00 am
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I am in Amsterdam, one of the two capitals of the Netherlands (don’t ask… long story), for a weather conference taking place later this week. My wife and I came in a few days early to reacquaint ourselves with this city that, like New Orleans, basically sits at sea level and has learned to coexist with water.
Although I have not been here in a few years, many things have not changed. They still love their bicycles – at the central rail station there is a lot which holds four thousand bikes. That habit seems to be in contraction to the fact that a third of the Dutch still smoke.
Travel tip: Whenever visiting a city which offers a boat tour – take it. Almost all cities grew up along the water, and it is the best way to get a lay of the land. Amsterdam is no exception. I think I have taken the Amsterdam canal boat tour five times now, and I enjoy it each time. Even though I know most of the boat captains’ jokes by heart. "This is the Heineken brewery. They sometimes use canal water to make the beer they export… to America." (One time I was on a boat with several Americans onboard. They changed the joke to say the canal-water beer was exported to France.)
Last night we had a very nice seafood meal in a trendy section of the city. While we were eating, three men at the next table were rolling cigar-sized marijuana cigarettes. In accordance with a smoking ban in restaurants, they politely stepped outside to smoke them. Only in Amsterdam.

Get the Combine Ready!

Posted: Saturday, September 13, 2008 at 9:28 pm
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ITS HARVEST MOON TIME!  Yes, that’s right over the next couple of nights we will be experiencing the infamous Harvest Moon.   Which is the full moon closest to the Autumnal Equinox or the first day of Fall.  There are a number of wives tale based around the Harvest Moon, one that I know is that women who are pregnant have babies frequently during the Harvest Moon, so you expecting Mom’s should definitely be ready over the next couple of days!  There is actually a little science behind the Harvest Moon in that during the Autumn months the moon’s path is shorter.  This means there is no break between when the sun goes down and the moon comes up.  Therefore, farmers were able to squeeze a few more hours out of the day by working into the night under the moonlight when harvesting the season’s crops.  This was of course before the day of tractors and especially headlights.One myth about the Harvest Moon is that it is larger.  While the moon does get a little larger and a little smaller as it orbits the earth this does not coincide with the Harvest Moon.  It is also untrue that the moon is bigger when it is near the horizon.  This is only an optical illusion created by the fact that you have a reference for the size of the moon with the stuff on the ground.  If you don’t believe me you can take a piece of paper and cut out the size of the moon on the horizon, then wait a few hours and compare it to the moon in the sky.  Or you can just take my word for it! And save yourself the time but knowing my chosen profession, you may have trouble “taking my word for it”!!!  Feel free to fill in a few of your Harvest Moon wives tales below.  And if you are really in the mood check out this Neil Young tune aptly named Harvest Moon, I hear it is one of Scot Mundt’s favorites!

9-13-2008 Rain Totals

Posted: Saturday, September 13, 2008 at 3:55 pm
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We got a nice little beneficial rain last night and today across parts of the state.  From the radar trends and some of the reports it appears the North and Northeast got the most rain.  This also lines up nicely with an area that really needed some rain.  These reports are from www.cocorahs.org, but we had a few other reports sent in by email from our KELOLAND Rain Gauge Network, and I added those below as well.  The rain may mean more than we know as our weather is really going to dry out over the next week or so, it will be nice of course but VERY dry!  Feel free to throw in any of your reports in the comments section.Ken Schuh1.20" in AberdeenDan Holzer2 inches and still raining in Trail CityRuss Stager0.61 inches near Ft. PierreDate – Time – Code – Location – RAIN TOTAL – County9/13/2008 8:00 AM SD-HK-6 Milesville 6.1 NW 1.06 0.0 NA SD Haakon 9/13/2008 8:00 AM SD-HY-2 Highmore 19.1 NNW 0.85 0.0 NA SD Hyde 9/13/2008 8:00 AM SD-HG-8 Pierre 1.0 SW 0.80 0.0 NA SD Hughes 9/13/2008 7:30 AM SD-DW-1 Isabel 9.5 NE 0.73 0.0 NA SD Dewey 9/13/2008 7:20 AM SD-LY-5 Presho 13.8 NW 0.71 0.0 NA SD Lyman 9/13/2008 8:20 AM SD-PT-1 Gettysburg 14.7 NNW 0.71 0.0 NA SD Potter 9/13/2008 7:00 AM SD-WL-3 Lowry 1.1 WNW 0.70 0.0 NA SD Walworth 9/13/2008 8:00 AM SD-LY-16 Vivian 5.1 SSW 0.65 0.0 NA SD Lyman 9/13/2008 9:00 AM SD-WL-2 Hoven 2.4 N 0.65 0.0 NA SD Walworth 9/13/2008 7:00 AM SD-PK-7 Bison 21.0 S 0.60 0.0 NA SD Perkins 9/13/2008 7:00 AM SD-LW-6 Lead 5.5 SSW 0.54 0.0 NA SD Lawrence 9/13/2008 6:00 AM SD-PN-2 Rapid City 3.4 WNW 0.52 0.0 NA SD Pennington 9/13/2008 7:00 AM SD-MD-9 Faith 36.3 W 0.49 0.0 NA SD Meade 9/13/2008 7:00 AM SD-CR-3 McLaughlin 10.1 ENE 0.47 0.0 NA SD Corson 9/13/2008 7:00 AM SD-CR-5 Mobridge 16.6 WNW 0.46 0.0 NA SD Corson 9/13/2008 7:00 AM SD-LY-6 Presho 11.6 NNE 0.45 0.0 NA SD Lyman 9/13/2008 7:00 AM SD-HY-1 Highmore 12.4 N 0.43 0.0 NA SD Hyde 9/13/2008 7:00 AM SD-LY-1 Presho 0.3 SSW 0.42 0.0 NA SD Lyman 9/13/2008 9:15 AM SD-LW-8 Spearfish 0.6 E 0.42 0.0 NA SD Lawrence 9/13/2008 7:00 AM SD-CR-9 Isabel 24.0 WNW 0.41 0.0 NA SD Corson 9/13/2008 7:00 AM SD-PN-1 Rapid City 5.0 ESE 0.41 0.0 0.0 SD Pennington 9/13/2008 7:00 AM SD-JN-1 Draper 4.3 SSE 0.40 0.0 NA SD Jones 9/13/2008 7:00 AM SD-LY-11 Presho 7.7 NNE 0.38 0.0 NA SD Lyman 9/13/2008 7:00 AM SD-PN-30 Rapid City 3.3 SSW 0.38 0.0 0.0 SD Pennington 9/13/2008 7:00 AM SD-BT-2 Belle Fourche 0.9 SSE 0.37 0.0 NA SD Butte 9/13/2008 7:00 AM SD-CR-4 Mobridge 8.0 NNW 0.36 0.0 NA SD Corson 9/13/2008 6:00 AM SD-CR-11 Timber Lake 10.1 N 0.35 0.0 NA SD Corson 9/13/2008 7:00 AM SD-CR-8 Isabel 19.5 N 0.35 0.0 NA SD Corson 9/13/2008 7:00 AM SD-BT-6 Belle Fourche 5.3 NE 0.34 0.0 0.0 SD Butte 9/13/2008 7:00 AM SD-FR-2 Hot Springs 3.7 WSW 0.34 0.0 NA SD Fall River 9/13/2008 7:00 AM SD-ED-5 Roscoe 0.3 NNW 0.33 0.0 NA SD Edmunds 9/13/2008 7:00 AM SD-PN-22 Box Elder 6.2 ESE 0.33 0.0 NA SD Pennington 9/13/2008 7:30 AM SD-CS-1 Custer 10.2 E 0.33 0.0 NA SD Custer 9/13/2008 7:00 AM SD-FR-8 Hot Springs 1.8 W 0.32 0.0 NA SD Fall River 9/13/2008 7:00 AM SD-MD-19 Blackhawk 0.1 WNW 0.31 0.0 NA SD Meade 9/13/2008 7:00 AM SD-PN-4 Rapid City 5.4 SW 0.31 0.0 NA SD Pennington 9/13/2008 7:00 AM SD-LY-2 Kennebec 0.3 SE 0.30 0.0 NA SD Lyman 9/13/2008 7:00 AM SD-MD-4 Blackhawk 2.0 NNW 0.30 0.0 NA SD Meade 9/13/2008 7:00 AM SD-PN-8 Wasta 22.0 NNE 0.30 0.0 NA SD Pennington 9/13/2008 9:00 AM SD-PN-21 New Underwood 3.9 S 0.30 0.0 NA SD Pennington 9/13/2008 7:00 AM SD-JK-2 Kadoka 15.0 SW 0.29 0.0 NA SD Jackson 9/13/2008 7:00 AM SD-LY-4 Kennebec 6.2 SSE 0.27 0.0 NA SD Lyman 9/13/2008 7:00 AM SD-TR-3 Marion 0.5 NE 0.27 0.0 NA SD Turner 9/13/2008 8:00 AM SD-ED-7 Ipswich 9.5 SSE 0.27 0.0 NA SD Edmunds 9/13/2008 7:00 AM SD-GY-3 Gregory 8.7 N 0.25 0.0 NA SD Gregory 9/13/2008 7:00 AM SD-LY-7 Oacoma 17.4 SSW 0.25 0.0 NA SD Lyman 9/13/2008 7:15 AM SD-JK-3 Kadoka 6.0 NNW 0.25 0.0 NA SD Jackson 9/13/2008 8:00 AM SD-PK-9 Lemmon 12.5 WSW 0.25 0.0 NA SD Perkins 9/13/2008 7:00 AM SD-BT-7 Belle Fourche 29.5 NNW 0.24 0.0 NA SD Butte 9/13/2008 7:00 AM SD-TR-2 Parker 6.8 WSW 0.24 0.0 NA SD Turner 9/13/2008 8:00 AM SD-HD-1 Miller 10.2 NW 0.24 0.0 NA SD Hand 9/13/2008 10:00 AM SD-CY-3 Vermillion 10.8 NNE 0.24 0.0 NA SD Clay 9/13/2008 6:26 AM SD-PK-4 Bison 4.5 SE 0.23 0.0 NA SD Perkins 9/13/2008 6:00 AM SD-FR-9 Oelrichs 7.4 SW 0.22 0.0 NA SD Fall River 9/13/2008 6:20 AM SD-CR-6 Mcintosh 8.7 WSW 0.22 0.0 NA SD Corson 9/13/2008 7:00 AM SD-FR-1 Hot Springs 0.5 SSW 0.22 0.0 NA SD Fall River 9/13/2008 7:30 AM SD-JN-3 Okaton 2.6 NW 0.22 0.0 NA SD Jones 9/13/2008 8:00 AM SD-LY-12 Reliance 0.1 ESE 0.22 0.0 NA SD Lyman 9/13/2008 8:00 AM SD-MH-8 Hartford 6.4 S 0.22 0.0 NA SD Minnehaha 9/13/2008 7:00 AM SD-GY-1 Dallas 8.8 S 0.21 0.0 NA SD Gregory 9/13/2008 7:00 AM SD-JK-6 Kadoka 0.3 N 0.21 0.0 NA SD Jackson 9/13/2008 7:00 AM SD-PN-18 Rapid City 9.8 SW 0.21 0.0 NA SD Pennington 9/13/2008 7:00 AM SD-YN-3 Gayville 1.8 SSW 0.21 0.0 NA SD Yankton 9/13/2008 7:00 AM SD-SH-2 Buffalo Gap 18.0 ENE 0.20 0.0 NA SD Shannon 9/13/2008 5:30 AM SD-JK-1 Kadoka 2.8 WNW 0.19 0.0 NA SD Jackson 9/13/2008 7:00 AM SD-BN-4 Martin 5.3 ENE 0.19 0.0 NA SD Bennett 9/13/2008 7:00 AM SD-FR-21 Edgemont 0.4 W 0.19 0.0 NA SD Fall River 9/13/2008 7:00 AM SD-GY-10 Herrick 4.5 NW 0.19 0.0 NA SD Gregory 9/13/2008 7:00 AM SD-MD-15 Sturgis 1.0 S 0.19 0.0 NA SD Meade 9/13/2008 8:50 AM SD-UN-2 Elk Point 5.6 NNE 0.19 0.0 NA SD Union 9/13/2008 7:00 AM SD-GY-15 Burke 4.2 SW 0.18 0.0 NA SD Gregory 

Sunspot Shortage

Posted: Thursday, September 4, 2008 at 1:58 pm
By: Administrator
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               Normal Sun with Spots        Current Sun with no SpotsSunspots are one of those things that no one pays attention to until they all go away!  Now that we have finished our first month since 1913 without a single sunspot, some scientists are starting to get concerned.  It isn’t as if this hasn’t happened before, the Sun has very predictible 11 year cycles of activity and we are in the low end of that cycle.  The reason scientists are concerned is because we should have started to rebound by now and haven’t.  Most likely we will see our sunspot numbers start to climb again and we will get back to our normal cycle, however there have been times in the past where sunspot numbers have stayed low for a long period of time.  Three of those periods lead to long stretches of cold weather, in fact one of them was even labeled a mini ice age!  So while the buzz phrase lately has been "Global Climate Change" implying that our temperatures will be going up, if this sunspot thing pans out we could see things going in the opposite direction! Then what do we do?  Drop gas prices?  Bring back the old gas guzzler cars of the 70s and 80s?  Once we go into an Ice Age people will be begging for Global Warming!  Only time will tell…   In any event I am not to concerned at the moment, but this like El Nino and La Nina, and the Jet Stream, and of course Global Climate Change will be something worth watching.  Here are few links if you want more information on sunspots and our shortage:http://www.dailytech.com/Sun+Makes+History+First+Spotless+Month+in+a+Century/article12823.htmhttp://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2008/11jul_solarcycleupdate.htmhttp://www.swpc.noaa.gov/SolarCycle/http://spaceweather.com/glossary/sunspotnumber.htmlhttp://imagine.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/ask_astro/answers/980506a.html