Archive for July 27, 2009


July 27, 2009 2 comments


If you’re in the Seattle area, you hardly need me to tell you this, but for any readers from afar, it’s HOT! Mid 90s today, but high 90s the next three days before (maybe) dropping back into the 80s. We do typically get a few days in the 90s each year, sometimes just barely in the 90s. And then there are the less frequent years with a day or two in the high 90s. But we are now at the beginning of what may be a record heat wave.

Don’t take my word for this. Listen instead to Cliff Mass, famed local meteorologist, author of the recently published The Weather of the Pacific Northwest, and professor in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at UW.* At his blog today, Cliff wrote:

Amazingly, this heat wave could last into the weekend (although the temps should modify a bit on Friday into Sunday, but still in the 80s). And remember, it will be hotter in Portland and the Willamette Valley, where temperatures well into the 100s will occur.

The heat wave is made worse by the high dewpoints today. Many locations are in the sixties, some in the upper 60s and near 70F. Dewpoint is a measure of the absolute amount of moisture in the air..we are usually in the lower 50s in the summer. High dewpoints keep nighttime temperatures up–which makes a heat wave much worse.

In short, we are about to enter an historic heat wave for our region. One day, your grandchildren will ask you… did you really experience the temperatures of July 29th, 2009? What was it like? How did you survive it?

Usually, when we have a more typical heat wave with temperatures in the high 80s, the house gets more uncomfortable by the day, until by day 3 or (heaven forbid) day 4, the evenings are unbearable, except in the basement. (I should explain that given the infrequency and short duration of heat waves, most houses in greater Seattle don’t have AC.) And then the weather changes. What’s scary this time is that when I got back to the house from New York late yesterday afternoon, it was already unbearable, and this was before the start of 90 degree days. We headed to the basement to sleep. This isn’t going to be fun.

*Cliff and I are fellow Long Island Jews, growing up just a couple of villages apart, though we didn’t get to know each other until early in my dean days. I knew of him long before, thanks to his local radio appearances on Fridays to predict the weather for the weekend. His voice is what the word mellifluous was invented to describe. A mellifluous baritone. And our commonality extends beyond our backgrounds: we both fancy ourselves experts on teaching mathematics. I because I’ve done it for decades; Cliff because, well, I don’t know why. But he is on a mission to change how math is taught in the schools, and he’s fearless in his belief that he knows what needs to be done.

Categories: Weather

Congressional Cowardice

July 27, 2009 Leave a comment

Republican Congressional cowardice, that is, though of course there’s plenty of both. The video above was made by Mike Stark, under the auspices of firedoglake, where it appeared today in a post by Jane Hamsher.

We know there are plenty of crazy people out there, some of whom are hung up on the idea that President Obama was born in Kenya, not Hawaii. And we know that those people hung up on the idea that President Obama was born in Kenya, not Hawaii, form a disproportionately large percentage of the so-called Republican base. But they’re crazy. Why must Republican members of Congress be respectful of this craziness?

Some members of Congress may themselves be a blend of crazy, stupid, and ignorant. But let’s assume they’re not. Then the ones who won’t come out and say Obama’s birthplace is a non-issue must simply be cowards.

Categories: Politics

New York Arrival

July 27, 2009 Leave a comment


Things have been a little quiet here at ronsview. Sorry about that. I left early Thursday morning for New York, returning mid-afternoon yesterday. I have a bit of a blog klog (weblog backlog). I’ll see what I can do about clearing it.

Despite bad weather in the northeast on Thursday, my JetBlue flight landed on time. It was due for an early arrival, but was held up about 80 miles out and circled around a bit. Not so lucky was Joel. I got in at 5:00. He was coming down from Boston on JetBlue, due in at 5:52, the best we could do to coordinate flights. However, he started boarding only after I landed, they sat at the gate for an hour, sat on the taxiway a while, and ultimately landed at 8:00. (At the hotel later that night, we saw on the local weather report that the average delay at airports from Baltimore to Boston was about 2 hours.)

So there I was, waiting for over 3 hours. Had I not checked a bag, I could have sat near the gates in JetBlue’s wonderful Terminal 5, which I hadn’t explored before.* Instead, I left he security area, got my suitcase, and had no services to choose from. This is the modern way, of course, and it makes sense, but maybe modern terminal design has gone a little too far in eliminating options on the public side of security. With all the time to kill, I took the AirTrain over to Hertz, got our car, drove back, parked it in the T5 parking garage, and walked back to the terminal. I then had over 2 hours to explore the arrival and departure levels thoroughly. Both had a Dunkin’ Donuts and an adjacent small bar. Both had little retail stores whose food options consisted of candy, an assortment of chips and pretzels, and a variety of nuts and trail mixes. Not that I wanted to eat dinner; I preferred to do that with Joel.

Anyway, the lack of services was not the major problem. I was content to sit, eat a Kit Kat bar, wait, and read my book. (1959: The Year Everything Changed, by Fred Kaplan, about which I’ll say more in a future post.) What I wasn’t content to do was listen to the two booming announcements on the overhead loudspeakers that repeated every 4 minutes or so in a woman’s monotonic voice. The first one welcomed us to New York’s JFK and warned us not to accept solicitations of rides from unofficial drivers. The second welcomed us to Terminal 5. I took to plugging my ears, but that didn’t work. Or walking outside the moment the first one started, getting some fresh air, which was good, breathing bus exhaust, staying under cover to avoid the heavy rains, and disrupting my reading.

The T5 arrival level was pretty quiet, except for a mixed group of 25 Hasidic and orthodox (non-Hasidic) Jews roaming around killing time, much as I was doing. They weren’t waiting for Joel. I don’t know what they were doing. Pacing, coming together into small groups and then breaking up, sitting, wandering into the JetBlue baggage service office, walking purposefully in one direction or another. And sometimes a group would sit down where I had most recently landed after one of my walks outside. I was curious to listen in on some of their conversations, but it didn’t do much for my reading.

Eventually, of course, Joel arrived, freeing me of my struggles. Off we went to the car, out of the garage, away from JFK, and onto the Belt Parkway, which, even at 8:30 PM on a Thursday night, was backed up by traffic.

It was good to be home.

*By the way, the new Terminal 5, if you haven’t seen it and don’t know, is built behind old Terminal 5, which is none other than the great TWA terminal designed by Eero Saarinen. It shut down in 2001, when TWA did. The image above shows how the new terminal fits against the historic one. The famous tubes are still intact, now connecting Saarinen’s soaring structure to the new terminal, but they aren’t currently functional.

According to JetBlue’s website, “At T5, you’ll have the opportunity to experience aviation history, and soon, you will have the option to walk through this classic modernist building, to enter Terminal 5. The Saarinen building is not currently open to the public, however the Port Authority of NY & NJ is working on building renovations finding a new tenant for the space.” Grammar of that last phrase aside, I don’t know how to interpret the passage. They’ve re-routed traffic to lead behind the old terminal to reach the new one directly, so I don’t know why one would enter the old one to get to the new one. I hope something good happens.

Categories: Architecture, Family, Travel