Wrapping Up October

I got to work with only one hitch; the driver-side door of my car was frozen shut, so I had to climb in on the passenger side.  At work one fourth of the employees didn’t show up, and most of those present talked about being without power.  As when Tropical Storm Irene came through, they were better off at work than at home – more evidence of how good I have it.

As of this afternoon, the lights were still out in half of Danbury, and 740,000 homes in Connecticut were in the dark.  Obviously the electric company didn’t learn much from Irene, because again they are saying it will take at least a week to restore electricity to everybody.  The mayor told kids to go trick-or-treating in the mall, instead of in their neighborhoods.  We also heard again from the state legislator who introduced a bill that would move Halloween from 10/31 to the last Saturday in October.  Well, after the winter storm we got this past weekend, it’s safe to say that bill won’t be passed this year.

Remember last October 13, when I wrote about catching a mouse in my apartment?  Well, now I think I got another one – or the first one is back.  This morning at 4 AM I was woken up by a rattling sound in the kitchen.  The same sound that I heard when the first mouse was stealing my unsalted peanuts.  When I turned on the light, I did not see a mouse.  The only evidence I saw was the bowl which contained my peanut stash – the lid on top was halfway off, pushed far enough over for a mouse to get in.  Well, the last time I went to Costco I bought a bag containing four pummelos (giant Asian grapefruit), and I had two left; I just ate one that Sunday evening.  I put the two remaining pummelos on top of the lid; let’s see if the fruit Leive calls bo’ongon will keep the mice out.  Of course that’s only a short-term solution, since I will probably finish the pummelos before I finish the peanuts.

This morning at 10 AM, I called my Dad in Florida to tell him I’m all right after the recent storm.  He was pleased at that, of course, but when I told him that a mouse is eating my peanuts, he said “Aww, they gotta eat too!”  I might have known; Dad always had a soft spot for rodents.

This Wouldn’t Have Happened In Kentucky

Not in October, anyway.  The closest thing I have experienced to this weekend’s snowstorm is the great ice storm of January 2009.  Besides all the snow, quite a few tree branches were brought down, too; one big one that fell in the front yard damaged a wrought-iron railing on a stairway.  Church was cancelled, due to several members losing power and/or water, so my main activity this morning was shoveling off the sidewalk, from the door of my apartment to the driveway.

The tenant of the other apartment in our landlady’s house acted first, shoveling the snow off the other other sidewalk.  In fact, when all was said and done, he probably removed more snow than I did.  The weather helped, too; it warmed up to 45 degrees, so I didn’t feel cold while I was out there.  However, every time the wind blew, clumps of snow fell out of the trees; I was hit by two of them, while cleaning off my car.

Meanwhile the roads have been cleared off, so I know I can go back to work tomorrow.  At 9:15 on Saturday night, a snowplow took care of the nearest roads, and around noon today, another scraped our driveway.  At 4 PM I went out for a bit of shopping, and they were right about the power outages.  Once I crossed to the north side of Interstate 84, it looked like everyone was without power.  I visited the same shopping center that has the laundromat I use, and most of the shops were closed because they didn’t have electricity; the supermarket I went into was only open because they had some power for their cash registers (generators?).  And the long lines at every fast food place in the neighborhood told me that a lot of families couldn’t cook meals at home that day.

All things considered, it looks like I got lucky again, as I did with the ice storm and Tropical Storm Irene.  I briefly lost power this time, but it was only for two or three minutes, right when I woke up in the morning.  Below is a picture my favorite weather site, Wunderground.com, posted to show the scenery in Auburn, Massachusetts.  It’s prettier than the fall color I saw when I drove to Massachusetts two weeks ago, but snow on leaves that are still green just isn’t right.  Oh well, let’s move on and see what the week will bring!

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It Looks Like a White Halloween

Yesterday I worked six hours of overtime.  While there my supervisor dropped the first hint that I might be staying for more than six months.  Of the two projects I have been working on since July, one is finished, and the end of the other one is in sight.  Anyway, my supervisor told me about the project coming up next, and asked if I felt I could do it; I said yes.  He also mentioned that a big winter storm was due to arrive on Saturday, and I won’t want to go out in it.  Thus, I did my laundry Friday evening, instead of waiting for today.

Boy, was he right about the storm!  It was something they call a nor’easter; I don’t know if that’s because a northeast wind was involved, or because the whole northeastern US was affected.  New Englanders are used to this kind of weather, but not this early in the season.  This will definitely be one for the record books.

The snow started falling at 11:49 AM this morning.  Now it’s evening, and five inches have fallen since then; the weatherman is predicting 6-10 inches by the time this is done.  Here are some “before and after” pictures I took from my apartment (the “before” pictures were taken yesterday):

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You probably can’t tell it from here, but the little black blob in the last picture, to the right of the tree, is a boy building a snowman next door.

Because it is Saturday, I didn’t have to go out at all today, so I didn’t.  The landlady asked me to shovel the sidewalk outside my door, so I will give it a try; hopefully the garden gloves I got last summer will keep my hands warm enough, because I don’t seem to have brought any gloves with me from Kentucky.  And if I can get my car out of the driveway, I will try to go to church tomorrow.  In the meantime, bundle up!

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No Snow Yet

But we’re not out of the lurch.  After all the rain we got yesterday, I was expecting some of it to turn into the first snow of the season.  Instead, the temperature right now is 32, not the 27 predicted by the weatherman.  Still, tonight’s predicted low is also near the freezing point, so we could get the white stuff then.  Also back in Kentucky, where it’s almost as cold as it is here; stay tuned.

No Population Bomb, Try Population Peak

According to the United Nations, the world’s seven billionth person will be born next Monday.  Along with that, we are also hearing again that our population growth rate is dangerously out of control, and if we don’t stop it, famine and diseases are in our future.  I used to subscribe to that Malthusian view myself, but now it looks like we were wrong.  For a start, in the mid-twentieth century, when world population was between 3 and 4 billion, the environmentalists of the day said that the earth couldn’t feed the numbers we have now.  Second, world population is unexpectedly leveling off.

It started in the Western nations two hundred years ago, with the Industrial Revolution.  Before that time, children were seen as an asset; they provided extra hands to work on the farm, and when you had enough of them, you knew that somebody would look after you in your old age.  In the cities, however, children became more of a liability.  Several factors – late marriages, taking time to go to college, cramped apartments, birth control – all worked to bring down the birthrate.  When parents stop having 2.1 children per household, population stops rising, and begins to fall.

We already see this negative growth rate in most of Europe, Russia and Japan.  In fact, the only advanced nations that still have a positive growth rate are the United States, Canada, Israel, Australia and New Zealand.  China is still growing, but its harsh one-child policy will cause a leveling off before long.  India is growing, too, so I’m predicting that if the Messiah doesn’t come soon, the twenty-first century could be India’s century.  Africa and Latin America are growing, too, but their rate of growth is slowing down at last.

The newest surprise is that Moslem countries, which used to have the highest birth rate of all, are now showing a slowdown, and it’s a steep slowdown that could cause them to decline faster than even Europe.  Last Saturday I bought a copy of the book How Civilizations Die (And Why Islam Is Dying Too), by David Goldman, and it looks into this sudden demographic trend, and what it means for us.  In a nutshell, we (the US and Israel) will probably win in the end, but when they feel their strength fading, Islamic fundamentalists in countries like Iran will try to take us down with them, so expect a tough fight before the War On Terror is over.

This also means that the environmentalist who worries over the world having too many mouths to feed, should be more worried about the time in the near future, when there won’t be enough young people to pay for her Social Security and Medicare pensions.  Below is a link to an article I read today, which predicts that world population won’t continue to grow exponentially, but reach a peak of eight billion in a few decades, followed by a long decline.  The last time we had a long population decline (not the short ones caused by wars or epidemics), the result was the Dark Ages.  Is another Dark Age in our future?

UNFPA’s Seven Billion Population Graphs Completely Erroneous

Things Aren’t Always What They Seem

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I like visiting Bing.com each day to see the interesting picture posted there.  Here is a thumbnail of Bing’s picture for today.  You see two guys standing on white ground; there are cracks in the earth around them, and no trees.  This looks like a glacier in a place like Alaska, right?  Think again.  According to the links hidden in the picture, this was taken in the Philippines.  In the ash on top of Mt. Pinatubo, to be exact.

Because my wife is from the Philippines, I have seen plenty of pictures of that country.  Mostly jungle and mountains, or a combination of the two, like the Banawe rice terraces.  Or scenes of beaches, or the urban life in Manila.  But I never expected to see a scene like this!