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Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Mother Nature's April Fool's Joke

I mean, we all thought we had seen the last of last winter's snow The last remnants were almost gone, and Spring officially started a week or two back - then out of the blue came this winter storm on the last night of March and April 1st.


Of course this just happened to be the morning that Liz and I had planned to drive the 60-odd miles from St Johnsbury in Vermont to Berlin in New Hampshire.


National Route 2 runs East - West across the northern edge of Mount Washington, which is the tallest mountain in the eastern United States, at 6,289 feet. For my readers who are not aware of it, the second highest wind speed ever recorded on the Earth's surface was 231 mph (372 km/h) at the observatory on the peak of the mountain in April 1934.


Fortunately our sprightly Volvo C30 has studded winter tires and, with me driving (Liz gets quite nervous in those conditions), the weather presented no problems, although the road was quite treacherous at times. I was reminded of a winter weekend way back in the '60s when, while stationed at RNAS Lossiemouth, the squadron aircrew drove across northern Scotland to the Altnacealgath Hotel in Ledmore, and had to dig our vehicles out of snow drifts. That was one of the last times I was to see snow for 42 years! 


I am writing this on Tuesday, April 4th. We did have more snow forecast for today but the temperature is up to 40˚ (4˚C) with rain and a week from today is forecast to be 71˚F (21˚C). 

To completely change the subject, I wrote a while back about nepotism, in particular when related to Jacob Zuma. I never imagined at that time (four years ago) that a president of the United States would be openly practicing nepotism, but that appears to be more and more so. The gaudy materialistic person now in charge of this country seems to be going the same way as Jacob Zuma. Like Zuma he seems incapable of running the country, knowing nothing about politics or the way Washington works. In short, he is out of his depth, and covers every setback by tweeting that it is all the lying press and false news. 




Monday, 13 February 2017

Winter Storm Warning

Yesterday we received a Winter Storm Warning on our mobile phones - starting midday Sunday and continuing for 31 hours we were to expect between 8" and 18" of snow, with winds gusting up to 40 mph.So bad was the warning that Vermont's governor advised all residents to stay off of the roads unless it was for an emergency.


I took this first picture just before dusk on Sunday night, and the one below a little after 10 am this morning. It is now a little after midday and still snowing. At least it is not as cold as it was - up to 22˚F (-6˚C) today as opposed to -2˚F (-19˚C) just a couple of days ago. When I was living in southern Africa and checking the weather conditions where my daughter lived I could not believe that it could go for weeks and even months with the temperature remaining below freezing. Now I know differently.


I have to give the New England meteorological community their due - weather forecasts in this part of the World are for the most part extremely accurate. Unlike what I have been used to in warmer climes. It does also help to be able to open up the Microsoft weather app on my laptop and actually watch the weather radar on time lapse. I have to admit though that I do miss the tropical heat of southern Africa, and although I have no desire to return there, I do have a sort of yearning to visit such relatively close places as Saint-Barthélemy, Saint Martin, Martinique and Guadaloupe (that's the Francophile in me coming out). 

Alors! Je n'ai pas eu beaucoup d'occasion de pratiquer mon français au cours des dernières années - en fait la dernière fois que j'ai été en mesure de passer un certain temps à parler ma langue seconde a été lors d'un couple de vacances à Ile Maurice chemin de retour dans la fin des années 70. Cela a peut-être changé récemment, car quand shopping pendant les mois d'été dans un supermarché local, j'ai entendu un couple parler français, donc a commencé une conversation avec eux. Ils ont été réellement surpris d'avoir quelqu'un qui pourrait les comprendre. Je dois expliquer que nous sommes à seulement 85 kilometres de la province du Québec au Canada et que nous recevons un grand nombre de visiteurs québécois durant les mois d'été et d'automne.




Tuesday, 10 January 2017

The Trump Debacle

So Trump won the United States presidential election - supposedly! Clinton won the popular vote, and by more than 2½ million votes, but because of the strange and antiquated "system"in this country the president is not elected by popular vote, but by an Electoral College. They voted for the arrogant Mr Trump, who has been called a pathological and self-possessed liar, misogynist, racist, bigot, xenophobe, a gaudy materialist, a megalomaniac and a number of other not-so-popular words. His frequent remarks on Twitter have shown just how ignorant precedent (sic) elect Trump is - for example in setting presidents (sic).


Liz and I have moved across the state border and are now temporarily living in Vermont. Thee house we had been renting for the last 24 months was eventually sold, and we had to move out in December. So, a frantic month packing a large house into boxes, a rented U-haul truck, and here we are in the beautiful Vermont countryside, surrounded by now-bare maples and white birch with the occasional fir tree, all set off by a white blanket of snow. We are now "house hunting" and hoping to find something akin to what we have been used to over the last couple of years. Everything is soooo expensive up here in the North Country though.

I was hit quite badly by the brexit vote. Unfortunately one of the drawbacks of being a British expat is that we don't get to vote. In my opinion that is a big fault in the UK system. So how was I hit badly. I get a relatively small pension that is paid into my UK bank account, so it is in pounds. The day after the result of the brexit vote was known the pound dollar exchange rate plunged from $1.66 down to $1.22. That meant that after converting to dollars my monthly income fell by roughly 25% ! Maybe with a bit of lick, when Trump is inaugurated the dollar will fall against the pound making me better off.

Enough self-pity! It's close to noon, and the temperature outside is just 2˚F (that's -17˚C) and has been below freezing for several days now. It is supposed to warm up a little overnight and even be up in the 40's over the next few days. Going to snow tonight, turning to rain by the early morning. Yeough! Ah the beauty of living New England.