Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Heat Is On

The Dog Days of Summer continue...Downslope winds (offshore, for you Sailors) are keeping the mercury up into the mid-90's here at the Ancestral Digs.

I spent late morning Monday buttoning up my Chevy's Radiator R&R Project, finishing with the Sun on my back for the last hour of the job. I looked like I'd just been freed from The Box in "Cool Hand Luke"...my work-T had the neck, sternum, and armpit sweat stains showing...in CinemaScope.

I gathered up my tools, rags, and fluid jugs, secured the hood, doors, toolbox, and camper shell, closed up the garage, and strode into the house. After pulling off the sweaty Tee, I poured a tall, cooled French Roast over a tumbler full of ice, and sat down to check the e-mail and cool down a bit.

I admit it, I'm a Coffee Achiever...and proud of it...coffee powers my productivity and helps come multi-tasking time. I drink a pot a day...Winter or Summer, though more often than not, I don't get time to do the whole thermos-full most Winter nights. I've been grinding my whole beans since the mid-70's, and settled on the French Roast before Alternative Rock became Mainstream.

The French Roast never keeps me from falling asleep come bed-time, it makes my kitchen smell like Heaven, and keeps well in Summertime for afternoon Iced Coffee. Fresh brewed, I take it black...when it's iced, I add sugar...1/2 teaspoon to a pint tumbler.

Sipping on the cool confection, I noticed an itch between my shoulder blades and rubbed it away...my hand came back with that rolled-up, exfoliated stuff...I finished the coffee and hit the showers.

Cooled and cleaned, I sit in front of the laptop again...my mind wanders to the rolled-up dried skin thing, I remember every October fishing trip to the tip of Baja. Sweat-soaked every day, fishing from pangas on the 85F Sea of Cortez in the tropical heat and humidity... and after a few Happy Hours spent at the Hotel Swim-Up Bar, the dead stuff would disappear, leaving me smoother than a baby's bottom.

Then I am ready for another Winter of single digit humidities, hot snowcat heaters, and warm, bone dry, wood heated homes. This annual dermal renewal has become a milepost of sorts...a signal that another Winter is coming soon.

It's not the first sign I receive and record each fall, in fact the first data point is gathered in Late Summer, a week or so before the Autumnal Equinox...I always receive this signal out at Stead Field north of Reno, NV during the Reno Championship Air Races...the signal is subtle, the Unlimited Air Racing is blatant.

That second week of September is when I first notice the difference in the quality of the Light...it gives a different cast to my world, a more diffuse look than mid-summer light gives. The Sun's come almost halfway down from it's zenith, and the photons travel thru much more atmosphere to reach my eye, than when our star is overhead in Mid-Summer. It's almost like a wispy, smoky sky...without the smell and worry.

Still, something always stirs in me when I notice it...like those kamakaze squirrels dive-bombing stray pinecones in the middle of the mountain highway, gripped by their instincts, this signals things I dare not ignore: My boat and the garage are a mess...I haven't done enough trout fishing this Summer...Arrange a place for the boat and camper... Not enough camping trips taken...I missed Oregon again...Fleet Week is just a month away...Next up, Thanksgiving...will the Mountain be open for Thanksgiving?

The weather's been funny the past few years. The Eastern Pacific has been "running behind schedule" from a fisherman's perspective (and the weatherman's perspective, I suspect) Ocean currents have strayed from their usual haunts, cooler waters are way outside, dungeness crabs are at the bottom of their productivity cycle, the decent-sized bait is way outside.

In '07 and '08 the Ocean was about six weeks "behind" Salmon dilly-dallied offshore, failing to congregate off Central California beaches before pushing thru the Golden Gate, and up-river to their destiny. Highly Migratory game fish dawdled to the south as well, and the Mountain didn't open in November...not for three years, at least...the past two years I didn't fire up my snowcat 'till the second week of December.

So here's the light thing...now...a month earlier than usual...a looming early winter? We could use one, my feeling is later than Thanksgiving.

There's just barely a salmon season here in California this year...those weird ocean conditions and lousy Federal water management have taken their toll on our salmon and forced resource managers to keep salmon fisherman in port again this year, except for a week or so near the Oregon border around Labor Day. Not what I'd call "Salmon Season"

There went my weather intel network, salmon fishermen are a chatty lot...I'm going from Hunch-City only this year. The light is early, but it's mostly smoke from Siskiyou and Stanislaus fires transported here by the offshore breezes.

Thanksgiving? I hope not, Thanksgiving is my only semi-reliable Family Holiday...With my schedule, I have Christmas off every ten years, though I usually end up working for of one of my Guys who have kids.

What do I think? I was surprised that we went three in a row with sub-average precipitation. With ENSO trending colder, I'm guessing December again...maybe not the second week...all signs aren't in...the smoky skies have me over-thinking this today.

I'd better do the math again next month.


  1. Re: "warm, bone dry, wood heated homes"

    Dang, I forgot all about that down here in flatland swelter city.

    OK. back to the crawl space. I have been up and down all afternoon. Not because I need some thing or another, but because I can take the dust, filth, sweat and spiders for only so long until a nice, refreshing iced coffee begs me to exit. Also, banging the the living crap outta my noggin helps too. If I ever build a home from ground up it will never have a crawl space. Either a full basement or an impenetrable slab. Anything else sucks donkey (self imposed snip). Giant donkey (self imposed snip).

    Chico Dupree

  2. Yep, I think Chico Dupre is a better handle. Definitely more class and more true to the original language. Dupree is an Americanization. Funny what a single "e" can do to the appearance of a word. I was going to try it next anyway. Much more panache than Chico Man.

    I almost made it. One, maybe two more jacks to go, but not today. I reached my "covered in filth and sweat" limit digging and filling with a rock hammer the crawl space dirt in order to to support level 3/4 inch plywood bases that can accept the steel jack plates so as to prevent scrunching into the soil when the load is applied.

    My mistake was this -- I went the mechanical jack route because I already had a few. So I bought some more and also cut some pipe where the shortest screw jacks were too tall.

    Screw jacks work fine, but they are hell to deploy in a confined space. I should have bought four (shorter) 20-30 ton hydraulic jacks and used a 4x4 or 4x6 to spread the load. A few pumps and voila, done.

    Live and learn, dammit. Jesus Pizza! I am tired of "learning experiences". I had a hunch to do all hydraulic, but nooooooooooooo.

    Shower time.

    Chico Dupre Out

  3. Hehehe, here is my new gmail account name, just for blog comments. Lets see how it works.

  4. Don't forget the low frequency component of the Pacific Decade Oscillation (PDO). I am not expert at correlating graphs and am no climate guru but I follow this stuff enough to have a hunch that low frequency PDO and El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) are on a collision course.

    Outcome? A cold, heavy precipitation winter ending the drought and perhaps the begining of a multi-year cold/wet cycle.