Archive for the ‘Weather’ Category

I was a bad boy this morning.

I woke up around 4:20, realized how wiped out I was feeling and promptly reset the alarm for 6:30. Loosely translated, that means no visit to the gym at the crack of dawn for me. The extra two hours of sleep didn’t help much, though. I’m yawning and just feeling generally run down. I’m sure it has nothing to do with the cold that has been residing in my head and chest these last few days.

So, last night I had a choice. I could either watch a bunch of self-serving politicians tell lies and get applauded for it, or I could make a batch of New England clam chowder (or as my friends from New England would say, “chowdah!”)

I opted to go the chowdah route. It’s been cold enough for thick soup and with Lent and all that upon us, it comes in handy. I start with a base recipe that I have modified to contain less fat and hopefully all of the taste. I’ll include it here:

New England Clam Chowder

Ingredients:

1/2 lb onion, diced
1/2 lb celery, diced
12 oz red potatoes, large diced
4 cans chopped clams and juice
32 oz fat-free half & half
32 oz clam juice
1 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp basil
2 tbsp olive oil
Bacon salt to taste
4 splashes of Tabasco Chipotle
1 can corn (drained) (optional)
1/2 lb roux

Roux:
1/4 lb butter
1/4 lb flour

Melt butter, blend in flour to make roux.

Directions:

1. In a 2 gallon stockpot, cook onion and celery in olive oil and bacon salt until translucent.
2. Pour in chopped clams in juice, clam juice, diced potato and seasonings; blend well.
3. Bring to simmer over medium heat, for 5 – 10 minutes.
4. Add half & half, increase heat until it comes to a slow boil.
5. Add roux slowly, mixing well. Keep mixing until well incorporated.
6. Reduce heat – simmer uncovered for 15 minutes.

It comes out with a nice smoky flavor from the chipotle Tabasco and also the bacon salt. Also, adding the corn can make for an interesting texture and adds a hint of sweetness to the taste. By using the fat- free half & half, you also cut out a lot of extraneous fat and it still thickens nicely.

So, as for the Lenten resolutions, I’m giving up soda. I know… kind of harsh. Fact is, I have to do it post surgery, so I might as well get used to it. I will miss it, no doubt about that. Not so much the taste, but the carbonation. Granted, with such greatly reduced stomach capacity, there will be no room for the bubbles at the inn. I know there’s a lot I will have to give up, at least for some time. It’s a small price to pay when it comes down to it. My reward will be a healthier me. I think it will be worth it.

Hope that you have a great day!

I often complain about the generally crappy weather we have here in the northeast/mid-Atlantic region. Especially lately, where it seems that spring lasts all of about three days. We go from chipping icicles out of our undies to melting in a puddle seemingly overnight. There are a few days that make it worth it here and there, however… sunny days with a nice breeze and mild temperatures.

However, it’s the snow that I’d like to talk about. We get snow. Sometimes a lot, most times not, usually mixed in with rain, ice, sleet, and other unsavory stuff. This is a mixed blessing, though. It makes things look pretty and muffles a lot of the background noise, making it otherworldly quiet. Snow is also good for cardio. I know you’re not pounding a treadmill, but the bending, scraping, lifting, tossing of shoveling gets the ticker pumping. Like any kind of exercise, you have to be careful and be smart. I found the following tips on safe shoveling from Popular Mechanics and thought they were very appropriate:

Be careful when shoveling... it can lead to a heart attack.

Be careful when shoveling… it can lead to a heart attack.

1. Stretch first

Don’t be in a hurry to get outside. Stretch thoroughly using the same sorts of moves that runners, mountain bikers and other athletes use. Stretch your hamstrings, stretch your back, and stretch your shoulders. Then dress in removable layers, grab your shovel and resist the urge to fly at the white stuff just to get the job done. Pace yourself. Start slowly and ramp up to speed.

2. Don’t move snow twice

Before you even take your first scoop, decide where you’re going to dump the snow. Drop the first shovelful farther away from where you are standing, then dump remaining snow closer and closer to where you are. That way, the last scoops that you shovel are moved the shortest distance. Don’t block access to snow that needs to be removed by piling it up in a way that will force you to move it twice.

3. Move snow the shortest distance possible

Consider that everything from a driveway to a patio to a walkway is really a rectangle, and rectangles have a center point. Move the snow from the center of the rectangle to the nearest edge.

4. Clear cars first

Brush snow off cars then clear around the cars.

5. Do the foreground then the background

For example, to clear snow from a rectangle, first shovel a strip clear along the perimeter of the rectangle. Then, moving from the center to the edge, push the snow into the cleared area. Next, lift and throw the snow out of the area.

6. Maintain proper posture:

  • Use your leg muscles as much as possible – push snow when you can and use your legs to lift when you can’t push it.
  • Keep your back straight as you move from the squat position to the upright position.
  • Use your shoulder muscles as much as possible.
  • Hold the snow shovel as close to your upper body as possible.
  • Keep one hand close to the shovel blade for better leverage.
  • Don’t twist your upper body as you throw snow.

7. Keep hydrated

Take bottles of water out with you and keep them accessible, either in the car or on the front stoop or somewhere else convenient.

8. Rest frequently

Clearing an area by hand means that you may lift and carry anywhere from hundreds of pounds to tons of snow.

9. Be thorough but not fussy

The sun is relatively strong this time of year. Clear an area, spread de-icer if necessary and then let the sun do the rest. The fact is, any surface color that you expose in shoveling (gray, green, brown or black) will be far less reflective than a thick blanket of snow, and remaining snow will melt more easily from that darker surface.

10. Don’t overdress

You need to stay warm, but if you overdress you’re going to be soaked in sweat in no time. Dress in loose-fitting layers that you can peel off as you heat up.

11. Whenever possible, team up

Shoveling with a friend or neighbor is inherently more enjoyable than shoveling on your own. Plus, it’s quicker to get the job done with two or three sets of hands.

12. Go easy on the de-icer

Once the area is clear, all you need is a thin scattering of de-icer to keep it that way. If you’re scattering by hand, throw the salt, pellets or granules low along the ground so they bounce and roll into a uniform layer.

13. Whenever possible, get a head start

It’s easier to remove snow in thin layers than wait until all the snow is down to have at it. If it looks like your area is going to get dumped on, try to get out there and shovel it in several passes.

14. Maintain your equipment

The front edge of a snow shovel takes a beating. If it’s metal, hammer it straight when it gets bent; if it’s plastic use a utility knife to carve off the burr that forms on its end. Tighten a loose handle by driving a large hex head sheet metal screw through the blade socket and into the handle.

15. Stretch when you’re done

Stretch gently when you’re done and use an ice pack and ibuprofen to take care of inflamed muscles. Rest and remain hydrated.

Read more: 16 Cardinal Rules for Snow Shovelling – Popular Mechanics

In other news, yesterday was Groundhog Day. Yup… we have a holiday dedicated to a large rodent that allegedly can predict the weather.

Rodent. Weather. Gotcha.

philThere are many marmot meteorologists, perhaps the most famous is Punxsutawney Phil. Based in Punxsutawney, PA, Phil is the subject of all sorts of folktales. Like, for example, he’s 127 years old because every year he’s given a drink of groundhog elixir or some such rubbish. He does his weather bit in an area outside of town called Gobbler’s Knob. The other 364 days a year, he lives in a section of the Punxsutawney Library. Part of the wall is glass, so if you really want, you can walk by and gape at him as he sleeps, eats and does groundhog stuff.

Orphie looking a bit moth-eaten.

Orphie looking a bit moth-eaten.

Other “famous” groundhog prognosticators include Lancaster County’s own Octoraro Orphie. Now, Orphie is bereft of life, but apparently that doesn’t make much of a difference to the groundhog lodge people. Guess you get enough booze into them and Orphie will start dancing along with the pink elephants. Apparently the festivities include dancing the Groundhog Jig. I guess that’s what those crazy kids are calling it these days.

It made me wonder, though… how did the idea that groundhogs can predict the weather come about?

Like many things, it has its roots in ancient traditions. Apparently, the old weather tradition used a badger or sacred bear to make the prediction. The holiday began as a custom of the Pennsylvania German populations of southeastern and central Pennsylvania. Most of the modern traditions involve guys in top hats and free-flowing booze. It’s worth researching, and if you’d rather watch than read, check out the Bill Murray movie “Groundhog Day“.

In the meantime, know that Phil predicted an early spring, Orphie predicted six more weeks of winter, and neither one of them is right very often.

Phil’s accuracy is around 39%.

But it’s an excuse to stand on a hillside in Punxsutawney, drink heavily and try not to freeze.

Free Saturdays

Posted: November 3, 2012 in family, Weather

This will be a short post… Just want to keep my streak going. I’m trying to post something every day in November.

Wound up having today off. Not a bad deal, but I was actually hoping to work today. Extra overtime is always a good thing. Alas, the employer saw clear to say ixnay on the orkway.

So, Supportive Partner Woman (survivor of the dog and pony show!) and I headed to our ancestral stomping grounds of Berks County, PA. Dropped her to visit her parents and I went to my mother’s house to do my good deed for the day and take out her window screens. That’s all of abut 20 minutes of actual work, so I took the time to BS with her before fetching SPW and taking her to work. I also managed to move some stuff down to the Nerd Lair that’s been hanging around the hallway for a year. I need to be better on taking care of that stuff.

Only downside is I somehow came down with a headache the approximate size of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. Took a nap, but it’s still lingering.

So there… My day in a nutshell. I didn’t do a lot, but never underestimate the value of seeing the family.

Happy Halloween!

Roller coaster at Seaside Heights was inundated

I’m trying to get the blog back on track after a couple days of storm-related posts. It’s still nasty out there, especially for those folks in New York and on the Jersey shore… basically anyone without power. Supportive Partner Woman (Birthday girl!) and I went to Lowe’s to return the extra sump pump yesterday and they had signs up saying that their generator stock had been shipped to New York. Kudos to them for getting units to where they are needed.

In honor of the wedding anniversary and SPW’s burfday, we opted to go to Red Lobster for crab legs. We behaved… no soup, and I had salad, broccoli and a pound of crab legs. The caloric impact of the crab legs is only 180, 40g of protein, but there’s 1,500 mg of sodium. Yikes. I have to think that some of that’s in the drawn butter that I don’t use. The broccoli isn’t bad and actually is steamed perfectly. I also get the salad with the dressing on the side and I just dip the tines of the fork in the dressing. Taste, and not a lot of calories and fat.

As an aside, one of the great benefits of my job is that we get CNN shoved down our throats in all the break rooms. The highlight is that sandwiched between hack “journalists” like Anderson Cooper and general sleazebags like Piers Morgan, you get to see the advertisements. Saw one yesterday that totally cracked me up:

I guess it’s better than the early morning ads for onlinebootycall.com.

Anyways, folks… I hope to return to a more focused approach over the next few days. In the meantime, if you are in the areas still impacted by that tropical bitch, Sandy, stay safe. We’re thinking of you.

Song of the Day: We Go On – Kellie Coffey

Currently Reading: The Panther – Nelson DeMille

Bad things do happen in the world, like war, natural disasters, disease. But out of those situations always arise stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things. – Daryn Kagan

Hoboken, NJ PATH station being inundated with flood water from Sandy

First of all, I’d like to say that my heart goes out to those impacted by the superstorm known as Sandy. To see the devastation wrought along the coastlines and in New York has been sobering indeed. My sympathies to those who suffered personal injury or property damage, and my thoughts are with fire/rescue and police personnel tasked with leading the rescue and cleanup efforts. The visuals splashed across the screen by the media were chilling enough. We had tunnels under the East River being flooded, a construction crane collapse, and an explosion at a ConEd facility.

We were fortunate at MOASTBFFG HQ in that we suffered no real damage. Yes, the wind did manage to drive water in around the garage door and the storm door, but as of this morning, no flooding or structural damage to report. In the immediate area, there were some 5,000 homes without power and the local river cresting a few feet over flood stage. Fortunately, the Susquehanna did not flood, as it did last year.

Leads to the point that you never know what will happen. Meteorological events can be notoriously hard to predict and we are often faced with making choices based on the data we have. For SPW and I, well, we saw the predictions and remembered last year’s flooding and opted to take the time and prepare. Luckily, our worst fears did not come to fruition. The next time, we will take similar precautions, even though we didn’t need to do all that we did.

In the weight loss front, I cancelled my exercise session yesterday. I didn’t want to, but I felt I needed to be home, just in case. Other than that, not the greatest food week I ever had. I was nervous about the storm and just lacking focus in general. SPW and I managed to come up with a nice dinner option on Sunday evening. I made the mushroom risotto I described the other week (with no-salt stock) and made oven-roasted horseradish crusted beef tenderloin. It’s so easy to make… slather horseradish on a hunk of beef and throw it in the oven at 350 until it’s done.

At any rate, I’d just like to mention that today, SPW and I are celebrating our eighth wedding anniversary. I’m lucky in that I married someone who had become my best friend. I look forward to many more years together.

I might also add that she deserves a medal for putting up with me.

Just sayin.

Song of the Day: Where Were You Hiding When the Storm Broke? – The Alarm

I have to think that sociologists would have a field day studying the behaviors of people who are in the path of a severe storm. Maybe they could finally answer the question of why, when there’s going to be a major snowstorm, people rush to the store to buy bread, eggs and milk. I’m pretty sure that everyone is not making French toast. Besides, without cinnamon and sugar, I’m pretty sure the French toast would suck.

Not the best place to be

Seriously, though… we here at Chez T are directly in the path of Hurricane Sandy (that bitch) and we are doing our best to prepare and stay safe. I usually dismiss storm warnings as oversensationalism from the media, but in this case I’m taking it seriously. Why my change of heart? Tropical storm Lee in 2011.

There had been all sorts of hype the week before Lee about Hurricane Irene. Irene came and went and other than a lot of rain, no real impact. Lee came along and that was just a little too much. Our trusty sump pump gave up the ghost after pretty much running non-stop for three days and just like that, the Nerd Lair was under three inches of water. It was funny… I had taken a half day vacation to keep an eye on things and it had seemed that everything was OK, so I went to work. I received a call from Supportive Partner Woman (Mermaid?) 45 minutes later informing me that the SS Nerd Lair was in danger of sinking. I rushed home, stopping at Home Depot to buy whatever I could find that resembled a pump. I wound up with a submersible pool cover pump… but it was a pump. I arrived home, fully expecting to deploy Commodore Furious (SPW’s name for me when I get pissed is usually Captain Furious)… since it was flooding, I elected to go with a nautical theme. Instead, I only had to commission Ensign Furious.

Point is, a slight tap to the float switch started the sump pump right up and the water was pretty much cleared within a couple hours. We ran fans and blowers for about two weeks and damage was minimal. This time around, I’m not so sure we will escape so easily. To make a long story short… if the power stays on, we should be OK. If not, we’re pretty much hosed.

So, if you are in the path of Sandy, please take precautions. Hope for the best, but plan for the worst. Keep flashlights and batteries handy. Make sure you have non-perishable food and a supply of potable water. Keep water in the tub to flush the toilet. Keep you electronics charged. If you are fortunate enough to have a generator, don’t run it indoors.

In short, be smart and protect yourself. Your life is worth more than your possessions.

Song of the Day: Rock You Like a Hurricane – Scorpions

Currently Reading: Isaac’s Storm – Erik Larson

Weather-related quote of the day:

Anyone who says they’re not afraid at the time of a hurricane is either a fool or a liar, or a little bit of both. – Anderson Cooper