Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘climate change

Icy Mess

with 2 comments

Let me start by saying that I think climate change sucks royally to the maximum extreme. We have not been blessed with a complete switch to a warmer environment as a result of the trapped greenhouse gasses but instead are suffering a ridiculous mishmash of our old winter weather interspersed with springtime-type rain throughout December, January, and now February.

Conditions for the horses yesterday morning were pretty dreary but they were incredibly stoic about enduring the insult of freezing rain.

It was tricky navigating the slipperiness as I made my way down to the barn. The two chestnuts were down under the willow tree, just standing in the rain. Mix and Swings were up under the overhang, just standing.

None of them looked cold and none of the multiple offerings of hay had been exhausted overnight. There also wasn’t the usual ridiculous amount of manure under the overhang that needed to be picked up.

I raked up any scraps of hay and tossed them on the slipperiest-looking spots. Even if that tossed hay freezes on the ground, it still offers improved footing for the horses.

This is a good shot revealing a view of Mia’s opinion about the weather:

Actually, she had gobbled up all her feed before the others had finished theirs and came over to the gate to see if I had anything else to offer.

By the afternoon feeding, after the precipitation had stopped falling and the accumulated ice had melted from most of the tree branches, the horses actually looked dry. I don’t know how they do it without sunshine or blow dryers, but it does wonders for showing how well they cope with the elements.

Horses seem to convey an understanding that bad weather is a temporary situation that can be outlasted with sheer will and steadfast patience. I have a bad habit of focusing my curiosity on how much worse it could possibly get outside while they are blocking out the misery by looking forward to how great it’s going to feel when the warm rays of sunshine finally return.

We are all hoping that moment happens today since our forecast is teasing the possibility it might.

I would like to work on focusing my attention on how much better the weather could possibly get outside.




Written by johnwhays

February 28, 2023 at 7:00 am

Warmed Winter

leave a comment »

So, this is what it’s going to be like on a warmer planet then. January at latitude 44°47’04.1″N will offer periods of rain that will convert any snowpack previously existing into a slushy mash that resembles wet cement in many ways. It’s ugly, annoying, problematic, and just plain no fun to deal with.

For all the times I have grumbled about it being too cold or having too much snow fall all at once, I offer my apologies. The wet slop that has become our current reality is what I really mean to be grumbling about. I am NOT looking forward to the possibility of 5-8″ of heavy, wet snow falling on top of the existing mess tonight and tomorrow, which is what the current National Weather Service “weather watch” alert is threatening.

In protest of the lousy “winter” conditions outside yesterday, I decided to spend the afternoon indoors on a frivolous pursuit that celebrates the freedom of retirement by binging a docu-series in the middle of a weekday afternoon.

Cyndie and I finally started watching “Welcome to Wrexham” and have quickly learned more about the country of Wales than I’ve ever known before. Despite this show being a confusing echo to the fictional series, “Ted Lasso,” which we enjoy so much, we are finding it fascinating in a different way because it is a real story.

There are many fans represented thus far in the series who describe how much the football club means to them and to the surrounding community as a whole. Descriptions of being born into a world immersed in the Wrexham football club trigger my memories of the influence on my early life of my parent’s passion for the NFL Minnesota Vikings football team.

The Vikings just lost a game that knocked them out of this season’s playoffs (like so many times before) and local media is already going on about what needs to happen over the off-season to bring success next year. I can’t imagine what it would be like if I, as a fan, had to face the stress of possible relegation out of the NFL if the team finished at the bottom of the standings.

Watching the quality of the documentary “Welcome to Wrexham” has me feeling swiftly connected to the fans, players, and club staff presented on screen. I feel invested in their concerns, making it hard to interrupt the binge-watching for our own lives.

One reason that is quite all right with me is: It had me forgetting about the rotten weather outside for a few hours in the afternoon.

I hope the warming planet is providing Wrexham with pleasant weather for watching football matches at the world’s oldest international football stadium, The Racecourse Ground.



Battening Hatches

leave a comment »

In the shadow of the storm that ravaged the middle of the U.S. last week, the prediction for our area this evening is a little intimidating. High winds and December thunderstorms after record warmth in the afternoon have us more on edge than usual.

Any time it rains here in the winter I wince. Everything about it is wrong. It will likely be a night to bring the horses inside the barn to protect them from getting soaking wet ahead of the drop in temperatures to below freezing.

The insolating properties of their winter coats don’t work so well when wet.

How come penguins don’t have that problem? Polar bears? Whatever.

If we had hatches, we would be battening them down today.

Last night’s sky at sunset was just dramatic enough to feel like a hint of what lies ahead. I will be very happy to find out our concerns were unnecessary if nothing significant materializes.



Written by johnwhays

December 15, 2021 at 7:00 am

Short Shift

leave a comment »

I had a very short shift of animal care last night while Cyndie was at her mother’s house for the night. Delilah seemed thrilled that we could walk through our woods again, now that the deer hunting season is over. The temperature was in the 50s(F) which seems really strange for any day in December, but not all that surprising now that the global climate is being cooked.

The warmth seems to have kicked our burrowing rodents into high gear. By the size of some of the fresh dirt piles showing up they must be building extravagant palaces beneath the turf. The soil they bring up looks so pristine. I really should collect it for future use. Not a stone to be found among the mounds of wonderfully sifted dirt.

Our habit is usually to just stomp the piles flat again but there was just too much dirt for that yesterday. I couldn’t pound them down enough so I decided to kick them around, instead. A little like kickin’ horse manure in the pastures.

I found the horses to be incredibly serene when we showed up to serve the feed pans with afternoon rations. It probably rubbed off on Delilah because she barely made a fuss while waiting for me to finish, barking only briefly at nothing in particular.

In less than an hour, all the animals were taken care of and I had the night free to lose myself in the first episode of the 3-part documentary, The Beatles: Get Back, directed by Peter Jackson.

Lose myself, I did.

I am eternally grateful to the fab four for allowing themselves to be filmed at the time and indebted to the camera operators and sound technicians who successfully captured so many hours of unscripted randomness. That we can all watch this unique footage some fifty-plus years later is remarkable to me.

With two more episodes to go, this documentary is the opposite of a short shift, and I will savor every drawn-out moment.



Written by johnwhays

December 2, 2021 at 7:00 am

Disinformation Averse

with 2 comments

I assume that no one intends to become misinformed but it sure seems like there are a lot of people with a propensity to gobble up disinformation like it was candy. Speaking of candy, has it become universally recognized yet that early health campaigns by the sugar industry weren’t on the up and up when it came to weight gain?

In the 1960s, the sugar industry funded research that downplayed the risks of sugar and highlighted the hazards of fat…

Those of us (me) at Relative Something do our (my) best to avoid spreading false information and always avoid using algorithms to direct my most outrageous posts to the forefront. There are no angry emoji’s added to trigger more engagement and keep eyes on these pages for the sole purpose of gorging on profits.

While I will admit to occasionally enhancing reality when it comes to tales involving our amazing wonderdog, Delilah, I strive to describe our Wintervale adventures with utmost accuracy.

Like that giant tree that slammed to the ground across one of our trails yesterday.

It must have made an enormous crashing sound that probably worried our neighbors, if any of them were out. I love that Cyndie described the location as “cow corner” when she texted me the photo. This is near the one corner of our property where four different owners’ fence lines meet and the pasture diagonal to our land is home to a good-sized herd of cows.

I try not to get tangled in the ongoing, always see-sawing debates over whether coffee is good or bad for health, or eating eggs every day, or one glass of red wine, or reading in low light or on a lighted mobile device. Should gerrymandering be allowed or not? Is pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps really a viable fix for what ails us? Does hypocrisy in a politician reveal a flaw in their trustworthiness? Is the uncontrolled urge to scroll social media apps detrimental to our healthy productivity?

It all depends on who is financing the research, no?

If U.S. lawmakers somehow actually succeed in getting our wealthy citizens to pay a reasonable share of taxes, will it be rich people who have the greatest say in where the funds will be used?

Luckily, there is no confusion about the logic of vaccinating or the risks of uncontrolled burning of fossil fuels for decades on end.

Those topics are totally disinformation averse. Yeah, no.  -_-

You can trust me to be genuine because I know how to make things up that don’t bring me political power or financial gain.

Unbelievable, I know. Like how I needed to risk my fingers prying Delilah’s jaw open to force her to give up the shard of bone she found from what was left of that deer leg as we were about to depart from the lake. Suddenly my hands –all fingers intact– were covered with a stink that triggers a gag reflex and the water had just been shut off in the cabin.

Some things I write actually happened.



Selective Attentiveness

leave a comment »

What we pay attention to matters because the influence of what we let occupy our minds goes deeper into our unconsciousness than is easily noticeable. We are what we consume, or we are becoming what we consume.

Conversely, my selective attentiveness means I was too focused on my immediate predicament to notice Cyndie was hoping for my assistance to open a door. I have a tendency toward tunnel vision sometimes. Rarely when I am functioning at my best.

Yesterday, I found myself immersed in a design and build project that became an obsession after returning from the lake Sunday and two hours easily slipped away without my notice.

While I was shopping for lumber at my stash of old deck boards stacked in our hay shed, I took a moment to pay attention to what the horses were doing behind me.

It was nap time. The peacefulness was deliciously infectious.

After that, I worked for what I expected would be maybe an hour before I was jolted to reality by Cyndie pointing out it was after 2:00. This didn’t leave as much time as I planned for the afternoon winterizing projects we had on our list, but somehow we ticked off more line items than expected.

Window covers are installed on the chicken coop, the pump is pulled from the landscape pond and a leaf cover installed, and a  bonus accomplishment, all our deck furniture has been stowed for the season.

I feel like we are paying more attention to timely preparedness for winter this year. Something tells me (I do have a pessimistic streak) this might mean we won’t end up needing it.

As it is, there are sections of grass that really deserve to be mowed another time, even as the morning frost should be signalling the end of our growing season. It’s hard to know what kind of weather the changing climate is going to deliver these days.

Even when we try to pay specific attention to it.



Written by johnwhays

October 26, 2021 at 6:00 am

Rearranging Fiddles

with 4 comments

I’m sorry to lead off with a fresh version of being a “Debby-Downer” but reports on my radio during the commute home yesterday left me feeling like we are all just playing fiddles and rearranging deck chairs while Rome is burning and the Titanic is sinking.

There were multiple topics that wracked my sensibilities but the kicker was a statement –the umpteenmillionth from climate scientists– that we need to take action RIGHT NOW! to avert global climate calamity, or else.

Yep. We sure do. Meanwhile, all the fossil-fuel-burning cars around me, mine included, just kept driving down the road. Coal-burning power plants kept burning. The lights stayed on. Factories kept churning. Politicians towed their party lines.

Honestly, it sounded like the siren call that should have tripped some magical trigger forcing everyone to stop the runaway train right now. Instantly jump us all back to the early days of the industrial revolution and use present-day knowledge to solve the challenges of replacing old ways with new ones.

Instead, the way we are going, the poorest people are paying the brunt of costs during this gradual intensifying of impactful events going on around the world in the form of heatwaves, drought, fires, and floods.

It just feels so wrong to keep carrying on with normal activity while we are sinking/burning.

At the same time, it also feels wrong to mope about it, so that challenge is available to address in the face of the slow catastrophe unfolding across the world. There are people devising brilliant alternatives for the things that contribute to the climate crisis. We need to grab the threads of these alternatives and inflate the possibilities of change for the better.

Set down our fiddles, leave the deck chairs as they are.

Let’s replace old ways with new ones without waiting for countries and governments to lead us to action.

I’ll be turning down the radio during the stories about global warming for while.





Written by johnwhays

October 6, 2021 at 6:00 am

Inside View

with 2 comments

Justifiably so, most pictures of trees in autumn are from beyond the forest where the view can include the variety of brilliant colors glowing from entire trees. Yesterday, Delilah and I paused on a walk through our woods so I could capture the view of early autumn from within the trees.

There are plenty of green leaves still attached to branches but the forest floor is already carpeted by a new batch of recently fallen leaves. The onset of fall is first noticeable by the leaves that fall on our trails, before the ones that start turning colors up in the branches.

I find myself needing to put effort toward consciously noticing this IS autumn. The early phases of this transition beyond summer are just as much a part of my favorite season as the later phases when branches are bare and mornings frosty.

Earlier in the week, Cyndie captured her shadow visible on the trunk of a tree that was glowing orange with a spot of just-risen sunlight appearing through the forested landscape behind her.

It may be the last week of September but the grass on our property is growing like it’s still mid-summer. It is becoming common now that I end up mowing grass and mulching fallen leaves all at the same time.

It bothers me a little bit that I am not shocked that 80-degree temperatures are forecast for the next few days.

Just like the fall season IS here right now, so is global warming and all the effects scientists have long predicted would occur if humans didn’t reduce the creation of greenhouse gasses at the rate that has grown steadily since the beginning of industrialization.

Fall colors and hot temperatures are an odd combination for my mind to associate.



Written by johnwhays

September 25, 2021 at 9:37 am

Really Happening

with one comment

It’s happening right before our eyes. The changes currently playing out on our planet are no longer just scientific theories. They are actual events. Record high temperatures. Droughts. Wildfires. Floods. Thawing permafrost. Rising sea levels. Shrinking glaciers.

I’ve tried to mentally prepare for the possibility of any of the first four catastrophes directly impacting our property, but the thing we are dealing with currently is only peripherally related to the wildfires burning in Canada just to our north. Our air quality is so bad the Pollution Control Agency is advising we avoid being outside and breathing the smoke particulate matter.

Measurements are reaching record levels for Minnesota.

We should probably hold more meetings to discuss how we can reduce our carbon emissions to net-zero by some future date. [sarcasm]

I asked Cyndie if we have any idea what to do in the case of a wildfire suddenly bearing down on our location. She said we should paint our phone number on the horses.

I’m sure they would be fine with that if we were able to find any paint and get them to stand still during the highly emotional panic that would be occurring as a fire threat is bearing down on our property.

Even though the dramatic stories of lost lives and property in the recent floods in Germany and China and the ongoing Bootleg fire in Oregon depict the trauma at the epicenter of such events, life at home feels strangely distanced.

Our horses are calm. Their grass is dryer than optimum, the flies are a constant nuisance, the temperatures are getting too hot again, and the smoky air makes breathing less fun, but they aren’t ones to complain. I sense they may still be contemplating whether the situation they now find themselves in –living out their days in comfort and safety with us– is for real, or not.

Based on my assessment of the reality of global climate calamities playing out in plain view right now, I can understand any hesitations they might have about the comfort and safety part.

There should be no denying anymore that the ramifications of human activity causing increased concentrations of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere are already playing out.

It really is already happening, whether people collectively acknowledge it, or not.

Every day that I don’t have to drive my fossil-fueled car anywhere is a tiny victory in my effort to reconcile still living with a carbon footprint that reflects how we got into this climate predicament in the first place.

May we all keep looking for individual ways to do something helpful, or simply stop doing things that are hurtful, long before governments and greater society finally get around to enacting more broadly effective changes.

I look forward to that really happening.



Speed Perception

leave a comment »

Did the year 2020 feel like it took a long time to transpire? Does it seem surprising that we are past the middle of March already? We all know that time passes slowly or quickly depending on how we consider it, despite the fact it ticks off at the same rate no matter what. It’s our perception that changes.

On my commutes, I find myself surprised by how easy it is to spot a car ahead that is traveling significantly slower than the rest of the traffic. It comes in handy for making lane changes well in advance of needing so to do. Spotting vehicles in my mirrors that are traveling much faster than I am usually provides a lot less time to react.

It is common knowledge that water takes longer to boil if you watch and wait for it to happen.

How fast is the impact of rising greenhouse gases on the earth’s climate? It is occurring right in front of our eyes. We are living it. The thing is, I remember hearing about this threat decades ago from explorer Will Steger‘s first-hand eyewitness accounts of changes in both polar regions of our planet. We know the ice is melting. We know weather events keep getting more intense.

Will climate change take longer to happen because we are watching it? I wish.

Yesterday, I had a meal inside a restaurant for the first time in a year. That was a long time in coming. So long that it exceeded my ability to perceive whether it felt like a long time, or not. It just felt strange.

Let’s hope we are racing at breakneck speed toward a post-pandemic world that includes less poverty, more equality, zero emissions, greater social justice, the end of food insecurities/homelessness/violence/hatred, and reaches record levels of love beaming throughout the world.

That’s something I’d really like to see coming up in my rearview mirror faster than I expected.

I wouldn’t need to get out of the way.



Written by johnwhays

March 18, 2021 at 6:00 am