Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘climate change

Battening Hatches

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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.

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Written by johnwhays

December 15, 2021 at 7:00 am

Short Shift

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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.

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Written by johnwhays

December 2, 2021 at 7:00 am

Disinformation Averse

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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.

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Selective Attentiveness

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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.

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Written by johnwhays

October 26, 2021 at 6:00 am

Rearranging Fiddles

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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.

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Written by johnwhays

October 6, 2021 at 6:00 am

Inside View

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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.

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Written by johnwhays

September 25, 2021 at 9:37 am

Really Happening

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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.

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Speed Perception

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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.

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Written by johnwhays

March 18, 2021 at 6:00 am

Everything Fatigue

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I can totally relate to the Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engine suffering metal fatigue last weekend. I’m feeling a bit of everything fatigue lately, although, I do my best to avoid raining debris all over people around me, unlike that airplane in Denver Saturday.

I’m clinging to my thread of sanity with a weary, wavering grip. There is a climate calamity unraveling right in front of our eyes that appears to deserve a lot more change to our ways of life than the slow-responding societies around the globe are revealing any willingness to undertake. Communities are burning, flooding, freezing, suffering drought, or reaching intolerably high temperatures –sometimes experiencing an unlikely combination of the extremes– but I still climb in my gas-powered car and drive an hour to work like always.

It just feels wrong.

It also feels dangerous. Yesterday morning, I had a close encounter that used up some of my limited luck on avoiding a collision on the interstate. I commonly operate in cruise control mode with my car holding the speed and distance related to the vehicle in front of me. A business panel van passed me on the left and then slowed down entering a curve in the highway. My car maintained the cruise speed and caught right up beside the van in the turn as it slowed, at which point he decided to move into my lane.

I hit the brakes and swerved as little as possible, having no time to look to the lane to my right for clearance. My lunch tote on the front seat instantly relocated to the floor below.

It happened so fast, I didn’t have time to honk my horn to alert the other driver to my position. I suspect the assumption was that I had been passed and was no longer a concern. It wouldn’t surprise me if the other driver wasn’t even aware of having slowed at the curve.

The event provided me an unwelcome shot of adrenaline and triggered visions of a fate I flirt with two times a day, four days a week. Haunted by a belief that anything can go dangerously wrong at any time when commuting in traffic, I’m feeling the fatigue of having tolerated the risks of this trip for too many years.

I’m fatigued with the pandemic, its death toll, and everything related to coping with the ever-present threat of spreading the virus.

I’m even growing fatigued with our latest jigsaw puzzle. We picked one with way too much solid black background that is cut entirely of one primary classic puzzle piece shape: four arms, a knob on each end, two cutouts on each side. The only variation is the size and shape of each of those features.

It is very possible I will give myself permission to give up before placing every piece. That just depends on whether searching for the barely perceptible features of each completely black piece distracts me from the other angsts nibbling at me and releases the blessed endorphins when I stumble upon ones that fit.

Endorphins do wonders for fatigue.

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Virus Mania

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It’s as if there is some sort of pandemic or something. The coronavirus is everywhere. That invisible little bug that half the people think is being way over-hyped while over a million others are dead from and hospitals are being stretched beyond capacity is not magically disappearing in the way some hoped.

Ignoring it doesn’t make it go away.

Radio on-the-street interviews capture a scary number of people who complain they are tired of the pandemic and frustrated with officials who are struggling to mandate protocols that can limit the spread. Not the proudest moment for the human race.

Staying home all the time is too hard. Really? How hard is it?

What if we had to practice avoiding others for a whole year? I don’t know. Maybe try imagining how hostages who are held for four times that long muster the ability to cope.

We have the promise of vaccines to look forward to, so the beginning of the resolution of the pandemic is within sight. It would be nice if people could rise to the occasion of not making things any worse than they already are while we work through the process of vaccine distribution on the way to achieving herd immunity.

Try pretending that it isn’t a hoax. Play along with us for a little while, for the good of the rest of the world population.

After it’s all over, maybe all the people who have lost jobs and businesses can be retrained to become firefighters or search and rescue EMTs to deal with the increasing wildfires and flooding hurricanes that global warming has continued to exacerbate while we have been distracted.

Just call me little miss sunshine this morning.

Forgive me. I’m just reacting sideways to the unending reports of GOP and White House lunacy stinking up the remnants of our democratic election here in the U.S.

I trust there is hope for a better day hiding out there somewhere. [Insert joke about expecting to find a pony in here someplace.]

I’ll keep digging. And staying home as much as possible.

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Written by johnwhays

November 20, 2020 at 7:00 am