Stormy Weather

UPDATE: The mighty darkness and storm rolled through, shutting off the lights momentarily. Disconnected our wifi. Left over three inches of rain in a half hour or so. And then moved due east, even as it faded…

Ah, August rains. My flowers thank you, but ask for a morning drench instead. Me, I’m happy for what we got.

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It has gotten quite dark, even Lear-like, outside. The storms are coming down from the direction of our electric company in the next county.

…will we lose our connection? It remains to be seen…

If all goes quiet, it means (the) Gates are closed for the moment. We’re home, but disconnected.

A Safe Return, Hail-Dented But Intact

I arrived home late last night after attending a family event, a relaxed but very hot outdoor gathering in a Deep Southern state. I was able to talk to some relatives I haven’t seen in many years — which was nice, but also disconcerting. For instance, a young lady I last saw when she was about fourteen is now forty, married with a couple of half-grown kids. How strange!

The trip down there and the return trip home were both long and unpleasant. I noticed that Dymphna mentioned in the comments my predilection for “shun-piking”, but that’s only practicable for journeys of 250 miles or less. This trip was much too long for that. I hate interstate driving, but the interstate was unavoidable for last weekend’s journey. Theoretically, it should have taken seven to eight hours each way using a combination of major highways and interstates, but it took much longer than that, both coming and going.

Going down there I hit major construction during rush hour, and did one of those horrible bumper-to-bumper creeps for about thirty miles — the kind of thing that makes travel on the interstate so much fun. It added about an hour and a half to the trip.

So I decided to take an alternate route home, through the mountains. Yes, it’s longer, but it surely can’t take any more time than the other route, can it?

Wrong!

The home stretch of the return trip was up Interstate 81, crossing into Virginia at Bristol. After I passed Marion, signs started flashing that said both lanes were closed due to an accident at mile marker 93. So I started watching the mile markers, and at about MM89 traffic slowed down and then stopped. As it happened, my car became motionless right next to an exit ramp, so I peeled off there and turned right at the stop sign, intending to go east and then north and eventually make my way past the blockage and get back on I81.

Even though I was still a long way from home, I was in an area of Virginia that I know pretty well, so I didn’t have to worry about getting lost. However, I didn’t reckon on the weather. I had watched the storm ahead of us get closer as I came up 81, but I didn’t know the accident that closed the road had had something to do with the weather.

A few minutes into the back country the nature of the storm suddenly became clear. With almost no warning — just a few splats of big drops beforehand — a torrential downpour began. It was like driving under a waterfall. And immediately the hail hit with equal ferocity. I didn’t stop, so I couldn’t really assess the size of the hailstones, but when they broke up on the windshield they looked like they must have been about the size of ice cubes. The sound of them was like gravel being poured out of a dump truck onto the roof of the car.

I was on a winding mountain road with no visible shoulder to stop on, so I kept creeping along, slowing down to 15mph in the worst of it, with visibility of maybe fifty feet or so. The people behind me did the same, except for one impatient fool who passed us doing about forty. I hope he got home OK.

The hail quit after about ten minutes, but the waterfall continued for a while afterwards, so it was slow going. When I came to a main road, I turned left, and not long after that the rain let up. I eventually arrived back at the interstate at Christiansburg. By then the sun had come out. I noticed the flashing signs at the southbound ramp said both lanes were closed at MM93. So for all I know, despite my massive detour through the deluge, I may have still been in front of those poor folks who had been stuck in the backup ahead of me when I left at that exit ramp.

For anyone who’s interested, there are brief articles about what closed I81 here and here. Apparently a tractor trailer jackknifed, and I’ll bet anything it was during the same horrific hailstorm that I was driving through just a little later.

So that’s why I was a couple of hours late getting home last night, and also why I didn’t try to throw together a news feed post before I went to bed.

P.S. The car doesn’t really have any dents from hailstones; the title is mere literary license on my part. This wasn’t real hail like they have out in the Midwest or the Rockies. It was wussy stuff in comparison. But it’s still the worst hailstorm I’ve ever personally experienced.

We’re Not Dead, Just Doing the Backstroke…

Our internet connection failed sometime Saturday night. It was the culmination of a week-long community event, with lashings of rain turning this plateau into a swamp.

All that water eventually moved down toward the river, leaving behind drowned server boxes (or whatever they’re called, those boxes dotting the landscape here and there, some of which can be seen from the road). Whatever genius designed this beta model of internet via phone lines planted those boxes smack dab on the ground, thus ensuring heavy rain would drown them. At least that’s what we suspect.

So we can keep our phone service during heavy rains… but the internet goes down in the deluge.

“How much water?” you ask. About five inches in the course of two days or so. But before that, it had been raining steadily for a week so; by Friday the runoff was impeded by the previous soaking. That box just drowned for a while.

[Due to some other glitch, we were without phone service for five days last week…yes, we’re a captive audience out here, ain’t no competition to improve this system. Satellite internet is too unreliable and expensive. The electric cooperative is working on a version that would come through their wires, but what with lines failing due to snow accumulation or trees falling on them, they go out of service right much during the winter, so probably not.]

We did try to have someone log on here and leave a notice, but our proxy firewall prevented their access. And also prevented the bad guys from using us for target practice while we were outside in our wellies, measuring the rainfall.

Anyway, we’re baaack! The sun is shining as though that grey wet week never happened.

Thanks for your patience, dear readers.

Rain, Rain…

It’s been beastly hot here for the last few days and now we’re facing several days of severe thunderstorms…this current system starts in Washington D.C. and goes all the way down to south central Virginia. Lots of warnings about trees and wind and flooding.

Which means we may lose our power more permanently (it’s been flickering off and on) when the brunt of it hits here…

…so y’all know the drill: if it looks as if the lights are on and no one is home, the situation will be exactly opposite: we’ll be home sans electricity.

So leave your comments, they will see the light as soon as we do.

An Equinoctial Blizzard

Well, it’s not really a blizzard. But still…

Spring arrived last night, but you wouldn’t have known it by looking out the window this morning here at Schloss Bodissey. We’ve had snow-covered daffodils quite a few times in the past, but not usually so much, nor so late in the season.

It was quite warm at ground level as the snow came down, but the temperature up there in the empyrean was frigid, so the snow was actually dry until it hit the ground. Nevertheless, by lunchtime it was melting rapidly. As I write this it’s still snowing fitfully, but melting faster than it accumulates.

From what I read in the news, people to the north and west of us got it much worse. I read one prediction saying that Garrett County, Maryland might get as much as two feet (60 cm) of the stuff. Ugh!

Bad Moon a-Risin’

Looks like we’re in for nasty weather.

There’s a nor’-easter coming up the coast right now. We’re not in the crosshairs for the snow and heavy rain — Boston and New York will get those — but we are supposed to get strong winds tonight and tomorrow, with gusts as high as 50-60 mph (60-95 kmh). I can hear the howling starting outside the window even now.

The weather alert is warning about widespread power outages, so if we disappear from view for a while tomorrow, you’ll know why.

Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks!

A Giant Ponzi Scheme Exposed

Here’s a seasonal change of pace from Seneca III.

A Giant Ponzi Scheme Exposed

by Seneca III

This morning I awoke to an almost monochromatic world of whiteness. During the night, silently and gently, Granny Weather returned after many long years of absence and laid her soft blanket upon us — a real English winter has returned.

As I sat looking out from my study with my mug of morning coffee in hand I said to her, “Welcome back, but where have you been, and why?” knowing that that was really a rhetorical question born of a deep cynicism that has been festering in my soul ever since a certain Mr. Gore sentenced Polar Bears to a pseudo death and began lining his pockets via his investments in carbon-trading companies… soon to be joined in various ways by a horde of similar predators and parasites.

But, dear readers, that would appear to be the way of things. So, as we move further away from the conjunction of the eleven and two hundred-year solar cycles and, after another coffee, it will be on with the snow boots and out with the yard brush and shovel to make a small impact on my patch of what millennia ago was a vast, semi-tropical carboniferous landscape populated by wondrous creatures now extinct.

Climate does change — it always has and always will, so one must be pragmatic and just get on with it.

— Seneca III, soon to be walking up to the Pub in a refreshingly redecorated Middle England this 10th day of December 2017.

For links to previous essays by Seneca III, see the Seneca III Archives.

Sturm und Drang

A big orange and red blob is heading our way, according to the Nexrad radar image. That means boom and bang in the sky, water pouring down the driveway, and high winds in the trees.

It probably won’t knock out our Internet, but you never know. Lately it seems that whenever a bird drops a doot on the phone company’s server box, our Internet connection goes down.

So if you don’t hear from us for a while, you know it’s another “Oh, no! Not again!” moment here at Schloss Bodissey.

King Lear Is Headed to the Heath. Again

Update 7:58pm EDT: We had a LOT of very heavy rain with thunder, but no wind to speak of. Yet the DSL connection went down yet again, for several hours. Then it came back — for now.

Severe weather ahead. Which may mean the thin string they use to hold together the tin cans that comprise our connectivity will break yet again. If that happens we won’t be able to let in any comments. Again.

It could be worse: I looked at the map and Harrisburg, PA has a tornado warning to its immediate southeast. The nomenclature goes up in severity from “watch” to “warning”. As in our severe thunderstorm warning here in Dogpatch.

Stay dry, y’all.

Rain, Rain, Go Away

I don’t know if this weather page will stay but it gives you some idea of the unstable conditions we’re facing.

Because there’s a lot of thunder about, some random bolt (no, not Andrew) may well hit one of the boxes responsible for our internet connection.

Well, y’all know the drill. If it looks like no one’s home… we done been hit. Again.

Something Wicked This Way Comes

We’re in the path of a line of storms that’s part of the severe weather system moving up the East Coast from the south (it’s far worse to the south of us). Y’all know what happens when a bolt of lightning strikes ten miles away, or the wind gusts to 10mph — we lose our Internet connection. So if we’re missing in action for the next little while, you’ll know why.

They don’t care. They don’t have to care. They’re the phone company.

Well, that was a fun three days of forced vacation.

Words can’t describe my level of annoyance with the phone company. Or rather, no words that meet the PG-13 guidelines for this blog.

It happened the middle of Tuesday afternoon. A line of moderate thunderstorms passed to the north of us. We could hear the thunder, but the storm was two or three miles away. No big deal — it didn’t seem necessary to put up one of our weather warning posts.

Then the lights flicked on and off for a split second. Just a blip — it wasn’t even enough to reset any of the electric clocks in the house. But the internet went out. Natch. The phone kept working, but no more DSL.

I had to go grocery shopping. When I came home, the internet was still out, so I called the phone company and didn’t oprima nueve para español. After going through the usual rigmarole, the tech had me reboot the modem, unplug and replug the modem, etc., etc. He checked the status of the server, and said there were no malfunctions at that end. There was nothing else that could be done remotely.

I spent an hour or so on the phone with two levels of technician (the lowest flunky and then his supervisor), and could get no help except that they would send someone out on Saturday April 1. That’s when I got annoyed and had the flunky put me through to the supervisor. I try not to give guys at the lowest levels a hard time, because they really can’t do anything more — they are constrained in their responses. So I told them I was speaking for the recording (because they record everything), and then proceeded to give an earful to the higher-ups who might eventually listen to the recording. I didn’t get obscene or anything — that’s not my style — but I was, shall we say, emphatic.

The most I could get from them was that they would escalate the ticket, so that the local area supervisor out here in Bigfoot County could make a decision on whether or not to pay attention to our measly little problem. But all the technicians in our area (probably all two of them) were booked up until April 1, so we couldn’t expect any help until Saturday at the earliest.

And that was that.

I had a few choice words to say about the phone company after I hung up. And then we hunkered down to wait.

I used other means to put a message through to Vlad and Henrik, who were eventually able to put up posts and approve comments.

Then this afternoon the internet suddenly and mysteriously came back to life. The technician never showed up here, so whatever was done to fix it — a problem that couldn’t be fixed remotely — was done remotely.

Later today I’m going to call the phone company and try to find out why they were able to do something they said they couldn’t do, and why it took three days to do it. But I can’t spend too much time on it — I’ve got a heck of a lot of work here to catch up on.

[Additional choice words about the telephone company redacted for violating Gates of Vienna’s standards of decorum.]

Power to the People — NOT!

Our electric power suddenly went out late yesterday afternoon for no apparent reason — no snow, no rain, no wind, no nothin’. And not just here at Schloss Bodissey, but throughout the whole neighborhood. It came back on sometime in the middle of the night.

That’s why there was no news feed last night, and why no comments have been approved. It’s also why I’ll be behind the eight ball for a while today.