mtbc: maze F (cyan-black)
Fall does seem to be coming: lately the mornings have been quite cool. The days have been pleasantly sunny though with occasional rainshowers. I was talking with an American who lives locally and recently got back from Greece: they mentioned how nice it had been to experience hot weather. I was reminded of how much I had enjoyed arriving in Michigan a month ago and experiencing that warmth.

At work the air conditioning keeps me feeling cold enough that I positively enjoy taking my time to wash my hands in the restroom because I savor the feeling of real warmth on my skin from the water from the automatic faucet. I have noticed that I feel colder since losing over a quarter of my weight: I mentioned it to somebody else who had lost plenty of weight and they told me that the same happened to them but they adjusted eventually.
mtbc: maze B (white-black)
July 4th started out fairly gray and damp. It was still cool and overcast later on but was at least dry after I got home from work so I was able to barbecue steaks and hot dogs; afterward the children toasted marshmallows. It was a good rehearsal for doing likewise with [personal profile] mst3kmoxie's mother who is presently en route from the Midwest to visit us here in Scotland.
mtbc: maze F (cyan-black)
Thanks to a high-pressure system this morning is warm and sunny. Dundee is generally relatively sunny and today's temperature is projected to reach around 70°F which is nothing by American standards but pleasant nonetheless. Still, while wearing a short-sleeved shirt on my drive into work, I brought a sweater in to counter our building's climate control. This is a common occurrence: for example, I recall working as a research assistant in the University of Cambridge's Department of Engineering one summer and often walking out into a wall of heat at the end of the day, then the next summer I was a visiting scholar in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the Ohio State University and encountered the same phenomenon, enough that I would bring trousers to change into from my shorts once I had arrived at my office and its cooler climate. (I have not needed to wear shorts here in Scotland.) I wonder how much energy we would save by not managing office buildings' climate quite as needlessly aggressively as seems commonplace.

My good feeling this morning in the sunshine reminds me of how much I enjoy such weather. Indeed, I might now have been working in University of Arizona's Department of Computer Science if not for those meddling kids: I was much attracted by the weather and a great-looking job vacancy for which I was very well qualified but my impressions of Tucson's public school system prevented me as a parent from risking such a move. Providence's schools already turned out to be quite bad enough, we left there after one academic year, not that we had moved there for the weather.

In returning to the US someday it would of course be good if that did make me as much happier as expected; I do indeed already bear climate in mind when considering to where I might move. Usual American house features like good porches and wire mesh for windows are also important though at our present house I do at least have a table in the back yard at which I can sit. The house I owned in Ohio had three separate porches. Locally we are not much troubled by winged hematophagic grazers; the insects that do fly into the house can become stimulating playthings for our cat. [personal profile] mst3kmoxie would note with disdain that the snakes that entered our house in Ohio similarly became playthings; I would try to clean up their remains before she came downstairs in the morning.

Update: It reached 77½°F.
mtbc: maze F (cyan-black)
I went to secondary school in Truro, Cornwall; I returned to visit the city last month. There are palm trees growing in its very mild climate: over a typical winter the temperature there barely dips below 40°F. Dundee's temperature does but still generally stays above freezing. On my morning commute to the University of Dundee I turn off the A90 onto the A85 and, as I pass Apollo Way into the technology park, that section of Riverside Avenue develops pots in which plants resembling palm trees are planted. I wonder if that is what they truly are.

At work, from the edge of campus one can see Tesco Riverside. This used to be something of a tease as the railway line runs in between so students would have a long walk to actually get there safely. The city council did a most useful thing and a large, long bridge emerged with an elevator and ramps and whatnot: one may now walk or bicycle quite directly from campus to Tesco. On this route one passes through Seabraes Gardens which also appear to have palm trees.

I know little of botany: quite possibly these plants are not palm-related at all, perhaps that is more plausible, though Dundee's climate is not harsh. Either way, I appreciate the effort of those who cause such pleasant additions to our urban environment.
mtbc: maze F (cyan-black)
At the moment the weather is fairly pleasant: mild, barely a breeze, some sunshine and some clouds. Children play outdoors, including one young fellow on a large tricycle device. The weather has been significantly variable lately: on Sunday we were all out doing gardening and seeing how nice the tree blossom is. The growth on the tree is always a relief for me because it means that my pruning months earlier didn't kill part of what remained. I even dug my sandals out from a box in the garage. Then, yesterday morning there was ice on the car windshield when I was to leave for work and colleagues came in with tales of sleet and snow. It also developed great windiness, even blowing over rather more items than strong wind typically does, though at least the barbecue did not leave the deck.

One thing that I much enjoyed in central Ohio was clear seasons with predictable weather. I could plan ahead well on both a short and a longer timescale, the exceptions being excitingly extreme weather that I also appreciated. Climate change may reduce predictability but I retain hope that on returning the US I can again find somewhere with more anticipatable seasons. Nearer the coast there were a few more surprises: for instance, in Boston when we had heavy snowfall around Hallowe'en.

Birdsong

Mar. 25th, 2017 07:00 pm
mtbc: photograph of me (Default)
The Spring weather appears to have really perked up our village avians. We have the windows cracked open, though I have yet to do my annual frame-spraying of pyrethroid insecticide. I can thus hear the various birdsong.

I try to mindfully appreciate my present experiences: time with my children, the taste of my tea, even the aching of my legs. The birds however sound like we live alongside a junkyard of deranged droids. Perhaps it takes them a while to get back into practice.
mtbc: maze F (cyan-black)
Despite recent Spring-like weather it was below freezing when I left the house this morning; I let the car warm up for a few minutes blowing air to clear its windows. The frost may have surprised the daffodils at least as much as it surprised me.

In Douglas Adams' Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency mention is made of the possibility of a car with heated side mirrors. To me such a thing seems achievable and desirable for days when those mirrors are obscured by frost: it would save on spraying deicer.
mtbc: maze L (green-white)
This morning helps to remind me of one reason why I plan to return to the US in several years' time: I am heartened already by glimpses of blue sky through the windows here. If I could have plenty of windows all over without curtains drawn, and porches or decks with enough warm weather, then I could enjoy the light and the outdoors even over many workdays if I could telecommute again.

It's not a pipe-dream. The last house I owned in central Ohio was actually cross-shaped, letting in plenty of light through many windows. It is cheap there to buy several acres of land so I could enjoy windows and porches without feeling overlooked. It is easy to get permission to put a small, even prefabricated, house on a full cellar excavated in a hayfield, with none of the tight planning regulations of the UK. We had plenty of lovely weather through much of the year. I am more productive when telecommuting and it might reduce ageism in hiring for me to be mostly remote anyway.

Living in that way somehow made me more content, glimpsing deer and groundhogs in my yard, wandering around the property to clear fallen branches and whatnot. Although I am stuck back in the UK for the meantime to make higher education affordable for my children, I know that I am still lucky: I have already discovered what makes me happy and in the long term it feels within reach.
mtbc: maze F (cyan-black)
It was a lovely day today: Spring is coming. The local high was around 58°F and the sunshine made a nice change from the gray and damp and wind of so many past weekends. I had been intending to again cut the crab-apple tree back from much crossing the property line and generally growing too enormous for me to manage at all so I took the opportunity of the newly clement weather. With the stepladder and the saw it was easy to bring the tree back into line and cut the thicker branches ready for burning once the pieces have dried out somewhat.

Managing landlords' gardens is always a challenge for me if they have more than grass. I may well have left the tree a little late in the season: it is probably already getting itself ready for new growth. I am often not sure what is or isn't a weed nor how large plants ought to be allowed to grow. So, my amateur tree surgery is largely guesswork but I think our current landlords are of the kind for whom it will suffice. At least since our latest move we have a much simpler garden than our previous.
mtbc: maze H (magenta-black)
I awoke rather prematurely this morning. If I am sufficiently awake then it is not worth my trying to get any more sleep: I am not a easy-napping kind of person. Lying in bed I found myself being bothered by thoughts about odd matters like employment contracts' terms regarding contact with the press for people whose jobs put them much in the public eye.

If I had a useful amount of willpower I would have used the opportunity of an early start to get the day's exercise out of the way. But, it is cold and dark outdoors and the cross-trainer is in the garage and I am more pathetic than I ought to be, so here I sit with coffee and laptop computer. In the US it is far easier to find a home with enough of a cellar to be useful extra in-home space to keep items like exercise equipment but I need to be better at enjoying where I am instead of missing where I am not.

It is not any colder outdoors than times I have previously gone out to exercise: I am just short of willpower and enthusiasm. I do cope with various things: I actually managed to get back to writing a little Haskell at home last night, though on a project I now recall might be rendered useless in a few months by others; our washing machine is broken again; I am unjoyfully battling Hibernate interceptors at work while editing code I only half-understand to make it support new behavior; I got more things stowed in the attic for now; I caught up with my neglected filing of paperwork. But there are limits and I am not managing to push them enough to get ahead in any meaningful sense. I do not even want to work on that bit of Haskell code right now. I have background irritation at living in a small cluttered house, earning barely enough to support us in our modest lifestyle, and the weather having been generally gray and cold and damp lately: small problems by the standards of many and I need to be better at seeing past them, at having them motivate me instead of wear me down.

This morning I learned bad news about somebody who I had thought a good presence in the world, and I don't think that lightly. I did not know them well yet I can all too easily turn it into an excuse why I should not be expected to get much done today. In practice it does work best for me to just continue as normal but I shall think of them nonetheless.
mtbc: maze F (cyan-black)
Being at low altitude near the start of the Firth of Tay we get mild weather; this winter morning was unusual in that I awoke to falling, settling snow. I enjoy the variety of seasons and snow can be very pretty. In our life here we do not have the money to be able to deal with snow easily but a light fall does not present any great difficulty: my journey to work went easily and perhaps the road surfaces will even be clear when I return home tonight. Later on I expect to still be able to see snow covering the hills.
mtbc: maze F (cyan-black)
I mostly do not like living at higher latitudes. On weekdays I am never at home in the daylight and summer is little recompense because it is then daylight at times I don't care, like when I am asleep. Agreeably it is now far enough from the winter solstice that I am getting to enjoy some daylight on my normal commute. At least having the sunlight back helps me to remember to appreciate it. I just have to also remember next time I move home or job to arrange not to live west of my workplace.
mtbc: maze F (cyan-black)
By the mild standards of our current home it is actually rather cold this morning: 23°F. I let the car warm up for a while but probably ought to have tried deicing the side mirrors; I wonder how fancy a car one need buy before it comes with small mirror heaters built in. The prediction is for the day to warm up so my drive home should see rather more usual weather, though also for my drive south tomorrow to include rain. It is nice to see the frost and the fog: I find much winter weather agreeably pretty.
mtbc: maze F (cyan-black)
Outdoors it is above freezing at the moment though frost lingers in the shadow. I had forgotten to mention how pretty the frost has been on surfaces like the cars' body panels: the crystals appear to grow perpendicularly so as to form a miniature ice forest.

Despite my ignorance of meteorology I thought I would do some reading about this moderately cold weather. As best as I can piece together, the summary appears to be: it's complicated but it may indeed often be unseasonably cold here this winter. There appears to be some story in the Arctic involving oscillatory phases and whatnot that has, perhaps somehow due to lack of sea ice, weak polar vortices letting the cold air out; also, blocking patterns stopping the warmer Atlantic air from reaching us, maybe encouraging high pressure systems to sit on the UK and to its north. To what extent this will actually keep our weather colder and whether that is due to shorter-term cycles versus larger climate change trends I am in little position to even guess: the main conclusion seems to be that I ought not put great predictive stock in historical averages.
mtbc: maze F (cyan-black)
It remains unusually cool here: for example, at present it is around -3°C outside. The grass in our yards is tipped with white and we have to scrape ice off the car windows before driving. The average low in November is above 2½°C and even in December, the coldest month* here, the average low is just above freezing. I don't know enough about either the temperature variance nor statistics in general to be able to estimate the likely length and frequency of such icy periods.

*which makes me wonder at people who think that winter starts toward the end of it

Update: I now read from the James Hutton Institute (on our side of Dundee) that it was the coldest November since 1993.
mtbc: maze F (cyan-black)
It is presently unseasonably cold here. Our weather near the Tay is typically very mild but today when I left for work it was around -5°C. I am adjusting to finding good opportunities to do chores: at times over the summer I would look for my chances between rainshowers to mow the yard. Now, with the weather becoming colder and the days growing short, I am making the most of time home in the early afternoon's light to do tasks like check the cars' tire pressures and windshield washer fluid.

On the one hand, I miss the proper winters we would get in the US, but then we had the money and equipment to deal with them. Here I can be content with whatever makes life easy.
mtbc: maze F (cyan-black)
Our village lies on an alluvial plain with the the river to the south and the Sidlaws to the north. As I look north to those hills I often see low cloud or mist hanging over them. One science of which I know very little is meteorology: I don't know if the hills cause the cloud or attract it or what, nor do I know if their position with respect to the river and the plain and the prevailing winds is a relevant factor.
mtbc: maze F (cyan-black)
Lately the air has largely remained still but today we had a fair breeze and plenty of leaves got blown from the trees. It does now feel as if nothing of summer remains and we are going to be increasingly tasting winter.
mtbc: maze F (cyan-black)
In recent weeks the weather has been drier; we haven't had a usual daily rainshower. The clearer skies and shortening days have brought cool fall weather. Early in the morning there is now often low-lying mist and even at low altitude my drive along the A90 into work had the car reporting a temperature of only 2½°C.
mtbc: maze F (cyan-black)
While the weather is part of what I miss about my life in the US I must give credit where it's due. I had previously mentioned seeing the rare treat of nacreous clouds in our skies and we do also get some aurora borealis. Additionally, the changeable weather here in Tayside does provide us with plenty of rainbows: in recent weeks we have been seeing quite a few of them.

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Mark T. B. Carroll

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