Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Hurricane Katia is on her way towards USA.... stop it, we don't need any more hurricanes!
From a comment on NY Times:
Rainfall from Irene was somewhere between a 100 and 500 year storm. "
Even Maureen Dowd, opinionator in New York Times, is annoyed at self-pitying New Yorkers that thought the storm was too hyped, and they bought too much bread.
And, things are still very bad for many. Poor Vermont. We are aching for you!
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
And more bad things from hurricane Irene:
Wilmington, VT is destroyed: link with many photos
We have passed through here several times, it was a cute lovely town.
Just went to our supermarket, which was without power for two days and the workers are now emptying out ALL persihables. Tons of icecream, all fish, meat, lots of cheeses, frozen pizza, it all goes to landfills now. Shelves are naked, including lettuce and produce. It was interesting what was left. Eggs were OK, and milk, and vaccuum packed cheeses. Bacon was OK, but not much of the yougurt...
Saw a new road sign on the way home, from our police department:
(sorry, didn't have my camera, it would have been worth many photos)
Vermont towns isolated: link
Summary on CNN about the devastation (check out the Vermont photo gallery!): link
LIFE magazine, best photos: link
More on the devastated Prattsville in NY: link
We also heard that our local supermarket in our town has been without power, and now is throwing out half its food.
NJ flood map: link
NJ summary of still bad flood news: link
We are doing fine here, we have water, power, open road, and just two trees and mud to deal with...
Monday, August 29, 2011
Click on photos to get to the originals on Flickr...
And more: NJ flooding from the air
More news about how easy the New Yorkers had it compared to many others
OK, soon it will enough of hurricane coverage here on the blog. But we are still right in it. One bridge has reopened, part of our town won't have power for another two days maybe, our tree is still leaning over the road and only hanging on because of a telephone wire, and many of our friends have lost basements, bridges, and other important things... It is a giant mess out there. I am really longing for a house where you can be self-sufficient (with internet) for 2-3 weeks without problems.
...a little bit further away from 9 milliion people of New Jersey, highways, and hot humid summers... (Vermont and New Hampshire, do you hear me?) This is what I dream of, in no particular order, for our new house...
- solar power
- solar heated water or something like that
- greenhouse attached to the house with a big thick brickwall on the northern end to keep the heat during sunny water and spring days
- own well, water that works when power is off, and enough water for watering garden in the summer without worries
- high ground, no risk for flooding house or basement or lost bridges
- no basement
- wood stove, to heat the house and to cook food on if needed
- smart design and architecture to conserve energy and easy to heat
- lots of forest and fields, no noisy neighbors
- vegetable garden, deer free, easy to care for raised beds, good soil for everything, sunny spot for longer season than usual
- not too many bears, I hope none
- pond you can swim in, or tiny lake, downhill from house of course
- little easy to drive tractor
- not too long driveway to plow
- not too far from pleasant town with library, friendly store and coffee shop
- farmers market with locally made eggs, cheese, and meat, or at least this within 30 miles or so
- a nice job without a too long commute for me (30 min is OK)
- guestroom, maybe two, for all our friends
- lots of firewood for free
- a giant barn or workshop for PP's machines, tools, and equipment
- a garage to park the car in during snow storms
- no big trees close to the house, so I don't have to worry about them falling on me while I sleep
- a nice pantry for storing lots of preserved and dried foods
- an orchard without sickly fruit trees: pears, apples, plums, and cherries
- rhubarb, gooseberries, currants in the gardens
- nice neighbors, friendly and funny
- gorgeous views of hills and mountains, sunny spot
- many good places in the forests for wild mushrooms
- a house not built between 1965 and 1985... (I generally can't stand that style)
- satellite internet or something like it
- a tractor with a plow
- affordable cost to buy and not too high taxes
- an outside kitchen area with place for a grill, even when it rains or snows
- propane stove (never going back to electric, ever)
- generators for when the power goes out, which could go on for weeks if necessary
- freezer with good food
- cable TV/internet for netflix movies when the storms hit (I could live without this, but I like it)
- birdfeeders for all the lonely birds that need to be fed
- few snakes, few mice that goes inside, and a happy spot for Smokey and Ella outside
- a nice reading chair and a nice reading lamp by a window and a cozy corner for winter afternoons for me
- owls at night, when you open the bedroom window
- a studio/guestroom with northern lights for AREA
- a studio/guestroom with northern lights for LA
Do you believe that if you wish for something really hard, it will eventually happen? At least partially?
I find it very disturbing that those people that think this storm was 'not so bad' and that the government 'cried wolf' and 'over-warned' people, seems to be the ones that are sitting in a high-ground area and never lost power (such as Manhattan). Guys, look around you, outside of your immediate comfort zone. In the media, both Swedish and American, there has been several articles saying this or quoting people saying just that.
I bet these are not the people that are volunteer firefighters trying to get a sick 7-month old to a hospital in the middle of the storm, or a friendly neighbor that comes over at 4 AM to get a second sump pump going in someone's basement. No, these are people complaining that they bought too much bread and water because of the warnings. Guys, grow up. Be real.
Millstone River, had record flooding at Blackwells Mills, the highest EVER recorded, at 21.24 feet (about 7 m) over normal. This is the river I have to cross to get to work... might take some days before the bridges are open. Manville downriver is evacuated and flooded. Bound Brook is horribly flooded. Things are bad and crazy out there, and New Yorkers complain that they bought too many batteries?
(1) 21.01 ft on 09/17/1999
(2) 19.24 ft on 04/16/2007
(3) 18.68 ft on 08/28/1971
(4) 16.84 ft on 07/15/1975
(5) 16.15 ft on 03/14/2010
300 000 households in New Jersey have no power back yet. We were just lucky to get it back so soon. (Actually, it is even more people without power. And part of a highway is now in a River. And so on, read more here. )
Brattleboro and many other towns in Vermont are under water. That is a street down there, under the brown guck. Our favorite stores in Brattleboro are under water, as is historic Hotel Latchis, you can see their brick building in the distance.
So, if you managed through the storm OK, that is great, but do not complain that you were warned too much. Next time your house might be hit by a tree, your stuff might be under muddy waters, or you might be out of power for days. You never know. You might just have been lucky this time. Nature is more powerful than you.
Here is a summary of the media coverage and destruction caused by hurricane Irene, showing that in fact it was really bad, whatever media and unaffected people say. Maybe not bad not for some pampered and grumpy city people in New York, but for the rest of us. Here is a quote from the same article:
We are glad Irene is gone now. A map from NY Times showing rainfalls and the track of the storm.
I can't get to work today, the bridges across Millstone River are all flooded. I wouldn't go to work anyway, we have enough to deal with here at home.
A giant tree down in our backyard.
Actually two trees, but the second one is leaning out over the road and hanging on the telephone, cable TV and internet wires. I guess the township will come and clean that up, we can't. If the wires break, then the tree will fall down in the road (which is closed right now, but people that live along the drive drive by carefully). Both trees were uprooted in the storm and stood outside our fence but fell onto our property. It is kind of crazy how trees can stand upright at all when a 25 m tall tree with a 1 m thick trunk has such as small root system. The powerline was under this tree too, but PSEG fixed that yesterday (see below).
Clean the floor in the basement, full of soil and dirt from the flooding. The soil here was soaked after giant rains previous in the week so just a few hours after it started raining, we had water flowing into our higher-level older part of the basement and when it was the worst we had 2 inches around our furnace. But no major damage to machines and other basement things that we know of yet.
By 2.30 in the morning we had 4 siphon lines sucking water out of the basement using long garden hoses, and we are lucky we have a door out to a lower part of the garden where the water can go, all by itself using the amazing thing called gravity. But it took us hours to get the hoses going, it is more complicated than you might think when you have no pumps and have to manually suck or push water through 100 feet or rubber hose to get it going. It rained until around noon yesterday, and by then the wind came on stronger too. I am so glad I bought 2 more hoses (the last ones in the store) two days before the storm. It is always good to have an extra 100 feet (30 m) of heavy-duty garden hose.
The kids were amazing (thanks AREA and LA), being out in the dark helping us with hoses, keeping their spirits up despite thunder, darkness, water-filled boots, mud, wet clothes, and just general despair at times. PP was a hero too of course, he saved the basement by having the battery backup for the sump pump going. And our friends BV times two, were great. Thanks all of you.
People died here in the state, mostly from driving into deep water in rain and darkness and being swept away. Why are people out driving when it is so bad? And then when they get rescued, they risk the rescuers' lives. People are sometimes so incredibly unprepared and stupid. Do not get into your car when the weather is bad... it is very simple. Some people seem to think that nature is not more powerful than society, but they are so wrong.
Here comes the new powerline! This time our power company PSEG was amazingly good! Heroic! When I first called in our power outage the calling center said we would get power back on September 4, next Sunday, which would have been VERY BAD (that is more than a week). And then the tree fell, and I called that in, and a few hours later three giant PSEG trucks were here to restore the power and sure, by 5 PM yesterday it was back! Yipee. Showers, hot water, sump pumps, computers, and even the internet (through cable) was back!
Uprooted tomato and pepper plants. Sunflowers to the right have seen better days.
Our driveway after the storm. Those ruts are about a foot deep. Unfortunately all the water from the neighboring horse fields drains down into the corner opposite our driveway and a large amount of it then goes straight into our driveway and then into our basement... this has to be fixed!
It was really strange (and nice) to wake up this morning to a clear blue sky, lots of sunshine, and no wind. Low nice temperatures and only 41% humidity. Perfect for washing and drying all those clothes, rags, towels, etc. that are still wet from the storm.
One neighbor has a tree down over their hot water tub house (which didn't break the glass window on the roof, amazing), another had 4 trees down over their driveway, and our driveway is totally destroyed by rushing water. Oh well, but taken all into account, we did OK, nobody is hurt, the basement is relatively dry, and others had it and still have it much, much worse. Some people have lost everything, had to be rescued from their houses in the dark, buildings collapsed in Philadelphia, and many cars are under water. So, we are doing fine, relatively speaking. Oh yes, we are terribly sore in our muscles from the basement work, but that is OK too. Most workplaces are closed, the trains are not running (Trenton train station tracks are under 1 m of water), and the big university has postponed the start of classes with one day, to Thursday. In Vermont they have unprecedented flooding and some of our favorite places there are under water. So it is not over yet.
Sunday, August 28, 2011
We are back on the electric grid since 30 min, after 18 hours in the dark. Last night was kind of tricky, with trying to get trickling siphon hoses from the flooding basement areas out through the door for automatic but slow (and realiable) water removal. The backup battery to the sumppump worked too, yeah! If it weren't for this stupid position of this house with water coming in and flooding it from uphill at major storms, and therefore the need to an all-on-call sump pump to pump out water... but more on that later. Our next house should not have a basement! Damage in the garden as been assessed and will be reported later. I am just writing this to let you know we are all OK, even if very tired (up to 2.30 AM dealing with basement floods), dirty, sweaty, but all safe and not hungry. Trees are down, our road is closed, but more on that later (with pictures!). We might loose power soon again, so I am going to rush and take a shower now, while I can. Many, many trees can still fall in the strong winds...
Saturday, August 27, 2011
Our morning glories [blomman för dagen], self-seeded weeds in our vegetable garden, are especially gorgeous this year. Well, we will see how great they look after the storm.
TRMM Satellite Shows What's Happening Under the Hood of Hurricane Irene's Clouds, originally uploaded by NASA Goddard Photo and Video.
Rain and more rain. Click on the picture to read more from NASA about this.
Posted by LS at 3:23 PM
Hurricane Irene (NASA, International Space Station, 08/24/11), originally uploaded by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center.
That cloud vortex is just incredible...
Hurricane Irene has hit the North Carolina coast, and our area has been downgraded to an expected tropical storm, still storm vinds and lots of rain starting tonight. Without a backup generator, we are prepared with filled up waterbottles, flashlights, backup batteries to sump pump, hoses, drillpumps, buckets with water to flush toilets, ice cooler, and all loose things in the yard have been stowed away as good as possible. The area along the wall of the house that usually leaks water during heavy rains got a new layer of soil yesterday (thanks kids!), and is not covered with a tarp with stones on top. The cats will stay outside, but have their houses to huddle in. Lots of food and propane stove will keep us fed. So, as long as not too much water gets into the basement, we will be OK, even if cut off from power. But it is a strange feeling. Sitting here and waiting for a storm we know will come. It is no wind at all outside, totally still. Foggy, cloudy, 91% humidity, and a bit eerie. I feel like making cinnamon rolls.
Still some more to do first... check all flashlight batteries. Close the attic window and remove its fan. Pick all ready tomatoes in the garden. Brine the turkey breast for dinner...
Friday, August 26, 2011
Ångbåten Eric Nordevall (II) är en kopia av en båt som trafikerade Göta kanal ( Stockholm-Göteborg) från 1837 till 1856 då hon sjönk. Det var en av Sveriges första ångbåtar.
[Steam boat Eric Nordevall (II) is a copy of a ship that once toured Göta kanal ( Stockholm-Göteborg) from 1837 to 1856 until it sank.]
Eric Nordevall is letting the steam whistle blow to salute another boat.
Below: Södertäljes own steam boat, Edjern on the way back to the Baltic sea through the #sluss#.
[sluss = lock in English]
Vraket hittades på 45 meters djup i Vättern i närheten av Vadstena 1980 och har väckt intresse då det är en hjulångare med sidohjul, med två separata ångmaskiner på vardera 7 hk. Forsviks bruk startade ett projekt att bygga en kopia och den är nu klar och ska döpas av HKM kronprinsessan Victoria på måndag i Stockholm. På fartygets dopresa har de angjort ett flertal hamnar och kom igenom Södertälje igår. Vill du se filmer så finns de här.
[The wreck of this boat was found at 45 m depth in Lake Vättern nerar Vadstena in 1980 and created a lot of interest since it is a paddle wheel steam boat with two separate steam engines of 7 horsepowers each. Forsviks Bruk started the project to produce a copy of this boat, which is not finished, and it will be christened by Crown Prinsess Victoria on Monday in Stockholm. During the ship's virgin trip they have stopped at several places and passed through Södertälje yesterday. If you want to see some movies of it, they are here .]
Vi klev ombord och intrycken var många. Det luktade nytt trä, ved, ångmaskinsolja, vedrök, tjära, nyoljade relingar. I pannrummet var det varmt, som i en vedeldad bastu och nytt och fräscht. Nordevall kan bara eldas med ved, 1 kubikmeter i timmen vid 5 knops fart. På däck låg vedtravar redo. Båten ger både intryck av att vara gammal och vara ny, då den är byggd enligt de gamla ritningarna. Ångmaskinen, båtens hjärta, är byggd av Motala verkstad, precis som den som en gång fanns på den första Eric Nordevall. Det är en lågtrycksbalansångmaskin med kondensering. Bilder finns här.
[We stepped onboard and the impressions were abundant. It smelled like fresh wood, firewood, steam engine oil, woodsmoke, tar, newly oiled railings. In the boiler room it was hot, like a woodfired sauna, and new and clean. Nordevall can only be fired with firewood, 1 cubic meter per hour at 5 knots speed. On the deck was heaps with firewood ready to be used. The ship gives both the impression of old and new, since it is built using the original drawings. The steam boiler, the heart of the ship, was built by Motala works (verkstad), just like the original steam boiler in the first Eric Nordevall ship. It is a low pressure balance steam engine with condensation (not sure if I translated that correctly, PP can correct in the comments). More pictures are here. ]
Vi besökte Forsvik för ett antal år sedan och såg redan då bygget, därför var det extra roligt att möta upp båten här i Södertälje. Vi hoppas kunna resa ett stycke med denna båt i framtiden.
[We visited Forsvik a few years ago and saw this ship being built, so therefore it was extra fun to meet this ship in Södertälje. We hope to be passengers on this boat for real at some point in the future.]
It is amazing we can see these things and predict them. Imagine 100 years ago, before satellites and computers. There was no warning, suddenly the hurricanes just showed up. Here comes hurricane Irene...
Posted by LS at 12:03 PM
Thursday, August 25, 2011
Aren't these insects incredible? They are rainbow shield bugs (Calidea dregii, Hemiptera) from Africa, and they live on developing seeds of Jatropha, an Euphorbiaceae (like poinsettia) that is being developed as a biofuel. Apparently the males do a courting dance before they mate and they are the most active during the hottest day, so no siesta for these.
Photo by Ton Rulkens on Flickr. (Thanks for letting us post it!)
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Earthquakes are scary. Yesterday there was a rather big one here on the east coast of USA, which is very unusual. I missed it, was probably in the car or walking outside, but people in my work building felt desks and walls shaking and heard cracking noises. A friend in Washington said his whole lab building was shaking for 15 seconds and everybody ran outside; most people realized it was an earthquake. Considering it was a 5.8 on the scale, very little damage happened. But at first, many thought it might be a terrorist attack. We are getting awfully close to the 10-year anniversary of Sept 11, 2001...
Talking about terrorism, here is an interesting list of 25 people and industries that profit from fear. This is worth reading and thinking about. It is not just insurance companies and the beauty industry, but also seemingly harmless groups such as advocacy groups, the pet industry, and toy companies. It is much, much worse here in the US than in Sweden, mostly because here in the US people has to blame and sue someone when something bad happens.
And here is the answer to why James Bond wanted his martinis shaken, not stirred. In case you wondered. (I don't like martinis, so I don't really care either way, honestly.)
Sunday, August 21, 2011
From today's New York Times, about girls at Gadget Camp:
“Not letting your children learn the hands-on component of the theory of science is killing us as a nation,” Ms. Sharris said. “You have to stop giving kids books and start giving them tools.” (source)
I agree. Is is nothing bad with books, not at all, but when books replace the real things like carving a stick with a knife, make and tend a fire, drill a hole, cut a plank, fill up a gas tank, and dig a hole, then kids get lost. We need books and tools. And skills. Reading a book is just one skill. If you can do all the things listed above, then you have six more life skills and you will also be more confident and independent.
Saturday, August 20, 2011
... or rather, as a medidation object. I think they are so timeless and gorgeous. Alex Andon has figured out how to make a desktop jellyfish aquarium, and it is gorgeous, designwise. And the jellyfishes themselves are even more beautiful. Yes, too expensive, otherwise I would get one.
Friday, August 19, 2011
I find this facinating, not only from the perspective of art but also math.
Great work, Michael Johansson. Haven't you thought about this - how much can you fit into a specific scale and also keep it upright, without falling over? It is just that Michael works on a larger scale than we usually imagine (not the three stories in the building behind the art.). I think the Volvo cars are great for this purpose, due to their particular angular shapes. Fantastic work! It is well worth your time to check out his website.
Thursday, August 18, 2011
Right now it is 6 PM in USA on August 18, which means that it is August 19 in Sweden, and today (in Sweden) is the wedding day for cousin EH and his C. Warmest congratulations to them and their four children (in various parental configurations). We are so happy for you, and sorry we can't be there.
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Warning, this is a very RED post.
Last week at our pickup of the weekly ration of vegetables and herbs from our CSA (Griggstown Quail Farm and Market, thank you!), we were allowed to take unlimited amounts of tomatoes. Nice, red, big, firm, juicy tomatoes, rather enormous and perfectly fine. So, LA and I packed up two giant boxes of about 20 lbs (c. 10 kg) each. We also had plum tomatoes Roma and San Marzano) at home from our own garden, about 15 lbs, and some heirloom tomatoes for slicing in salads, and 5 liters of small plum tomatoes from the CSA. So what do to with so many tomatoes? Well, this is what we did (and we still have tomatoes left).
For good spaghetti sauce, you take your tomatoes...
Cut a cross in the end with the stalk and throw them in boiling water for 2 min, then dump them in ice water...
...so you can peel them easily and remove the seeds. (This is not an absolutely necessary step, but if you do this then you don't have to run the sauce in a blender to get rid of skins, and all the liquid that is around the seeds don't need to be reduced down to get a thicker sauce.)
Boil sauce more. Hours. Add herbs.
Can. Result: 5 liters (10 jars of 2 cups each) of vegetarian spaghetti sauce, from peeled and seeded beefsteak tomatoes, canned and sterilized so it can be stored at room temperature.
We also cooked 3 liters of seeded and peeled Roma and San Marzano tomatoes for canning (which failed, the large jars didn't seal, so we froze this instead).
We also made pizza sauce from fresh cut up tomatoes with fresh basil for our Friday night pizza. Yummy.
Putting sliced fresh tomatoes on pizza instead of sauce. Next time, put the tomatoes on top of the cheese, or the pizza will be too soggy. But it tasted fantastic.
We also had tomato salads, made sundried tomatoes in the dehydrator (hint, it takes longer than normal if you do it on the rainiest day in 100 years!), made grilled sandwiches with tomatoes and cheese, made tomato soup... and we still have more tomatoes to go, and will get more on Thursday. What a treat! And these tomatoes taste so good, not like the store-bought long-distance ones that taste nothing or wrong.