A beautifully told story with colorful characters out of epic tradition, a tight and complex plot, and solid pacing. -- Booklist, starred review of On the Razor's Edge

Great writing, vivid scenarios, and thoughtful commentary ... the stories will linger after the last page is turned. -- Publisher's Weekly, on Captive Dreams

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Odds & Ends

Krakatoa Day

27 August 1911
"At a convention of 13 suffragists at Ed. Stermer's store at Mauch Chunk, there was a lively discussion on women's rights.  The fat women concluded that they had the same rights as men, but the lean ladies argued the opposite, and on a vote being taken the fats beat the leans by one vote and the meeting broke up in a wrangle.  Stermer was chairman, but he had to leave via the back yard after trying to bring the two factions together."
-- The Easton Express
+ + +

Disaster Upon Disaster

Not only did we on the East Coast have to deal with the devastation of the 8/23 Earthquake, a portion of whose damage is shown below

but now we must brace for HURRICANE IRENE!  A Category 1 hurricane.  Granted, it is making landfall coincident with high tide, but still it seems a bit hyperbolic.  No one has mentioned Global Warming™ yet, and it is the only hurricane to make landfall in the past three years.  Perhaps they are waiting for people to forget when they were announcing during the Year of Many Hurricanes that the Global Warming™ computer models predicted more and stronger hurricanes; then shut up real fast when it became fewer and weaker.  Don't worry, though.  Models were made to be adjusted and, as my cosmologist friend is wont to say, "With seven variables I can model any set of data - as long as I get to choose the coefficients."  Thank goodness they changed it to Climate Change just in time.  That way it doesn't matter which way the wind blows.  The theory will swivel to point in that direction. 

Blaming weather on climate change is a bit like blaming motion on location change. 

Meanwhile, our intrepid TV meteorologists, having lacked for hurricane disaster stories for three years, are making the most of things, leaning into the wind and spray (against a backdrop of folks picnicking on the seawall), and speaking bravely and portentiously of dire things to come.  The Delaware, I have just learned is already 4 feet above normal, not far from flood stage of 22 feet. 

Okay, maybe a little far from flood stage.  My prediction: a usual amount of flooding as per the increased runoff since all the New Yorkers came out and paved over the Poconos.  But nothing like 1955, when the Portland-Columbia bridge (at 725 feet the longest covered bridge in the country) broke loose in the flooding after Connie+Diane and struck the Gibraltar of the Delaware - the Easton-Phillipsburg Bridge - like a battering ram, taking out the center span.  The water crested at just under 44 feet, five or six feet higher than the Pumpkin Freshet of 1903.(*)  And raced through a building with the boastful, if piquant ad: World's Fastest Car Wash. 

So, I laugh at Irene.  Ha-ha!  It is to laught.  You don't have a patch on Connie and Diane, the twin sisters of August 1955.  I laugh in part because I live high above on the Lehigh Heights, aka German Hill, perched on 300 feet of limestone and granite.

(*) The Pumpkin Freshet of 1903.  So called because somewhere upstream the waters scoured a pumpkin farm and the river flowed choked with pumpkins all the way to Philadelphia.  It was in the survival of this flood that the Easton-P'burg bridge was dubbed "The Gibraltar of the Delaware." 


  1. No one has mentioned Global Warming™ yet, and it is the only hurricane to make landfall in the past three years.

    I don't know if they count as "anyone," but that ThinkProgress propaganda site has been beating the Anthropogenic Climate Change drum for Irene for at least a day.

    Me? I've got the Boxcar Willy version of "Goodnight, Irene, Goodnight" stuck in my head and it's driving me bonkers.

  2. FF,
    can you manage to change it to Dexy's Midnight Runners and 'Come on, Eileen'?

  3. Nah, I can't "hear" my folks singing that one.

  4. Ah! I dodn't realize that it was so deep-seeted.

  5. It worked out well: my daughter's name can be substituted for "Irene" and she was up fussing last night... by the time I sang her calm, the problem was gone. ^.^


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