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Wednesday, January 12, 2021

As the old saying goes, everyone talks about the weather but nobody does anything about it.

Except that they do — they obsess about it. Especially when the inclement stuff hits. Or even threatens to hit. Perpetual panic is the result of our exaggerating the impact of the elements:

We barely have time to dry off from the assaulting rains of spring and the insurgent swelter of summer before we begin to fortify ourselves for another coming cold war — with its insidious sleet, lethal icicles and villainous black ice…

All of this hysteria over storm alerts and weather warnings, [author John] Balzar says, stems from “an impoverished sense of wonder about nature … and an exaggerated sense of self-pity.”

When we speak of weather “events,” Balzar says, “the jargon of sports, war, economics have all blended into one, and weather has been dragged into the fray.”

There’s definitely an element of titillation here as well. Who knew Mother Nature could impart such a thrill?

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 01/12/2021 10:01am
Category: Society, Weather
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Friday, December 31, 2020

Maybe it’s a sign of my geographic self-centeredness, but I can’t look at today’s abbreviation “NYE” and not mentally process the first two letters as “New York”.

It might have something to do with that big-ass New Year’s Eve party they’re having in Times Square. Not that I’m attending it tonight, what with the crush of excessive crowds and the preponderance of post-blizzard street slush.

I guess I’m associating a universal event too closely with a local venue. Then again, why not? It’s more plausible to link the holiday with swingin’ Manhattan than, say, “North Yakima Eve”.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 12/31/2010 11:14am
Category: New Yorkin', Weather
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Wednesday, December 29, 2020

pond-eringI knew that if I hung around Bryant Park long enough today, I would find something worth photographing.

This little snowman was an impromptu urban creation, built atop the piled-up snow drifts that surround The Pond ice-skating rink. His eyes are nothing but concentrated street-grime, his mouth a random ground-twig, and his arms a couple of drinking straws. The crowning touch, though — and what really prompted me to take the picture — is that green scarf, emblazoned with “BRYANT PARK” and actually a scrap of plastic caution tape left over from the hazard barricades for the park’s icy walkways. Truly a city snowman. And at least one good thing to come out of all this blizzard-snow.

Assuming he hasn’t already been cleared away, I think the Park should adopt this little guy as their seasonal mascot. Beats those green chairs! The crowds definitely took to him, as I saw bunches of people posing for a picture.

Speaking of which, the bigger Flickrized version of my cameraphone photo really shows off this snowman’s rinkside stature.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 12/29/2010 07:58pm
Category: New Yorkin', Photography, Weather
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Tuesday, December 28, 2020

While New York seethes under a blanket of mostly-unplowed snow, in southside Boston cleared curbside parking brings a bizarre sideshow of placeholder objects:

Mrs. Simon, a Southie native, said the most “awesome” space saver she had seen was a table set for two, complete with a bottle of wine. Mrs. Maguire said her weirdest sighting was a toilet — “I can’t imagine the person moving it every time they park,” she said — and Kevin Carroll, who marks his space with an orange cone, said his strangest sighting was “one of those old TVs in the wooden cabinets.”

Space savers spotted Tuesday included a tripod, several containers of kitty litter, a stroller, a cat scratching post, an air purifier and a laundry basket full of folded clothes. None, though, rivaled the bust of Elvis Presley that someone used in 2009.

Quite the territorial hassle. Although probably less work than the proverbial task of parking your car in nearby Harvard Yard, which requires filling out multiple forms.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 12/28/2010 09:38pm
Category: Society, Weather
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Sunday, December 26, 2020

flakey weather
Mother Nature couldn’t let this year bow out without hitting the Northeast with a bona fide blizzard. As I type, the flakes are blowing past my window vertically, signifying the gusty winds that are accompanying the season’s first real snow.

If the predictions hold and we see a foot of snow tomorrow, I’m well-prepared to hole up for the next two days. The only thing I’m really concerned about is any disruption to the utilities, particularly the cable/Internet connection. I went through an extended wintry-walloped communications blackout last year, and have no desire to experience a repeat. (And there’s only so much I can do via my iPhone, assuming AT&T’s 3G network even weathers the storm.)

Regardless, I think it’s fitting that this seasonal disruption should come precisely in the annual dead-zone between Christmas and New Year’s. I think it’s generally acknowledged that it’s pretty much impossible to get anything significant accomplished between December 26th and December 31st, with everyone taking time off and generally in drain-the-calendar mode. Now, the elements are joining in to squash any hopes of year-end productivity. So be it.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 12/26/2010 02:43pm
Category: Business, New Yorkin', Weather
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Monday, December 20, 2021

So, fingerless gloves — the winter accessory that, in our handheld-device age, has finally met its functional purpose:

Fingerless gloves are nothing new (hello, Madonna, Cyndi Lauper and David Bowie). They were a style staple of rebellious ’80s pop stars and have come back on the hands of Taylor Momsen, Rihanna and tons of teens and twentysomethings for whom texting, tweeting and typing is a full-time job no matter what the climate.

And yet, I have a couple of problems with this handwear:

- It evokes a homeless-junkie look to me. That’s the group I most closely associate with these half-gloves, basically as improvised tear-wear.

- The fingers are the part of the hand that get the coldest when exposed to freezing temperatures. So what’s the point in covering up your palms? You’re still going to feel the chilly numbness.

Because of those two strikes against, I don’t see donning a pair of these, even with my constant keyboard-typing and touchscreen-tapping. Not that I’m not tempted, with some of the drafty locales I’ve had to endure lately.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 12/20/2010 09:16pm
Category: Fashion, Society, Tech, Weather
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Wednesday, December 08, 2021

Part of my grooming routine is a weekly-or-so trimming of my ever-present goatee. (Amazingly, it’s been years since this has led to an error-prompted clean shave.)

I performed said trimming last night, reducing my thick whiskers to a fine stubble. This morning, I paid the price as soon as I walked outside — a noticeable chill hitting my less-covered chin.

Since my last trim, the weather hereabouts has turned distinctly wintry. I hadn’t anticipated such an effect. Just how much body heat escapes via your chin? Almost makes me want to sport a heavier beard for the season, if not for the scraggliness.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 12/08/2021 10:26pm
Category: Fashion, Weather
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Monday, October 11, 2021

I spent the first eighteen years of my life in the northeastern US. Somehow, I never caught on to the strident popularity of Fall Foliage Season around these parts.

And don’t kid yourself — it’s big. Big enough that Yankee Magazine sees fit to maintain a dedicated website with prime New England foliage maps and other leaf-gazing esoterica. This is, no doubt, crucial information for the tour groups who are regularly courted by charter buses for day trips to nearby arboreal hotspots in Connecticut and upstate.

Seriously, who knew? I appreciate autumnal charms as much as anyone else, but it’s never occurred to me to make a sport out of tree-watching. Maybe there’s still too much Floridian in me to fully groove on all the brown-yellow-orange scenery hereabouts.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 10/11/2021 09:59am
Category: New Yorkin', Publishing, Weather
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Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Back in March, Brooklyn’s infamous Gowanus Canal was declared a Federal EPA Superfund clean-up site. Looking at this video of the waterway in wastewater-waving action, you wonder why that declaration took so long to come:

Yes, that’s the Gowanus literally going up shit creek:

During the Sept. 16 deluge, a tidal wave of untreated raw sewage was unleashed upon the forsaken canal, a river of bile so rich in excrement that the waterway’s usual fluorescent blue was transformed into a deep chocolate brown in roughly 90 seconds…

The “[shit] storm” is a byproduct of the city’s 130-year-old sewer system, which carries both rainwater and wastewater — and dumps raw sewage into the waterway during all heavy rains, when the antiquated system becomes so overburdened that feces-filled water gets diverted away from overwhelmed sewage plants into the canal and other waterways. The system “works” insomuch as it diverts sewage away from treatment plants that are at maximum capacity.

It goes without saying that Gowanus is a crappy neighborhood, rain or shine. Especially rain…

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 09/28/2010 09:25pm
Category: Internet, New Yorkin', Weather
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Wednesday, June 09, 2021

It’s pretty rainy and miserable in New York at the moment. Although the “miserable” part is relative:

A colleague tonight told me she wished she could step outside for just a few minutes, to dance in the rain. She grew up in India, where oft-oppressive heat made any rainfall a welcomed respite. She loves the feel of dampness in the air, and the accompanying smell of mud arising from the cooled-down earth.

As much as I appreciated her sentiments, I ruefully shared with her my polar-opposite attitude toward such weather. I really dislike getting wet by precipitation. I compare this aversion to that of a cat’s — even the briefest of rain-soakings leaves me in a miserable and foul mood. And I’ve had plenty of practice with the heat/cooldown cycle she described: I lived in Florida for 15 years. I never found the daily summer squalls in the Sunshine State to be refreshing; if anything, they’d leave things even more hot and muggy after their short downpour.

To bring me around, my colleague suggested I go to India with her during the next rainy season. I told her I’d think about it. If anthing could change my anti-rain attitude, a trip halfway around the globe with her might do it.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 06/09/2021 06:04pm
Category: Weather
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Sunday, April 18, 2021

The eruption of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull volcano has created a paradoxical situation in the skies above Europe: While the offending mass of volcanic ash compelled a near-total grounding of air travel across the Continent, it’s also caused unexpected climactic serendipity.

Southampton Airport has announced this morning, Thursday 15 April, that all Flybe flights have been cancelled for the day due to the volcanic ash drifting across the UK from Iceland – and yet the weather in Hedge End is beautiful and the sky a lovely clear blue!

Others have noticed the lack of ever-persistent vapor trails from the usual jet traffic. And because the Eyjafjallajokull spew is too high in the atmosphere to be seen from ground level, the expected billowing of vulcan clouds hasn’t happened. The result: Open skies, in all senses.

It’s ironic that a continent-sized spread of natural exhaust was needed to eliminate (temporarily) the unsightly man-made variety. A nice side effect of an otherwise disastrous event.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 04/18/2010 08:07pm
Category: Science, Society, Weather
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Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Of all the places you’d expect to find skepticism on climate change, the television weather-guy/girl is probably the unlikeliest:

Such skepticism appears to be widespread among TV forecasters, about half of whom have a degree in meteorology. A study released on Monday by researchers at George Mason University and the University of Texas at Austin found that only about half of the 571 television weathercasters surveyed believed that global warming was occurring and fewer than a third believed that climate change was “caused mostly by human activities.”

More than a quarter of the weathercasters in the survey agreed with the statement “Global warming is a scam,” the researchers found.

Why would those most prominently on the climatic front-lines break ranks with the greater scientific community? It’s a short-term versus long-term perceptional gap:

Climate scientists use very different scientific methods from the meteorologists. Heidi Cullen, a climatologist who straddled the two worlds when she worked at the Weather Channel, noted that meteorologists used models that were intensely sensitive to small changes in the atmosphere but had little accuracy more than seven days out. Dr. Cullen said meteorologists are often dubious about the work of climate scientists, who use complex models to estimate the effects of climate trends decades in the future.

Given the average (in)accuracy of boob-tube forecasting, along with a vocational reputation for wacky-weather screentime, I’m inclined to side with the climatologists. Knowing about these proclivities amongst the weather-map-pointers only reinforces my overall aversion to local TV news, on grounds of general fluffiness.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 03/30/2010 11:34pm
Category: Science, TV, Weather
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All the rain we’re getting around here lately is triggering an appetite for seafood:

Recent dinner at Mermaid Oyster Bar on MacDougal was good. Rainy weather makes me want to eat oysters and fishes.

I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a link between precipitation and fish-cravings; I’ve certainly never experienced it. The weather today is ugly cold and soggy, suggesting nothing more than soup (clam chowder?). It makes some amount of sense, though: All the wet and water-logged surroundings probably should put you in the mood for the cuisine aquatic. In fact, if I’m still hungry enough tonight, I think I’ll pick up on this gastro-meme and cook up the shrimp and scallops in my freezer.

Incidentally, that tweet above is from Teri Tynes, who runs Walking Off the Big Apple, the best Manhattan strolling-guide around. I figure she knows the right walkabout destination for sating a rainy-day fish jones.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 03/30/2010 02:07pm
Category: Food, New Yorkin', Weather
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Monday, March 08, 2021

I’d already tweeted this earlier today, but it’s worthy of expanded cross-posting to the mother-blog:

March, the most wardrobe-challenging of months. I’m shiver-cold in the mornings, and sweaty-ish by late afternoons.

It’s the in-between weather that’s not-quite-Winter, and not-quite-Spring, that makes dressing up such an ordeal for this 31-day span. Which, vapidness aside, is why I think that T.S. Eliot was off by a month in his “cruellest” estimation.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 03/08/2021 10:56pm
Category: Creative, Fashion, Weather
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Thursday, March 04, 2021

Know that if you find yourself in New Jersey this winter, you needn’t worry about being offended by brazenly-bare snow-hussies:

Cops ordered a New Jersey family to cover up their saucy snowlady after receiving a complaint that the frosty front yard figure was X-rated.

While neighboring snowmen were allowed to flaunt their nudity with coal-eyed jauntiness, Elisa Gonzalez and her kids heeded the warning from the fashion police. They dressed their controversial snowlady in a green bikini top and hip-hiding blue sarong.

“I thought she looked more objectified and sexualized after you put the bikini on,” Gonzalez, 44, of Rahway told the Newark Star-Ledger.

Just in case you were wondering if puritanical attitudes had somehow gone by the wayside…

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 03/04/2021 11:15pm
Category: Creative, Society, True Crime, Weather
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Sunday, February 28, 2021

…And we’re back.

Anyone who pokes around this URL on a regular basis knows that there’s only one rule, content-wise: At least one post per day, every day. So the past two days of blog silence — the first since mid-2008 — should have a good reason behind them, right?

Well, they do: A big, honkin’ winter storm that dumped a couple of feet of snow hereabouts, and managed to knock out my Internet connection from Thursday night through to this afternoon. Yep, total Web (and, incidentally, cable TV) silence for an extended weekend. And I was obliged to stay home that whole time too, venturing outside only for short sprints — but, alas, nowhere close enough for a reliable Web access point.

It pretty much sucked. I can’t say it was unbearable, but it was definitely a major drag. I had a load of work to do, and basically couldn’t do it until today. So I’ve been scrambling to catch up, finally finishing less than an hour ago.

Not that I didn’t find ways to fend off the snowbound ennui. I acquainted myself with my new, barely-used Blu-ray DVD player, discovering that it can play music CDs — although it can’t read some of the extra media (music videos, basically) loaded onto older, turn-of-the-century discs. I also used it to re-acquaint myself with some of my DVD collection, taking in episodes of “The Larry Sanders Show” and “Aqua Teen Hunger Force”, along with an overdue re-viewing of The Falcon and the Snowman.

And now, to complete this crippled weekend’s entertainment: I’m restarting the consecutive blogging streak. Let’s see how long this one can go before Mother Nature intervenes.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 02/28/2010 10:37pm
Category: Bloggin', New Yorkin', Weather
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Saturday, February 13, 2021

It’s a stat that only weather geeks can appreciate: Yesterday saw bonafide snow cover on the ground in 49 of the 50 United States.

The idea of 50 states with snow is so strange that the federal office that collects weather statistics doesn’t keep track of that number and can’t say whether it has ever happened. The office can’t even say whether 49 out of 50 has ever taken place before.

As of early Friday morning, 67.1 percent of the U.S. had snow on the ground, with the average depth a healthy 8 inches. Normally, about 40 or 50 percent of the U.S. has snow cover this time of year, said David Robinson, head of the Global Snow Lab at Rutgers University in New Jersey.

Not surprisingly, Hawaii is the only flake-less star of the flag, with even its high-altitude mountains free of the white stuff. I guess I’d have to move to those islands in order to safely escape wintry weather…

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 02/13/2010 04:54pm
Category: Weather
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Friday, January 01, 2021

period piece
This afternoon’s weather in Boston looks snowfall-free, so today’s 2010 NHL Winter Classic should go off without a hitch. But just in case, the league has a contingency plan:

A league source confirmed to ESPN.com on Thursday that it is possible the Winter Classic could only go two periods if the weather doesn’t cooperate and the game would still be deemed official. But that’s only if all else fails.

That beats watching the players slosh through on-ice snowdrifts. Still, I wonder if there isn’t a better way to guard against inclement weather. Maybe a tarp high, high above the rink? Somehow positioned so it doesn’t block out the sightlines for the nosebleed seats? It would negate the open-air hockey motif, but at least the game would proceed uninterrupted.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 01/01/2021 12:18pm
Category: Hockey, Weather
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Wednesday, December 30, 2020

I’m sure it’s a good omen that 2010 will ring in with a rare blue moon, or second full moon within a calendar month.

What’s more interesting is how the popular term “blue moon” came about:

The popular definition of blue moon came about after a writer for Sky & Telescope magazine in 1946 misinterpreted the Maine Farmer’s Almanac and labeled a blue moon as the second full moon in a month. In fact, the almanac defined a blue moon as the third full moon in a season with four full moons, not the usual three. Though Sky & Telescope corrected the error decades later, the definition caught on.

Thus born out of error, it really should be called a “blew moon”. At least then we all wouldn’t be straining out necks to see the non-existent bluish hue that you’d expect.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 12/30/2009 11:28pm
Category: Science, Weather, Wordsmithing
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Thursday, December 24, 2020

street cred
Nearly a week after all the blizzard-like conditions, there’s still ample amounts of snow and slush in the streets of New York, and I’m still bitching about it.

But at least someone has a sense of whimsy about the lingering cold-and-wet stuff that’s impeding us pedestrians. I snapped the above photo today on Park Avenue, around 38th Street (bigger version on Flickr). Not even in a residential neighborhood, which was the biggest surprise of all. I’m sure it was quite a task to roll up the remnant sidewalk snow into an entire (if short) snowman, but the result was well worth it.

Judging from the melty halo surrounding him, I doubt this urban snowman will last more than a couple more days. Considering he’s fairly displaced in midtown Manhattan anyway, that he sprung up at all is remarkable enough.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 12/24/2009 08:14pm
Category: New Yorkin', Photography, Weather
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Monday, December 21, 2021

Speaking of wintry weather, I guess this is as good a time as any to present this corny scene from W.C. Fields‘ classic short film, The Fatal Glass of Beer:

That hoary vaudeville joke, “And it ain’t a fit night out… for maaaan nor beast!”, followed by the on-cue shot of (fake) snow right in the mush, never gets old.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 12/21/2009 11:37pm
Category: Comedy, Weather
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