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Riding the Bike with One Pedal.

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Ahhh, Fall

I love Fall. For so many reasons – the cooler air, the crisp bite of fresh apples, the faint trails of smoke on the wind once fireplaces start up…and… Fall TV. This year’s even bigger than ever, because I have several clients active on television and it’s important to know what is on, what’s new, what’s going to do well, and to avoid the inevitable bombs. (Hello, Animal Practice, I’m looking straight at you. Monkey sidekicks are a death-knell.)

It also means creative DVRing, because apparently Sunday nights are now going to be akin to flying into Atlanta after being re-routed for weather. It’s not helped by the fact CBS football always runs over, shoving Amazing Race back and requiring a safety cushion of 30 minutes over, sometimes adjusted to an hour. Because just hoping I remember everything is a thing of the past, this is what I do:

Because only the networks fit onto one page, I’ve got crib notes for the cable shows as well – even if they’re not starting tonight, I need to remember they’re coming. Sundays for cable are crazy!

New shows that have some promise – 666 Park Avenue (ABC, Sundays, 9p CST)  might be a good replacement for the Desperate Housewives set, though with a slightly more devilish twist. (It can always be dicey when you pull Satan on tv). We watched the premiere of the Mob Doctor (FOX, Mondays, 8p) and it was rather entertaining – plus Revolution seems to be doing well right out of the gate (NBC, Mon, 9p) and will probably be their winner of new prime shows.  The Mindy Project (FOX, Tue, 8:30) will do well, Nashville (ABC, Wed 9p) looks good as well. I’m excited for Vegas (CBS, Tues, 9p) – hello Michael Chiklis, you’ve been missed, as well as Elementary (CBS, Thur, 9p) because I don’t believe you can have too much Sherlock Holmes, ever, plus Johnny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu are easy on the eyes. The X Factor (FOX, Wed, 7p, Thur (Results) 7p) is actually quite good, because Simon has moved on and it’s a fresh(er) take on reality singing shows.

First shows to bite it will be The Neighbors (ABC) and as mentioned earlier, Animal Practice (NBC). My poor rep tried to convince me Animal Practice was going to make it and had no rebuttal for “It’s a horrid concept! WITH A MONKEY.” Guys with Kids (NBC) is probably not too far behind.

Returning sophomore shows I think are good and I try to catch on demand, or am just impressed at how they’ve succeeded – Grimm, and Once Upon A Time. Person of Interest is one we watch, I’m glad to see it return, and while I don’t watch Revenge, I have several friends who get very dramatic at just the drop of the show title. (“Reveeeengggge!” they all exclaim, with big eyes and great drama….)  2 Broke Girls is definitely doing well, as it’s now the 8p lead on Monday.

Cable shows I’m stoked for (already started or returning): American Horror Story (FX, Wed, 9p, premieres 10/17) – holy crap-my-pants is this one scary show. I have to wait until Saturday morning to even watch it), Sons of Anarchy (FX, Tues, 9p, premiered 9/11), Walking Dead (AMC, Sun, 8p, premieres 10/14) – that one will get recorded at like 1 in the morning, thanks to these returning favorites crowding in around that elongated Amazing Race setting:  Dexter (SHO, Sun, 8p, premieres Sept 30), Homeland (SHO, 9p, also premieres Sept 30) plus Boardwalk Empire has begun (HBO, Sun, 8p) Thank you, Oh Great On-Demand Options on the Holy Cable Box!

At least I’ve got PLENTY of yarn to knit with as I watch my newbies and returning favorites. Though Walking Dead and American Horror Story :do: make my gauge get noticeably tighter….

There were shades of fleeing.

Last week, Tuesday the 2nd, to be specific, it got hot. Crazy hot. Super Crazy We’re Living on the Surface of the Sun Hot. Set records, it was like 107′ or 108′F, depending on who you talk to, record-setting, blah blah blah. James went to play backgammon and I spent the evening (in front of a fan) chatting with my wise Auntie Karen. I thought it felt warm in the house, but when it’s 95′ at 10pm at night, and you’ve been hearing for weeks that the a/c units really can only do so much against heat like this, I just didn’t think anything more except how this horrible heat was providing me with an hourly basis to bitch and moan. James got home late-ish, we stayed up for a while, then went to bed and turned all the fans on “HIGH”. It was still uncomfortable in the house, after midnight.

You see where this is going, right?

Next morning, it’s warm, and James realizes that the unit is lagging or something and so he turns it off to hose it down and clean it (something that works pretty well, usually.) I’m working in my little office, with the fan on high and thinking I’m definitely going through The Change. By midday, it is established that the a/c is not working. Nothing. Dead. I called for service – they can’t come until the next day. (Understandably, we’re in the midst of the worst heat wave EVER!) We decided another night of sweating, tossing & turning was NOT desirable, so James got on Priceline, and within an hour, I was throwing everything I could think of into luggage, destination Holiday Inn on the Plaza. It’s interesting, because even going away for just one night – one! – I am convinced that some massive speed demon is going to take over, and I should probably bring a minimum of two projects, and possibly consider starting a third, just in case. In case of what? I don’t know. The zombie apocalypse? I had to bring both laptops, and I made the terrible mistake of not packing snacks. SNACKS! I had to pay $1.75 for a bottle of Sprite when we finally got to our room, the vending machines are highway robbery. But it was 87′ in the house, I plead heat-addled. I was throwing random things into my suitcase, and I kept thinking, “It’s like I’m fleeing my homeland!”

Then I proceeded to worry, worry, worry. Because I had been hearing tales of a/c replacement. And the associated price tags. In fact, one person told me the quote they got for both heating and cooling? TWELVE FUCKING GRAND. She footnoted it later that it had a lot to do with replacing all their duct work as well, but hell, woman, you scared the bejeezus out of me! So now I’m playing mind games – if it’s less than $X, that’s good. GOOD. If it’s over $Y, we’re going to have to donate plasma and see if the dogs have any harvestable organs. We opened up windows, turned on fans, put ice in the water bowl for the pooches, and checked in on them periodically while our hotel room iced down and we actually got a pretty good night of sleep. The next day wasn’t nearly as hot, thankfully, and we coordinated schedules to get James home in time to meet with the repairman.

Filled with dread, I called as I was heading home, as I knew they’d arrived.

It was already fixed. $350. There’s an electrical gizmo that’s plastic, and if you don’t get all the louvered thingies all the way around the unit cleaned off, it can get clogged, build up heat, and melt that particular gizmo. They also boosted the freon, and were done in an hour. Oh sweet relief. Sweet cold air. We actually had to re-adjust our thermostat, because it now blows so cold, our feet were freezing in the house at the old settings! Home ownership. Not for the faint of heart, or those without deodorant.

But know, when the zombie apocalypse comes, I’ll have plenty of knitting projects, if you’re holed up with us.

Hang on, Dorothy!

Anyone paying attention to the news lately has seen the devastation and aftermath of an F-5 tornado that hit Joplin, MO on Sunday.  The city is about 2 & 1/2 hours south of Kansas City, and every news station in town has been broadcasting from Joplin, organizing donation efforts, even hosting on-air fundraisers and promoting blood drives. It now is the record-holder for most deadly tornado since they started keeping records.  The images and video have just been horrendous – people in a convenience store, convinced they were going to die, shouting prayers and love; storm chasers narrating what they saw, unable to keep the panic and terror out of their voices.

So when the skies darkened yesterday, and the light turned green, I had just thought to myself, “I probably should turn on the tv and see what’s going on,” and at that moment, the tornado sirens went off. I took the dogs and my phones down to the basement, and proceeded to have a bona fide panic attack, as reports came in of tornadoes being spotted and possibly touching down less than half a mile in two directions from our house. All of the systems were heading in our direction, and then on towards James’ school. I knew he was being calm, reassuring and ever-watchful (he’s got a vast understanding of weather); I, on the other hand, was crying and freaking out with a mattress pad cover over my head.

The dogs remained non-plussed. I got a little irritated with them for not taking the situation more seriously, though what that would look like in two laid-back black labs, I don’t know.  They just thought my tears were nice and salty and since I was sitting on the floor, I surely should be petting both of them, all of the time.

It turns out that the worst damage happened in Sedalia, MO – about 90 miles east of us. Fortunately there weren’t any fatalities, and homes and businesses can be rebuilt.  Certainly my own reaction wouldn’t have been so extreme had it not been precipitated by the Joplin events, but I recalled a time when we were living in Knoxville, Iowa; I was about 3 or 4, and a tornado was on the ground. We huddled together in the basement, and I remember my father leaving us to run upstairs to look outside, and I proceeded to have a meltdown of epic proportions, certain he was going to disappear into the swirling green darkness. (He didn’t, and we were all ok.)

I think I’m good with waiting another 40 years to feel that scared again.

If you want to help with the disaster relief efforts, donations are the best way to do that right now.

Matching Crazy for Crazy

Since I’m at home all day, I get to see things firsthand, not hear about them after the fact. You know, it’s like “24”, and I’m Kiefer Sutherland, and all events are in REAL TIME.  Yesterday was Delayed Garbage Day, due to the holiday on Monday, and the Wo is in charge of trash. I had taken advantage of the nice weather and wheeled out a huge bin of recycling the evening before, but we never put the trash out earlier than possible, since Feral Cat City across the way will destroy it in their efforts to find things to eat. We hadn’t had problems the past few weeks, but all of that changed. Just like the weather had. So my head actually exploded – yep, brain matter, bright spots of blood everywhere – when I looked out the window and saw this after the garbage trucks had been by:

Thanks, feral cats.

Granted, I was livid before I even went out the door. And I did grab my iTouch, along with plastic gloves, a huge trash bag and a scoop shovel, just so I could capture the moment for posterity.  But the weather did nothing to improve things, as I was pelted with sleet and rain, and my jeans were sopping wet from the ankles down due to puddles. It occurred to me, as I lost my temper and may have shouted a few things out loud at the sky, that I was now matching Crazy Cat Lady, toe to toe, as I swore and punched the sky and invited her to come over and help me, since she maintains the presence of these feral creatures by feeding them. I think I saw some curtains move, and I wondered what I would do if she actually DID come out, because I knew it wouldn’t be to help, but to screech at me about her poor starving kitties (that she doesn’t REALLY care for, or even bother to collar, since you can’t come near one.) That would have been an interesting blog post, for sure – and in my dream version, the rain and sleet would be augmented by the fire hydrant between our homes spraying into the air, and despite my personal dislike for him, I would play the role made famous by Mel Gibson, and Crazy Cat Lady would, of course, pick up the part played by Gary Busey, and we would end this Battle Royale once and for all. (Yes, Carmen, you can show up and play the role of Murtough.)

A Girl can dream.

Dear City of Kansas City:

We are in the GRIPS of yet another winter storm (9″ of snow forecast for the area), and based on the pandelerium on the television news, we are all going to die. OK, strike that, we are just all going to be MISERABLE. My husband keeps shouting, “WHITE DEATH! WHITE DEATH!” every time Katie Horner comes on.

Yes, winter weather is serious stuff. As we saw last year, our general approach to the white stuff is “Meh, it’ll melt!” and we saw how well that didn’t work. Including last week’s snowpocalypse, which resulted in snow days and now we have streets that weren’t cleared well last week, packed down with large patches of ice, getting a new layer of snowfall today and tonight.  But really, the solution is pretty damned simple. Our mayor pledged we’d have more snowplowing this year, and I recognize it’s a costly expense (other cities recommend contracting for clearing by the inch, vs. by time, it’s amazing how much faster it gets done…) and I think we need to take it one step further.

We need Snow Emergency rules. I lived with them for five years in Minneapolis, and it is remarkably efficient. The city has to declare a Snow Emergency by a fixed time (it’s 6 pm there), and that is The Beginning of Teh Rulez. In this day and age with internet and mobile, it’s even EASIER. Trust me. I can’t tell you how many times we’d ask each other, “OK, what day is it?” because rules apply by day and how you can park on the city streets. And for those without a garage or off-street parking, don’t panic. It works. I only had my own parking space for a year, and all the other years, I was bright enough to consult a calendar, determine odd house numbers from even, and know which side of the street to park on. So here’s how it works in Minneapolis, where, I think, we can all agree: they know snow.

Snow Emergency Declared, 6pm. From 9 pm to 8 am the next day, no parking on “Snow Emergency Routes”. These would be the biggest main streets in the city. All side streets allow parking on either side.

Day 2, 8am-8pm – no parking on EVEN-NUMBERED sides of the streets. You can park on the odd-numbered side, and on either sides of the Emergency Routes. (God bless ’em, Minneapolis even has a web page to HELP YOU DETERMINE what side of the street is even or odd.) After a street is fully plowed, you may park there (even if it’s still before 8pm.)

Day 3, 8am-8pm – Guess what. Now you move your car to the other side of the street, the EVEN side. If you were smart, you did this the night before after the street got plowed, so you don’t wake up in a panic screaming “OMFG what time IS IT and did I MOVE the car????”  (Why no, I never did that, what do you mean?)

Now, I also know we don’t have the elite Black Ops of Snow Removal here in the city. It might even require an extra day or two for our Snow Emergency Time Frame to allow total street clearing. But I can tell you this: it would solve the issue of our side streets getting plowed in a half-assed manner or not at all. My BFF’s street can barely allow a car down it because people are parking on both sides, let alone a snowplow. So now they’re completely ice-packed, treacherous, and who knows when it will all melt.  And I think we’ve had a couple winters now that show we do need some sort of actionable plan. Yeah, people will bitch. But they’ll bitch anyway, about the roads, about the snow, whatever. Grow up, grab your balls, and force yourself to pay attention for a few days for the greater good.

And if you really wanna rebel and don’t follow the rules, it means you get a ticket and possibly towed – revenue generated for the city. Win fucking Win.

Any mayoral candidate who seizes on this concept and incorporates it into their platform will have my vote!  Well….maybe. I did fall for the no-more-steel-plates platform, and that cost us a lot of moolah in racial slur settlements.  Probably enough to have bought us a couple more snowplows.

Donner Party, Table for Two, Please.

I am ready for a new year.  Christmas wasn’t much to shake a stick at, but then you wake up and it’s Boxing Day (if you’re in Canada), and you think, ok, we just gotta get to New Year’s Day, and the fresh new calendar page will stand before you, awaiting your move. And then you think, godDAMN it’s cold in here, and did the husband turn the furnace down this morning? And in the shadow of the hallway, you peer at the thermostat, flipping the light switch and seeing that it’s only 53 in the house and it looks like the temperature has been overridden…..to be bumped up to even higher than normal. So you throw on the big fluffy robe over the pajamas and shuffle out to the living room, thinking you hear the furnace moving air but still not sure, and comment on the abnormal chill in the air. To be agreed with, by said husband who has resorted to the space heater singing the hair off his legs.

Yeah. Dead furnace. On the day after Christmas, on a Sunday.  Let the calling begin. We called at least 7 companies, some required a second call to even get a call back, and while the technicians did help the Wo determine it’s the Smart Valve, absolutely nobody had this particular valve rolling around in their inventory. Several told us they might have something, but it would be $130 just to show up and possibly tell us they didn’t.  Then, the real humdinger came from one company who said they could come out today, but it would be a thousand dollars. Uh, wut? But if we waited until tomorrow, it would be $600. Mind you, this part runs about $150. And I get it, it’s Sunday, and a holiday weekend, but REALLY? One Thousand Dollars?!?! That’s like, half a new furnace. With tax deductions for a new one. So we’re toughing it out until tomorrow, and James discovered why the part failed (a tiny leak from a water line valve dripped onto it), so it’s a straightforward job, and certainly not requiring a new furnace installation.  Good Lord almighty. And of course all this happens on the coldest day of the week – forecast for Thursday is 60’F – but tonight will drop to about 14’F.

We went out for Thai brunch (they said we could stay as long as we wanted!) and then over to our friend Staci’s to watch the Chiefs triumph and to bask in her heated home.  Just spent the rest of the day running multiple space heaters and the furnace in the upstairs (office/craft room) to semi-insulate us.  Of course, I can find the electric blankets? But no cords. So my side of the bed looks like a f’n Arctic princess is about to go to sleep, piled high with comforters and blankets (plus a heating pad by my feet!) and I shouted out to the Wo, “I NEED FURS!”

(Speaking of fur…. the dogs put out a little heat, too, and they’ll be fine. I joked we’d just wear them draped over our shoulders or like coats if it gets really bad.)

My fingers are crossed for tomorrow to go smoothly, quickly, and WARMLY, and then like I said…. January, you can get here as soon as you please.

C’mon, Fall!

I don’t know about you, but I am ready for cooler weather.

wreath
Apple cider and hot tea, soups and stews bubbling on the stove.

Knitting that can pile up in your lap and you’re happy for the warmth.

The smell of fallen leaves, the wind bringing a whiff of smoke from a neighbor’s chimney, the cool dampness that follows a rainstorm as the leaves begin to decompose.

Ward Parkway (edited)

The taste of warm caramel, a sip of hot chocolate. Maybe homemade pie.

Best Apple Pie, Ever

Hand-knit socks and layers.

Warm Toes!

It’s going to stay in the upper 80’s (and hit 90′ today) this whole week, and I’m being selfish, I want the whole season, not a fast-forward slide into winter. Hurry up Fall. We’re waiting!

Still Not Street-Happy

I emailed both my city council members and fired off a request for SAND to the city’s 3-1-1 Action Center via the internet yesterday. This is what I got in return:

The City’s Snow and Ice Plan calls for keeping primary and arterial streets open for traffic. On primary and arterial streets, crews plow curb-to-curb and work around the clock to remove snow and apply salt. On residential streets, the plan calls for providing a passable lane. In addition to plowing, crews assigned to residential streets apply salt on intersections, hills and slick areas. We will take your information and it will be placed in the data base.

Thank you for contacting the 3-1-1 Action Center

Uh, ok. I live on a residential street, and let’s talk about how un-passable this “lane” is. When I left this morning, I had the misfortune to end up behind the recycling dump truck, and so I slowed, stopped, waiting, only to see this enormous vehicle completely stuck at the top of a small incline. So I started to back up, the recycling truck began backing up, and we did this fun-packed dance for at least a block. I almost ended up in the ditch, because I was trying to avoid a car parked on the road, and backing up in snowing weather on snowy streets that haven’t been plowed makes it a little tough to stay in the two snow-packed ruts when you have objects to avoid and forty-ton truck in reverse coming at you and it can’t gain traction.

A plow is useless at this point, because this shit is frozen solid in the form of an ice pack on top of the concrete. I seriously doubt the plows will go up and down sixteen times to get down to the pavement. So I asked for sand. I don’t need ice melt, just SAND. Our house is at the top of a small hill, and all day yesterday, I heard the whining and spinning and grinding of motors and tires trying to make it up the incline. I get it, it was a big snowstorm, it happened over a holiday, but this is simply inexcusable at this point. It’s been a week. The primary roads near us (Wornall, State Line, Homes) are clear. I don’t know wtf defines a street as arterial, maybe it’s the bigger streets with lights on them? All I know is that it’s a giant mess, and the people delivering packages and mail and just trying to get in and out of their homes are all at risk until this city bites the bullet and gets on the ball here. I’ve never, ever had to wait this long to have our street plowed, and if I could withhold my city taxes in protest, I sure as hell would. Until everything melts or the streets get cleared, whichever comes first.


Straight From The Horse’s Mouth:

I give you the direct quote from the FedEx man who just came by: “You folks are NOT getting a fair shake with these roads.”
He left, shaking his head with disgust.
I hear ya, buddy. The absence of any plow on our street has caused the whole thing to become snow-packed. Which in turn becomes solid chunks of ice. Way to go with the snow removal, Kansas City. Would it be too much to ask for a little sand, at least?

So it’s eleventy-billion degrees out…

…and I am very grateful to the person who invented air conditioning! Gah! We’re under an extreme heat warning now through Wednesday, as our mid-to-upper 90’s are combining with our excessive humidity and making it feel like, I don’t know, EXPLOSIVE, in both Celsius and Farenheit.

The heat also makes tempers a little shorter, I think. I just fired off an email to some feller over in Roeland Park KS who has used some service that keeps autodialing me with a recorded message pushing his city council campaign. First of all? I am at work and it’s not legal to telemarket or call people at their place of business. Two? I’m in freakin’ MISSOURI, so I can’t even vote for you. STOP IT.

Got through Father’s Day… we watched The Curious Case of Benjamin Button on Saturday night, and that made me teary, as did numerous other things all weekend long. Heightened sensitivities, to be expected, I guess. I’m irritated with social media turning into one giant playground, with people friending and unfriending and blocking and behaving like it’s high school. Oddly enough, they end up being the ones looking foolish, so there’s hope the universe isn’t devolving as quickly as it feels, sometimes. I’m irritated that my insurance company kicked back a bill for a mammogram because it had the layer of diagnostics attached to it. I see. Yes, Yes, I should have to pay out-of-pocket for more expensive x-rays and a sonogram, since we were checking a lump – if everything’s a-ok, then it’s covered. If you THINK you might have cancer, we don’t want to cover that, we’ll just pay for tests when you’re healthy. Logic. The insurance industry Does Not Have It. Actually, after a call to them this morning, and being put on hold a few times, resulted in a ‘re-evaluation’ and the conclusion that it was processed incorrectly. Ya think?

What’s to be cheerful about? Well, vacation is approaching, and the new pool is up, full, and not leaking. Thank heavens. And I’ll be turning the page on the ol’ Calendar of Life in a couple weeks – I do still enjoy the b’day celebrations. All the plants are bursting along in the garden – hubs started a gardening blog, you’ll have to check it out: http://kctomatotimes.wordpress.com/ The man knows a lot about gardening, that’s for sure!

We have an abundance of basil, so I made pesto yesterday, and then contemplated the abundance of Thai basil that we have. It all got whacked, so it will continue to thrive and grow and not put effort into creating seed, so everything got a healthy trim. There is one basil variety that has a strong licorice taste to it, so I got creative and boiled the leaves and stems with about three cups of sugar and three cups of water. Let it cool, strained it into a mason jar, and popped it in the fridge. Made a cocktail combining about 3 parts Basil Syrup to 2 parts Gin, and a squeeze of lime. Shake on ice, strain into a martini glass. It was sweet, but with enough tang and flavor to not be syrupy. I’m thinking about trying it in some pineapple juice next!

I need to decide what knitting project is going along to Mexico with me, and what the pattern should be. I want to do something lacey, maybe with some of the Handmaiden Sea Silk I have in my stash, and I want a pattern that’s visually entertaining but not mentally taxing, but not feather-and-fan, either. Hrmph. Suggestions?

Alrighty, that’s the report for today. Hope you’re staying cool, wherever you are, and your positives are greater than your irks!

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