Coping: With Tornado Season

Technically, March through June in Tornado time.  It’s something we keep a close eye on, living as we do on the fringe of Tornado Alley.

Sunday started off just fine:  Overcast and dry enough that I could finish putting deck screws into the small deck Elaine and I build Saturday off the “180° Room.”

Having gotten one thing off my to-do list, I figured I’d take some real relaxation.  So I fired up the Kindle and set about wolfing down the remains of four books I’m presently reading.

An hour, or so, into the reading, Elaine brought me a turkey sandwich – and I kept on reading until it started to get ominously dark outside.  That usually means a very thick cloud layer has stacked up overhead – the kind that is associated with towering “thunderheads.”

A hour later – call it 12:30 PM – I checked the rain gauge and found an inch and a half of rain in it.

Then along came another wave of rains and the gauge popped up to 2 ½” in short order.

Before things got really wet, I took a picture from the truck & tractor-port. Not only were the blooms gone from the dogwood tree (above left side of tractor) but you can see how about 150-feet out, there’s no visibility.  It dropped to about half this distance when the storm got its gumption up.

No sign of the deep purple on the radar though, and despite a few power bumps, the storm passed, though others made their way through over the balance of the afternoon.

When it was over, around 6 PM, we were close to 3-inches of rain.

People who don’t live on “real land” – a few acres or more – may not realize what a kink big rainfalls like this put in plans.

Anything I had planned for early this week with the tractor, for example, has to be pushed back to Wednesday or later.  If I get the tractor out when the land is this wet, the tires just chew things up, especially in four-wheel drive mode.

The first few years you live on big land, you make mistakes like that several times.  Eventually, you develop some real “farm boy” skills.  Like how to use the bucket of the tractor as a kind of power kedge to work tires sunk into the mud loose.

To be sure, it’s a move sure to impress a “slicker” who’s come “out to the country.”  But people raised out here look at such tractorfying skills as “another damn Yankee messing up his land.”

You don’t think about the direct weather-food link much when you live in the city.  Food is “just there” at wherever you shop or just beyond at the next place.

But the numbers get impressive:  If you conservatively figure people eat one pound of food per day (most eat more) then America consumes 320-million pounds of food per day.  To get that much food, you can at least double the inputs to carve off fat, core, peel, cook, and that’s before spoilage and food past pull dates.

Elaine’s taken to studying pull dates a good-bit lately.  We are slowly modifying our shopping habits so that pull dates are read on everything before checkout.  The results – depending on store and region – can be surprising.

Rains and Mud Slides

While we’re on weather, I assume you saw about the killer mudslide down in Colombia that followed rains and flooding?

Killed 200+ people, sad to say.

Every time I read one of these stories, I go back to a very astute observation made by my brother-in-law who spent lots of time in South and Central America.

There are lots of small towns and villages that have varying degrees of flooding every year. Ditto other areas around the world.

What stumped him was “Why do they rebuild in the same places?”

Never made sense to him, it doesn’t to me, but I suppose tradition, machismo, and cost all figure into it.  I like to think if I was in a place where half my kin were buried by mud, I’d…like…you know…MOVE!

By the same token, since covering Mt. St. Helens back in 1980, I can’t figure out why people live in mudflow areas downhill from mountains, or on the sides of volcanos, either.

Odd when you think about it.  Except for Hilo which makes up for risk with great weather…

Ham Radio and Other Hobbies

My last piece of radio gear?  Well, could be.

After a month of “fishing” for a good used Hallicrafters HT-45 Loudenboomer linear amplifier, I’ve bought one that should arrive this week from Arkansas:

It has a few issues that’ll have to be fixed.  For one, I need to get the 4 -12 MH Swinging Choke for the power supply.  It also didn’t have an Eimac 3-400Z final amplifier tube, either, but has one on the way.

Some ham radio aficionados would question why I didn’t use the more available (and slightly higher output) 3-500Z instead?

The answer is simple:  1) When I am restoring radios I like to use exactly what the manufacturer did, unless there are well-documented modifications that actually improve performance. 2) The 3-500Z is a taller tube and the sheet metal for the amplifier compartment would need to be modified.

There are a few changes that may be added  – see – the website of Electric Radio where great tips may be found.  Best of all, these have been tried by other people, tested, work well, and that reduces my screw-around time to almost nothing.

There’s a certain pleasure restoring “old tech” that is hard to explain to someone who hasn’t done it.

My first real furniture restoration was a turn of the century (the 117 years ago) oak ice box.  Not one of the cheesy immitations out there.  Real lead piping and all.

Restoring a ’39 Chevy was mostly an exercise in writing checks.  9-coats of chocolate brown metallic Camaro metal flake…not free.

Old houses are great fun, as well.

But old technology – like the skill to bang out Morse code – well, there’s some art for you.

There’s something very comforting about knowing that I can still get a message anywhere in the world, internet or not.  I’m just assuming there is at least one other crazy person on the fringe who would be left to compare notes with.

But maybe not.

Other than the death toll of WW III, I bet the tax regimen would change.  Wait…insufficient caffeine drift…

Gee, is this a cheery Monday column, or what?

Write when you get rich,

3 thoughts on “Coping: With Tornado Season”

  1. George-

    As one who rarely “restores” anything [I’m more into preservation than replication] except my Grandfather’s hand tools, I’m just wondering exactly how many coats of paint were on the original 1939 Chevy’s? Even with American craftsmanship excelling back in the day, I don’t think they actually laid down 9 as those street-tanks sat on the assemblyline. Which begs the question: aren’t at least 6 of those 9 coats of paint just for bragging rights? Especially with the far more durable top coats that are around these days? The original paint was probably loaded with enough lead to embarrass a .22 slug hence the durablility… but NINE to “restore” a finish seems excessive to me and contradictory to the stated purpose… so does the addition of metal flake which was unknown in ’39 [Dow Chemical actually created it 20 years later]. “Old-tech” indeed!

    I have a good friend who did the same thing to his cherished vintage wheels, blowing over 20-grand on just one of the cars that only leaves its spotless garage for display shows – which again is purely ego-based [and explains why he proudly posts an old HOT RODDER magazine article featuring them on his Facebook page]. But are they “restorations?” HARDLY!

    I can see appeal, though. Taking an old unappreciated object and turning it into a functional work of art is an accomplishment and testimony to personal Utopian values; but I think if I was to do the same it would be with an incongruous machine.

    Somehow, I would be more impressed with a tricked-out ’28 Allis Chalmers tractor or even a 3-wheeled Cushman Mailster scooter that delivered your bills in the 50’s. My last restoration was the solid-Brass industrial blowtorch my Granddaddy used in the WWI shipyard where he toiled to defeat the Huns – but all it needed was a lot of Brasso, some elbow grease and a bit of leather for the fuel pump gasket. Today it’ll blaze out a flame that would make an arsonist envious and send small children scattering. Different strokes, eh?

    • lol fine points. The 9 coats were hardly necessary but this was 1980 ish so painting was different then. top two or three were clear over the metal flake

  2. The reason they don’t move villages is simple. Land ownership, and cost of rebuilding infrastructure. Plus buildings are made so if flooding or mudslides occur, not much damage to the building occurs. A friend of mine had a foot if mud in his rented house from a mudflow last week. He is now back in the house. Plus, when there is more than one generation between mudslides, it’s hard to visualize the problem.

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