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Current temperature: 98F (37C). Current heat index: 104F (40C). I am so glad I got today's cooking done this morning--I got up at six and after washing a few dishes and I having breakfast I made 3 pizzas, a chocolate cake, and boiled potatoes and tofu (but not together; that would be gross) for later use. I am now in a position to eat for most of the coming week without turning on my stove. Score! Also, I have barley simmering (I hope) in my solar cooker.

I am trying to get my nerve up to carry water out to my garden in back--I know my tomatoes and peppers will survive just fine without it, but I'm trying to coax them into giving me a really big crop this year. It is will only take three trips (each trip carrying gallons of water), but something that is trivially easy at 80F suddenly becomes an issue when it is 20 degrees hotter. I'm such a wimp.

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I have been without air conditioning for over ten years now, and this has been voluntary on my part. People look at me oddly when this comes up, but I live on the ground floor of the building, with nice windows and a really big tree shading my apartment to the south--these things, taken together, mean that generally there are only one or two really bad heat weeks each summer.

This...is one of those weeks. As I write it is a little after nine at night, and according to the National Weather Service the temperature is 90F (32C) with a heat index of 105F (41C). This is down from around 6 pm when we had a heat index of 112F (44C, I think). I don't know how hot it was when I walked to the post office late afternoon, and it is probably better that way.

On the brighter side, I finished gluing my solar oven together Friday night, and given that it is going to be really sunny out tomorrow I plan to test it out. I think I'll try cooking some barley: grains are generally unfussy about exact temperatures and being able to cook some in this weather without heating up the kitchen sounds very attractive.


Jul. 27th, 2008 11:17 pm
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It's way after my bedtime and I'm frustratingly not sleepy. I'm blaming the weather--according to the National Weather Service it's 85 here, with a heat index of 94 (that's 29 and 34 for you metric folks)--this is Not Good Sleeping Weather. I can deal with heat during the day, but at night I need it to cool down.

While I am here--last week while searching my desk for something I found a poem that I must have written a few years back. I record it here, so that I can find it again, should I ever have the need for it. I can't presently imagine such a need, but there's always the unexpected.

First view of the sea
by a mid-continent girl--
Oh! It's flat like home

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I just checked the National Weather Service website and here in Lincoln it's currently 92 degrees F (33C) temp-wise, and the heat index stands at 100 F (38C). I was a little surprised, as I've just gotten back from doing a little shopping and it didn't seem that hot walking back from the bus stop. It might be the wind: there is a steady, brisk breeze going on that is wonderfully refreshing. Still, it's one of those days that make people look at me funny when I mention that I don't use air conditioning.

Sunday is supposed to be worse, so I'm thinking of running one last shopping errand this evening so that I can stay inside under shade all of tomorrow.

Meanwhile, I need to decide what to do about my garden. I was planning on doing some fertilizing this weekend, but in the heat I'm worried about burning my plants. Maybe if I gave them a shot at half-dilution? (I prefer water-soluable fertilizers: the solid type require forethought, which is not a feature of my gardening style.) Also, I noticed that there is a fresh pile of grass clippings at the back of the yard, so I'm might put down another layer of mulch.

In unrelated news, I've been brooding over my writing this past week. I'm trying to decide what to do about it, as I've started to annoy myself on the issue, so heaven knows how my friends feel about it. We'll see. Now for a cold drink and one more trek across the burning prairie that is Nebraska.

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Quite literally, in fact, though Yamadori's screen gives me enough light to type by. The candles are, strictly speaking, for things like getting breakfast and finding clothes.

I woke up this morning to a lively rainstorm outside. This was fine with me because my alarm wasn't going to go off for a few minutes and in the meantime I could lay in bed and listen to the rain come down outside my bedroom window, which is one of my favoritest things to do (though it makes me worry that I wasted the tomato fertilizer I gave my plants last night). My alarm went off at 4 and I got up and showered. Towards the end of my shower thunder had started, and I was glad that I was almost done because I have an (unfounded?) fear of being in the shower during a lightning strike. I had dried off, conditioned and combed my hair, put on a house-dress and put on a kettle of water for my tea and was just starting to wonder where my good umbrella was when there was a flash of light and a loud "crack" and the lights went out.

At first I thought it was just my bedroom lamp; it's the touch-activated type and somewhat fussy. Further investigation showed that it really was the electricity being gone, and I was now in a pitch-black apartment. Well, bother. I have a generous supply of candles, but finding them in the dark? Happily I realized that Yamadori's screen was a light source and since he had a battery I could use him to find some candles. Less happily I realized that since quitting Girl Scouts I have lost/decommissioned all my flashlights and haven't replaced them. (Memo to self: Do something about this.)

After some digging about I found some candles and got them lit. I had gone on with my breakfast preparations (gas stove=morning tea will go on) when it occurred to me that maybe I should report the outage to the electric company. Usually I don't bother, on the grounds that lots of other people will, but the outage had happened sometime between 4:30 and 4:45 am and how many of my neighbors were up then? I located a phone book and, being careful not to set the pages on fire, called up LES on my cell phone and made a report. (The cell phone was needed because my real phone won't work if the electricity is out, so I've discovered another use for the silly thing.)

I settled down to breakfast and realized that my phone needed electricity but my phone line didn't--as long as nothing had happened to my internet provider (I have a local service), I could still go online. Out of curiousity I scanned the area for wireless networks and found none. Dial-up is slow, but, apparently, robust.

So here I am, eating breakfast and blogging. I still don't know where my good umbrella is, and I'm unlikely to find it by candlelight. I think I'm going to wrap Yamadori in plastic before putting him in my book-bag, as I don't trust my not-good umbrella to keep us both (or either) of us dry. In any case, I'm guessing I'm going to get quite damp waiting for the bus, as it is still raining. So it goes, so it goes.

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I've just spent about two hours hiding in my basement. This is, in case you are wondering, not my attempt to goldfish a d&d game. No, we've had yet another line of thunderstorms roll through tonight, and some of them looked like they were spawning tornadoes. Hence, sirens. Hence, me in the basement.

I took the time to grab some necessities (crochet supplies, a book, a glass of water) and we didn't lose power (or get swept up into a tornado), so it wasn't as bad as it might have been. Still, it was pretty dull, I didn't get dinner, and I didn't get any writing done. I did get one skein of yarn wound into a ball, and got most of the way through the introduction to the Beowulf translation I picked up in Madison. I enjoyed the introduction, but I don't think it quite made up for the circumstances.

At one point I heard my phone ringing, and motivated by a dread I could not name I ran upstairs to answer it. It was tonight's night baker, calling to say that she intended to come to work tonight but at the moment she was monitoring the weather reports. OK, while I admire dedication I do think it has limits. "I'm hiding in my basement," I told her. "Stay off the fucking roads." It will be interesting to see if we have bread tomorrow. I am ok with her going to work after all the severe weather goes by, but if she interprets my words as a blanket command to stay home I won't be all that upset. We need bread, but I couldn't deal with having a weather-related death on my head.

In the meantime, I need to decide what to do with the rest of the night. I need to go to bed, but I worry slightly that this system will spawn another line of storms. I'm thinking of sleeping in my clothes, the better to run to the basement for. I must ponder this.

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We had weather last night. By this I mean that we had thunderstorm warnings, tornado warnings, flash flood warnings, and that peculiar creepy color of sky that tells the experienced resident of Tornado Alley that Bad Things are in the offing.

At one point the sirens started blowing, much to my annoyance. I had put off getting dinner because I had a story that I just had to finish, and having finally finished it and shipped it off to Fred I was beginning to heat up the water to cook some broccoli when they went off. I was in the middle of a couple of msn conversations and signed off both of them with a terse, "damn. sirens." (Because I was born and raised in the Midwest, I naturally feel somewhat guilty about being so terse.) After getting a recent radar pic from the National Weather Service I got my shoes on, unlocked the outside door to the basement (which I control, being the possessor of the house's original kitchen), and dashed upstairs to tell my upstairs neighbor that the basement was unlocked and she could take refuge in it if she chose.

Coming downstairs I stood in the driveway and took stock of the situation. The air was completely dead still, with clouds overhead racing towards the north-east, and the cloud cover in the north-northwest was a flat, dead charcoal color. This was so not good, in case you were wondering. I went back into my apartment, got a new radar pic, disconnected Yamadori and took him to join my neighbor in the basement, where we spent the next 20 minutes chatting.

Ultimately nothing bad happened in Lincoln (except that I never did get dinner), but this morning's early reports indicate that a few small towns north of us got hit. They are calling for more storms tonight. *sigh*

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As a response to my post on the anti-comfort zone meme, [livejournal.com profile] cassandra_e asked "How about those Huskers?"

Since non-Nebraskans will probably not get the reference, 'those Huskers' are the Nebraska Cornhuskers, the (American) football team of the University of Nebraska at Lincoln and the Pride of Nebraskans Everywhere. (Not so much for me, I'll admit, but I'll get to that in a moment.) Nebraska has no professional baseball, football or basketball teams (the Omaha Royals, who are the farm team for the Kansas City Royals is as close as it comes), and since UNL is a state university lots of people have a feeling of connection to it, and so the Huskers are a Big Thing in Nebraska. Huskermania isn't a religion--it's far more ubiquitous than that. Last fall the University's Athletic Director was fired by UNL's Board of Regents (ostensibly because of concerns over his 'management style', but mostly because the Huskers were losing really, really badly) and the Lincoln Journal-Star had a 4-inch banner headline about it in next morning's paper. As did the Omaha World-Herald. I'm pretty sure the declaration of war on Iraq got a smaller typeface.

I don't follow the Huskers myself, for no earth-shaking reasons. I grew up in a football-loving household, and I read the sports page (along with everything else) on Sunday morning, but I fell out of it. Part of it is probably resistance to change--at some point the Big 8, the conference the Huskers played in, turned into the Big R (where R is some Rediculosly big integer), and I started to not care. I'm not anti-Husker, but an-Husker, if you will.

But I still live here, which means I still have the background radiation of Husker information in my brain. Hence the humor of [livejournal.com profile] cassandra_e's question, because I can generate an answer to it without having any conscious information available. And she knows it, because she too is a Nebraskan.

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Yesterday, in Omaha, a young man using an assault rifle killed nine people at the Von Maur department store at Westroads mall. If you haven't heard about this yet (and in the age of 24 hour news, how could this be?) you can read about it here at the BBC News site.

For the benefit of you who do not know, I grew up in Omaha. To be precise, I grew up a few miles away from Westroads mall, and it was my mall of choice for hanging out in during my teen-aged years. I have a drawer full of socks from Von Maur, because my mother gives me socks ever year for Christmas and her next door neighbor who works at the store watches the sales for her.

I heard about the shootings shortly after they happened: the mother of a co-worker at OH had called to tell him about it, and I heard it for him. Like any sensible person I immediatly opened up Firefox and started searching for news. The Omaha World Herald site was unavailable, and I suspect that the fact that half the state of Nebraska was trying to access it probably had something to do with this. The Lincoln Journal Star was up, however, and it had a constantly updated story about it.

As one might expect, my productivity dropped off a little at this point. I did get the muffin schedule written and printed and the internal newsletter half-done, but my heart really wasn't in it. I knew that neither of my parents were likely to have been at Westroads at the time, but I was a little worried about the neighbor. To be honest I wouldn't recognize her if we passed on the street, but she lives in my world, in the neighborhood I grew up in, and the idea of her being shot in the head was disturbing.

When I got home from work I immediately called Mom. She was fine, as I had known. The neighbor had been at work at Von Maur when the shooting started, but had been able to run out of the store unharmed when the shooting began. I was relieved. I talked with her for awhile, and then called Dad. He was also fine, and wanted to discuss the menu of our Christmas Day dinner. I was relieved, and comforted. My cozy little world has been nicked, but it is still intact. For now.


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