Waiting in LGA

Exactly one week ago, traveling through gray, rainy and rather shabby LaGuardia Airport.

Although the woman at the window looks contemplative, in reality she was taking a photo with a smartphone of de-icing operations. . .

Spring has come late to the Northeast this year and more snow is in the forecast for Vermont this week.



Daybreak over Clubfoot Creek, Havelock, North Carolina.

I'm back in Vermont after spending ten languid days in North Carolina, where I passed time reading Dashiell Hammett stories, walking on Wrightsville Beach (and here) in the unseasonably warm temperatures, and browsing at Saigon Sam's Military Surplus in Jacksonville. There are seemingly endless miles of sprawl peppered with innumerable chain restaurants and it is quite different from home.

But now I am back in Vermont where, in a cruel reversal of fortune, the weather is unseasonably cold -- pretty much full-on winter -- and I need to throw myself into the breach again.


Clouds, digital and otherwise

In the terrestrial, physical world, I am traveling this week, seeing things that I usually don't see, eating foods I usually don't eat ("I'm Big with the Pig" read the T-shirts worn by teenage staffers at the local Piggly-Wiggly supermarket) and drinking beer that is markedly inferior to the brews that I have become accustomed to in Vermont.

Not seen in Vermont...

100% real Vermont cumulus clouds

But in another sense, I live in the clouds. Although I am 1,000 miles from home, I just login into my various online accounts using a borrowed laptop and presto much of my 'real' life seems to be close at hand: The same conversations, the same media flitting by. Even though outside the sun is shining and daytime temperatures almost hit 70 degrees -- not early spring weather in Vermont -- in many ways it is like I have never left.

There are many implications rippling outward from this life in the digital cloud, but two that come immediately to mind are:
  1. While this situation is quite convenient, it also means that 'home is where the Internet connection is' and reduces any sense of dislocation caused by travel. There is less impetus to get out and experience new things when one's digital life is so close at hand -- and I don't even have a smartphone, so at least I don't carry my Internet connection around with me.
  2. We are living in a uniquely self-centered, artificial world where we are the stars of our own individual show. This cuts us off -- as individuals, and as a society -- from the natural world, and from the reality that nature is absolutely indifferent to our life or death: We are not so special after all. We are shocked when the ground liquefies beneath our feet and the lights go out and don't come back on again.
I am in no means trying to make light of the situation in Japan -- a terrible, tragic situation -- just trying to point out it might be good to plant a garden, do some trail work, or sleep in a lean-to and not blog, 'tweet' or update facebook about it afterward.

And I know that I am guilty as charged.


From north to south

Monday morning, 3/7/2011, 5 am: Full on blizzard conditions in Vermont. But the weather is warming so now the landscape is just a gray muddy mess marked by lots of potholes filled with dirty water. It will be a while before all the snow melts.

Carolina blue skies (from a previous trip in 2008).

So I am heading south again, fleeing depressing weather, a long running home renovation project, and a high degree of professional uncertainty.

I hope that when I return to Vermont I will experience a succession of soft warm spring days, a finished kitchen, and certainty about my career -- but all these things seem quite unlikely. But a few days of warm sun and some barbeque and shellfish shouldn't be a bad experience once I get through the TSA line at the airport.


The old college try: 2011 NCAA Nordic Skiing Championships at Trapps

The 2011 NCAA Skiing Championships are being held in Stowe and I managed to attend Wednesday's Nordic Freestyle races at Trapps.

These events are a big production and the meadow was set up with all kinds of gear -- not just a lonely timing shack in a field.

After the big storm on Monday, conditions were perfect for the racers: Relatively warm temperatures made for fast snow.

Dartmouth's Sam Tarling, winner of the men's 10K race, powers to the finish.

Women racers climb while coaches radio time splits back to the start/finish.

Some men were cooling down after their race and one of the competitors was talking about having to sit down and write a paper very soon. Somehow I don't think that this will be as much of an issue for players in the college basketball tournament, especially for the teams that reach the final 16...

(Non-flash gallery here.)

Taking photos on snow is challenging -- reflected light makes getting correct exposure a hit or miss affair -- and my Pentax is about the least capable sports photography setup imaginable. The images in this gallery aren't the greatest, but there's a first time for everything, and this was my first time with a camera at a ski race.


Hunkered down

An old-fashioned blizzard today, with snowfall measured in feet, high winds and falling temperatures: Spring seems a long way off.

Today's storm isn't quite as impressive at the 2007 Valentine's Day blizzard, which was colder and windier -- a true winter hurricane -- but the accumulated snow totals may end up being pretty close.


Snowy days in Waterbury

February 25, 2011: About 10 inches of snow fell in the course of the day.

The 2010-11 winter season will go down as good year for snow: January and February were consistently cold and with few thaws. The cold weather made for great skiing (here, here & here, etc.) but now, as March arrives, most people are ready for spring and warmer days.

(Posted as a test of RSS Graffiti, an app I set up for work to bring blog posts onto a corporate Facebook page.)