Monday, June 27, 2011

Goodbye, June Gloom Blahs!

Wouldn't you know it? As soon as I last posted about how June gloom was adversely affectring my mood, the weather broke. We now have clear and sunny skies. Yesterday, when Alma and I walked our familiar stretch (having lucked upon one of the few open parking spots on the street), the beach was crowded with weekend visitors. Every lifeguard station was open, a sure sign that the lifeguards feel they need the extra manpower to keep the public safe.

Weirdly enough, even though the June gloom had left, the air was still a little breezy, a reminder of how chilly it has been up until this weekend.

Alma and I have a family friend coming to visit from the land-locked Midwest next week and we were dreading what would happen if we did not get the nice weather. Fortunately, the weather gods seem to be smiling upon us and, with any luck, we will have a week of non-stop great weather during our friend's visit. We will be taking her to Venice Beach (of course), but also to Malibu and Santa Monica. So I hope to report to you from those locales also next week.

Stay tuned!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

I've Got the June Gloom Blahs

I grew up on a farm in southwest Missouri. As such I got to see nature up close and personal. I got to see nature red in tooth and claw and I also got to experience the total utter monotony of nature. Lately our walks at the beach have begun to resemble the latter. Every day the skies are grey and full of clouds by the time we walk in later afternnon, even if the day had begun with blue sunny skies.

The locals here call it 'June Gloom,' the propensity of the skies daily to be cloudy. Even though it is a known phenomenon, it can't help affecting my mood. I find it difficult to stay upbeat about Mother Nature and her offerings when she constantly presents such a grey and gloomy face to me.

Those of you who live in land-locked regions or who do not have the luxury of daily walks may think me quite spoiled for this case of the blahs. And, as Alma pointed out a couple days ago, it could be a lot worse than it is. But I do hope to see blue skies and the sun soon in our daily walks.

Monday, June 20, 2011

A Walk Along the Venice Canals

The past few days have seen decent, albeit belated, weather. Each day begins with gloom and glouring rainclouds but the clouds clear out in time for us to reach the beach and walk before sundown.

On Saturday, Alma and I changed our routine a bit and walked along one of the grand old canals that give Venice Beach its name. There is stately architecture along this canal and a fenced walkway with signs about the avian life that uses the canals as stopovers on the Pacific FlyWay (the migration path birds take from North to South America and vice versa each year).

These houses must cost at least several million dollars each and, wow, seeing them made me realize how the path I have taken in life has not gone in that direction for sure. True, Alma and I own a modest 2-bedroom condominium, but these multi-level houses are in another class entirely. The lot sizes are very small by Beverly Hills standards, but the houses themselves exude wealth.

Oh well. I took the road less travelled by and that has made (most of) the difference. We did not see many birds on the walk. It is almost summer Solstice now in the Northern Hemisphere, so perhaps the migratory birds are not currently migrating much but have found  temporary abodes. A few small thrushes and sparrows. Frankly, we see way more avian life along the beach, a topic about which I shall have more to say in future posts.

Yesterday and today, Alma and I returned to walking our familiar stretch of beach in its 3-mile entirety. There are a few more people now that the temperatures are rising, the winds easing and the clouds breaking up. But even so, I am simply amazed that the beaches remain so empty for this late into the start of the high season here.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Gloomy June Continues

This weird weather we've been having recently shows no signs of letting up any time soon. Either we will start the day with heavy clouds and have it partially clear by the time we walk or we will start the day with clear skies only to have them heavily cloud up right as we reach the beach.

I know I am not making this up - we are in the height of the summer season right now and there are so few people at the beach some days that we might as well be in the midst of January. Of the 15 lifeguard stations that could be open at any given moment, only 3-4 are.

Our acquaintance Chris looked at my old laptop and concluded that it is irreparable. Farewell, old friend. I had backed up all my important data elsewhere before it crashed for the final time, so no big loss. Alma and I still have not bought a second laptop. In fact, after discussing it further, we have decided that we pretty much only need one laptop in the household. One option our friend Rick urged us to consider was getting a 'netbook' for Alma. These are smaller, stripped down versions of a laptop, without the memory or processing power. So Alma and I will be returning to the mall on Saturday to look at netbooks at a store we both love to hate: Best Buy.

Right now, I am typing this on our laptop in the early morning while Alma sleeps in. She had some dental work done yesterday that resulted in her having to take a couple ibuprofen for pain before we went to bed. In a few minutes, though, I shall be waking her up to start our Friday together.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Laptop Problems Persist and So Also June Gloom

I met a person down at the beach who claims to be an expert at fixing laptops. So before I shelled out another $400 for a new laptop to replace the old one, I decided to have Chris take a look. We've been playing phone tag and so I hope to have the situation resolved one way or another in a day or two. Either he will be able to fix the laptop or it will be beyond repair and I will have to replace it.

The weather so far in June has been exceedingly strange and yet oddly familiar. We call it "June Gloom." Typically, each day begins with the coast and five or so miles inland completely socked in with clouds and chilly temperatures. Meterologists refer to this phenomenon as the "Marine Layer." What usually happens is that, during the morning, the heat of the sun burns the clouds off and clear skies are in place by noon. What makes it strange this year is that the clouds persist well into the afternnon. A couple times, Alma and I have decided not to walk at the beach because we feared we would get rained on.

Alma believes some of this abnormal weather we are experiencing stems from our peculiar Southern California version of global warming. Climatologists and meterologists have never claimed that global warming would result in uniform warming over the entirety of the planet. Instead, the general warming trend would lead to more volatile and abnormal weather patterns. So, while the rest of the U.S. suffers from tornadoes and excessively high temperatures, our part of Global Warming is that skies remain cloudy all day now and we have cool temperatures by typical Southern California standards.

Even if Alma's hypothesis is not correct -- and I don't know how one would prove or disprove it -- my laptop chose a propitious moment to break down as the weather is conspiring to keep our beach walks limited.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Strong Sustained Winds Continue and My Laptop has Died

My laptop crashed very severely last week, so I am typing this on Alma's laptop. I hope to have either repaired or replaced my laptop by the end of this coming week. Until then, my posts will be somewhat more limited. An acquaintance of ours tells me he thinks the operating system, Windows XP, has gotten corrupted somehow and will need to be reinstalled. I hope to have him take a look at it later this week in hopes that he will be able to bring my laptop back to life. Barring that, I will have to buy a new one.

Even though we are well into spring now and the official summer 'season' began last weekend, the beaches have been staying fairly empty because of the high winds the beach continues to experience. The past three days specifically, Alma and I have had to forgo wearing shorts or t-shirts, in favor of sweat pants and long sleeve tops not because the temperatures are low but because the winds are blowing so strong and sustained.

According to a couple weather sites I check from time to time, yesterday saw wind gusts as high as 30 mph (about 45 Kmph for my international readers) and sustained winds blew from 15-20 mph. With the skies bright and sunny, this is the type of weather sailors adore and the numerous sailboats we see on the ocean these days are proof that the sailors are taking advantage of the high winds.

Yesterday, we got our first break as the skies were sunny, although still cool, and the winds had died down to a soft breeze. But today, the skies are cloudy as a serious low pushes down from San Francisco, threatening rain and a return to the chilly winds we had last week.