Saturday, November 18, 2017

Weather It Is (Winter Arrives)

Good Evening:

It's over -- that's it -- fall will exit and winter will enter.  Winds will quickly shift to the northwest and usher in the coolest air of the season.  Still, some might still call this fall: in fact, my wife's mother told me that years ago (when she was a young mother) she remembers the rain and cold that greeted each new child -- and this was during fall before the arrival of winter.  Now, it seems like we skip fall and then when winter arrives it doesn't last very long. In any case, winter may be arriving but the long range forecast shows a 70% chance of milder weather returning next week.

This may also explain why my wife doesn't like winter.  On the other hand, I was born at the end of the year and I love winter, so we may have to conduct further study to understand why I like winter and she doesn't.

In any case, although the weather this week will resemble winter more than fall, the hoped for heavy rain will probably not materialize.  Instead, there should be showers on Monday and periods of rain on Tuesday, with moderate rain amounts along the coastal areas and lower amounts in the central mountain areas.  This should still be a nice change from our dry weather, and temperatures should remain chilly through Thursday or even Friday.

For interest sake, there is still a lot of uncertainty in the weather forecast for next week, and there are actually two forecasts (a 10%) chance that it will get even colder, if not downright cold.

Trying to communicate the weather forecast -- and provide actionable information -- is difficult, especially (as previously noted) this time of year the weather systems are not as strong or as large as those of winter.

Also, only about half the world's population are men, so there is the potential for miscommunication right there.  For instance, some weeks ago (but not too many) I told my daughter that I was off to the kiddish and then for a walk.  Now, she's pretty good at math, and there was a straight line between the house, the kiddish and the rest of the walk (we periodically take together).

I returned about an hour later and she asked me if it was time for our walk.   I looked at her and she looked at me.  I looked at her again, and asked her a simple question: "what did I say?" She repeated what I said so I asked her if she had heard "Kiddish," "House," and "Walk."  No, she hadn't. It made me realize that this was a far too typical example of why men and women should not speak with each other -- it only increases confusion in the world.  We both agreed that I might be correct, but she pointed out that if men and women didn't speak to each other -- really associate in any way -- that there would be far fewer people in the world.

So, there you have it: the greater the number of men and women in the world  the greater the  confusion, and vice versa.  I'm in favor of disorder.  Fortunately, my wife puts up with mine.

Barry Lynn

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Weather It Is (Grumbles)

Good Evening:

There are grumbles all around and they're not coming from the sky.  The grumbles start at the home -- usually in the early morning - with: "where's the rain?"  Every morning I am fielding questions about what to wear.  Shorts today?

When I go out, it gets worse.  I walk down the street and I am simply embarrassed -- if not afraid to hold my head up high.  I hear the comments: "there goes the weatherman..., but where's the weather?"

At some point a person has to stand up for himself and I've decided that now is the time to do so.  I take full responsibility and I am sorry (not if...) that people are upset and their wardrobes are a mess.

I promise to make amends.  First of all, just to remind people of what's coming (about three or four months from now), it's going to get warm, and then warmer still.  I am doing this so that after folks get the weather they really want, they'll appreciate me a little more the next time.

There will have to be a next time because by late Friday a storm is going to blow in and the warmth of the next few days will be soon forgotten.  In fact, the cold will build in over several days and there is a high probability of rain showers early next week.  There is also the potential for our first significant rain, but right now the forecasts are not definitive enough to say either way.

I hope that by the end of next week you will all agree that the past is behind us and all is forgiven.

Barry Lynn

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Weather It Is (That Kind of Weather)

Good Afternoon:

It's been that kind of weather.  The temperatures are mild in the afternoon and nights are cool, and there are sprinkles or drizzle from time to time.

It's a time of change, and because the weather patterns are not very settled, it's a difficult time to forecast much ahead.

For instance, a few days ago it seemed that our first real rain of the season would be upon us at the end of the week. Instead, there will just be showers.

Looking ahead again, we see that the beginning of the week should feel more like early fall than winter arriving at our doorstep.  The warm weather will arrive on southeasterly winds early next week ahead of low pressure, stick around for a day or two (Monday and Tuesday), and then more winter-like temperatures should return on the backside of the low.

As the colder temperatures move in, there is a 50% chance of showers and a 25% chance of a heavier rain.  It's the time when plants and other creatures should be getting ready for winter, so we'll hope for cold temperatures and a heavier rain.

Speaking of creatures -- bad  creatures -- there continues to be in the news more news about predatory men preying on women, and these predators are turning up in far too many places.  In fact, our first accused offender -- Harvey Weinstein -- was most likely just one of many such men.

They say that "power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely," wrote John Emerich Dalton Acton in 1887. He went on to write that: "Great men are always bad men."  It seems to have turned out that many of whom we consider great personalities used their power to obtain favors that were not appropriate.

In a previous column, I pointed out the possible advantage of more modest dress, and noted that it might provide some protection against such men (as such men would more likely spend their energies on those they found more obviously appealing).  Please note, I am not speaking about rapists who commit acts of violence without any regard to their victims looks, personality, etc. My supposition may be true, but given the actual number of those accused it seems the real problem is the relatively large numbers of men engaging in this behavior, and the only practical way to stop this type of behavior is through sanctions against them (i.e, make it not worth their while to engage in this behavior).

On a parting note: corruption is not necessarily gender specific -- although the problem seems rather one sided at the moment.

Barry Lynn

Friday, November 3, 2017

Weather It Is (Maybe Some Rain)

Good Morning:

The latest forecasts are trending away from a moderately heavy rain event sometime late Shabbat into Sunday.  However, yesterday's (Thursday's) global ensemble (GEFS) forecast indicated that the storm would pass close enough to bring a period of rain late Shabbat.  The ensemble forecasts show that temperatures should fall to relatively cold levels both near the surface and aloft, and humidities should approach 100% as well.

This is the storm we spoke about very early this week, but the details are yet to be ironed out. Another storm should move our way early this coming week, but then pass to our north.  The global ensemble indicates that another fall rain storm is possible again late next week.  So, the rain chances keep coming, we just need to cash in.

One reason that it is difficult to forecast for our area is that the storms -- like our country itself - are relatively small compared to storms elsewhere.  Where I grew up, it might be raining or snowing over an area several hundred kilometers -- from Washington D.C to Connecticut. Here, if it rains in Haifa and Tel-Aviv at the same time, we're having an unusual storm.

While our weather may be "small-scale" and our country's size just the same, the people who live hear are like giants. And when they pass away, it is like a redwood tree falling after 1000 years. Here, I speak about Dr. Noam Charatz, who died on Wednesday morning, after falling very ill the previous week. I knew Dr. Charatz before I was his patient because he decided -- at a not young age -- to study for a Masters of Science in Atmospheric Science.  It turned out that he was involved in a project that examined the relationship between intense lightning and heavy rain.  It was quite a success, but it gave us the excuse to end our Dr-patient meetings with a word about the weather, our previous disappointments and our wishes for a rainy and snow winter.

It is ironic that a person who helped so many people died himself unexpectedly.  Yet, it is tragic irony because Dr. Charatz was not your typical doctor.  He was the person you went to see for an ache or pain that needed tending to, but long after that ache or pain was gone, you were still returning to him -- if not for another ache or pain -- but just to stay healthy.  He knew a tremendous amount, and he knew what what to "run" after and what not.

The last time I saw him, though, was another example of his special qualities.  He was the one that diagnosed my illness and sent me for treatment.  Yet, his last words after at the end of my visit were those of optimism -- with a touch of excitement, telling me that the prognosis was very good because I didn't yet have any obvious symptoms.  He was correct, but he didn't just say it, he expressed it in more than words, encouraging me to believe that all would be well. 

Because of his expertise, , DrCharatz treated patient after patient, and then some. His schedule was far too busy, and he invariably fell behind.  Appointments were scheduled every 8 minutes, and then those requiring urgent care were sometimes 2 minutes later. Yet, if one knew (and most did) that he would give each person the utmost and necessary attention, then one brought a phone, a computer, or a book, and one didn't mind the wait -- but was just grateful for his care.

The last time my wife had an appointment, he received a call from the office, saying that people were complaining about the wait.  He was very angry that they seemed to expect him to rush his treatments, and when my wife pointed out to him that he was getting close to pension, he told her that he wasn't sure he would make it.  Foresight or not, he is no longer with us and the voices one hears are those who wonder who can possibly replace a man of hist stature and kindness.  They wonder who can now guard them through the years.

Yet, Dr. Charatz was not only a doctor, he was a father and grandfather, too.  At the Levahia (burial), one could hear from those who spoke that his attention to his family was no less than he gave to his extended family (patients).  

My grandparents also passed away relatively early, and my parents continued much of their adulthood without parents.  While I wasn't old enough to miss my grandparents, I have been blessed to have parents who have followed a different path than their parents.  I am not sure how my parents got by, or how they dealt with their loss. It turns out -- I found out later -- that I ignored it (I guess it was too painful). 

We can't ignore the passing of Dr. Charatz -- yet, it is still too hard to believe -- but we should do more than honor his memory. We should strive to be like him.

Barry Lynn

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Weather It Is (Winter Arrives)

Good Evening:

The debate between the air conditioner and the heater was won this past Friday night by the heater. With a long rumble of thunder and additional flashes of lightning -- and some light rain -- the warm weather of Friday was replaced by much cooler weather of Shabbat.  No longer is the window open and no longer will the air conditioner cool the air.

True, this week's weather won't be particularly cold, but the nights will be on the chilly side, and some clouds and additional some showers on Monday and (hopefully) heavier rain at the end of the week will have folks running to turn on the heat.

The cause of our winter time weather is a deepening trough in the eastern Mediterranean, which will bring the coldest weather of the fall/winter season as we head into the end of the week and early next week.  The rain is not forecast to be very heavy, but it should be enough to make for a wet day or two in areas from the north to central areas (although there is still some uncertainty about how far south into central Israel the rain will get).

With the cold weather comes a greater desire for something sweet to eat with a cup of hot chocolate.
Thus, I was not surprised when my wife mentioned that her mother used to make a very moist and tender chocolate cake.  Unfortunately, the recipe has been lost -- but not to worry I found something that at least is called "Moist and Tender Chocolate Cake (picture of what's left over and recipe below).

This all seems very innocent, but then I checked the calendar.  You see, my wife made this request just a few days before her birthday period (here we celebrate birthdays from the date in the Gregorian calendar until the date in the Hebrew Calendar -- or vice versa).  While a birthday boy or girl could conceivably get presents on any of his or her birthday days, it occurred to me that my wife was also trying to get two cakes (tradition says: just one cake) for one birthday. So, I did the smart thing: I declared the start of her birthday period two days early.  So, despite her objections,  she's now a year older even though she's really not.

Barry Lynn
P.S. You can make the icing from powdered vanilla or chocolate pudding, with the addition of one regularly sized container of Rich's whipping cream, and some powdered sugar, etc).

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Weather It Is (Where The Rain?)

Folks are asking me "when it's going to rain", and that's if they haven't already asked me "where is the rain?"

Well, if your a fish this coming week will develop just the way you want it -- a few jumps above the surface and you'll be able to get a clean fresh water bath.  For us people, though, we'll stay seasonably mild, as a trough of low pressure develops over the eastern Mediterranean. This storm should produce a lot of rain over the sea, as it progresses only slowly eastward, possibly reaching our area very late in the week or early next week.  In fact, it might come soon after we add an additional prayer for rain in our long "Shomei Esre" (18 parts)  daily prayers.  This would be great, as we need to get started early this season to reduce the severe water deficit from last year.

In the meantime, an upper level trough will scoot across our area on Monday which will possibly touch off some tropical showers.  Otherwise, we should stay dry at least until the end of the week.

As a weatherman I have to be careful what I say, as I don't want to rain on someones parade, and then have it turn out to be a beautiful day (or vice versa).  

Nevertheless, I was taken aback by the criticism heaped on Mayim Bialik for daring to write: "I still make choices every day as a 41-year-old actress that I think of as self-protecting and wise...I dress modestly. I don’t act flirtatiously with men as a policy."  She then wrote that in an ideal world, women would be able to dress the way they want with out fear of predatory men, but one shouldn't be naive about the world we live in.

After intense criticism, she then issued an apology stating that: "what you wear and how you behave does not provide any protection against assault... [etc] you are never responsible for being assaulted."

She is technically correct: a gazelle that gets eaten by a lion is never responsible for being eaten. But really, the ones that do not get eaten often exercise greater care or do not put themselves in a position that they are more likely to become a lion's dinner.  Moreover, if a lion has to choose between an obviously tasty, well fed, gazelle and one that is not, it will choose whichever will bring the greater reward.

In all this discussion, what I believe women don't want to hear and really objected to is any suggestion that how they dress might affect how others, including predatory men who see them as someone to be taken advantage of.  After all, Ms. Bialik specifically wrote that nothing excuses predatory behavior, so why the intense criticism?

The facts are this: men and women use their beauty/good looks, attractiveness, and brains to get ahead in this world.  Orthodox Jewish law suggests that both sexes should exercise modesty in public areas for various reasons (e.g., to protect marriages, to emphasize the importance of inner personal characteristics over the physical world, etc).  This message -- that modesty in appearance/public life is a positive, even worthy attribute -- is what the criticism was really about.  It goes against the dogma of feminism that women should know no constraints. 

Lost in the shouting is that it is quite possible that modest behavior may indeed offer some protection from predators.  I don't know, but it is worth discussing.

Barry Lynn

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Weather It Is (Still Fall...)

Good Evening:

Peoples wardrobes are changing over and the weather is to blame.

We even had our first rain last Monday (October 9th). I measured 0.12 inches (or about 3 mm of rain).  Since then, the weather has been on the chilly side with temperatures in the mid teens and highs in the low to mid 20s (except in the desert areas, which were closer to 30 C).

Last fall, the weather was punctuated by bouts of heat and winds that brought plenty of dust. This fall,  the winds are generally from the west and northwest.  Instead of dust, we've had more clouds and our first rain.  Moreover, the weather maps show a storm arriving on Monday, which should move southeasterly past Cyprus Sunday and then through our area on Monday into Tuesday night. The humidity maps show plenty of moisture to bring a period of showers from the north to the central areas, as we move from late Sunday night into Monday afternoon.

Tuesday should warm up as winds behind the storm switch to the south.  The warmer temperatures should persist until the end of the week, and the skies should turn a bit dusty as well. However, we see another storm possibly approaching on Shabbat or early next week, and fall weather should return as well.

Despite the chill and the rain last Monday, there was plenty of time to sit in the Sukka and exchange pleasantries.  The relaxed atmosphere was also conducive to having those heart to heart conversations people sometimes have.  Before continuing, I must interrupt to mention that when I met my wife for the first time I came prepared -- prepared with a list of what I considered positive attributes -- selling points we could call them.  In addition to having taken time off from my post-doctoral work to learn in Yeshiva, I mentioned (I actually read them off the palm of my hand) that I knew how to add numbers in my head, sweep the floor, paint, and cook.  Now back to our story: so, my wife says to me that she actually believed the stuff on the list, but didn't really think that the last item had any actionable quality to it.  In other words, she thought that she might see me outside from time to time, but never close-up where it really matters (in the kitchen). Anyway, she tells me that she is considering getting a second kitchen for Passover.  I didn't think very much of it, but it turns out that the only place we can put the second kitchen is far away from the first, and I wondered how many second kitchens in homes are really meant for husbands who thought they could cook.

Fortunately, Passover is not around the corner, and I haven't been officially banished yet.  I'll hope for the best.

Enjoy the good weather!

Barry Lynn