My Week that Was, and Wonderfully Weird Worlds

South Ash Street in Sauk Centre, Minnesota. Monday afternoon, January 10, 2022

Monday afternoon was sunny and warm. For central Minnesota in January. The high was around 32° Fahrenheit, 0° Celsius. Our sidewalk and driveway were free(ish) of snow, with a bit over a half-foot covering the yard.

Sauk Centre Municipal Airport aerial view. From saukcentre.govoffice2.com, used w/o permission.The weather station at Sauk Centre Municipal Airport was back online Thursday afternoon, and then the National Weather Service posted a Winter Weather Advisory for this area.

Sauk Centre Municipal Airport isn’t in the Chicago O’Hare class.

But with two runways, hangar space for 11 private aircraft, a fuel pump and a private airplane maintenance facility, it meets our needs.

Granted, one of the runways is a grass surface marked with yellow cones. I don’t know if it’s usable in winter. And that’s another topic.

Weather This Week

National Weather Service forecast map. (January 14, 2022 1806 UTC) From National Weather Service, used w/o permission.

Where was I? Monday sunny and warm. Local weather station back online. Winter Weather Advisory and Sauk Centre’s airport. Right.

Sauk Centre, Minnesota; local conditions. (January 13, 2022; 3:36 p.m.)Technically, Friday’s weather was “Hazardous Weather Conditions.”

We got a little snow and a little wind. That makes “slow down and use caution while traveling” good advice.

Particularly, maybe, for folks who didn’t grow up around here. In any case, I don’t mind having access to weather advisories and warnings – along reviews of why frostbite and hypothermia are bad for us, and to avoid both.

More Weather This Week, and Taking Care of Tech

South Ash Street in Sauk Centre, Minnesota. Friday afternoon, January 14, 2022

Anyway, Friday afternoon it was 15° Fahrenheit, -9° Celsius. The sun was shining, above the clouds, but down here we enjoyed nature’s own indirect lighting.

There wasn’t as much snow on the sidewalk as on the rest of the yard, but it needed to be cleared before we would be in compliance with municipal standards.

Sauk Centre’s plows went by more-or-less regularly, so streets were clear. Around here, at any rate. Well, clear-ish. There’s still packed snow and ice between pavement and tires, so engaging situational awareness while driving is prudent.

Speaking of which, the household van is back from the garage, after minor maintenance.

That’s good news.

On the other hand, the van’s steering jerked to the right a few times on Wednesday on my way back from the Adoration chapel. But I got home without incident. Even so, I’ll want to drive it more to see whether or not we’ve still got issues with the steering.

More good news. At least one of the furnace’s replacement parts arrived. Next step(s) will be swapping them out with the worn tech.

My computer’s been frustrating me. Make that I’ve been feeling frustrated because my computer hasn’t been running quite right. My son and I talked about it, and he’s planning on replacing my hard drive with an SSD — technospeak for Solid State Drive.

Sounds like a good idea.

I’ve long since passed the ‘computer guy’ mantle on to my son. It’s nice, having a computer technician in the family.

Meanwhile, COVID-19 is Still Around

Minnesota Department of Health's COVID-19 Situation Update. (January 15, 2022)

The COVID-19 pandemic is headline news every day: so I’ve been seeing headlines about the pandemic, with plenty of politics and pathos. And, arguably, bathos. I’ve also touched base at the Minnesota Department of Health’s COVID-19 Situation Update page.

Those four charts are from Friday’s display. Upper left shows how many folks are sick with COVID-19, upper right are how many died from the disease each day, and lower left shows how many were hospitalized. Finally, there’s the total cases by age.

None of it’s exactly good news. But the situation could be worse. This winter’s death count is substantially less than last year’s. Again, that’s not good news.

However, I’m still pretty sure that we’re looking at a serious health issue: not an apocalyptic calamity brought about by [insert ‘bad guy’ label here]. I’ve talked about life, death, health, and making sense, before. And probably will again. Eventually.

And that’s yet another topic.

Wonderfully Weird Worlds

NASA/JPL-Caltech/NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center's illustration of WD 1856 and WD 1856 b. (2020)So, how come I’m talking about the weather, my town’s airport and the like?

Basically, because otherwise I’d have written a woefully inadequate rush job about exoplanets.

Between technical issues and an unexpected abundance of new material, there’s no way I could finish what I’d planned for this week.

There’s a backlog of exoplanet-related items I’ve been intending to discuss, including WD 1856 b: a planet that’s roughly nine times as massive as Jupiter. And considerably wider than the white dwarf star it orbits.

Then on Friday I saw this:

Seems that scientists confirmed that WASP-103 b is shaped like an egg. Or rugby ball. it’s described both ways.

Meanwhile, here in central Minnesota, I’m enjoying tropical comfort: thanks in part to wearable technology we call “clothing.” Meanwhile, outside, water is a mineral.

And I see that someone’s cleared our sidewalk. That’s good news, too.

Finally, links to more-or-less related stuff:

About Brian H. Gill

I was born in 1951. I'm a husband, father and grandfather. One of the kids graduated from college in December, 2008, and is helping her husband run businesses and raise my granddaughter; another is a cartoonist and artist; #3 daughter is a writer; my son is developing a digital game with #3 and #1 daughters. I'm also a writer and artist.
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