Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Hands-on Killer Cane Chemistry

No classroom like the real world, and the Killer Cane was the fourth grade teacher everyone wanted. It was a basically a plastic tube with a spray pump nozzle on one end and a cap on the other, you filled it with some weed killer, stealthily approached the dandelion, placed the tip of the nozzle on the victim, and pressed down on the tube. It would send a jet of weed killer on to the dandelion and on the dandelion only. I suspect that was in the day when you bought the weed killer it killed everything (even hundreds of years after you sprayed it on the ground, if you got the good stuff) and let God sort out the roses from the thistles - this was the way the Killer Cane Company tried to localize the mayhem. It even came with these little alka-seltzer like weed killer tablets. Cool! Maybe too cool as it didn't take long to burn through the pills, it was a hoot just watching them fizz when you poured the water into the cane. I thought that poison was a bit week though; needed a little punching up…

Forget about under the kitchen sink being the repository for toxic house hold products, the garage was like the Promised Land. To this day I am not sure what half the crap was, but as long it fit in the killer cane or was soluble in some sort of liquid it was ok by me. I soon turned the innocent garden tool to evil. Well, one man’s evil is another’s forced natural selection of backyard biota.

Using things I found around the house I tried experiments to see which mix had the quickest (and deadliest) affect on the local ant colonies and some of my mother’s plants to boot. I spared the peonies though because my brother and I discovered you could lay a Carl Spackler on the buds – they looked just like green golf balls and sometimes (bonus) they had a bee on them. You could drive one of those mean greenies a country mile with a golf club. Anyway, I digress. I did discover some rather virulent concoctions; however my scientific methods left something to be desired so I could rarely duplicate the mixture. Hey, I was just a kid, give me a break - I may not have kept any records but I am almost willing to bet there are still spots in the yard where nothing will grow again – ever!

Might want to go check up on your boys now and see what the hell they are doing in the garage again. Or maybe it’s better if you don’t know…

Sunday, January 29, 2006

El Mirage Sucks

Word to the wise, check out the city you are plalnning to live in before you buy the house. If the City Hall and the Police department are in doublewide trailers, look elsewhere for a home. A hard lesson, but that’s just one of life’s little speed bumps. The city started out as a conglomeration of dwellings for agricultural workers and because of political infighting never went much beyond that. Now, however, the government is taking steps to save the city, but are aiming a bit low on some of the businesses they are trying to attract to the city. In fact I thnk they should change the city motto to "El Mirage, City of Lowered Expectations".

When one of the board members of your HOA is all a flutter because the city is going to get a Super Wal-mart, you know you have bottomed out. Add a Food City (or Food Shitty as I like to call it – more of a refugee camp than a market, actually), a sports bar, and a Chuckee Cheese and you have yourself a by-God tourist magnet. I suspect that tourism would be a the main legal industry here in El Mirage, though I expect the manufacture and sale of Meth, holding illegals hostage for money, and stolen car parts are the main industries at this point. What a frikkin’ garden spot.

Too late to move now as the housing market has been inflated by Flippers and other assorted greedy assholes so here I will reside. Happy day!!! Hopefully this will serve to warn others of the dangers of moving to paradise.

The Chemistry Set Friend or Foe?

Parents are always trying to give their budding genii a leg up on the other kids – what better way than introducing them to the wonderful world of chemistry? Out they go and purchase the classic chemistry set, complete with a book of experiments that will familiarize junior with scientific procedure.

On the surface this seems like a great idea, except that junior, in this case a young Phos, is not going to pay a lot of attention to the book provided. In fact the first thing I want to see is some action, or re-action, if you will. “Let’s see what happens when I mix this shit together”. After adding bits of almost all the chemicals along with some water and some crap I found in the medicine cabinet to the test tube all I had was a blue mess. Oh sure, the test tube was getting pretty hot, but no open flames. Might as well fire up the crappy little alcohol burner and see what happens when I put the spurs to the mixture. Again, disappointment, aside from bubbling over the desk and leaving a permanent stain there wasn’t much to write home about. Ok, there was that incredible stench that made your eyes water, but I got more excitement out of tossing toilet bowl cleaner in some bleach (this produces a cool greenish cloud). I was a pretty avid reader, fortunately, and came across a biography of Sam Colt. Back in the day, the publishers tended to side with the parents, and while they did reveal the components of gun powder in the book, there wasn’t a specific ratio.

I checked the set and had everything but the sodium nitrate. A quick trip to Hettinger’s hobby shop remedies that and I began several attempts at producing my own black powder. Didn’t take long before I realized it was much easier to take the key to dad’s cabinet from its hiding spot and just taking some of his powder gun powder. That I suppose was the main lesson I got from the chem set – don’t waste your time reinventing the wheel when you could be out trying to blow something up already. I also realized the company that produced the set knew exactly what you were going to try to do and that your parents were too thick to realize it, so they purposely left out the “cool” chemicals. But that is only a temporary set back…

Next time, the Phos discovers Thermite.

Disclaimer: If you abuse your chemistry set it isn’t my fault if you hurt yourself or burn down your folk’s house, you should have stuck to the manual. Posted by Picasa

The Tortilla Curtain

Posted by Picasa Mexico has taken advantage of the US government’s attention being drawn elsewhere in the world and patently ignoring countries in its own hemisphere. They have secretly repopulated the areas taken or purchased from them by the US with their own citizens. Arizona, Texas, and New Mexico (ok, I say let them have that one outright) now have stronger connections with Mexico than the US. There’s nothing wrong with Mexico that a hundred dollars couldn’t fix, I mean at least there corruption is right out in front – there are some governments that Delay the public from knowing about rampant corruption. I say hello and welcome to it, when can our kids start getting free Spanish lessons in the public school???

Friday, January 27, 2006

Another Meth Victim

Yes, I stand before you a victim of methamphetamines. No, I have never take the crap but am a victim none-the-less. It all came about when I was fighting a killer cold and stopped by the local market in the wee hours of the morning. All I wanted were some cold tabs to help unplug the ol’ beazer, but alas the shelves were bare. It suddenly dawned on me why – because we have snapper heads out here that use them to manufacture meth. Big money peddling some real poison. Anyway, anything with pseudoephedrine in it is now safely behind the counter – real safe in this case as the pharmacy was closed.

Why people use it is beyond me. Below is a list of ingredients, no not the recipe for a Streets of New York pizza (though close) but the mouth watering fixings for a batch of Meth.

  1. Stained coffee filters 2. Empty pseudoephedrine blister packs 3. Strong solvent or ammonia odors* 4. Acetone 5. Toluene 6. Denatured alcohol 7. Red Devil Lye 8. Red Phosphorous* 9. Lithium batteries 10. Anhydrous Ammonia* 11. Heet or gas-line treatments with methyl alcohol 12. Drain cleaner with sulfuric acid 13. Heat source* 14. Glassware (beakers or mason jars) 15. Coffee grinder with white powder residue* 16. Stained tubing* 17. Hypodermic syringes 18. Written recipes* *Items to be aware of, not in photo

I don’t see anything on that list I’d put in my mouth, and I am not a bashful eater. I know of a real diehard alcoholic that has consumed some of the above products, apparently with little ill effect, but I still wouldn’t recommend it.

Is a sad day when you can’t walk into a store and by something to help ease a cold or the flu, but such are our times. The unfortunate side effect of this is the state, by mandating the pseudoephedrine be controlled, is boosting business for the assholes just South of the border. from us who have no compunction about peddling anything from their sisters to drugs to the shit-eaters on this side of the border. On the upside sometimes things go terribly wrong and they kill each other off, but it doesn’t happen often enough to be of much consequence and most oft as not some poor innocent bastard gets killed in the cross fire. I still say we should have invaded Mexico instead of Iraq. I mean the place qualifies – it’s a shit hole, the president is an asshole, and they have oil and a large exploitable population. That should have had our Republican friends wetting their pants in anticipation, and I am sure our illustrious president would like to avenge the Alamo once and for all.

Changing up on the ol' picture with, ironically enough, an old picture of yours truly "sucking Rubber" during an exercise if this was a real emergency you note a sense of panic in the eyes. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Air travel bites

Air traveler bites fellow passenger
Jumps from aircraft as it taxis, but is subdued with stun gun
(image placeholder)
Updated: 12:25 a.m. ET Jan. 24, 2006
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - An airline passenger bit a fellow traveler Monday, then jumped out of a jetliner as it was moving to take off, authorities said.
This article is pretty disturbing for several reasons, aside from the biting (the dude should have been over that after age 2) the fact he was on the plane in the first place is the most disturbing element of this Man Bites Plane kind of article.  Turns out he had an outstanding warrant for possession of Marijuana.  Can anyone tell me, with all the Homeland security crap we have today that someone with an outstanding warrant can board a plane in the first place.  Where is the cooperation between law enforcement agencies Chartoff is always yakking about and doesn’t he look like a cadaver?  Maybe he is a Homeland Security Zombie?  It’d be interesting to see how many passengers are flying felons.  

I sensed problems with he whole approach to airplane security when I was boarding a plane in Sacramento.  The first official I come to, the ID checker, is an Arab.  Talk about setting the fox to watch the chickens!  What is keeping him from letting Ahmed Falaffle long time friend and saboteur go on through the checkpoint?   I know this is not PC and call me a racist if you will, but if you come from an Arabic country I think you deserve closer scrutiny than some grandma from St. Louis does.  And if a wanted criminal does try to fly the security folks should be slapping the cuffs on instead of taking his boarding pass no matter what nationality.  We have homegrown nut-jobs the security people need to watch for, though there’s more press when you wrestle Cat Stevens to the ground.    

This all comes as Bin Loadinhispants makes another threat on the US.  Think I’ll lay off flying and the subways for a while…

Monday, January 23, 2006

The Smell Napalm in the Morning

Ah the smell of flash fried flesh after attempting a flaming swastika on a wood bench at school. Gunpowder – the Chinese may have invented it, it took us to turn it to the dark side. I actually blame it on TV. I think it was Daniel Boon v. the River Pirates episode where he laid a trail of powder into a cave filled with powder kegs. He lit the powder trail and it burned in a nice straight line into the cave and exploded.

We could use that technique to incise a swastika into wood, or so we thought. One small problem, ol’ Dan’l was using black powder, we were using smokeless. Smokeless just goes up in one big flash, and if you don’t have your hand out of the way in time, it puffs up and turns gold and you have to sit on it during, lunch so mom doesn’t notice and start asking questions you’d rather not answer. By the way, nothing particularly anti-Semitic or racially motivated by choice of graffiti, just to much time watching “Combat” and other war movies on TV. When we were kids Nazis were still the ultimate evil. Well, I suppose they still are but I am talking real world conquering Nazis, not just a bunch of beered up hillbillies that live in Idaho and think whitey is superior. They’d think differently if they saw themselves on TV at their big rally – more like loserfest. I hate fucking Illinois Nazis.

Anyway, enough with the Nazis already. The main thing is we had easy access to gunpowder. In retrospect it was probably a real blessing the old man didn’t store dynamite in the basement. The other neat trick was to pull the bullet out of a .22 cartridge, tip the cartridge over and apply a match to the opening. It took off like a little rocket – pretty cool, especially at night. Once again there is the chance you might get a brun on your finger that could generate some rather pointed questions. I passed it off as a chance encounter with a hot grill in the park.

Even made a cannon out of a broomstick once. Again, it was TV’s fault. I saw a version of the Alamo where Davy Crockett wrapped a powder barrel with wire so he could use it as a cannon. I faithfully wrapped piece of broomstick I had bored out with wire so it wouldn’t explode, just like Davy (Damn you Walt Disney). I rammed in the powder, a wad, and some buckshot, tucked the cannon fuse I bought from a kid at school (we never did find the rest of the fuse I hid) and we lit it. There was quite a cloud of smoke, but we never did find the cannon. So much for wrapping it with wire, yet another Hollywood device I suppose.

Ok Timmy, I know you are going to read this and run off and try it yourself. Not a great idea. Aside from the trouble you’ll get in if caught, you could do some real damage, like doing jets with matches in dry leaves or creating flaming barricades with dry leaves across park roads and risking having a forest fire named after you.

So keep the powder out of reach of kids (might be harder than you think) and never buy them a chemistry set – more on that later…

Time Served

Time Served

Looking back I find the military wasn’t such a bad way of life.  I was pretty well taken care of, though mind you this was before the Department Of Defense decided to rape military personnel so they could pay for toys as well as adventurism in distant Arabian lands such as Buttslamastan.  We had great medical care and the Bx and Commissary privileges actually meant something.  It has gotten even worse after retirement, especially the medical.  Once retired the old soldier falls prey to a civilian bureaucracy that shunts him/her off to hospitals that look like refugee camps and doctors who apparently got their medical degree in Calcutta.  I think we have hit a point where the typical country doc has priced himself out of business.  Fortunately there are plenty of the rich and famous to be weaned off drugs and alcohol or need a new set of tits so they can fill out that designer gown for the Golden Globes (there were plenty of those golden beauties jouncing around the red carpet, too bad they’re store bought).  Actually I only surmised that as I didn’t watch the awards show, just caught the hooters on the news.  News shows love to show hooterage as it drives up the ratings.  I’d watch more often if there were more tatas and less Geraldo.  A lot less Geraldo.  In fact I wish he’d do an in depth investigation on Great White Sharks without the using a shark cage.  The poor shark would have the shits for a month, though.

Anyway, if you are military past or present at this juncture you are kind of fucked.  The base hospital is now the base clinic, meaning if there is anything seriously wrong you are heading downtown to visit Ahmed. Even in the past the military was famous for treating any ailment for the sniffles to a severed limb with Motrin (AKA Ranger Candy or TAC popcorn).  It is a wonder drug and that’s a fact.  You aren’t healed or cured but you feel lots better about the whole thing.  Now you have to find solace elsewhere, even if it is the military that caused the problem in the first place.  I had trouble with some chemical warfare medications and the anthrax shot and have been having problems ever since.  Ok, it could be something else, but the medics at the time told me not to worry, there would be no ill effects – the same thing authorities told the poor assholes that they had stand outside and watch atomic blasts in the desert.  

I can’t kick too much; at least I have some sort of health care, even though the benefits are rapidly dwindling.  I even heard a DOD schmuck talking about having to cut the benefits even further because the baby boomers where starting to rack up a tab.  Like being in line for social security I find myself on the backside of the baby boom wave and any benefits will be long gone.

Anyway I loved the camaraderie, the travel, the job (the real job not the shoe-clerk queef) and just the general mentality of the military. I would not have traded the experience for anything.  I got to see places and things I never would have as a civilian.  I even managed to have quite a bit of fun and I was never shot at or shot anyone, though I was hell on those paper targets.  

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Fun and Sun in the Faaaar West

Fun and Sun in the Faaaar West

Had the nicest week I have had in some time.  My brother and his wife came for a visit and we checked out some of Arizona.  The state has a lot going for it – several different regions with different climates and different landforms.  They do sell the same crap at all the souvenir stands though, with the exception of Tlaquepaque, which still sells very expensive crap. If you decide to visit, give cave creek a pass – that is the crap capitol of AZ and they put a hot pepper in the beer brewed there – probably to help kill the taste of the goat piss that they pawn off on the tourists.

My brother is some what of a microbrew aficionado, so we did some microbreweries and checked out their wares – rather thoroughly.  My pick was the Four Peaks Kilt Lifter Scottish style ale.  It was one of the best ales I have had, and I have a lot.  The downside is that it seems to lift the back edge of the kilt rather than the front.  

The scenery in Sedona was almost too much to take in.  It really has some beautiful rock formations and the scale is overwhelming.  Did some hiking and eventually wound up at the Oak Creek Brew Pub.  It was expensive and the “Scottish Style Ale” I had there tasted like bottled ass.  The food was ok, sort of yuppie fodder, but passable.  

The best part was just seeing my brother and his wife.  It had been sometime since we were last together.  Talking on the phone is ok, but not the same as being able to sit and talk with him across the table.  It was nice recounting some of our misadventures during our childhood.  We had quite a few laughs (he is the funny one in the family) and drank quite a bit of Blue Paddle, Fat Tire, and Kilt Lifters in the process.

I will have to journey back to the state we grew up in and pay him a visit, though not in the winter – I live in Arizona for a reason!

Monday, January 09, 2006

Can you see this now??

Cell phones could become one of the leading factors in the downfall of our country. Everywhere you go (and even while you are getting there) people from post cradle to almost pre-grave have one of the contraptions glued to the side of their face, or have an earphone implanted in one ear and are happily babbling away. The effects of all this phoneage range for the mildly annoying to the outright dangerous.

The annoying is usually the farm animal that has the entire aisle at the grocery store blocked while chatting away with Marge or whoever. Her ass causes a total eclipse of the meat counter - no one is going anywhere and Ms. Big mouth is oblivious to the rest of the world, talking away with her “lifeline” trying to get help deciding between the HoHos or the Devildogs. A corollary to this is the young kid wandering aimlessly as young kids are wont to do, jabbering to one of his pals/latest love (who is also wandering aimlessly) and stepping right in front me of without so much as a glance. As if the young kid’s mind wasn’t already pre-occupied enough with images of disemboweled women and children from his latest slasher video game (more on those another time) know he/she is expending what little brainpower is left on running their mouth. I believe these diabolical devises are making a rude society even ruder – before you know it will be worse than, dare I say it – the French.

The dangerous part is when Mr. Slimy Contractor or Ms. “Porking the Soccer Coach so Timmy Gets to Play More” decides that they aren’t going to let their driving get in the way of their conversation. They can’t use the turn signal because the hand is full of a piece of plastic crap sent to us by our Japanese friends in retaliation for beating them in WWII. I read that even with the hands free set up trying to drive and talk at the same time is risky business. Seems you can only partially concentrate on both, so the driving usually suffers. People can’t even watch where they are walking whilst jabbering – I had a tinhorn businessman step right in my path and when I called him a rude bastard he got all uppity with me. Wonder how he would have felt if I would have just walked right through him? I imagine he is real threat behind the wheel of his leased Beamer.

Here are some simple rules:

Nothing is so important that you can’t wait to get home to call

Kids don’t need cell phones

At the theater in the middle of a movie is a lousy place to yak with Marge (on the phone or in person)

No one wants to hear you yakking away while trying to eat at the next table

The “Tele”” in telephone means you don’t have to shout.

If it feels like you‘re being rude, you are

If you simply must talk on the go in your busy, busy life, then at least pull over or stand the hell out of the way so you don’t offend/kill anyone.

I know this won’t accomplish anything and everyone will go gabbing merrily away, but after the fatal crash (so sorry for the other poor bastard that was involved) I hope they bury Mr. Chatty Chatterton with the cell still clutched in his hand. Wait ‘til he sees the roaming charges in Hell.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

The Crux of the Problem

Religion really seems to be on everyone’s minds these days. From taking “In God We Trust” off the currency to an alleged Christian leader saying Sharon was schwacked by God for giving the Palestinians their land back (not that they appreciate his gesture). I’ve said it before, I am the last one to talk religion, but it is all really looking like a great big bucket of greasy shit – all of it. Maybe the Soviets had gotten that one right. It seems like a high percentage of the grief in the world is driven by religion. Everyone has the only true God and is more than prepared to kill anyone that says different, even if it means blowing themselves up in the process. Even within religions there are differences that result in violence between sects, though most of that is a thinly veiled grab for power using religion as an excuse. I say we take the excuse away.

I think the answer is for everyone to say screw religion. Drop out of the choir, quit attending “Our Lady of the Drive-by Shooting”, quit funding the churches/temples/mosques/kivas and the boy touching priests, or the Mullahs that convince young men to drive a Ford Exploder into a crowd of their brethren that have a different point of view. It would be nice if they would all strap on belts and push the button. The world would be so much better off with out zealots, whether it is a “Jesus Comes to America and I will marry as many 14 year olds as I can lay my hands” nutjob out here in the Southwest or an ass goblin that slams a man that is trying to create stability so his countrymen can go about their business in peace. Seems is there was any kind of God he/she/it wouldn’t allow this crap to go on and would call people like our Christian media star home for a bit of a “Come to Jesus”.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Hazardous things…

Mr. Grenade, without his pin is not your friend

Mr. Electricity is not your friend, especially in the shower

Mr. Gasoline is not your friend - more so when you are a smoker

There are many hazards in the world and say what you will, the best way for a child to sort all that out is to experience each one first hand. Like shoving the piece of metal from my erector set (this was a toy building set not a dick-splint for the impotent, in case you are a bit confused) into the empty lamp socket. I gained instant respect for electricity after I picked myself off the floor. The public service announcement (I am old enough that they actually had those on throughout the day. That was before networks were trying to squeeze every drop of blood out of their viewers) said not to put metal objects into any open sockets or outlets. The problem I had is that the ad didn’t tell you why you shouldn’t. Kids always want to know the why behind the no.

Mr. Stove is not your friend when his burner is on. Yup, that is correct. Even after the electric burner is off you still get a neat coil shaped burn on the back of your hand. I actually had a friend that had the outline of the bottom of an iron on his stomach. He and the wife had a bit of an altercation, and though she had turned the iron off it was still hot enough to tell she was the proud owner of Sunbeam Electric Iron from the etching it left on his skin.

You can see stupidity wiht heat in action all the time while visiting Yellowstone Park – people just have to stick their hand into the hot spring to see if it is hot. The warning signs and the steam coming off the water are apparently not enough. They didn’t have a proper stove education when they were growing up and probably love NASCAR. Fortunately they are usually short lived, especially when the ignore the “do not pet the bears” sign.

My point is that we coddle kids a bit much. It is ok to strive to keep them safe, and I don’t suggest you give your li’l darlin’ a ride in the drier so he knows it isn’t as fun as it looks, but some things just have to be experienced first hand or the kid is really going to do some stupid things when he gets older. Like watch NASCAR or think he can beat the train to the crossing (also Natural Selection at work). The genetic material available in the US is thin enough without you adding to the problem.

Every kid has to try the homemade parachute off the roof trick. The fact they heard kids got hurt doing that simply means that the injured kid wasn’t doing it properly. You have to have that sickening second when you realize that sheet isn’t going to slow you perceptibly before impact to realize the error of your ways. I never heard of a child taking a second shot at a rooftop parachute attempt – if yours does it is definitely a cry for help – serious help, like electroshock.

Then there is fire. This is probably one experience that needs to be closely supervised. If you have matches and lighters around the house keep them out of reach – no shit. If you smoke, junior is going to want to emulate you and if he gets a hold of a lighter, Katy bar the door. I had a first hand experience. I found an old lighter and was clever enough to put a new flint in it, and fill it with lighter fluid – these things and some worse were readily available in our household (we’ll do some gunpowder stories another time). Unfortunately I was lying on the floor watching TV next to one of the living room chairs whilst I dicked with the lighter and managed to set the chair cover fringe on fire when I struck a spark. Apparently I had gotten fluid on pretty much everything. Fortunately mom didn’t notice the inch or so of fringe that had been trimmed of the cover when she got home.

Any rate, give your kids some room to grow and make sure you have decent medical (and homeowner’s) insurance. Experience is the best teacher; bad experience is a college professor…

Things That Go Bump In The Night

There are lots of mysteries in the universe, but one we never solved was the mystery of “The Wolf”. At the time The Wolf first appeared we were quite young and I think my brother and I were convinced The Wolf really existed, creeping through our rooms at night. On several occasions we could have sworn we saw his green eyes glowing in a dark corner of the room.

We decided to lay a trap for him before he could get us (we were certain we were on his list of things to eat) and set up a plastic booby trap our folks bought us (this was the good old days where it was ok to play with guns and not so ok to be playing with dolls, even if they do look like they are in the Army). It was a cool trap; if you tripped the string it launched a plastic grenade. To make sure we did a thorough job we also had our toy bazooka (try to find one of those nowadays, unless Barbie is holding one it can’t be done) primed and ready. We hid up on my brother’s bed watching closely for any sign of our prey. Suddenly in the dark we heard the click, click, click of wolf claws on the wood floor. I launched a rocket in the general direction of the sound (this is in fact a technique Illinois deer hunters use when they hunt in Wisconsin, so if you are out in the woods during the season wearing red or not try not to make any noise). The clicking grew in intensity so we thought he was about to spring, I was out of rockets for the bazooka so we decided yelling might scare it away.

This immediately brought our parents on scene. Dad flipped on the light and we saw marbles lying all over the floor by my brother’s shelves. It wasn’t the wolf this time, just his marble bag slowly tipping off the edge of the shelf were he’d placed it and dropping marbles on the floor a few at a time. Well it sounded like “The Wolf”. My parents weren’t too pleased about the whole thing if I remember right, but don’t get too comfortable Mr. Wolf; we are still on your trail…

Monday, January 02, 2006

The Little Ice Age

The Little Ice Age
How Climate Made History 1300-1850
By: Brain Fagan
Pub: Basic Books pub date: 2000
246 Pages

The Little Ice Age is a look at climate changes from the warm period of the Middle Ages through 1850. Brian Fagan explains some of the natural mechanisms that govern our climate and how they all came together to create a long period of below average temperatures for the Northern Hemisphere. He also looks at if this “ice age” and today’s warming are part of a natural cycle or if man has had a hand in creating the conditions. He has extrapolated data from numerous sources and some unexpected places, such as period landscape paintings that depict conditions associated with prolonged winters, and colorful sunsets produced by volcanic materials and pollutants in the atmosphere. Mr. Fagan also goes into how the sudden cold affected various moments in history, including the French Revolution and Washington’s attack on Trenton. While climate wasn’t the only factor in many of the historical events it certainly contributed whether by failed growing seasons or abnormally harsh and stormy New England winters.

The book also explores some of the theories on whether or not the present global warming is having any impact on our climate and if we can expect a sudden change or not. The book was interesting, well written, and thought provoking. There are tables and diagrams to help portray some of the concepts such as the North Atlantic Oscillation and climate change information. This book is a good read for history buffs and people interested in climate changes and global warming.