Sunday, July 30, 2006

Alles Gute zum Geburtstag Schneehund

It was a great weekend and all about Yukon., It is his birthday. All right, so we really aren’t sure when he was born, but it marks the day he came into our lives and that is close enough. He was a pre-owned dog so we don’t even know how old he is, we’re not even sure how much of him is husky and how much is something else. Any excuse for a celebration. My son-in-law grilled up some great schwenk steaks, my daughter whipped up a great salad, and there was dog ice-cream after. We had strawberry short cake Ms. Phos made, no one wanted to sample ice-cream made for dogs, but Yukon liked it and that was the important part!

Not Everyone was happy about the ice-cream...

Where's my cake??

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Beating Swords into Plowshares

That is an old timey way of saying finding a peaceful use for some not so peaceful things, or to stop fighting and turn to things that really matter. I am not sure what a plowshare is, not sure I care, but the point is there are peaceful uses for weaponry such as this MK-84 Bomb body for instance:

It makes an excellent grill and is heavy enough that no one is going to be able to steal it. One word of caution - be sure all the explosive is scooped out before firing up the grill!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

July Showers

Finally got some rain with more expected tonight. In fact rain is in the forecast every evening this week courtesy of a tropical storm off the West coats of Baja. We had lots of thunder and lightning – good thing we had two huskies to huddle around and protect us!

We have some visitors at the base, we don’t often get to see F-15s in our neck of the woods, but I thought they made a good foreground for the clouds over the White Tank Mountains.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Aunt Marge Buys the Farm

This is about greeting cards, sympathy cards in particular. Greeting cards are made for women to send to each other. The thank you card for instance. Someone has done something nice for me, gone out of their way and I want to send them a thank you card. Every last one of them is decorated with unicorns, kitties, or flowers - no way I am going to send oneof those San Francisco boutique specials to another guy. The sympathy cards are even worse.

They have a sappy little poem, some religious claptrap, or the standard “With Sympathy” - rather impersonal if you ask me.

This all started when one my friend’s Aunt Marge died. Marge is just a fictitious name; it just seems like someone named Marge would welcome the reaper just to be rid of that name. Advance apologies to any Marges out there – here’s a tip, sue you parents and use the money to get that name change. Any rate, I don’t know her and now the moment has passed. My options are limited so I generally go for the blank card. This is a good tack in one sense as long as you avoid cards with clowns or jokes on the front. No one wants to read a “Farside” cartoon with Marge starting up at him or her from her brand new satin lined box. I can usually find a card that has something tasteful on the front, not some flowery piece of crap. On the downside, now I have to write something.

What to do you write? “I know how you feel” or “I share the sorrow over your loss” won’t cut it – you didn’t know Aunt Marge and you can’t know what the bereaved is feeling. Hell, he may have though she was the Wicked Witch from the East-Northeast and for all you know, he may want to do the River-dance on Marge’s new mound, or he may have had some deep feelings - there is no way for you to tell.

“You are in my prayers” – prayers are a little late to help aunty, and I have gone beyond looking up to the sky and wishing for shit, you might as well play the lottery because there is a remote (extremely remote) chance of a payoff. Another lame inscription is “Let me know if there is anything I can do for you.” That would work if you could dig his aunt up and breathe life back into her, but beyond that I doubt there is much you could do for the dude aside from handing him another Kleenex or joining him in an impromptu clog dance on the grave.

I often go with the “My thoughts are with you”. It isn’t a lie, I shopped for the card and am trying to think what to write beyond “Sorry about your dead aunt,” so in effect my thoughts are with them. It is a safe statement; you haven’t given your heart away, spread any greeting card schlock, or shown any curiosity as to what happened to Marge – toaster in the bathtub, trip down the stairs, eaten by her 47 cats, or just plain bad luck.

Hope this helps in some small way the next time someone you know makes the final payment on the farm. Finally, homemade cards probably wouldn’t be a good idea, especially if there are crayons and construction paper involved - sometimes it doesn’t pay to go cheap.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

A Man Without a Country

A Man Without a Country
By Kurt Vonnegut

In “A Man Without a Country” Kurt Vonnegut unleashes his wit and wrath on government, the environment, war, and life in general. This book is a backstage pass to the life and times of a man who should be considered a national treasure, despite his dissatisfaction with the twisted road our government has chosen to travel. His comments are cloaked in his Twainesque humor and while amusing, also make serious points. If the reader is an avid Vonnegut fan, there will be no surprises in this book and whether the reader agrees or disagrees with the premise this book, it is an astute observation on the state of our society.

Kurt Vonnegut was classified as a Science Fiction writer by publishers because he injects technology into his writing; however, this is not a fair assessment of his genre. His books need to be read, “A Man Without a Country” in particular, for one to understand the man.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Got A Little Gas...

The First Hydrogen Powered Vehicle

Be nice to me, I may have just won a Hummer –not the Bill Clinton oval office blue dress kind, but the truck. I’d offer you a ride (in the truck), but I doubt I could afford to drive the thing very far with the way the price of gas is climbing. Georgie Boy says we’re addicted to oil, which is a case of the wolf telling the foxes they are eating too much mutton, and I suspect we’ll hear more on alternative energy as soon as the presidential race heats up. I hope they are using propane for that heat or contributors to the cause are going to have to pony up a lot more bread.

I like the idea of Ethanol, not for drinking but for powering the car. There was an ethanol plant in Rapid City and with all the biomass the ranchers were producing that seemed like a good bet. Brazil said bye to the Oil Baron a while back all because they are using Ethanol instead of gas. I am not sure how much impact burning ethanol would b have on greenhouse gasses, but since alcohol is C2H5OH, the C being carbon, I suspect some CO2 will be released while bring the stuff. On the Bright side, you won’t be funding Hezbollah and the Republican “war chest” every time you fill up.

Hydrogen is another intriguing possibility. On the upside, the exhaust is water vapor, on the down side, well, remember the Hindenburg? Say what you will about gasoline, if you spring a leak in your fuel system you a have better then average chance of not bursting into flames. Mr. Hydrogen is not your friend - want to know how well it burns? Check out the sun; just don’t stare too long - remember mom’s advice…

The solar power cars are fun to watch, but no husky room in the backseat. Try packing Yukon into a regular car and you’ll be wishing for an SUV. Speaking of which, the American Automakers (aiding and abetting our gas addiction) are starting to catch on and producing hybrid SUVs, so when you are tooling down the road in your civilian equivalent of a cement truck you won’t have to stop at every filling station on the way – maybe only every other. There are electric cars, but unlike the hybrid you have to plug these in to a power grid. Unfortunately, somewhere down the line someone has to burn coal or split atoms to make the juice to recharge your vehicle, making it not quite as environmentally friendly as it appears.

Actually we are just waiting on the oil companies to re-tool so they can peddle us the alternative fuels and come up with excuses as to why they have to continually jack the prices up – a corn failure, hydrogen scarcity, or the war in Buttslamistan. Like Mr. Hydrogen the oil companies are not your friend.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Our Shrinkng Earth

Einstein’s Theory of the Shrinking Earth

I want to take you back to my childhood environment – our backyard.  I have already talked to the impact global warming has had on the yard, but there is a more subtle, more heinous force at work – Global Shrinkage.

Einstein postulated that the earth was shrinking at an ever increasing rate until such time as the occupants ceased to grow.  Well, he might never have said that, but he should have as I have witnessed this horrid phenomenon in what used to be our huge backyard.  I was talking to brother o’ Phos when the matter first came to my attention.  It left me very shaken and wondering when the government would step in and give us obscene amounts of relief money so we could press on with our lives.  That’s what governments are for, to bail your ass out when things go terribly wrong, even if you built your house below sea level in hurricane country.

My brother and I used to play football in that backyard, fight epic battles against the Allies, and have home run derbies.  To win the home run derby, you had to knock a wiffle ball over the hedge, which seemed a country mile away. It was tough to do. My brother and his friends held bike races up and down the hills and mowing those hills reminded me of the Paul Bunyan story where his lumberjacks were logging on a hill and the down hill leg grew longer then the uphill leg.  

I went home to visit (I still consider the place home) and to my amazement the backyard had shrunk.  The hills weren’t the mountain slopes they seemed when we were pulling the sled back to the top for another run.  Homerun derbies would be way too easy because the neighbor’s yard had suddenly grown closer to ours and the hedge was gone.  It doesn’t help that the small trees were now giants of the forest, including the pines the nursery told my father wouldn’t grow above six feet (they lied).  Trees notwithstanding, I do believe Einstein’s possible postulation is in full effect here and the backyard has shrunk. I expect one day to return and find it gone all together.  That would be a shame because my brother and I had so much fun in the yard.    

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

No Plain in Spain, No Rain, I Guess...

The tease goes on, many clouds but no rain, at least none in El Garbage. I did get to drive through a dust devil on the way home, though. That was an enchanting experience – no matter how tight you have the windows rolled up, the whirlwind is able to inject dust into your car. The first time I had one hit me was just outside Baker, CA. There’s a nice dry wash on both sides of the highway and the dust devil came at me from the South. It was a monster and I thought it was going to scour the paint off the car. In fact, after having lived in Victorville, Ca for several years the paint on the front of the hood was stripped off and my windshield sparkled if the sun hit it just right – it had been pitted by the sand grains.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Global Warming Hits Home

Global Warming

I think I have proof that global warming is a reality. I have been around for a while and have observed a good slice of the North American climate, particularly that of the backyard of my childhood home.

Childhood summers were fraught with powerful thunderstorms, driving rain and hot humid days. There were days the humidity was so high it felt like you were trying to breathe underwater. Even a short safari into the field across the street to catch Monarch butterflies was a chore. The best thing to do was laze in the branches a friend’s apple tree eating tart green apples, which we paid for dearly later in the day.
The winters were cold and snowy. If we didn’t have snow on Thanksgiving something was wrong and we always had plenty of snow for Santa to cruise in on during Christmas. January was so cold you could feel the inside of your nose freeze, scarf or no scarf. My brother and I would construct complex trails down the two hills in our backyard for the sled and snow saucer. We’d play out in the snow until we couldn’t; feel our face or limbs and were sure our ears were frostbitten.

Over a period, I left, but my brother being an avid cyclist and skier is a keen observer of climactic conditions - he as kept me abreast of the ever-changing climate patterns in the backyard. The snow is minimal and comes late in the year if at all. The summers are hot and humid, but not as much rain. So there you have it, proof positive that since Phos was a kid we have had a significant swing in the climate, at least as far as our backyard goes and this change is because of the build up of carbon from the fires we set as kids and my brother grilling.

I watched an excellent show on Global warming presented by the Discovery Channel. It featured Tom Brokaw (didn’t even know he was still alive) and the show talked to the amount of CO2 people and industry release into the atmosphere each day. I figure as much as my brother and I grill, burning almost pure carbon, we must be arch envirocriminals. Even replanting the Brazilian rainforest isn’t going to make up for all the lump charcoal smoldering away each evening (sometime two or there times a day during weekends) on the ol’ grill. I’ll drive less, I will turn out lights I am not using, etc., but the grill stays.

All kidding aside the warming is already adversely impacting wildlife and ourselves and it is past time for all of us and the slackers in Washington to realize the fact, then take positive steps to do something about he problem.

Next time, more backyard ecology: The Shrinking Earth

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Book Review of Slaughterhouse-Five

By Kurt Vonnegut

In Slaughterhouse Five we see the bombing of Dresden through the eyes of Billy Pilgrim, an American POW and therefore vicariously through the eyes of the author.  Vonnegut lived Slaughthouse-5 and took “writing what you know” to a new level. In the course of the story we get to see some old friends – Elliot Rosewater (“God Bless you Mr. Rosewater”),  Howard W. Campbell Jr the American ex-patriot turned Nazi propagandist (“Mother Night”), and Kilgore Trout, a relatively unknown Science Fiction writer and nom de plume for Vonnegut himself.  

Vonnegut uses his unique genre crossing style to present the horror of Dresden in a rather matter of fact manner while allowing Billy to become unstuck in time and take us on a wild ride through his life.  This includes a trip to Tralfamador, the planet where he is on display with former porn star Montana Wildhack in a Tralfamadorian zoo.  

Billy Pilgrim displays all the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  This condition, combined with all the Kilgore Trout novels he has read cause his malaise and the feeling he is unstuck – very similar to the Rosewater character, who in the book actually introduces Pilgrim to Trout’s novels. In fact both characters are misfit soldiers (as I believe Vonnegut may have been), are well meaning but slightly manic people, and experience traumatic episodes during the war – Rosewater kills a volunteer fireman mistaking him for a German solider and Billy witnesses the worst conflagration in World War two.  

The best advice in the book comes from the Tralfamadorians who advise Billy to forget the bad things and concentrate on the good things in his life.  This book is one of Kurt Vonnegut’s best novels, though all his books are worth reading, even Troutesque novels such as “Galapagos”. And so it goes.

Elliot Rosewater

Kilgore Trout


Just hanging out around Casa Lucky today, doing some summer cleaning (seem to have missed Spring cleaning and it finally caught up with me in the form of Ms. Phos with a list in one hand and a bat in the other). I did take some happy snaps to show Ms. Pang I do indeed have a temple dog guarding my house, with some back up inside the front door.I am not a spiritual person by any stretch of the imagination, none-the-less Buddha does appeal to me. He is more personable than other gods, doesn’t threaten a severe ass-kicking, never tells followers to drive explosive laden cars into crowds, or foretell the end of the world if he decides to shine around again. In fact he does shine around in all of us. Nice concept.

General Kwan and his posse

The Boys. I can finally say I have the body of a god...

This is my kitchen staff in charge of making sure I don't burn the place down - good job so far! The bottle is the last bottle of Soju consumed by Phos in Korea.

Mamma clouds and virga over lovely El Garbage

Warm Again, Naturally

Only 0900 and the camp Northstar Weather dial is already showing a balmy 100. Supposed to get up into the teens today and may see some rain. On the positive side I won’t have to use charcoal when I grill this afternoon.

Friday, July 14, 2006


I can be stubborn and a wee bit on the cross side, but I will admit when I have made a mistake. Last time I talked about animals being afraid of small appliances. While this is true to some extent, I have noticed that Yukon, who even heads for the hills when we get the dust mop out, has adopted a fan as his best friend. Normally Yukon is about as bright as a 10W bulb, but he figured a way to beat the heat. This is even better then kipping out in the tub, another fixture in the house feared by dogs, especially when filled with water. I stand corrected, animals and small appliances can form an uneasy friendship.

The fan in the picture is actually running full bore, but through the magic of still photography and the no red-eye feature on my camera it appears to be standing still. Any skeptics can check my electric bill and will discover that the fan is indeed on all the time. I am not going to tell an 85 pound animal with half-inch fangs he can’t have his fan!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

...Cain't be more than a hunnered n' fourteen!!

Yeah, it’s hot. Going to get even hotter, but that’s OK with me. Heat is good repellant for snowbirds and tourists.

I am not sure if my daughter or I had taken the picture of the lizard at Deer Valley Rock Art Center, but he seemed to portray the idea of hot pretty well. He is trying to cool off. Now me, I’d just move.

That brings us to the line between humans and beasts, arguably fuzzy at best, especially when considering NASCAR fans. One comic said the fact we aren’t afraid of small appliances is what separates man from beast. True to a point – I have a real healthy respect for the whirling blades of my food processor, though. Intelligence isn’t a good measure – look who has my spot on the bed…

You all grab some shade and a beer and I’ll see you later.


Furtive flit
In the cholla

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Bonfire of the Absurdities

I saw what has to be the most ludicrous warning sticker that ever came off the presses. I received a piece of equipment with the following warning lovingly stuck on each side:

One Person Lift

If two people were caught lifting this gear, would they face the same penalties as say, pulling that “Do Not Remove Under Penalty of Law” tag off the end of a mattress? The fact someone thought this warning was necessary troubles me.

I was scoffing at Global Warming right up until I found out the world’s wine supply is in grave danger. I am all for Global Cooling if it will save the wine.

Another Moon shot, so to speak:

Monday, July 10, 2006

Good Morning!

Just had to pull over on the way to work and take a picture of this most excellent Monday sunrise.

Happy Monday!!

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Sitting on the Can

Don't forget to grease the can with some cooking spray or you'll never get it out

Quiet weekend at Chez Phos. Watched the shuttle and space station pass over, did a beer can chicken, and puttered around the house.

I’ve grilled beer can chickens before, but I soaked this one in brine first. It came out very moist and had lots of flavor. I used the brine recipe from one of the specials on Food TV. There are a lot of great recipes on their website. Here is the brine:

2 cups water
1 (12-ounce) bottle light bodied beer
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
3 tablespoons coarse sea salt
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 (2 1/2-gallon) plastic re-sealable bag
2 whole chickens

For the brine: Combine water, beer, brown sugar, salt, and lemon
juice in large mixing bowl. Stir until salt and sugar dissolve. Pour
mixture into plastic bag. Add chicken and seal bag, remove as much
air as possible. Refrigerate overnight, turning occasionally.
For the beer: Pour out 1/4 of beer. Add 1 tablespoon of lemon pepper
to each beer.

I did wind up modifying the brine a bit – I only had one chicken, but found the amount of brine wasn’t sufficient to cover the whole bird. This would result in a very salty chicken. I added one more bottle of beer, used a Rubbermaid covered bowl instead of a bag and used a small plate to hold the chicken under the brining solution. It came out great.

Forced to use a soda can, but used beer, lemon juice and added ground pepper, & basil leaves

I took a picture of the moon while shuttle watching the night before and even with my little Powershot it came out pretty nice. I was trying to capture the halo effect from the high cirrus we had that night. Tonight was severe clear again, still no rain.

Hope you all had a great weekend!!


Been yakking about my old friend's Great Horned Owl, and came across the picture above as I was going through the mass o' photos I have accumulated. I hope I can stumble across the Goshawk in my journey through snapshot land.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Northern Breeds Get the Shaft, again.

I watched the Eukanuba Dog show on Animal Planet and was saddened to see that once again the Northern breeds were shut out. The Malamute, Costello, did take second in the Working Dog class, but in my book (and apparently a lot of folks agree as Costello was Viewer’s Choice Best in Show) he should have taken the whole Shootin’ match. Maybe I am little partial, but Huskies and Malamutes seem to be ignored at these events and some little snooty snooterton dog wins. This show a Sheltie won, so it wasn’t some crazy cat wannabe breed – a little consolation.

Just to nip it in the bud for SL, I am not upset, so ease off, and I want the sweet kind of licorice, not the nasty salty crap the Dutch seem to crave. Thanks.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Hell of a Day at Sea, Sir!

Another slice o’ paradise…

Check the Cumulus congestus out – this was the sky near the house an hour ago and despite all the threatening clouds, guess who had to turn the sprinkler on so the Phos Citrus forest wouldn’t dry up and blow away? I hope someone got some rain out of all that crap.

In a shocking investigation Arizona Wal-Mart was found to be thieving from their customers by giving them the old carnival count on the prices. Not only are the rolling back the prices, they are rolling back integrity too. I wasn’t shocked, we’ll all be Wal-slaves soon.

Our fair City of El Mirage (AKA El Garbage) made the list! Yep, fourth highest crime rate in the valley. Congrats to our Mayor, Moe and his sidekick Curly, the City manager. No worries about only being number four, with a Wal-Mart and a Food City being built soon you can expect us to be heading for number one, with a bullet – no pun intended.

On the bright side tomorrow is Friday! Hoohah!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

The Fourth of July Come n' Gone

Look pretty happy to be wearing these goofy hats, eh?

The Fourth of July weekend, trip to the lake, fireworks, parades, time to fire up the grill, and embarrass the dogs. I didn’t do the lake or the parade, but the fireworks have been going off in the neighborhood for the past several nights, so I am covered there and do have pictures of huskies in dignity crushing hats, as you have seen.

BBQ’d a Pork Butt for some Carolina Style Pulled Pork. It takes 6-8 hours at around 200 degrees, constantly replenishing wood chunks and charcoal, but it is worth the effort.

I started out with my pork butt (AKA pork shoulder – don’t ask) injected it with a mix of apple cider vinegar, cayenne pepper, and brown sugar, then applied a mustard base, followed with a spice rub.

Placed it on the grill using indirect heat, coals and wood chunks on either side of the meat and a pan of beer directly under (helps with moisture and flavor)

Took it off when the pork was falling off the bone and internal temp was 170-180 degrees. At this point it looks like a meat meteor with a thick burned sugar “bark”.

Use a couple of forks to separate the meat, or “pull it” and we’re good to go.

Hope you all had a good Fourth, or good weekend depending on where you are from and thanks for stopping by!

Monday, July 03, 2006

Happy Fourth!!!

A flag is awarded twice to a Vet. The first one when he or she retires, the second to his or her survivors. There is a ceremony that is performed at the retirement that never fails to bring tears to my eyes, the Flag Folding Ceremony. The Honor Guard folds the flag as the narrator reads a script telling what each fold means. I have included the first part of the script

Please have a great Fourth, and please never forget...

Flag Folding Ceremony
Air Force Script

For more than 200 years, the American flag has been the symbol of our nation’s unity, as well as a source of pride and inspiration for millions of citizens.

Born on June 14, 1777, the Second Continental Congress determined that the flag of the United States be thirteen stripes, alternating between seven red and six white; and that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field representing a new constellation. (1)

Between 1777 and 1960, the shape and design of the flag evolved into the flag presented before you today. The 13 horizontal stripes represent the original 13 colonies, while the stars represent the 50 states of the Union. The colors of the flag are symbolic as well; red symbolizes hardiness and valor; white signifies purity and innocence; and blue represents vigilance, perseverance and justice. (1)

Traditionally, a symbol of liberty, the American flag has carried the message of freedom, and inspired Americans, both at home and abroad.

In 1814, Francis Scott Key was so moved at seeing the Stars and Stripes waving after the British shelling of Baltimore’s Fort McHenry that he wrote the words to The Star Spangled Banner. (3)

In 1892 the flag inspired Francis Bellamy to write the “Pledge of Allegiance,” our most famous flag salute and patriotic oath. (3)

In July 1969 the American flag was “flown” in space when Neil Armstrong planted it on the surface of the moon. (3)

Today, our flag flies on constellations of Air Force satellites that circle our globe, and on the fin flash of our aircraft in harms way in every corner of the world. Indeed, it flies in the heart of every Airman who serves our great Nation. The sun never sets on our US Air Force, nor on the flag we so proudly cherish. (3)

Since 1776 no generation of Americans has been spared the responsibility of defending freedom… Today’s Airmen remain committed to preserving the freedom that others won for us, for generations to come.

By displaying the flag, and giving it a distinctive fold we show respect to the flag, and express our gratitude to those individuals who fought, and continue to fight for freedom, at home and abroad. Since the dawn of the 20th century, Airmen have proudly flown the flag in every major conflict on lands and skies around the world. It is their responsibility…our responsibility…to continue to protect and preserve the rights, privileges and freedoms that we, as Americans, enjoy today.

The United States flag represents who we are. It stands for the freedom we

all share and the pride and patriotism we feel for our country. We cherish

its legacy, as a beacon of hope to one and all. Long may it wave.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Declaration of Independence


Excerpt from the Declaration of independence

That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Prudence indeed, will dictate, that Governments long established, should not be changed for light and transient Causes; and accordingly all Experience hath shewn, that Mankind are more disposed to suffer, while Evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the Forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long Train of Abuses and Usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a Design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their Right, it is their Duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future Security.


Stalked birds again this morning, but there wasn't a lot of action at the feeder. I may post some more depending on how the pictures I took with the SLR came out. There is one cloud picture leftover from my Cloudspotter's Guide post as well, and you can't take pictures without huskies posing...

Cumulocongestus (Monsoons appear to have arrived a bit ahead of schedule)


Yukon, not happy about being brushed

Saturday, July 01, 2006

The Cloudspotter's Guide

The Cloudspotter’s Guide: The Science, History, and Culture of Clouds

By Gavin Pretor-Pinney

This guide, written by the founder of the Cloud Appreciation Society, lures the reader with anecdotes, art, poetry, and interesting cloud lore while subtly imparting the science behind the clouds. Mr. Pretor-Pinney introduces the amateur cloud spotter to the Linnaean system (Genus, species, and variety) of cloud classification introduced by Luke Howard. Borrowing the system used for the classification of plants and animals is no accident as a cloud has a life cycle of its own from birth to death. The Cloudspotter’s Guide explains the forces behind cloud formation including the reason some cumulonimbus clouds develop the characteristic anvil top

Each cloud species is examined in turn with the basis for the classification and variations carefully explained. The reader will get to meet people that have experience with clouds, to include Lt. Col Rankin who after ejecting from his fighter plane at 43,000 feet above huge a storm got to witness the inner workings of a cumulonimbus from the inside, and lived to tell the tale.

After reading this enjoyable book one will never look at clouds the same way again and will not see clouds on their horizon as a foreboding omen. In fact it will add to the growing number of cloud watchers worldwide.