Chris X Edwards

Insane how weather maps end starkly at the US/Can & US/Mex border. Hard to tell if this is selfish/jingoist stupidity or banal stupidity.
2022-11-20 17:36
Weird to learn of a cute meter-long mammal I'd never heard of living wild in my state. Also odd that the fisher does not fish or eat fish.
2022-11-10 08:44
I just (re?)learned that the first "Windows" keys had Apple logos and were on the 1980 Apple III.
2022-11-08 13:11
These days paying bills with paper checks and stamped envelopes feels almost like an historical reenactment. Preserving our lame heritage!
2022-10-15 12:13
All these longevity hobbyists confidently eat tons of pills and do questionable weird stuff. They never brag about their 30 year old dogs.
2022-10-06 09:14
Blah Blah
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Buffalo Snow

2022-11-23 19:07

Last week we were spending time in Xenia, OH, an unlikely confluence of superb world class bike trails. Some days into our trip we saw that snow was expected back home in Buffalo. We planned to return at the weekend but it soon became clear that was not going to work out.

Pretty quickly Buffalo jumped to the top of weather news sensational headlines as a lake effect snow storm settled on the area. Astonishing totals were reported, as high as 77 inches in 48 hours.

Here’s CNN’s report. Here are a lot of photos.

Here’s the house of someone I heard from personally in West Seneca.

westseneca.jpg

Clearly some people were having a tough time. Including us.

We were blocked from returning home because all the roads from the south leading to Buffalo were closed. Very annoyed to be missing skiing snow, I did some creative trip planning and drove to Roscommon, MI, home of the best Nordic skiing shop IMO. They were also having lake effect snow but it was manageable. This allowed me to buy some more skis (two pairs) and enjoy skiing on some very nice trails.

Here I’m skiing their excellent trail network. (Can’t say I’m chuffed about needing to wear orange in order to not get shot, but at least it’s already a big part of my sartorial aesthetic because of other people who want to kill me.)

221120-xedMI.jpg

Here is an unusual shot of me on the live XCSkiHQ Trail Cam (staring at a telephone like a perfectly normal person — bonus points if you can deduce the essence of the text I was sending). This shows how much early season snow central Michigan was also getting (from a different Lake’s lake effect).

2022-11-20_Chris_at_XC_Ski_HQ.png

We stayed the weekend in MI hoping the weather would calm down a bit and then cunningly sneaked home through Canada, a full circumnavigation of Lake Erie.

Since my mail is addressed to "Buffalo, NY" people who knew me wondered if my house had collapsed or something like that. No. Astonishingly, my neighborhood got annoyingly little snow. I say "annoyingly" because people who like skiing would be delighted to see snow thoroughly covering everything. What is a malicious weather god to do when I’ve thwarted its plan to use snow to block my return home by showing up from the other direction with new skis? Do not underestimate the malevolent weather gods!

It turns out that what is more interesting than the prodigious snow totals that were reported in the news is the even more astonishing variance.

Take a look at this weather.gov table which I believe is the Erie County (New York) 48-hour snow totals as of November 19.

Orchard Park

77.0 in

0700 AM 11/19

Trained Spotter

Hamburg 1.9 NNW

73.7 in

0900 AM 11/19

COCORAHS

2 SW Blasdell

65.0 in

0826 PM 11/18

Trained Spotter

Elma 2.7 WSW

58.2 in

0700 AM 11/19

COCORAHS

1 SW West Seneca

49.0 in

0100 AM 11/19

Cocorahs

East Aurora 0.1 ENE

47.5 in

0700 AM 11/19

COCORAHS

Angola

46.0 in

0800 AM 11/19

COCORAHS

Boston 2.5 NE

43.7 in

0700 AM 11/19

COCORAHS

West Seneca 2.5 SE

43.1 in

0700 AM 11/19

COCORAHS

Wales

42.0 in

0700 AM 11/19

COOP

Eden 1.4 SSE

41.7 in

0745 AM 11/19

COCORAHS

2 SE West Seneca

40.0 in

0300 AM 11/19

NWS Employee

East Aurora 2.7 SSE

39.2 in

0700 AM 11/19

COCORAHS

1 SSW West Seneca

38.0 in

0900 AM 11/19

Amateur Radio

Colden 1.4 NNW

37.8 in

0730 AM 11/19

COCORAHS

Colden 1W

37.8 in

0730 AM 11/19

COOP

1 WNW Alden

34.5 in

0700 AM 11/19

Trained Spotter

Alden

34.0 in

0900 AM 11/19

Amateur Radio

3 ENE Holland

33.5 in

1030 AM 11/18

Trained Spotter

1 ESE Sloan

31.0 in

0900 AM 11/19

Amateur Radio

1 SE Lackawanna

31.0 in

0700 AM 11/19

Trained Spotter

Buffalo Airport

30.2 in

0700 AM 11/19

Official NWS Obs

2 S Snyder

29.0 in

0900 AM 11/19

Public

1 N Cheektowaga

28.0 in

0900 AM 11/19

Amateur Radio

Glenwood 1.5 SE

27.0 in

0800 AM 11/19

COCORAHS

Williamsville 3.8 E

26.5 in

0708 AM 11/19

COCORAHS

2 NNW Cheektowaga

26.0 in

0900 AM 11/19

Amateur Radio

2 WSW Millgrove

26.0 in

0900 AM 11/19

Amateur Radio

1 S Buffalo

26.0 in

0800 AM 11/19

Public

Lancaster

25.5 in

0900 AM 11/19

Trained Spotter

Glenwood 1.0 SE

25.4 in

0700 AM 11/19

COCORAHS

2 SE Lancaster

24.0 in

0900 AM 11/19

Amateur Radio

1 N Lancaster

22.0 in

1015 AM 11/19

Public

1 ENE Buffalo

22.0 in

0900 AM 11/19

Amateur Radio

2 W Snyder

22.0 in

0900 AM 11/19

Public

Cheektowaga 2.4 NW

21.0 in

0901 AM 11/19

COCORAHS

Akron 2.4 S

18.5 in

0800 AM 11/19

COCORAHS

Snyder 0.6 SW

17.3 in

0700 AM 11/19

COCORAHS

1 NW Williamsville

16.4 in

0800 AM 11/19

NWS Employee

2 ESE Harris Hill

15.0 in

0900 AM 11/19

Public

Buffalo 1.2 WNW

13.6 in

0900 AM 11/19

COCORAHS

East Amherst 1.3 WSW

10.7 in

0900 AM 11/19

COCORAHS

Kenmore 0.3 ESE

9.4 in

0745 AM 11/19

COCORAHS

East Amherst 1.2 WNW

9.0 in

0915 AM 11/19

COCORAHS

1 ENE Kenmore

9.0 in

0900 AM 11/19

Amateur Radio

Kenmore 0.8 NW

7.6 in

0700 AM 11/19

COCORAHS

Buffalo 3.9 N

7.5 in

0800 AM 11/19

COCORAHS

Amherst 5.4 NNE

6.4 in

0800 AM 11/19

COCORAHS

Tonawanda 3.1 NE

3.3 in

0800 AM 11/19

COCORAHS

While some areas did get some serious snow, my neighborhood (Amherst) got almost none. Here is what we came home to.

snow_at_house-20221121_145023.jpg

And 6 minutes after that photo I had completely cleared the driveway and taken a pee. I felt almost silly using my (Made In California) Manplow; I can’t imagine the brutal humiliation my neighbors must have felt using their gas powered snow blowers on such a paltry amount.

manplow-20221121_145629.jpg

After seeing such severe reports on the news, it was kind of weird to come home to basically the amount of snow I would not have found amiss in Xenia (there was some on the ground there when we arrived). I took a closer look at that table and plotted this map to show it better. The bigger the circles, the more snow as reported in the table.

snowmap.png

The circle at the very bottom is Hamburg with 73.7 inches. To the northeast of that is Orchard Park in first place with 77.0 inches. As you can see the heavy dumpings were really in the south and, importantly to me, not in the north. Another way to think about it is that the 29k seat University of Buffalo Stadium in Amherst and the 73k seat Highmark Stadium in Orchard Park (where the Bills play) are separated by less than 16 miles, yet in the time period recorded one got six feet of snow more than the other. They moved the Bills game to Detroit; would it have made more sense to move it just down the road? Do people think Buffalo is a wintry place because most of what they see of it are NFL games from a stadium located in the most extreme focus of lake effect snow?

I did manage to barely ski on the scant snow that was in my neighborhood (tore a big hole in my new skis too). Here’s me in my backyard yesterday morning on some pretty tenuous snow.

my_yard.jpg

This morning, we went down to see if going south a bit could find some of that much talked about snow. The map shows a marker in Cheektowaga at the Reinstein Nature Preserve. Sure enough there was a decent amount of snow there.

221123-xedski.jpg

As shown on the map, from nearly nothing on the trails behind my house to at least 18" less than 10 miles away!

I guess if I actually had perfect information I could always go to where the snow was good, sort of like picking the right elevation to get the desired temperature (though note it is completely flat everywhere near me with only one famous exception just off the edge of that map). But since I don’t know what the micro-climate is in each neighborhood, it is kind of difficult to balance "too snowy to drive there" and "not enough snow to ski".

I suppose I should be grateful for any kind of snow in these modern times but it seems like the worst of all possibilities to have to suffer the negative effects of a lot of snow but not really get enough snow to do things that require snow! I really would like to live somewhere that has more reliably serious snowfall patterns. But for now, I’ll take what I get and enjoy early season skiing when and where I can.

Baby Yoda Muffin

2022-10-31 17:11

I made this Halloween costume for Muffin.

baby-yoda-muffin.jpg

The Force is strong in this one.

Bike Park

2022-08-20 13:22

Been doing some fun bike outings this summer. There was something amusing about me playing in this bike park this morning.

bikepark.gif

bikepark-20220820.jpg

Bike Problems Normal People Do Not Have

2022-08-19 08:42

pitlock.jpg

This is a Pitlock locking seatpost binder. I purchased it from Veloplus in Wetzikon in 1999. In 2001 the middle rack stabilzer bracket was added when my rack finally ripped the last of the four factory mounts off the frame. I’m not sure I’ve even removed the seatpost in 15 years. Importantly, with a locking binder, neither has anyone else.

I Like New York

2022-05-15 23:19

Is it just me or is it ironic that this icon of liberty is decorating a crowd control barrier?

IMG_20220512_062042_SoL.jpg

Well, let’s not worry about that. I’m just having a bit of fun with New York’s (technically New Jersey’s) famous tourist landmark (visible in the background).

I am presently in New York, the state, but last week I took a business trip to the place people think of when they hear "New York": New York City. The last time I was in New York City it was for an "interviewcation" in the middle of winter. That was around six years ago. The city seems to be changing quickly and I think for the better.

Where I live in Buffalo, NY is pretty nice. While bike riding on the paths along the canals I often think, "This place is so nice, it’s almost Dutch." I was quite surprised to get that same feeling in the City version of New York.

This is me waiting for the subway at just after five in the morning.

IMG_20220512_051308_subway.jpg

That is why there’s nobody around and why I’m not wearing a mask. Although The Plague seems to be lightening up a bit, in the subways of New York City, people are still into masks even though state-wide they’re not required. For every person I saw not wearing one, I saw a person wearing two masks. The apprehension is understandable with a zillion people packed into these tunnels and the memory of one of the worst death tolls from the early months of The Plague. Still, the fact that trains run all over the city is something NYC is famous for, but it is also something quite ordinary in most European countries. Like the Netherlands.

The last time I was in NYC I remember it reeking. The problem is that smoking is not generally allowed in the buildings. So even if a small minority of the population smokes, if they all must come outside to do it then every alley will be filled with smokers 24/7. Since I can smell someone smoking a block away, the whole place was awful. But I didn’t get so much of that this time. Maybe some critical mass of people have quit. But what is funny is that if you walk four or so blocks, one of them will smell very strongly of marijuana smoke. Apparently it is full legal in NYC now. I saw someone rolling one on the train. I’ve never been a smoker of anything but I have to say that if it’s going to be weed or cigarettes, I’ll take weed any day. You know what other city you randomly smell weed smoke in? That’s right, dumb tourists in Amsterdam.

The best thing about the Netherlands is the magnificent scenery. And I have to say, NYC is boasting some excellent scenery of its own. And I’m not talking about skylines here — I’m talking about the people. Dutch people as a whole are far and away the most attractive people in my opinion. But the inhabitants of NYC are really putting in a good effort for second place. (Can they overtake Buenos Aires? I think so!)

What’s the secret to NYC’s attractive people? Well, it’s not this hilarious sign I saw.

IMG_20220511_055723_mask.jpg

New York City has excellent food. How can you have a certain kind of restaurant if it sucks and there are five excellent ones within a few blocks? (Answer: tourists. But you get the idea.) I found a magnificent bakery that was almost Dutch quality. You’d think that all that great eating would not do great things to the attractiveness of the people. But it turns out to not be a problem.

The fact is that humans in general are attractive when there are no pathological physical problems. NYC may have a slight edge over Holland because of their diverse population. But the sad fact is that Dutch people and NYC people are just people — they look so damn good because they haven’t been pummeled so hard with the first world’s most devastating ugly stick: the automobile.

Cars are shit. They ruin almost everything. If you think of a prototypically "nice" place (a beach, Disneyland, the top of a mountain) there are no cars. If you think of a place with a lot of cars (a beach in Texas, Anaheim, parking at a ski resort) it is a dystopian nightmare where you literally must fear for your life at every moment. But cars make people ugly as well as the locale.

And NYC is finally catching on to the truth about cars. Manhattan is an island. There is no possibility of sprawl. The land is very valuable so an amazingly stupid communist plot like free parking is easily seen as the mistake it is. NYC obviously has some city planners and they have finally figured out how induced demand works. They know they can’t build a 26 lane freeway. And I think they’re starting to figure out that they do not want to! All over the city I saw examples of intelligent city planning. Accommodating 8.8 million people driving private cars around a dense city is just not going to be a thing. Other options must be explored. Instead of doing what most cities do as they lose the battle with giving cars literally everything, NYC has focused on alternatives. What a concept! I saw many, many streets/avenues where car lanes have been removed. They have been replaced with dedicated bus lanes, and in a shockingly Dutch turn of events, bike lanes.

IMG_20220512_071838_bikelane.jpg

And these are not token crap ones. They really seem serious about this. This is a city for people, not cars. I’m thoroughly impressed. Most NYC people do not (yet) bike like Dutch people, but they do walk. I figure they easily walk 15min to their subway stop, down then up some stairs, 15min to their office, up some stairs, and then all that in reverse, maybe some more walking for shopping and daily life. If the average NYC person walks 30 minutes a day, (and I bet it’s more) that’s enough to make a drastic change in the vitality of the population. And I’m not just talking about wealthy Manhattan people. They’re probably worse off because they can afford more car travel!

By avoiding the stroad strip mall monoculture that is, with rare exceptions, every other place in the USA, NYC is a very interesting place. Definitely worth visiting. This visit was the first time the calculus of living there became something I could actually imagine. It’s not a cheap place, but it may be worth it. I like New York!

IMG_20220511_062957_ILNY.jpg

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