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Brace yourself. Maybe.

I’m sure you’ve heard that a volcanic eruption in Iceland has halted all air travel in the UK and much of Northern Europe. They’ve just extended it to tomorrow afternoon. The problem is that bits of volcanic junk can screw up engines and electronics, and the planes’ radar is blind to it.

It’s spooky with all the air traffic halted. Not as edgy as the days after September 11 — for obvious reasons — but still odd. Not many places in the South of England don’t have something of a constant drone from Gatwick and Heathrow.

There’s a scrap of worry it could be the start of something much worse, though. If this signals the beginning of an active volcano season, it could have serious weather implications.

Volcanoes were thought to play a major role in the famously terrible Summer of 1816 (which is where the expression Eighteen Hundred and Froze to Death comes from). And an early active period may have nearly extinctered our whole species 70,000 years ago. There may have been as few as 5,000 of us left afterwards, meaning we are all inbred hillbillies.

Yep. Lethal global cooling.

But let’s think happy thoughts. Here’s our Mrs Compton at today’s Tea Party protests. I think she’s the one with the hat and the sunglasses.

If not…may I say what a lovely glossy coat you have, ma’am?




Comment from S. Weasel
Time: April 15, 2010, 10:23 pm

Hope you don’t mind that I nicked your picture off of FaceBook, Mrs C. I figured since you use a head shot as your avatar (I can see it when I’m in the Admin page) that you wouldn’t mind if I ran with a likeness even smaller.

I’ll pull it at once if you want…

Comment from JC
Time: April 15, 2010, 10:41 pm

Anybody else remember the world-destroying hole in the ozone layer? Was right over Mount Erebus in Antarctica. Countdown to new ozone scare in 5, 4, 3, 2…

Comment from Mrs. Compton
Time: April 15, 2010, 11:19 pm

Oh noes, I love it!!! Thanks for sharing it with everyone!

Comment from Janna
Time: April 15, 2010, 11:39 pm

I didn’t get to go to the tea party in Oklahoma City this year…working to support the looters.
Last year my sign said
“There’s always free cheese in a mousetrap”
I wish I could’ve gone this time. They had one last night that drew 2,000 at the state capital. Not a bad turnout considering there were others in the communities around OKC that drew their own crowds.
They were actually covered accurately by the media…then again, this is Oklahoma.
Luckily, we have no volcanoes in Oklahoma. Just tornadoes. Tornado season is upon us, hold on to your hat…and your ass.

Comment from David Gillies
Time: April 16, 2010, 1:11 am

That’s a great looking dog.

Iceland’s been having a rough time of it lately, but this current eruption is small scale When Tambora went up in 1815, the explosion could be heard 2,000 km away. And there are theories that the Dark Ages really were darker due to volcanic activity (specifically, an eruption in 535 big enough to blow Java in two, splitting off Sumatra in the process.)

Comment from Pavel
Time: April 16, 2010, 1:24 am

I read David’s comment about Tambora, and stopped being grumpy about our lowering clouds.

Lower away, clouds. Pikes Peak, keep your hat on.

Comment from porknbean
Time: April 16, 2010, 2:04 am

YAY Mrs. Compton! I love the picture. Beautiful dog, too.

Comment from EW1(SG)
Time: April 16, 2010, 2:33 am

5,000 of us, huh?

You mean I’m related to whoever came up with “spotted dick” as a name for a pudding?

Gah, I coulda gone all day without knowing that.

Lovely pitcher, Mrs. Compton!

Comment from Scubafreak
Time: April 16, 2010, 3:12 am

You don’t know the half of it, EW1. just think of all the double entendre implied in “Bangers and Mash”…..

Comment from gebrauchshund
Time: April 16, 2010, 3:14 am

Not only that EW, you’re also related to Obama, Slow Joe, even (shudder) Nancy Pelosi.

But as they say, you can’t pick your relatives.

Comment from David Gillies
Time: April 16, 2010, 4:38 am

Well, we’re all related. I’m related to (inter alia) Uma Thurman, Roger Federer, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, Mrs. Compton, her canine companion, the lambs in the field out the back of Badger Cottage, jellyfish, oak trees, the salmon I’m having for dinner, the carrot I’m poaching it with, athlete’s foot and trilobites.

Comment from Mark T
Time: April 16, 2010, 11:16 am

The Mighty Fart of Thor has brought back a lot of memories–and observations/lessons from when I lived in Seattle during the 18 May 80 eruption of Mt St Helens. I was a telephone operator for the now defunct Pacific Northwest Bell. We got a call at home: All Hands on Deck. PNB had us working double shifts, put us up in the hotel across the street, enticed us with extra pay incentives–the whole bit. Most dramatic moment? Clearing lines and setting up a conference call with about 20 people who needed to get some rare blood type supply across the Cascades and through the ash cloud. The ambulance made it through fine and the patient recovered.

We were all genuinely scairt. There wasn’t the knowledge that there is now. Were we going to be another version of Pompeii and be buried by nightfall? Would the gasses be poisonous? Would it wipe out the garden crops over in the eastern part of the State?

I woke up the next morning and there was a fine dusting of ash on the hood of my neon-orange Chevy Vega.

Afterwards. They ended up harvesting a bumper crop of Washington Delicious apples, although there was a little “puddle” of ash in the indentation of each one. Something in the ash made the ground extra fertile. The predicted re-growth around the devastated volcano area was astonishingly quicker than calculated. Turns out all the gophers and marmots and weasels 🙂 and critters ate all their seeds, went down in their holes to hibernate, and after the volcano blew and spring arrived, they came out, had a poo, and promptly re-seeded the entire area. All the grasses and most of the flora were back the very next year! Predictions that intra-state hauling and traffic would grind to a halt did just that–for about a week–and then, AGAINST the predictions (“it will never melt! It will be here for centuries!”) after the snow ploughs came out and got the junk off the roads, the ash formed a crust on itself, and then slowly leached back into the earth–and traffic was fine.

A friend of mine was travelling back across Snoqualmie Pass shortly after the ash had dropped. He scooped up a brown paper sackful of the stuff and gave it to me as a present. I put it in a cool clamp-down glass canning jar and kept it on my teacher-desk for years. When the kids would come up and ask “What’s that?” I would reply, “Grandma.” After a minute of them processing that, we’d then have a talk about volcanos. Also turns out the ash, when mixed with water and used as a glaze-paste, makes an incredibly beautiful dark blue/sea green streaky ceramic finish. The Pike Place jeweller arty-types went nuts with it. They still are.

The point of all of this: Mother Nature is awesome and formidable, but God is good, and man is resourceful. So the planes may be grounded for a few days. Go have tea at Claridges. If we’re plunged into the Dark Ages, turn your lights on and go read a book on hydroponics. This, too, shall pass.

Apologies for the long post. I love this site! I’m trying to worm my way into this Sweasel society nicely, and while a long, possibly overshadowing post might not be all that courteous, I at least hope it’s interesting.

Comment from Mrs Compton
Time: April 16, 2010, 11:44 am

Welcome Mark! Loved your story!! Reminds me I have a huge bucket of ash from mt st helens!!! When I was in potter’s school everyone wanted to use it, not the guy with grannies ashes!!!

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: April 16, 2010, 12:20 pm

That was a great read over coffee, Mark.

Comment from EW1(SG)
Time: April 16, 2010, 3:11 pm

Hunh. A dark blue/deep green streaky ceramic finish when mixed with water, huh?

Mixed with motor oil it made about an inch of concrete lining the bottom of the oil pan in my truck.

Oh well.

The point of all of this: Mother Nature is awesome and formidable, but God is good, and man is resourceful.

Well, like they say, you got opposable thumbs. Deal with it.

Comment from jwpaine
Time: April 16, 2010, 3:17 pm

“you can’t pick your relatives.”

No, but you can dismember them so they’ll pack in the trunk better, bury the parts in dozens of tiny shallow graves on the high plains… except for the heads, of course, which you can mummify and keep on shelves in your library.

/just sayin’

Comment from Mike C.
Time: April 16, 2010, 5:15 pm

I always enjoy seeing the masses get a geology lesson.

“God help me, I love it so !”

Pingback from Tweets that mention S. Weasel — Topsy.com
Time: April 16, 2010, 6:55 pm

[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Joseph Collins. Joseph Collins said: Great graphic http://sweasel.com/archives/5924 […]

Comment from Bill (still the .00358% of your traffic that’s from Iraq) T
Time: April 16, 2010, 11:27 pm

With HellCare now on the books, the shades and sunhat are a wise precautionary move, Mrs. C.

They’ll keep the IRS guessing, too…

Comment from Nina from GCP
Time: April 17, 2010, 3:25 am

Mrs. Compton, you are exactly as I pictured you in my fertile imagination. And your human is nice, too.


Comment from Amy
Time: April 18, 2010, 11:40 pm

With HellCare now on the books, the shades and sunhat are a wise precautionary move, Mrs. C.

They’ll keep the IRS guessing, too…

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