Thursday, June 30, 2011

It's not the heat, you know ...

The colors are heating up, too: Red yarrow and butterfly milkweed Tuesday in my garden.

… it’s the humidity. Or at least that’s what Iowans tell themselves when both the temperature and moisture levels rise.

The Missouri valley region was such a patchwork of colors on the National Weather Service map this morning I had trouble finding Iowa, a combination of green (flood warning), orange (heat advisory) and brown (excessive heat watch). Just below the state line, all is pinky-purple (excessive heat warning).

We’re in the “advisory” area, with a predicted afternoon high of 93 (ho hum) which, according to the explainer, could restult in “heat index values as high as 103.”

Heat index may be something meteorologists have invented so they’ll have something else to talk about --- and more colors to play with on their weather maps. It’s the opposite of “wind chill factor,” a calculation intended to make us feel colder in midwinter than it really is.

I’m not saying it’s not going to be uncomfortable today and tomorrow, but it never hurts to remember that folks who live in places where it gets really hot (or really cold) just laugh at Iowans when we complain about our extremes.

Take Oklahoma. A friend who lives down in the southwestern part of that state has been talking about 116-degree days. So I decided to check out the weather map for that area this morning.

The forecast high there today is 106 --- that’s not heat index, just heat. But there’s no advisory, watch or warning in effect for the big area that includes Fort Sill.

Does that mean they’re tougher down thataway? Or have we been right all the time? It really is the humidity, not the heat?

There’s still a hint of cool in the air here this morning and it looks like the start of a beautiful summer day. If only I hadn’t looked at the weather map.


At some point recently, the folks at “Google,” who supply my browsing front page, turned the tool bar black with text reversed out in white --- a more difficult combination to read than black on white and something graphics people generally avoid except for occasional special effect.

When things like that happen, I get all worried --- figuring it might be my computer rather than an impersonal programmers at some distant location. So I had to fire up the computer in the museum office first thing yesterday morning to see how the “Google” page looked there, then sigh in relief when it looked the same.

I’m used to Google’s frequent (sometimes amusing, sometimes aggravating) logo changes, but I’m paranoid enough about computer stuff without this sort of thing. Why can’t they just leave it alone?

And then there was that self-congratulatory e-mail from Windstream yesterday, telling us that an improved sign-in page for e-mail accounts will premiere July 1.

Heck, I’d just figured out finally how to use the last new and improved Windstream page. All I want to do is sign into my e-mail account, not read the news, check out Facebook or set the timer on the kitchen range. Why can’t they just leave it alone?


Iowa lawmakers and the governor continue to wrangle about the budget, facing a midnight deadline. Presumably, they’ll get it figured out, proving they could have done it two months ago if there weren’t political hay to make.

It looks like property tax reforms will get knocked off the table, however, and health and human services budget negotiations have been complicated by an amendment that would require something called “informed consent” from pregnant girls or women before Medicaid-funded abortions could be performed at University Hospitals.

Current rules, in place since 1978, allow these abortions to proceed with minimal fuss in cases of rape, incest, fetal abnormalities, to save a mother’s life and for miscarriages. Republicans want to force women to have unltrasounds and read a packet of information explaining, presumably, why it might be God’s will that a 14-year-old became pregnant after having been raped by her horny elder brother or deranged father or perhaps why God might will that both she and the infant die if something else goes massively awry.

The more affluent, not eligible for Medicaid, wouldn’t have to jump through these hoops, of course --- yet.

It was interested in Rachel Maddow's reivew of Equal Rights Amendment trials and tribulations, which Iowa ratified but that eventually fell short. Fascinating to hear the same tired old arguments, recycled frequently on other occasions since. See for yourself:

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