Monthly Archives: December 2009

Blizzard of 2009

When I titled my last blog entry “just in time” I didn’t realize how prophetic it would be. After finishing the blueberry garden, the temperature dropped, preventing me from continuing with the next one. But, it’s Oklahoma, so the the temperature soon climbed to unseasonably warm weather, and I was back out building a second garden on Winter Solstice. The weather models were predicting a potential snow storm later in the week, so I worked diligently to dig the trench for installing the gopher barrier. As Christmas Eve day approached, weather predictions were getting dire but still uncertain.

Christmas Eve dawned and I could hear rain. I got up to check radar and the Mesonet data. The freeze line was still northwest of us, but it was slowly approaching. I got the dogs fed and walked, and quickly checked on our neighbor’s cat. As I locked up their gate, sleet started to fall. By 10:30 AM, the sleet was accumulating (photo right).

Just after noon, snow was mixing with the sleet and visibility was rapidly declining. The winds were over 30 mph and gusting over 50 in some locations. We recorded a gust of 47 mph.

Thirty minutes later, we had significant accumulation with mostly snow falling. At this point we were experiencing blizzard conditions.

By 4PM, the storm was officially called a blizzard, with blowing and falling snow, sustained winds over 30 mph and lasting over 3 hours.

By Christmas morning, we had received at least 6 inches of wet snow, and experienced the rare event of a white Christmas in Oklahoma (2% chance).

Now I know, all my Northern readers are saying: “Six inches? That’s nothing! Why I remember the storm of when we got of snow”. I agree that the snowfall was low, but the winds were incredible. It scoured the snow off the frozen surfaces and piled it into high drifts. All the Interstate Highways were closed and emergency crews spent much of the night rescuing stranded vehicles. I know of some areas where the surrounding fields are above the roads. Those roads filled with snow up to the depth of SUV windshields.

Our own drifts were 15 inches deep. Luckily not quite blocking the mud room door. The drift grew about two feet out from the wall all the way along the back of the house.

Not much damage to speak of. The latch on the front gate smashed off, but I can keep it closed with a bungee cord until it’s warm enough to make repairs. Other than that, we just have some fallen limbs to clean up.

There was considerable wind, even after the snow stopped, evidenced by the scrape marks left by the grass tips in the snow

The gardens I was working on are buried in a blanket of snow.

The planted beds have about 1 foot of snow on the east end.

Lots of drifting on the lee (East) side of the house.

The early morning light left beautiful shadows on the wind ridges in the snow.

The dogs were less than impressed with the aftermath of the storm. Although they enthusiastically played in the snow during the snowfall, they didn’t like the solid ice surface left on the porch and didn’t really want to venture out into the snowdrifts.

Instead they’ve been concentrated their efforts on the sheltered area under the peach tree, where the snow is very shallow.

But, it’s Oklahoma. Christmas day the temperatures climbed above freezing, and the melting began. We may even have 40’s by Sunday. Even so, it’ll take a few days to melt this much snow, so in the meantime the children of Norman can have some fun in the snow during their Christmas break.

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Just in time


My new blueberry plants arrived last Thursday, just after I had finished sifting the Bermuda grass out of the topsoil. My plan was to mix the three layers, peat, compost and topsoil, the next morning then get all the bushes planted before I left with Sara for Tulsa. It was very cold the next morning, as it had been nearly every morning and I waited as long as I could to get the work done. I had all my packing for the trip done by 11AM then headed to the back yard for some last minute gardening. I stabbed the gardening fork into the new bed and was rewarded with a “thunk”. The moisture in the bed had frozen and there was little chance of it defrosting in time. So, I opened up the box of blueberry plants gave them a good watering, and left them in the garage for the weekend. Saturday in Norman was above freezing, and Sunday was very warm (but I was in Tulsa). My only hope was that the next front, due on Monday, would arrive late enough to get my gardening done. I was lucky. The front came through at 8 AM, but the temperature drop was not precipitous. When I started it was 47 F, by the time I finished at 11 AM, it was 36 F. In two hours, I got the soil mixed, the four new plants into the ground, the four older plants into their permanent home, the whole bed mulched with pine straw, and a temporary protective fence in place, because as you all know, anything unprotected here will be eaten by deer within a day or two. It’s been subfreezing ever since. We are forecast to get a short warm up, which will allow me to get started on the next set of gardens. Those won’t be planted, but I’ll be needing them in the Spring for Spring onions, lettuce, peas, and anything else I can plant out early. Gardening can be done year round in Oklahoma, if you pick the right day to do it. Some days are too scorching hot, and some days are too freezing cold, but there are never many of those days in a row. I just keep an eye on the forecast, and have projects that can be done indoors on days when the weather doesn’t cooperate.

Another successful weekend

D’Argo and I had our first out-of-town agility competition this past weekend. This time in a Teacup Dog Agility Association (TDAA) trial, which is agility for dogs under 17 inches at the withers (D’Argo is 13.5 inches tall). My friend Sara and I, with our dogs, drove to Tulsa, OK, with all our gear on Friday afternoon. We checked in at the hotel then hurried off to the venue for the first evening Game. When arriving at a new venue, the judge gives you a few minutes to familiarize your dog to new equipment. Some dogs take differences in stride, others do not. D’Argo did not. He put one foot on the teeter and backed away. If he could have said “eww”, he would have. This particular teeter had pads on the floor under the ends to keep it from making a loud bang and my best guess is that D’Argo didn’t like the mushy footing. The judge helped me encourage him across, but he continued to try to avoid the teeter on first pass throughout the competition. I was able to get him on it every time but his dismounts were rushed. Despite D’Argo’s initial trepidation, we placed first and earned our first qualifying score in Games (short agility courses that require speed and strategy to score enough points to qualify).

After the Game, Sara and I returned to our hotel only to find a cat in our room. We thought at first that the cat was in the adjoining room window, then we hoped it was on the outside sill, but no. It was in our room. I should point out that we thoroughly searched the room prior to letting the dogs off leash when we first checked in. Between the two of us, we managed to shoo the cat out, and it remained near the door until we brought the dogs out of the truck.

Sleep was hard to come by that first night, as D’Argo’s schedule was off and he decided he needed to go out at 2 AM. Then both dogs woke us up again at 6 AM. We got to the venue early, as you might expect, but it gave me time to get D’Argo fed (he often won’t eat on competition weekends), and walked properly. The day was exciting and busy, and D’Argo kept racking up the ribbons.

On Sunday, Peter and Odo joined us to cheer us on. By the end of the weekend, we had earned 6 qualifying scores (Qs), three in Games level 1, earning D’Argo’s second agility title, with 4 first place ribbons. We got two qualifying scores in 2 Standard Trials, and 1 qualifying score in Games level 2. We missed a third standard Q by a toe. I thought we faulted on the messy teeter exit, but D’Argo had vaulted off the dog walk when I looked up towards the next jump. He must have seen me look up and thought “I’ll get that, Mom, watch me fly” and leaped off the walkway ramp without touching the 36-inch contact zone. I now know what we need to practice.

The trip home was uneventful, with two very sleepy dogs, D’Argo from his effort, and poor old Odo, because he never got an afternoon nap.

The Telegraph Co

Started having issues with the DSL connection the other day. Thought it was a DNS issue, but I changed the system over to OpenDNS and that, ultimately, didn’t help. Today, I was unable to reach a number of sites, many of them content distribution nodes or ad servers. Since those URLs are sprinkled through all kinds of web sites, “the internets” were very slow.

Started to do traceroutes and it appears that, intermittently, bras2-l0.okcyok.sbcglobal.netwill have really really high ping times. And sometimes, for some sites, it doesn’t seem to pass traffic at all.

So I call the Telegraph Co. I called using a number on the bill because I couldn’t get to their website. No sooner does the 800 number connect and the robo-man verifies my phone number then the router smartens up and everything is fine.

Weird.

And also transient.

So I tried to find a way to get support without calling. Seems they have a “chat” service. And hilarity ensued.

Actually, it wasn’t that bad. The call-center person (“Maya” – assuming it was a person) ran a line test and found something so she has escalated it. I await their call-back.

Here’s the transcript.


System
Welcome .

System
Connecting to server. Please wait...

System
Connection with server established.

You
Technical Support Topic: DSL High Speed Internet

System

Maya has joined this session!

System
Connected with Maya

Maya
Thank you for contacting AT&T Internet Services. How can I help you?

You
bras2-l0.okcyok.sbcglobal.net needs attention. LONG round trip times, but
intermittent

You
Occasionally, traceroute fails entirely to some hosts

Maya
Mr. , I am sorry you are experiencing this issue and will
be happy to assist you.


Maya
Please let me know since when are you experiencing this problem?

You
Started probably Thurwsday.

You
Thursday. THought it was a DNBS issue - changed DNS server and that
didn't help

Maya
Thank you for the information.


Maya
What type of modem(Motorola, Siemens 5100B, 4100, etc.) or router(2
Wire 100,1000, Cayman, Netopia) are you using ?

You
Siemens 4100

You
want the tech readout?

You
I've already reset it.

Maya
Thank you for the information.

Maya
Have you checked all the physical connections to the modem?

You
Yes. All good.

Maya
Please let me run a line test to check if there are any issues with the
line, please do not switch anything off for about 2-3 minutes while the
test is running.

You
OK

Maya
May I know the name of the modem?

You
SpeedStream 4100 ADSL Modem

Maya
Thank you for your patience. The line test shows a possible line
problem but there could be other factors too, the Broadband Customer
Care Assurance Team will be the best judge.

Maya
I am going to escalate this case to the Broadband Customer Care Assurance
Team to further investigate the issue.They may visit your place to check
the settings and cables

Maya
May I have an alternate contact number where the Broadband Customer
Care Assurance team can contact you?

You
405-xxx-xxxx but the POTS line works fine (405-yyy-yyyy)

Maya
Thank you for the information. May I update 405-yyy-yyyy for can be
reached number?

You
OK

Maya
It might be possible that they would send a technician to
your place to check the lines. So incase if they need to change
the password of your E-mail address, will it be okay with you?

You
Sure. I don't recall what it is. :-)

You
This really isn't a physical layer issue. It's an IP layer issue.

Maya
Our BBCCA team will check the issue with DSL line. They will
correct the issue. If some changes need to done we will give you call back.

You
OK

Maya
I request you please keep your modem/router on.

Maya
I request you please put your phone free as the line department will
make a call to you on your phone.

Maya
The trouble ticket number is . The Broadband
Customer Care Assurance Team would be contacting you within an hour.

You
It always is.

Maya
I apologize your issue could not be resolved within our department,
and hope your future contact would be much more satisfactory.

Maya
Is there any thing else I may assist you with?

You
Nope. That's it.

Maya
It was wonderful chatting with you. We value your business. Have
a great day ahead. Happy Holidays.

Maya
Thank you for using AT&T Yahoo! Chat Support. You will now be
disconnected from this session. The chat window will remain open until
you close it. For quick answers, make the new AT&T Yahoo! Help site
your first stop. Visit http://support.att.com where you'll find pages
of product information to assist you.

You
Thanks.