2013-03-14 / Columns

From the Heartland

By Allan Burke

There will be a hint of spring in the air this week with highs between 41 and 48 degrees and lows between 27 and 33 degrees. Rain and snow showers are also on the agenda. The heartland remains in a below normal precipitation situation. The livestock people are busy, and the weather has been pretty good for bringing in the 2013 models of calves.


Thanks to the results of the nuclear stress test I underwent last week, I now have a document that says I am “normal.” That is a word I have not heard much in my life. I’m going to add it to my resume.

It is a great relief that my medical complaints are not heart-related, but the aggravating symptoms remain. However, the low-grade fever that comes and goes and the minor aching are not that problematic. I have been able to keep up with my work and will declare myself fit to go to the office at least half days this week.

The doc recommended seeing another specialist, so I am on a long waiting list. According to the specialist’s receptionist, I can expect to see the high-powered physician within six to nine months.

In the meantime, I will take the advice of my grandmother who used to say, “Kwitcherbellyachin.”

The empty room

Thanks to Bertram G. “Bert” Retriever who ruined our living room carpet by scattering hot chocolate mix and pancake flour on it one too many times, we are having laminate flooring installed this week.

The project involved Leah’s boxing up our collection of 251,943 knickknacks, dishes, candle holders and other artifacts so that we could move the china cupboard, hutch and corner cabinet out of the diningroom table end of the living room.

We hauled the smaller pieces of furniture to Margaret’s bedroom, which is now packed full. The piano is in the hallway, and we moved most everything else to one end of the living room so that flooring could be installed in the other end.

Fred is home for spring break, so the timing is perfect, although not necessarily from his perspective. We will appreciate his help in putting everything back in place.

For those who are allergic to dust, having no carpeting in the house is a good thing. Times have changed. When I was growing up, my family lived in rented houses with no carpeting. The small house my parents finally owned had carpeting, and we thought we had achieved Nirvana when we moved into it. I guess we didn’t know much about allergies back then.

Down by the riverside

It was so nice Saturday that I joined Leah and Bert on a walk at the river. It was my first outing since suffering a concussion in November and tangling with pneumonia in December. I decided it was time to get out and about.

We walked through one of our favorite campgrounds and fantasized about where we would park our camper next time. It wasn’t quite warm enough to make us hanker to get the camper out of storage, but that urge is likely to strike in the next couple of weeks, especially if the temperature gets up around 50 degrees or so.

Wearing a parka, stocking cap and face mask seemed to do the trick. This week, I’m looking forward to some more outings. Bert is willing to go for a walk anytime.

Grand experiment

Having seen the news reports about the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) model being more accurate than the U.S. National Weather Service (NWS) forecast model, I am doing a comparison between The Weather Channel (www.weather.com) and Unisys Weather (weather. unisys.com).

A week before Hurricane Sandy pummeled New Jersey and other parts of the East Coast, the NWS was saying it was likely the storm would head out into the Atlantic Ocean and not do much damage on shore. In contrast, the ECMWF showed the storm would deliver a severe blow to the coast. The NWS caught up with their European counterparts about three days before the storm hammered the coast.

With luck and a good prevailing wind, my scientific research should determine which model is best for the heartland’s weather. The websites I will be comparing are free, and I am confident the paid sites that some farmers and agronomy centers use are more accurate. However, it will be fun to see how the high and low temperatures compare as well as the precipitation forecasts. What I’d really like to find is a forecast model that shows good moisture for spring planting and a healthy growing season.

On the web

The launch of the Record’s new website went fairly well last week, and we are starting to get feedback from online subscribers.

Several people have mentioned they like checking the grocery store flyer from their smartphones and tablets.

If you haven’t already done so, please check it out and let us know your thoughts. The address is: www.ecrecord.com.

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