Good morning and greetings, decathalon fans. According to John Calipari and my WikiLeak sources in the U.K., London has spent billions in preparation for the 2012 Summer Olympics. We’re talking about the construction of state of the art stadiums, installation of ultra tight security and drug tests for the Rolling Stones. But there is one thing besides Keith Richards that the organizers of this summer extravaganza can’t control, and that is the wacky British weather.
Julie Andrews once said that this is a country where you can have four seasons in an afternoon. Much like myself, many Londoners never leave the house without an umbrella and sunglasses. During the recent Wimbledon Tennis tournament, England was hit by violent rainstorms with enough precipitation to flood Abbey Road and a yellow submarine. In the words of John Lennon, “Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey.”
Reports from Michael Caine and the UK’s national weather forecaster said this past June was the wettest since they began keeping records in 1910. We’re talking double the average rainfall. July has brought more rain, flash floods and the British invasion. The Olympic organizers would like conditions to be as dry an sunny as possible for the athletes, but that’s about as likely as the Beatles reuniting on Ed Sullivan. I think good day, sunshine just went out the bathroom window.
So the forecast for the games, which run from July 27 to August 12, is for below average sunshine and temperatures. Let’s call it cloudy, with a chance of chaos. Myself, I prefer cloudy with a chance of paradise.
But we would kill for that rain over here, as according to the Huffington Post, not to be confused with the New York Post or my son Jason’s post-up game, we’re in the midst of the worst drought in decades. Conditions are getting worse by the day and might not improve until after Halloween. Only the droughts in the 1930s and the 1950s covered more land, and farmers in the epicenter in the midwest are taking a beating. We’re not talking in terms of a Dust Bowl-type catastrophe yet, but every day more corn is wilting in the fields. It’s been a brutal summertime, and the livin’ hasn’t been easy because although the fish may be jumpin’, the cotton is definitely not high.
Bloomberg.com reports that because of the drought, over a 1,000 counties in 29 states are being named natural-disaster areas, the biggest such declaration ever by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The declaration makes farmers and ranchers eligible for low-interest loans to help them weather the drought, wildfires and other disasters, like another season of “Keeping Up With The Kardashians.” It’s been helter skelter here and back in the U.S.S.R.
Climatologists and medicine men, not to be confused with Don Draper and ‘Mad Men,” have labeled this year’s dry spell a “flash drought,” because it developed in a matter of months, not over multiple seasons or years. Despite this very difficult time, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says that “Agriculture remains a bright spot in our nation’s economy, along with a Starbucks on every corner in America.”
Corn has been hit the hardest, as this year’s crop of 96 million acres was the largest ever planted. Optimism has been replaced severe pessimism, as the fields are burning and no signficant rain or movement by Congress is in the forecast. Farmers will have to survive with a little help from their friends.
Corn is perhaps the second most important thing on the planet next to water and beer, as it is used for feed for livestock and poultry and in the making of things like crayons, car tires, corn dogs, shampoo, makeup and unmanned drones.
The drought continues to be an ongoing disaster, much like when Roseanne Barr tried singing the national anthem. Last Tuesday she was asked by David Letterman Tuesday night about macadamia nuts. “They are so good for you. They’ve got a lot of the right fats that keep your brain working the correct way, so you don’t vote Republican and stuff like that.”
So while we’re on the subject, have you ever wondered where’s the driest place on earth? Well, I’m glad you asked, as according to nationalgeographic.com, the Atacama Desert is the winner. This lovely stretch of land covers 600 miles from Peru’s southern border into northern Chile. At its chocolately, creme-filled center, a place climatologists call absolute desert, the Atacama is known as the driest place on Earth.
This is a place where rain has never been recorded. In this extremely dry, stretch of teenage wasteland, you won’t see a leaf, cactus flower, snake or television agent, much like Palm Springs was before being discovered by Dinah Shore.
Interestingly enough, the United States, Canada, Europe, East Asia and Chile have partnered together, at a cost of more than a billion dollars, to construct the Atacama Large Millimeter/sub-millimeter Array. It’s a group of radio telescopes in the Atacama desert in northern Chile where astronomers go to have their minds blown. From this high desert outpost, ALMA is expected to provide insight on star birth during the early universe, detail imaging of local stars and planet formation and keep an eye on the comings and goings of Venezuela’s top nut, Hugo Chavez.
So sticking with our desert theme, today’s photo lounge features colorful shots from my favorite oasis, Palm Desert. These sunrise and sunset shots were taken during many of my strenuous hikes around the Palm Valley Country Club, where things can get pretty treacherous, especially around the putting greens and 15th fairway.
I love the feel of the warm desert breezes, the spectacular colors in the sky and the ice scuptures at the all-you-can-eat Sunday brunches up at the clubhouse. And let’s not forget the corned beef at Sherman’s Deli and Bakery, with two convenient locations In Palm Springs and Palm Desert.