Saturday, December 31, 2011

McDonald’s Wholesome Starts Coupon Book

I’m not sure just how wholesome food from McDonald’s actually is, but the promotion is halfway decent, even if you’re a single guy like myself.

 [click to enlarge]

I received a four page coupon book in the mail a few days ago and then took the trouble of digitizing the coupons into a data file. This gives me a visual readout on what’s available and when. I broke the offerings up into five categories including; 1 for 1, drink, kid deal, side and sides. Of these the 1 for 1 represent the best deal in that the food is essentially half price while the last item labeled ‘sides’ comes in a close second as you are getting the fries and the drink together for free. Of the rest of the items, I like most of the ‘side’ offerings with the exception of the oatmeal and OJ. I can see where the ‘kid deal’ would be of interest to some moms and dads, but that would not be for me.

So, if you didn’t get one of these books in the mail, perhaps you can ask for one at the McDonald’s near you. 

Disclaimer: Any material contained in this post is and opinion based on the author's best knowledge.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

John's Frosted Mug under new management?

I've heard rumors flying around that the Frosted Mug, an icon and social gathering place located in Forsyth Missouri, is about to undergo a change in management! That's the word on the street at any rate.

I have graciously been granted an exclusive interview and hopefully I'll have something to post very soon! Stay tuned!

Update: As of late January, I have been unable to hook up with the new manager for whatever reason. Will keep trying.

Friday, November 25, 2011

The 21st Century Restaurant!

Back in the 1950’s many diners looked like the picture above. They were utilitarian, friendly places where an entire meal with all the fixings would cost only about a buck and a half! Wish it was like that today!

But, higher prices not withstanding, there is still a lot to be said for some of the modern innovations that one can find while casually dining out! One of the biggies for people like me has been the proliferation of WiFi hot spots that allow a guest to browse the internet on their laptop or smart phone while eating. And, while such places are very common in larger cities, they can be a bit hard to find out in the boonies. In my small town of Forsyth Missouri, there is only one quality establishment that also supports internet access and that is Charlie’s Steak Ribs and Ale. There is also a fast food place (McDonald’s) that offers this service but in a kind of ditsy way (i.e. unsecured). So when I dine out alone, I make it a point to go to Charlie’s, a venue that even has electric outlets at some booths should you need to plug you laptop or cell phone in for quick charge!

There are however, some other areas that I think could be improved upon by all the eateries and that is a web page that defines the business along with a presence on Facebook and or maybe even an active blog to keep customer informed. Any of these outlets could be used as mechanisms of promotion and advertising to help increase profitability. For instance, members of FB could be notified concerning upcoming specials; something that could be achieved with in-house posters asking customers to join. Well designed web pages, like the one for Fat Daddy’s BBQ can also be great sites for information concerning everyone about that fact that they can host catered events! Actually, the possibilities in this area have hardly been tapped by most the eateries I’m familiar with. The only one I’m aware of that uses direct Email promotions is Chili’s in Branson, a town about fifteen miles west of Forsyth, Missouri.

Other embellishments that I still have yet to find  include ‘saniwipe dispensors’ in strategic locations like those you already find in grocery stores. They could be used by germ conscious customers who want to wipe off a table surface themselves prior to dining. I think these would be an especially good idea to help ease people minds during the cold and flu season.

A final idea would be the inclusion of so-called fake salt (potassium chloride) at each table for the growing numbers of older diners who are on a salt restricted diet. I’ve begun to carry a little with me these days when I go out so that I can enjoy ‘salting’ my food without fear.

Wifi, an Internet presence, No-Salt salt and saniwipe despensors. Four little things that can set once location apart from another in today’s tough monetary market.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Fat Daddy’s BBQ in Forsyth Missouri

Right off, let me be candid and state that I dislike using the word ‘fat’ to describe anything, much less a place where I’m planning to eat. (I’m at that age where my sartorial splendor is growing more and more…well splendid by the day). That said, I still wanted to try out the fare at Fat Daddy’s BBQ as I’ve heard many good things mentioned about the eatery located at 14974 US Hwy 160 in downtown Forsyth, Missouri.

As I pulled into the parking area, I noticed that most of the spaces were filled. (A sight I’ve grown used to every time I passed the place over the last few years). However, I was surprised to find out later on, that this was a bit deceiving. It turns out that this venue, which looks rather small from the front, also has a large meeting area located downstairs that can accommodate sizable catered events! On this occasion, there was still ample seating space to be had. By my estimate, the upstairs area has enough space to comfortably seat over sixty patrons!

After getting seated in a nice clean booth that seats four, I looked around and could tell that this was family owned business from all the pictures and local memorabilia that adorns the walls. The feeling I got was more of an old time café than anything else. The rectangular seating area is surrounded by booths along the walls, with separate tables that seat anywhere from four to eight scattered about in the central area.

My server, whose name was Sherry (hope I spelled this correctly), arrived shortly after I sat down with a menu and inquired as to what I wanted to drink. Since I’d already looked at the menu, I knew what I wanted and placed an order for coffee and the Smoked Breakfast Platter! While I waited, I kept seeing people I knew coming in that I knew from around town. That was nice!

After a short wait, my server brought my order and as you can tell from the picture, it looked (and tasted) fabulous! Everything was done just right and for a price that cannot be beat! As I ate, I heard a lot of friendly banter going on between the customers and the staff and got the idea that they must get quite a bit of repeat business as a result. Seriously, give this little jewel of a restaurant a try and if the parking area looks a little crowded, find a spot elsewhere and walk on in. It’ll be worth the effort.

Update! I'm planning to revisit this very popular eatery in May of 2013 - This time I'm going to go all out and try their 'steak and eggs' offering! 

Disclaimer: All information contained within this post is the sole property and opinion of the author.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

River Run or River Ruin? You make the call!

October 23, 2011 – Forsyth Mo. - As I sat at a campsite whose shelter had endured serious damage, my eyes inspected a crude and soil covered supporting pillar with some interest. As the flood that inundated River Run Park over the summer fades now in my memory, the scars it left are still fresh here wherever you happen to look. It's just too bad, as this location just east of the town of Forsyth Missouri has always been a popular destination for many people from all walks of life. Now, as I look around, increasingly I feel like I've fallen into the middle of some Stephen King novel. What had been a place of sunlight and safety now has begun to take on a darker and more sinister light.

Has this placed been abandoned? I wondered as I watched a solitary man on a bike being trailed by his two dogs. Getting up, I started walking on the circular trail that circles the park area proper. The damage I had observed over a month ago is exactly as it was then. The public shower and rest rooms are locked and more than likely unusable as they do not look like anyone has attended to them. The same went for what used to be the Park Attendant area itself where a tree collapsed some time ago and still lies where it fell. Park signs are caked with mud and debris to the point where you can barely read them.

Well, I thought to myself, at least we have Shadow Rock Park left. It’s run by the local government and is working just fine.

Followup: On or about November the 18th a crew showed up to 'fix' the gate that looked to me pretty much 'unbroken'. Ahem. Also, I noticed a two man crew who appeared to be cleaning the campsite shelters with high pressure sprayers. Will wonders ever cease. It would still be nice if the Corps made an effort to keep interested parties in the loop.  

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Underground Concrete in Kirbyville!

At a recent auto show near Forsyth, I met a nice businessman by the name of Jim Sisk. We talked some and then he told me a little about his company called Underground Concrete.  They’re located just down the road at 429 Central Avenue in Kirbyville and can be reached at 417-331-1875. Their Email address is

Underground concrete makes a number of innovative concrete products that don’t look like concrete. These include items like utility boxes, bollards, retaining wall blocks and even parking stops. Jim has been making these since 1996 and today his concrete creations reflect those years of effort. If, you’re looking for someone that easy to work with and who puts out quality concrete work, then I think Jim might just be your man!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

White River Grill Rockaway Beach!

Even though the sky was overcast and a little drizzle was falling as I made my way to Rockaway Beach, Missouri I was pretty sure I'd find a warm and friendly reception at the White River Grill located in the center of town at 2683 State Hwy 176, Rockaway Beach, MO. I was right about that and was a little surprised to find a good lunch crowd still there even though it was after two in the afternoon. Still, there was plenty of seating and I found myself a good booth towards the back of the restaurant. Right after getting my seat I snapped a picture of the place as you can see above.

My server was a very nice woman by the name of Georgia. She made me feel at home and was a joy to talk with. I ordered a hotdog and fries from a multi-page menu that is one of the best I've seen in the entire area. If you ordered something different each time you came here, it would be about forever before you'd have to repeat something twice!

While I was there, I got a chance to speak with one of the owners, a man named Bill Kitchin who is a well known businessman in Taney County and who seems to know an awful lot while never coming off as a pretentious individual. He told me that the grill was doing well and that Rockaway seemed to be picking up a bit as two new shops had recently opened in town. Good for them!

If you find yourself in the area, please stop in and say hi to these nice folks!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Why I care about River Run Park in Forsyth Missouri!

I have been asked by more than one person, why I post so much information about River Run Park. At the same time, I write very little about either Empire Park or Shadow Rock Park both of which are located in the same general area to the east and south of Forsyth, Missouri.

That answer is really quite simple. Some time ago, I made a decision to try and adopt a park in a fashion that is similar to, but not quite the same as adopting a stretch of road. I did this because I thought it might be informative for those who drive great distances to this location to camp and find recreation. They deserve to be kept informed as it is their park in every sense of the word. So why River Run? Well, off the three parks I mentioned, River Run is the most problematic as it is run solely by the Army Corps of Engineers. A government body not well known, in my opinion, for their ability to communicate freely with a public they are supposed to be serving.

As a case in point, if you were to go to this government web page for River Run, you would find information pertaining to park rates, the park location and even a number to call for more information. Problem is, there is no attendant, the bulletin board listing the rates is gone missing and the phone number rings but is never answered. (Note: this site is listed as '' and is not the official Corps page). Both the other parks are open and serving the needs of the public as usual.

Now as to the current conditions at the park as of October the 8th, 2001 here is what I have observed:

  • The access roads have been scraped off and are clear of river muck from the summer flood.
  • The back access otherwise known as Baker Street remains gated.
  • The access road to the Powersite dam remains blocked by fallen trees.
  • Trees that have fallen as a result of the flood lie where they fell.
  • There is damage to numerous park structures, including shelters, lantern poles and campsite tables.
  • The grass has not been cut and is currently weed infested.
  • There is no posted notice to inform visitors of the current park status. Actually, as I pointed out earlier, there is no bulletin board per sae! Just a sign that lists the rates to camp.
  • There is no power, bathroom facilities, water or garbage collection at this time. (This is a guess on my part). So too, is my guess that they don't want anyone camping there. As I was writing this post while at the park, I noticed a large RV pull in and then turn around and pull out. Bye!

That summarizes what I have observed to date, and to be honest, conditions could change at any time. In the past, a contractor might show up out of thin air and put things to right. If I see anything like that, I’ll report it on this blog. This park has suffered a devastating flood that was really no ones fault. In particular the beautiful trees have really suffered the long term submersion of their roots.  So, if you are in the area, I'd encourage you to stop at this park and hug a tree!

As a side note: The Corps does have a Facebook page where you can feel free to leave comments! Please consider 'liking' them and leaving comments that let them know what you think! Remember that the government and the people should work closely together, as we are one and the same!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The mystery of the 'broken' River Run gate...which remains closed!

click on picture to enlarge

'When the people you elect to positions of authority fail to perform in small ways, then how much confidence can you have in them in larger arenas?'

A gate that blocks the back entrance to River Run on Baker street remains locked even while the park has (apparently) re-opened. Adding insult is the fact that this gate is not signed properly and is therefore hard to see. Another example of blatant and callous disregard for civilians safety by the Army Corps of Engineers? You be the judge...

Interestingly, a neighbor of mine ran across what he thought appeared to be one of the Corps of Engineer people while walking earlier today. He inquired about the gate and the fact it was locked, while the other gate off Hwy 76 was now open. The man responded, by saying that the ‘gate is broken’ and cannot be opened.

Being a curious man, I decided to drive over to that location and do a look see on my own. After a few minutes, I could detect no damage such that it could not be opened completely. (See pictures). I also had another individual inspect the very same gate and they arrived at the same conclusion. So, what gives? Are we being jacked around around here or what?

If the gate is, in fact damaged, then why hasn't it been fixed or simply removed for repair elsewhere? Also, why is there no reflective material on either side of the gate to allow motorists a chance to clearly see the obstruction. It’s currently painted a nice dark shade of brown which renders it hard to see. Anyone who enters the park from Hwy 76 and then attempts to come up that back way into Valley View Village could be in for an unpleasant surprise! The picture on top uses a simulated sun but in a few weeks with enough leaves off the trees, it may even be brighter. Add that to a dirty windshield and an accident could be the result.

In my opinion, this represents an accident waiting to happen. Cutting through the park area to get to the housing development is common practice and is used by a lot of citizens. What if some elderly person with marginalized eyesight were to plow into it? Couldn't the Corps at least put up a day-glow orange sign to warn motorists?

If you're wondering why I haven't attempted to do anything  about this, well I have. I've made numerous calls to the City of Forsyth and to the Corps of Engineers office at 870-425-2700. That's about all I can do at this point other than to post this on my blog. In the mean time, if you use Baker Street or know anyone who does, please advise them of this situation and we'll all wait for a resolution.

As a final note, I'm not trying to pick on the Corps in this post. I know they are just as affected by the chaotic social and economic times as anyone else. Rather, I am hoping that by publicizing this matter, I might help to avert an accident!

More on this to come.....

Followup: As of October the 20th, there's has been no news from any of the sources I have contacted, including Senator Claire McCaskill's office which sent me a 'complaint form' that asked for my soc sec and other personal information. Give me a break Claire! I was only trying to point out something I consider to be an issue of motorist safety. That's it! I'm done. I'll now just sit back and wait for someone to run into that gate! Hope it's nobody I know.

Followup: On or about May the 26th (2012), signs were finally attached to this gate! I, myself, observed a ranger doing so.What struck me as strange was the overall timing. Here is was late spring when little to no rain had fallen for two months and just now the Corps decides to finally erect signs that should have been there all along! Well, I guess that it's better late than never!

By the end of the summer of 2012, both gates also now sport reflective tape that should make them very visible at night!

Disclaimer: All the opinions expressed here are those of the author of this post and were made with honest intent.

River Run is recovering quickly! Fishermen return!

As of the 6th of October, the River Run Park is beginning to look a little like it’s former self. I had a chance to walk there this morning and was pleased to see that some fishing trailers were parked by the boat ramp. There was also a couple walking around like I was.

It amazes me how fast the grasses have recovered from being submerged for most of the summer. As you can see by this picture of the log that stuck in a tree, the water level was considerable.

As I walked around, I noticed that a few of the trees had died during this period and will need to be removed, but also surprisingly, the area was relatively free of flotsam. A few good rains should take cared of the layer of dust that covers much of the campsites, although they will be useable once the Corps restores power and water to the area. Something I conjecture will not happen until next spring at the earliest.

The entrance to River Run needs widening! Don't ya think?

 Before and after

If you’ve ever had a large RV or boat that you’ve tried to maneuver into the entrance of the River Run Park in Forsyth Missouri, then you know what a challenge it can be. On busy days when people are coming and going, this intersection can become logged piled up resulting in traffic congestion at the least and an accident at the worst.

By widening the entrance as shown here, vehicles towing other vehicles would be able to enter and exit without infringing the other lane. This would promote a smoother and safer flow of traffic.

I am promoting this with the thought that attention to details like this are what separates a mediocre government from an excellent one.And yes, I know...there's no money for this!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Audit of Forsyth Missouri begins Wednesday: Could take a year!

The Missouri State Auditor’s Office has announced an audit of the city books in Forsyth will begin Wednesday, October the 3rd. A process they have indicated could take up to a year to complete. I wondered why such a thing would take so long and came up with this:

Many factors, including the size and complexity of the audit, agency schedules, staffing resources, and data accessibility, affect audit time-lines. However, one factor--compiling and verifying source evidence--consistently impacts the speed with which audits are completed.”

Unlike some other sources of information, audits are based on evidence that must be sufficient, competent, and relevant. As such, the State Auditor cannot accept information on face value and must independently verify its accuracy and reliability. Often, this requires audit staff to obtain, compile, and analyze source documents, such as file records.

When data are unreliable or cannot be verified, the data cannot be used as the sole basis of an audit finding. Rather, the finding must be supported by other audit evidence, such as auditor observation, interviews, surveys, comparative data from other states, or other analytical reviews.

Whether that's the way it's done in Missouri is not known to me, but the explanation makes some sense.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Forsyth Car and Craft Show!

I had a great time at the Forsyth Car & Craft show that was held at the Shoals Bend Park this date. The weather was picture perfect and everyone I talked to seemed to be enjoying themselves. In the picture, a Chamber of Commerce Board member named Craig (hope I got that right) did a great job greeting folks who attended!

I put a very short short video on YouTube for anyone with an interest. There's no music as the selection I originally choose (a fragment of America by Neil Diamond) was silenced by the Warner Music Group. A mega conglomerate whose corporate motto is to ' suck every dollar we can from our customer base '. Sorry about that, but when I see a group of people I think of as crooks, I make it a point to point it out.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

River Run Park remains closed in late September 2011!

Even though the great flood of 2011 is now history, the River Run Park remains closed. This popular RV and camping destination located in Forsyth, Missouri is normally crowded this time of year with late season fishermen and retirees who like the area and have been coming here for years. That is not the case this time, even though the grasses have recovered nicely from spending a summer beneath the waves!

As you can see, some structures like both this restroom complex and even Baker Street, look a little the worst for wear and will require some effort and expense to restore to useable shape. I’m guessing that the cost and maybe lack of manpower are two reasons for it to remain unavailable to the public. It’s good to know, however, that its sister park, Shadow Rock, is open a doing good business.

Update: As of October the 5th, the gate that was closed off Hwy 76 is now open. However the gate that exits the park to the west remains closed. I'm not sure why that is... Anyway, the streets in the park have been cleared of the mud and debris that covered some areas and it looks as though some use can be had. Once again, I thought it might be a good idea to contact the Corps to see what's going on as I have not seen any official notifications in the park proper. Later on, I learned that a neighbor did call the Corps office only to be told he needed to submit a letter explaining why the gate needed to be unlocked. He told me when he heard that, he hung up.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Powersite Dam in September 2011. Come on down the fishing's great!

What a difference a little bit of time makes! Not very long ago the Powersite Dam, located in Forsyth Missouri, looked like this after the area was inundated with over fifteen inches and more of rain in a short period of time! That much water had no where to go and so it backed up and closed down park operations for all of the summer months.

It certainly was all swollen and muddy, I can tell you! Then, the summer came and went on a mostly dry note and now today the waters have receded. Just look at the difference in the height of the water! I took the opportunity to stroll down to the base of the dam on a late September day that was just about as nice as anyone could ask for; seventy two degrees under sunny skies with the barest hint of a breeze out of the northeast. My kind of weather, my kind of latitude! Hey! I even liked the damn dam!

It's nice to know that this weather should be pretty much the norm for the next forty days or until sometime in November when cooler regimes will become the rule. When I first got out of my auto, I immediately ran across a couple of fishermen – and ,as you can see, the ‘fishin weren't too bad’. I then walked on down to the base to get the picture I took at right, and then climbed some (a million) stairs that took me to the top for a more a scenic view.

Yes, it was a great day all the way around. I had the feeling that even this pair of Empire Electric employees didn't seem to mind doing a little welding. They had a small boat tied up down the hill and I assumed they were going to perform some maintenance on the dam itself. Man, some people have a job and others have a great job!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Understanding and avoiding the flu!

'Know your enemy', a saying derived from Sun Tzu's The art of War, aptly describes what could be described as a war between infectious viruses and men. In the case of the virus that causes the flu, what you don't know can make you very sick or even kill you!

The actual size of a virus

In order to understand what you are up against, lets take a look at just how small a virus (like the one that causes the flu) actually is. Click on this very cool link and then use the button to zoom down to the appropriate level. Wow! That flu virus is really tiny isn't? Yet, if that little guy gets a toe-hold in your body, you'll think a Mac truck ran you over...twice!

Flu virus anatomy

Here is a drawing of a typical flu virus. Note the little knobby things all over the surface. These are specialized protein complexes that aid the virus in first attaching to a human cell and then in leaving it once the virus has made millions of copies of itself. These quickly spread to other cells and then the real war begins vis a vie the bodies immune system which ramps up to fight the invasion. When this happens, a person typically begins to complains of fever, chills, etc. Yes, they have the flu! Here is a really good video that will help to visualize the process:

Now, if that were not enough, here's the reason why the flu is such a big problem that it kills over 36, 000 people in a typical year. It turns out that those genes that are inserted into the virus are RNA rather than the more stable DNA. Think of RNA as a really bad coping machine, turning out all sorts of slightly altered copies all the time. Scientists call this process mutation, and the flu virus is a past master at screwing around with its genetic code. To make matters worst, the virus easily goes through a process called re-assortment when ever it gets a chance. This is sort of like shuffling a deck of cards only the cards are coming from other strains of flu. This ability to mutate is why scientists constantly watch to see how the flu has changed from season to season. Right now there are three broad categories of the flu known as type A, B, and C. It's type A that causes most of the problems in humans these days. Remember those little spikes on the surface of the virus? These represent the haemagglutinin and neuraminidase genes and they are the ones that scientists watch for changes. They use a notation that expresses these changed viruses or subtypes in the form of A (H,N) – Here's a list of the most current group of troublemakers:
There are others, but these are the ones that have garnered the most attention. Currently only A(H1N1), A(H3N2) and A(H2N2) are the most active and are found in both humans and pigs. Vaccines are made fresh every season custom tailored to the specific subtypes that are out there.

How to stay away from the flu

The perfect way to stay safe would be to lock yourself in a room, every fall. One that has filtered air, sterilized water and canned food. And, oh yes, no visitors allowed! Not a very reasonable thing to do. In the real world you will always be at some risk. However, you can significantly reduce your risk by doing the following (pdf file):
  1. Eat healthy foods, exercise and get lots of sleep. This will help keep your immune system at its peak.
  2. During bad flu outbreaks, avoid crowded areas like malls, theaters and such. This can be very tough to do if you have young kids in school.
  3. When you are out, stay alert to others. If someone looks sick avoid them.
  4. Make sure you wipe down the handle on your shopping cart prior to using it.
  5. Avoid touching any counter tops (banks, restroom sinks, etc.).
  6. Don't shake hands if you can help it. Pretend you are oriental and bow instead.
  7. Refrain from handling currency. Use a credit card when out and sanitize it when you get home.
  8. If you must eat out, try and look for small restaurants at which to eat. Stay away from large venues with large staffs.
  9. Wash your hands! If you do nothing else, this is one of the best ways to stay out of trouble.
  10. Avoid touching your nose or eyes with your hands. There! You just did it again!
That's it! I hope that you were able to muddle through my poor writing style. I hope everyone stays safe and healthy throughout the coming flu season. Note: Please send me a comment if you see something I screwed up. Just ignore the typing errors and forge ahead. :)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

OK, so the Bull Shoals Bridge is good to go…for now!

The Bull Shoals bridge I wrote about in June 2011 concerning the rumors that it was going to be closed for up to a year were apparently true…only not as imminent as previously thought. Here's the original link where I got this information from originally.

According to an article published in the September 10th Branson Tri-Lakes News, the work that was going to be scheduled as early as 2013 will not be needed as soon due to some ‘minor fixes’ that were done several years in the past; this according to MoDOT spokesman Bob Edwards.  He went on to say that if the bridge was to be closed, then public hearing would be held to discuss how to ‘deal with the traffic’.

 According to the paper, MoDOT stated that after they had performed an evaluation some time ago – they ascertained that the steel trusses that support the decking are in need of major repairs and even might possibly need replacement. If that were to happen, I would conjecture that this rehab project costing an estimated 8.7 million dollars would take quite some time to complete.

So, whenever this ‘project’ comes to pass, be it 2014 or 2015…. I plan to be present at the 'public hearing' where we all will have the opportunity to bat traffic routing ideas back and forth. Should be a swell time! Now...what about that bridge that crosses Swan Creek?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

US Long Range Winter Weather Forecast for 2011-2012

Yes, it's time for the weather forecast for the coming winter of 2011-2012, which I would like to remind everyone, is right around the corner! The following post represents paraphrased and copied wording from information I gleaned off reliable sources. It may or may not be accurate in all regards. I like to post these to see, months from now, just how accurate they were.
Beginning with trends. Last winter was the coldest in 30 years across many parts of the US. Some eastern parts of the US plunged to a record -50F with the Northeast of the US also seeing many records broken. Temperatures, in general, were below normal for large Midwestern and Eastern cities like New York, Chicago, New Orleans, and Minneapolis. Snowstorms shattered records in New York City in December 2010 and January 2011 to make January the snowiest ever recorded.

So let me turn to the US winter forecast for 2011/2012.

La Niña cooling the equatorial seas of the Pacific and was one of the strongest on record during 2010/2011. (Less warm air rises during La Niña conditions with a cooling influence on the atmosphere that has big implications on global climate and global weather patterns). The changes in global weather patterns originate from air pressure changes in atmospheric cycles known as the North Atlantic Oscillation (NOA) and Arctic Oscillation (AO).

The latest National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) data suggests neutral conditions ahead, but a negative Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) may yet suggest otherwise. (The PDO is a pattern of Pacific climate variance that recently switched to negative (cold) and will remain that way for the next two to three decades). It is considered likely that La Niña will return more frequently during this time period as a negative PDO results in stronger La Niña (cooling) and weaker El Niño (warming) episodes.

Another fly in the ointment is the current low period of solar activity we find ourselves in. Lower levels of solar output act as a primary driver of atmospheric cycles that influence blocking activity patterns/ridges.

Meteorologists, as they consider all of these factors, are currently leaning towards a particularly harsh winter for many parts of the US during 2011-2012. Large parts of Central and North America will face below average temperatures with above average snowfall throughout this winter Temperatures in many Eastern and Western parts of the US are also continued to be forecast below average with above average snowfall amounts.

The Pacific Northwest region will not escape as the scientists also predict this region will experience a very severe winter, including the Cascades snow pack which is likely to see increased levels due to the negative (cold) phase of the PDO.
The bottom line is most everyone may get some measure of extreme weather this coming winter; so get out there and buy yourself a heavy duty snow shovel, or better yet, book an extended stay in the Bahamas!

Note: For anyone with an interest, here is what I wrote about last winter which was based on the Farmer's Almanac.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Mountain Country Auctions with Rick Findley a lot of fun!

I had some spare time on Saturday,September the 10th and decided it might be fun to attend an auction that was being held on Secluded Acres road in Forsyth, Missouri. The event was attractive to me because it was billed as having lots of guns. I got there about 9AM and yes there were in point of fact, over forty guns laying on tables in the garage. Wow! Most of the firearms were pump action shotguns and they all looked well cared for. There was also one handgun, a left handed grip High Standard .22 caliber automatic that caught my interest. Turned out, when it was finally auctioned in the afternoon that the prices being bid were outside the range of what I was willing to spend.

Still, it was not a wasted trip as I enjoyed talking to folks I haven't seen very often and managed to eat two hotdogs with sodas during the event. Rick Findley was there with his support staff and did an excellent job of calling out items to the crowd. My only problem was that I've never quite grasped the way that a person can call out a bid, and so I kept quiet. While I was there, other items besides guns were handled, I just didn't see anything worth while for me as I already have a basement full of 'nice stuff'.

All in all, the Mountain Country Auctions are worth while if you're looking for a special something at a good price.