The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Posts Tagged ‘Snow

like shuddering

with 3 comments

Winter is coming? Winter will never leave.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

For the record, my fear is that a new glacial age has begun, and TV weather reports back up my suspicions. Problem is that I’m not that good with a spear, and when the mastodons return I’m going to get bossed around by a group of hirsute Pachyderms. This sort of humiliation would be fairly typical for me, as your humble narrator is extremely easy to bully, especially by those megafauna which prosper during Ice Ages. Luckily, I can definitely do the cave paintings, so there will be some rationalized utility by which the strong can justify keeping me alive. Of course, this scenario isn’t all that much different from normal life, as there’s always someone trying to boss me around.

from wikipedia

The energy balance of the snowpack itself is dictated by several heat exchange processes. The snowpack absorbs solar shortwave radiation that is partially blocked by cloud cover and reflected by snow surface. A long-wave heat exchange takes place between the snowpack and its surrounding environment that includes overlying air mass, tree cover and clouds. Heat exchange takes place by convection between the snowpack and the overlaying air mass, and it is governed by the temperature gradient and wind speed. Moisture exchange between the snowpack and the overlying air mass is accompanied by latent heat transfer that is influenced by vapor pressure gradient and air wind. Rain on snow can add significant amounts of thermal energy to the snowpack. A generally insignificant heat exchange takes place by conduction between the snowpack and the ground. The small temperature change from before to after a snowfall is a result of the heat transfer between the snowpack and the air. As snow degrades, its surface can develop characteristic ablation textures such as suncups or penitentes.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s my own fault, being bullyable, as I was born “less than.” Vast physical cowardice, combined with a naturally ugly mind, renders one somewhat less than a “leader.” It has never been my joy to hit the game running home run, rather I’m the fellow who fouls out and sets up the hero for his or her savior moment at the bottom of the ninth. In an ice age overrun by giant Moose and hairy Elephants, it would be vainglorious to suggest that I’d be of much use to society, and admission is offered that one such as myself would have made a terrible Viking.

from wikipedia

Ice was originally thought to be slippery due to the pressure of an object coming into contact with the ice, creating heat, melting a thin layer of the ice and allowing the object to glide across the surface. For example, the blade of an ice skate, upon exerting pressure on the ice, would melt a thin layer, providing lubrication between the ice and the blade. This explanation, called “pressure melting”, originated in 19th century. It however did not account for skating on ice temperatures lower than −3.5 °C, which skaters often skate upon.

In the 20th century an alternative explanation, called “friction heating,” was proposed, whereby friction of the material was the cause of the ice layer melting. However, this theory also failed to explain skating at low temperature. Neither sufficiently explained why ice is slippery when standing still even at below-zero temperatures.

It is now believed that ice is slippery because ice molecules in contact with air cannot properly bond with the molecules of the mass of ice beneath (and thus are free to move like molecules of liquid water). These molecules remain in a semi-liquid state, providing lubrication regardless of pressure against the ice exerted by any object. However, the significance of this hypothesis is disputed by experiments showing a high coefficient of friction for ice using atomic force microscopy.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Perhaps my bag in this new Cryosphere, or snowball Earth, will be to handle the weaker animals which will populate the nooks and crannies of our world. This wouldn’t put any meaningful protein on the table, but would be a service sought out by others by which some occupation could be found. Squashing bugs and chasing rodentine manifestations would at least keep me busy enough to stay warm. Also, like the Mongols, I could wear clothes made of sewn up amalgamations of Mouse leather.

from wikipedia

Ice sheets are bigger than ice shelves or alpine glaciers. Masses of ice covering less than 50,000 km2 are termed an ice cap. An ice cap will typically feed a series of glaciers around its periphery.

Although the surface is cold, the base of an ice sheet is generally warmer due to geothermal heat. In places, melting occurs and the melt-water lubricates the ice sheet so that it flows more rapidly. This process produces fast-flowing channels in the ice sheet — these are ice streams.

The present-day polar ice sheets are relatively young in geological terms. The Antarctic Ice Sheet first formed as a small ice cap (maybe several) in the early Oligocene, but retreating and advancing many times until the Pliocene, when it came to occupy almost all of Antarctica. The Greenland ice sheet did not develop at all until the late Pliocene, but apparently developed very rapidly with the first continental glaciation. This had the unusual effect of allowing fossils of plants that once grew on present-day Greenland to be much better preserved than with the slowly forming Antarctic ice sheet.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

February 12, 2014 at 11:02 am

delvings into

with one comment

Adjusting to the frozen realities of our time.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

As a housebound invalid, which is what these frigid temperatures reduce one such as myself to, it has been a bit of trial accepting the simple fact that the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself will never again shine down upon and warm the good land of Queens. One can really get a sense of why the events which would signal the oncoming Viking apocalypse (Ragnarok) were called the “Fimbulvetr” – which translates as “awful, great winter” – after the last couple of weeks. Eschatology notwithstanding, a humble narrator wishes that something – anything – would happen, even an oncoming storm of vengeful Valkyrie, just to break the monotony of the “Frozone.”

- photo by Mitch Waxman

At this stage, it seems that I’ve watched everything which Netflix offers. I can recommend “Lilyhammer” without reservation, and I’ve finally caught up on “Sherlock” and can understand what everyone has been going on about. I’m rereading David McCollugh’s “The Great Bridge” and endeavoring to finally slog through the final chapters of “Gotham” by Mike Wallace and Edwin G. Burrows. Also, planning for this years series of walking tours is underway.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

I’ll be doing an event at Brooklyn Brainery in February, which will be discussed in a post later this week, and preparation for this will occupy a bit of my time, but like my little dog Zuzu – I’m bouncing off the four walls right now. I should have become a slave to Opium at some point in the past, so as to pass through intervals in the frozone in a cloud of nepenthe.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

January 28, 2014 at 9:04 am

heavy grief

leave a comment »

Today’s post is all about perspective.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s going to be hot today, so it’s time to think about staying frosty. The historic low temperature for June in New York City was set in 1972 when it was just 46 degrees. It’ll feel like double that at solar maximum today, so I thought that scenes from the snowpocalypses of recent memory might offer some comfort. Stay cool, kids.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Personally speaking, I unfortunately will be out all day in the direct gaze of the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself. A busy series of Newtown Creek related intervals will carry me back and forth and forth and back from hallowed Astoria to hoary Greenpoint. One could always feign stomach illnesses, “nobody argues with diarrhea” as I always say, but I actually desire to fulfill my on site obligations- it wouldn’t be cool to back out at the last minute, you might say I was “being cold” and I wouldn’t want to be frozen out of future opportunities.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

I am not at liberty to discuss what I’m doing in the morning yet, which will entail getting up just after sunrise, but suffice to say that I’m going to the last place you’d expect me to today. You might even say that you’d expect a cold day in hell would be more likely than what my actual plans are. Suffice to say that I’ll be wearing protective clothing despite the heat, which will include long sleeves, gloves, and a hard hat as well as steel toe boots. Stay frosty, lords and ladies, and to quote a certain popular television show- remember that winter is coming.

Want to see something cool? Summer 2013 Walking Tours-

The Insalubrious Valley- Saturday, June 29, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Newtown Creek Alliance, tickets now on sale.

Modern Corridor- Saturday, July 13, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Atlas Obscura, tickets on sale soon.

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 25, 2013 at 12:15 am

cursed season

with 2 comments

“follow” me on Twitter at @newtownpentacle

- photo by Mitch Waxman

During the snow storm on Friday, Our Lady of the Pentacle indicated that she had become a bit peckish and desired a meal. Unfortunately for us, many of the restaurants here in Astoria had wisely shuttered their doors early.

Accordingly, we set off across the frozen waste to find acceptable comestibles. Naturally, one brought a camera along with him.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

This will be a week of darkness explored, here at your Newtown Pentacle.

As mentioned in an earlier post, an effort to betray normal sensibility and habit is underway, one of which is to shoot during the optimal hours of diurnal light. Nocturnal Astoria was fairly deserted, at least by Astoria standards, and an eerie pall of quiet hung about the place- punctuated only by the sound of plows and salt spreaders and the occasional exhalations of Spaniard revelry.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Small groups picked their way through the snow, as an obscuring miasma of wind blown ice particles occluded vision. It was not particularly cold, oddly enough, just windy. Road salt lent an oddly oceanic scent to the air, which mingled with those foul humours rising up from the subterranean sewage tunnels underlying the street.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

A fine icy powder as it fell, the snow hardly interfered with my lens, as it did not cling to the glass. In the end, it was the always reliable Politos Pizza on Broadway just off Steinway which satisfied the gastronomic urges of Our Lady and myself. An alcoholic drink was procured next door at the venerable Cronin and Phelan pub for dessert.

At only ten at night, the barkeep announced last call, an indication that the storm was growing worse- for if a NYC Irish bar is closing up early…


Remember that event in the fall which got cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy?

The “Up the Creek” Magic Lantern Show- presented by the Obscura Society NYC- is back on at Observatory, on February the 15th- This Friday.

Click here or the image below for more information and tickets.


Written by Mitch Waxman

February 11, 2013 at 12:15 am

Scenes from a Snowpocalypse

with one comment

- photos by Mitch Waxman

The recent and much commented on Blizzard of December 28, 2010- which we in the frozen zone of Astoria refer to as “The Snowpocalypse”- produced many memorable moments around the ancient village. Made especially clear was that the internet, designed to withstand a nuclear attack, has become vulnerable to seasonal weather in the hands of corporate stewards such as Time Warner Cable.

Here’s a few photos of the experience, and notice the Daily News Truck- which was stuck in the middle of 44th street from 4:30 AM to 11PM and was finally towed out by a block long hydraulic chain. The auto in the second to last shot zipped up the block- the wrong way- and got stuck into the very spot that the truck was in. Some of these shots are unforgivably grainy, as they were captured at extremely high iso speeds.

Incidentally, the iPhone shot of the truck being towed finally out is here.

Written by Mitch Waxman

January 9, 2011 at 12:15 am


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 874 other followers

%d bloggers like this: