Fall Run

The title may be misleading. I did not mean that I had a fall when I was running. What I meant is that I ran and it is fall or autumn season.

Usually the fall foliage in our area is not as spectacular or brilliant as in the northeast, like New Hampshire or Vermont. However there is enough colors of red, orange and yellow to appreciate that it is fall.

Here are the photos I took this morning when I went out for my 5-mile run around our neighborhood.

You might have noticed that the grass is still very green in our area. Usually by this time the grass are already turning brown. However we have lots of rain this summer and fall, and the temperature especially in the past week was seasonably warm. In fact we were in the 80’s Fahrenheit yesterday, and this morning when I went out, it was a balmy 62 degrees Fahrenheit, instead of the usual 40-50’s. But I am not complaining at all.

By the end of this week the forecast calls for a more cooler temperature, and we will be hitting the freezing point. For now, I will enjoy this beautiful weather while it last.

Have a nice week everyone.

(*photos taken with an iPhone)

Hail Summer!

We were driving to a destination that is about an hour away from our home yesterday in the sweltering heat of almost a hundred degrees Fahrenheit. Not unusual for this time of year here in Iowa, for it is summer after all. The sun was gloriously shining when all of the sudden the sky turned gray. Maybe it was more than gray. Black clouds abruptly hid the sun and flashes of lighting started streaking across the horizon.

The temperature dropped more than 40 degrees in a matter of minutes. Strong gusty winds blew dust from the farm fields and torrential rain poured down making road visibility very difficult.

Then we heard loud pelting sounds on the windshield and roof of our car. Hail!

Some motorists sought shelter under the bridges, but we continued to drive, albeit slowly. We took a wrong turn and got delayed a little to where we were supposed to go.

Perhaps it was Divine providence that we got lost for when we arrived at our destination, people there told us that we just missed an awful hail storm. What we encountered on the road, which was marble-sized hail, was not bad compared to what it could have been if we did not get “lost.”

Leaves and branches from the trees loitered the ground. The cornfields were whipped down. Many of the parked cars in the area when we arrived had dents, and windows and sidings of the houses were damaged from the hail.

Here are some hailstones on the ground.

Here are bigger ones.

According to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), hailstones form when strong currents of rising air, known as updrafts, carry droplets of water high enough that they freeze. The higher these droplets get, the cooler the temperature, even during a hot summer, that in fact, warmer weather might actually result in a stronger updraft. The hail falls when the thunderstorm’s updraft can no longer support the weight of the hailstone, which can occur if the stone becomes large enough or the updraft weakens.

Can you imagine if you’re hit with these golf-size hail coming to you at more than 100 miles per hour? That would be serious “bukol”(swelling).

But the storm did not last that long. In less than 30 minutes the sun was shining again, as if nothing have happened. Except for the cracked windows and car dents for souvenir.

Hail summer!

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(*photos taken with an iPhone)

It is Spring! Not.

The temperature in our part of the world is warming up. In fact last week, there’s a couple of days that it felt like summer as we topped 80 degrees Fahrenheit. The leaves and flower buds are appearing. The grass has turned green and growing. Many of our neighbors have already started mowing their lawn. But not us, we’re not that anxious to start mowing.

Just as you thought spring has fully sprung, then we are hit with this……..

Mid-April snow!

The snow did not stopped me from going out for my morning run. It is after all a balmy 32 degree Fahrenheit (0º Celsius), and the ground is not slippery nor icy.

This lonely goose does not seem to mind the snow as well.

This is crazy Iowa weather. People who grew up here told us when we moved here, “if you don’t like the weather, just wait several minutes, it will change.”

(*photos taken with an iPhone)

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Post Note: Below is what the first photo looked like in the afternoon of that same day with all the snow gone. Crazy weather indeed!

Antarctic Freeze

Yesterday, while sitting in my car when I was parked at the hospital’s parking lot that I took this photo of my dashboard.

The outside temperature was -18ºF (-28ºC)! No wonder I was really cold. But at least it was sunny and it was already warming up. It was -26º F before the sun rose. The wind chill though made it feels like -40º F.

It was dangerously cold that most schools including colleges here in Iowa was closed yesterday. Even the postal service was shut down. Of course hospitals stayed open and I still had to go to work.

Do you know where else had -20º F yesterday? At the South Pole in Antarctica. North Pole was a balmy 5º F!

I should be on the look out for penguins that may be crossing my path anytime soon.

Bracing for Snow

There’s no question that snow is beautiful. It blankets everything in white. But shoveling and clearing your driveway, and worse yet, driving on it is something else. It is at the least treacherous, especially during a major snowstorm with more than a few inches of snowfall.

Iowa State Capitol Building (photo courtesy of KCCI)

However if you live in a place that has significant snow accumulation in winter, like here in Iowa, you need to deal with it. Driving in snow is a skill that you need to develop through experience.

Last week, we had consecutive days of heavy snowfall. There was a lot of cancellation in our clinic appointments as patients decided not to come as they deemed the roads were not safe.

I went home early and sure enough as I was driving down the interstate, there were several cars that were abandoned as they had fallen in the ditch. There were several reports of collisions too. Oh the joy of slipping and sliding in winter driving.

When I arrived home, the snow was still falling. With about 4 or 5 inches on the ground already and no sign of letting up, I called my son down. I told him that we were going to drive in snow.

My son got his driver’s permit a few months ago. He cannot drive alone, but only when there’s an adult in the car. Yet he needs to gain experience to drive in snow. He needs to develop the skill. I thought, this was the perfect opportunity for him to do so.

I am far from being the most expert driver or the most skilled in driving in snow. But I have several years of experience in driving in this weather, and my best qualification to teach him is that I am his father. I know what is best for my kids. Plus our car is an all-wheel drive with high ground clearance, built to play in rough terrain.

First we drove around our neighborhood. I let him slam the brake when we were going downhill and let him feel the car sliding. Of course nobody was on the road except us, so we were never in danger. When my son gained some confidence, we went out in the highway to let him experience real driving in snow with cars tailing and passing us.

After almost an hour of driving, we went home.

Yesterday, I received a phone call from my daughter who was in college a couple of hours away. She said that she was supposed to go somewhere but snow was starting to fall. I sensed some alarm in her voice and she was not feeling confident in driving in snow. She was asking if she should go or not.

My daughter has been driving for a couple of years, but have not driven in snow by herself. If I could only go to where she was, I would, but she was far away. So I did what I think was best. I advised her to drive slowly and carefully. I told her that sooner or later she would have to drive in snow but she should be fine. Besides the snow was a couple of inches only.

Even though I sounded convincing when I talked to her, in my heart I had some fear. But I know I had to let her fly on her own. I know she needs to build her confidence. I know she needs the experience to be independent.

I was relieved when she texted later that she made it to her destination safely.

As parents, we don’t stop parenting even if our children are grown-up. Their challenges may be different now. It’s not about the big spider on the wall anymore, or about a difficult math equation, or a bully in the playground. But their challenges may be bigger. Would I pass this college course, or would I find a job, or would my salary be enough, or would I find a niche in this world?

I hope I have equipped and prepared my children in facing the snowstorms in life. And I don’t mean just driving in snow.

Eclipsing the Eclipse

They said that it was the greatest show under the sun. The solar eclipse of August 21, 2017, billed as the Eclipse of the Century or also referred as the Great American Eclipse was visible within a band across the entire United States. The last solar eclipse that was seen across the contiguous United States was in 1918.

Where I live now, which is in Central Iowa, we only have partial eclipse, but it is still 95% cover. But if I want to see a total solar eclipse, all I need to do is drive about two hours west, or two hours south of me, and I will be in that narrow band of total solar eclipse path. Two hours travel is nothing. When I was still in Manila, it takes two hours just to cross EDSA.

There were places that I know that advertised their town or city as “the destination” for the best viewing area for the total eclipse. Their hotels were fully booked months before the event. I know some friends of mine tried to book a hotel on these popular places but were not able. Though they were still able to find hotels in smaller towns nearby.

In one place, they made their city parks and regional airport as the designated viewing place, but you have to reserve a spot for parking weeks before the event as they expect a wave of visitors. Of course there’s a fee involved. In another place, it was a military base that they assigned to welcome eclipse travelers, but again you need to reserve a slot there. Perhaps all the streets in these prime towns and cities suddenly have parking meters.

Even several weeks before the solar eclipse, I already knew that I am not working that day. It’s because I would be on-call the weekend before, so I am off that Monday. Thus I considered going to those prime viewing places. However, I learned that by that time, summer vacation is over and my children will be back in school already, and so I did not make any early plans.

As the event got nearer, and the hype for the eclipse got hotter, I thought that maybe we don’t even need to stay overnight in those choice places. I could easily drive early morning that day as it is just 2 hours away from us, and the time of the solar eclipse is not until around noontime anyway. And even if I have not made any parking reservation in those viewing areas, I thought I could just park in their town’s Wal-Mart.

Few days before the eclipse, I still have not procured the recommended glasses which is needed to safely view the solar eclipse. I tried to look for the certified eclipse glasses in the stores around our area, but all of them have sold out. I want to see the solar eclipse but I also don’t want to go blind. It was really poor planning on my part.

The weekend of my duty came. I worked and was on-call for an ungodly long time of almost 60 hours straight. Besides being so busy it was depressing too. In one stretch of time, we even had a string of deaths in the ICU that Sunday. I was just glad it’s over.

Solar eclipse by the way, for the superstitious, is regarded as an evil omen. The word “eclipse” comes from the Greek word “ekleipsis,” which means “an abandonment.” Thus it is not a surprise that civilizations throughout history associate it for bad things to happen.

Come Monday, the day of the eclipse, I was awakened by lightning and thunderstorm. I checked on the weather and found out that it will be raining the whole day in our area. Rats! So much for viewing the solar eclipse.

I also checked on those areas where I initially planned on driving to see the totality of the eclipse, and the weather forecast there was cloudy too for the whole day. Suddenly I felt bad for those people who made such elaborate arrangements and plans to view the solar eclipse, only to be disappointed by the cloudy weather.

I end up just visiting my daughter in her university which is also two-hour drive away. But it was north of us and going farther away from the band of the total solar eclipse path. I reasoned, If I’m not able to see the total eclipse due to the weather, at least I’m seeing my daughter.

When we arrived at the university, it was cloudy there too. The university have even arranged an eclipse viewing party. Outside the university campus, in the town center, there were also lots of kids and their parents gathered outside the public library with their lounge chairs and eclipse glasses. But all were disappointed, as the sun can be barely seen due to the cloudy skies.

Below is the best we were able to get a glimpse of the solar eclipse:

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The greatest show on earth was covered not by the moon shadow. But by the dark rain clouds. The eclipse was eclipsed! What a bummer!

Clouds are part of our lives here on earth. And so are disappointments. We can make all the elaborate plans for the future. But there is always that element of unknown that is beyond our control. All we can do is make the best of the situation.

It was still cloudy when we got back home. It even rained some more. But as the sun was about to set, this showed up in the sky:

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Sometimes, those rain clouds that disappoint us can also give us unexpected joy.

 

(*photos taken with iPhone)

Raindrops

One dreary morning,

I was slowly traveling,

The world I cannot see,

For everything was blurry.

                             I turned the wipers on,

                             Yet the haziness remain,

                             For it was not the rain,

                             It was my tears and my pain.

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(*This poem is brought to you by ibuprofen. My body aches again. Damn that volleyball!)

(**photo taken with an iPhone)

Chasing Rainbows

I went out this morning to run. Just before I head out the door, I checked the weather forecast on my phone and it was a balmy 70º F. That’s kind of warm for an early May morning where it usually in the 40-50’sº.

The forecast also called for 60% chance of rain at that time, and 80% chance in the next hour. But I still took my chances. And ran.

Besides the sun was shining. At least partly.

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And on the other side of the horizon, there were nimbus clouds. In other words, rain clouds. Nothing scary though. No lightning flashing. No thunder rolling. No tornadoes forming.

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Have you heard of the avid suitor who said: “I’ll give you the moon and the stars if you asked me, my love. And I’ll come back tomorrow night. If it does not rain.” Such a fickle dedication.

But not me. It takes more than nimbus clouds to intimidate me.

Not long after I started my run, the rain came. These meteorologists were really accurate in their weather forecasting!

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see the rain drops in the water?

Anyway, it was light rain only. I am water-proof. My dedication is water-proof. Even my running apparel are water-wicking. I would be alright.

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The rain may have dampened the road, but not my spirit. I’ll just sing “I do my running in the rain.”

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At least this lonely gravel road would not be so dusty. Not muddy. But the rain moistened it just enough that I would not be eating billows of dust if ever a lost car pass by me.

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The rain did not really get more than a pitter-patter. And I finished my run without really getting soaked. Though I still broke out a sweat.

Would I catch pneumonia. Nah!

But I caught this.

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full arc rainbow

If the looming clouds deterred me from going out, I would have missed the rainbow.

Just like in life. Sometimes we need to go out of our comfort zones. Take our chances even if the odds is against us. And chase our rainbows.

Maybe next time I would also catch the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

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(photos taken with an iPhone)