I got to The Paper early. No fog. Just snow. That was normal. Checked the NWB. The competition. All mostly in line. No fog forecast whatsoever… One thing I learned in Oxbridge: when in doubt, go back to basics. Search for fog. Boogle time!
Fog: Condensed water vapor in cloudlike masses lying close to the ground and limiting visibility. Okay. So far so good. I liked the next one. I felt fogged:
Fog: A state of mental vagueness or bewilderment.
A cloud and fog are basically the same thing: fog is nothing more than a cloud in contact with the ground. In short, your common fog is a low cloud! What about mist? Is that a faint cloud?
Mist: A mass of fine droplets of water in the atmosphere near or in contact with the earth. The difference between fog and mist is based on respective density, and visibility.
I looked at the BBC. We Brits are world experts on fog. Some claim we actually invented it: Fog is denser and contains more water droplets than mist. The official definition of fog is a visibility of less than 1000 metres. This limit is appropriate for aviation purposes, but for general public and motorists an upper limit of 200 metres is more realistic. Severe disruption to transport occurs when the visibility falls below 50 metres. Okay. Fog, mist, haze. Make a note for my next bulletin. Change the words around a bit. Anything to avoid boredom.
The foggiest place in the world is the Grand Banks off the island of Newfoundland, the meeting place of the cold Labrador Current from the north and the much warmer Gulf Stream from the south. The foggiest land areas in the world are Menomonie, Wisconsin, Point Reyes, California, and Argentina, Newfoundland and Labrador, all with over 200 foggy days per year.
No mention of Babylon here. But then this was Kikipedia. I have my own issues with Kikipedia. Although I recognize the enormous work, and the great idea, two things bother me. I’m not sure enough control is excercized on the content. I’ve looked Pancho Villa in Kikipedia in English, in French and in Spanish. Content’s not the same. The French version portrays him as a highway bandit first, the Spanish version is very discrete about that. The second thing that bothers me is regardless of what you search, Kikipedia always comes in the top references. What happened to Larousse? And then, when Kikipedia has eliminated all competition what will we be left with? One single source of information or reference that can be shut down or controlled at anybody’s convenience? Anyway, back to fog. What I needed in order to test my (null) hypothesis was more detail about fog and snow characteristics. Kikipedia again: Fog forms when the difference between temperature and dew point is generally less than 2.5 °C or 4 °F. (Dew point? Come on! Make my life simple!). Fog begins to form when water vaporcondenses into tiny liquid water droplets in the air… water vapor is formed by the evaporation of liquid water or by the sublimation of ice. Since water vapor is colorless, it is actually the small liquid water droplets that are condensed from it that make water suspended in the atmosphere visible in the form of fog or any other type of cloud. Glad to read that. Fog normally occurs at a relative humidity near 100% for instance when the ambient air temperature drops. Fog can form at lower humidity, and fog can sometimes not form with relative humidity at 100%.
Okay, so sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t. Great. And they paid someone to write that? Fog can form suddenly, and can dissipate just as rapidly, depending what side of the dew point the temperature is on. This is known as flash fog. Fog occasionally produces precipitation in the form of drizzle or very light snow.
Hmmm. There is a possibility of very light snow combined with fog. So much for my theory that fog and snow are not compatible. But more like drizzle, right? Not hard snow? Drizzle occurs when the humidity of fog attains 100% and the minute cloud droplets begin to coalesce into larger droplets. Right! Let’s see snow: Snow is a type of precipitation in the form of crystallinewaterice, consisting of a multitude of snowflakes that fall from clouds. Ergo snow comes from clouds. Brilliant, Pete! Let’s see… Snowflakes come in a variety of sizes and shapes. Snow crystals form when tiny super cooled cloud droplets (about 10 μm in diameter) freeze. These droplets are able to remain liquid at temperatures lower than −18 °C (0 °F)…
Temperature: the shape of the snowflake is determined broadly by the temperature and humidity at which it is formed. The most common snow particles are visibly irregular. Planar crystals (thin and flat) grow in air between 0 °C (32 °F) and −3 °C (27 °F). Between −3 °C (27 °F) and −8 °C (18 °F), the crystals will form needles or hollow columns or prisms (long thin pencil-like shapes). From −8 °C (18 °F) to −22 °C (−8 °F) the shape reverts back to …
In summary: Fog forms “when the difference between temperature and dew point is generally less than 2.5 °C or 4 °F”. Snow starts forming between 0 °C (32 °F) and −3 °C (27 °F). snow forms at a lower temperature? There may be drizzle and light snow associated with fog, but it’s not common. However, yesterday nobody forecast fog, or snow for that matter. I went on to check dew point reports. Nada! Dew point reports yesterday were not consistent with fog formation. Was that why nobody had predicted it? I drummed my fingers on my desk for a minute. Ran Rory’s programme with the latest available data. No fog forecast for tonight or tomorrow. Drummed my fingers again. And changed my forecast for the afternoon and tomorrow: Temperatures in the lower thirties. Light to hard snow. The mere possibility of fog tonight and tomorrow. When in doubt there is a non-scientific rule of thumb for weather forecast: you stand the highest probability of success predicting today’s weather for tomorrow. There had been fog –unpredicted- yesterday. Thus there could be fog tomorrow. Then I might also be risking my head with the Editor. A weather man’s job is full of risks.
Mary-Sue dropped in. Fully rested. Skin like black peaches. Dark blue pants. (Nice long legs). A light blue open collar shirt. At least three buttons undone. Blue highlights in her hair. Long dangling turquoise earrings. Eyesight to the blind…
“Hi Bwana boy!” (She was sober: I just got a light peck on my cheek) “Did you manage to get to the Blue Coat? I heard they closed the place last night because of the fog?”
“Yes Ma’am! I already sent you my ‘piece’ by mail.”
“You’re adorable! Thank you so much!” (Another, slightly longer peck on my cheek)
“Don’t mention it. Feel free to amend.”
“Thanks a million for giving me a hand. I slept like 12 hours. Delicious. Oh! Did you tell Rory about the concert? Tomorrow?”
“Indeed I have. All ready to go. Rory’ll pick us up with a new date and in his car. Imagine! His CAR! ‘Think he wants to impress her. Not us.”
“Another bimbo? Okay. The more the merrier. Bye Bwana Boy.”
“Kwaheri Memsahib!” (Good bye Madam).
As I got home around 4PM, The Super was standing guard in front of the building.
“Evenin’ Super. Aren’t you cold outside?”
“Naw! I’ma standina guawd. In case them taggers comma back,” he said. The super has a well-thought theory about taggers. I once tried to mention the possibility of an Art form. (I’d been briefed by Mary-Sue on the subject) His response had been straightforward:
“Awt fowm? Awt form?” He said. He’s a true Babylonian. “Awt fowm? Naw! What you needado if you catch one is strip him naked (not her? What if the tagger is a taggeress?), spray-paint him and kick him out in the street to freeze his balls. Bet ya he won’t stawt again!”
The fog started at 5:00 PM sharp, just on time for the out-flow of Babylon workers pouring out on the streets. Snow joined in at 5:25. The Super went back into the building. The fog lasted all night. I checked the Bureau, competition, on Internet… I was the only one to have predicted fog. Good! The Editor might actually give me a raise. Or a week’s holiday in the Bahamas. They speak English there. Sort of. In the morning, taking advantage of the Super’s absence during the night, a new tag had been painted on the building. A turtle I guess?
Babylon by bus!
– Bob Marley
Rory was to pick us up at The Paper at 6:30PM. The concert was by Twiggy or Ziggy Marley or someone like that. Rasta Man! The idea was to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of Bob Marley’s concert in ’79. Way back then. I was barely five. Tonight Mary-Sue was sitting on my desk, chatting. She wore long, green, bell-bottom pants. A yellow T-shirt displaying the lion of Abyssinia. The lion was pushed forward in a nice way. I’m sure she was wearing a push-up bra. The effect was gravity-defying. She had a red band in her hair, to complete the colours of the Ethiopian national flag. And, green, yellow and red highlights in her hair. Her hair-dresser, -stylist, hair-something, must love her.
Rory called my cell from downstairs at 6:30 sharp. We grabbed our coats and took the elevator down. Rory was illegally parked in front of the fire hydrant, by The Paper’s main door. No fog. Yet? Rory’s car is unmistakable: a vintage thing from the late fifties or early sixties. Black and white, all chromes and bonnet, must be about twenty or thirty feet long, and hardly has any seating space. He got out of the car, wearing jeans and a leather jacket that probably had been used by James Dean. His date came out of the car. Much to our surprise, the date was no 25 year-old bimbo. I’d once asked Rory:
“What’s with your ‘jail bait’ thing? Can’t you pick’em up a little closer to your age?”
“Lad,” he’d replied, “the great and only advantage of growing old, is that every five years or so, there’s an entirely new generation of 25-year old women, eager to conquer the world. And me? I’m eager to please…”
This one was different, medium height, in her late thirties or early forties. Auburn hair with blonde highlights. Maybe I should get some highlights! Nice figure. Good hips, slim waist, as much as one could tell with the thick black coat. Jeans, black boots. Push-up bra no doubt. Nice, wide smile. Mauve lipstick. Hazelnut brown eyes. Contrary to popular belief not all Merikuns have blue eyes. Only 98% do, if you exclude, in order of appearance: native American Indians, African Americans, Chinese Americans, Aytalian Americans, to name a few. Polish Americans and Belgian Americans do qualify for blue eyes. Rory pecked Mary-Sue on the cheek, shook my hand and said:
“Mary-Sue, Pete, this is Sophie.”
“Nice to meet you Marie-Sue, I’m Sophie Roosevelt”. Shook hands.
“How d’you do Sophie?” I said, typical Brit question one never actually waits for an answer. I went on “Roosevelt, as in…?”
“Yes!” She laughed. She had a good laugh. “As in… Roosevelt.”
“On which side?” Mary-Sue asked. “Teddy or Frankie?”
“Both, actually. I’m their grand-niece or something. My mother is the one who keeps tabs.”
“Let’s all pack in the car,” Rory said. “Before we all freeze our balls to death, at least half of us. Mary-Sue, where’s the concert?”
“On 147th and Barnard,” Mary-Sue said.
Rory froze. Had his door in one hand, a foot already in. He said: “147th? You must be joking?” (Friar Tucking again) “That’s in…”
“The Blacklands, yes,” Mary-Sue said. “Just a couple of blocks away from Senegal. Got a problem with that?”
“Err… No…” Rory said, looking at his car left to right, up and down. “I guess not. I just renewed the insurance. Let’s go before the fog comes in. Pete? Any forecast on that?”
“Toss a coin,” I said. “That’s what I did in the morning before I wrote my paper.”
Mary-Sue and I sat in the back. Not too bad, wider than I remembered. Probably was originally designed by Detroit back in the fifties so that kids could make out in the back seat without spraining a muscle. Sophie asked:
“So, Mary-Sue, what’s this concert you’re taking us to? And thanks for the ticket by the way.”
“You’re welcome, Sophie,” Mary-Sue said. “It’s a Marley-revival kind of concert, his grandson or grand-nephew or something invited a bunch of Rasta-musicians to re-do Bob Marley’s original concert at the very same theater thirty years ago.
“How nice. Rory was telling me about the origins of Rastas, tell them Rory.”
Mary-Sue and I rolled our eyes. But Rory was a regional expert on Ethiopia. So we let him do his stuff. Anything to impress the Lady.
“Funny you should say that Sophie. When I was in Addis-Ababa, we had no idea about the Rasta cult. The Emperor was still alive. Haile Selassié I, the first, but Rastas pronounce the roman ‘one’, I, as ‘Aye’. Actually, ‘Rastafari’ which you will hear a lot tonight, comes from Haile Selassié’s original name: Ras (for King) Tafari, which is pronounced ‘Te-fe-ree’. I even had a Tafari in my class…”
Sophie was smiling. Simple. Natural. A good listener. I wondered if she could take her liquour. Rory rambled on, with a good lecture on Rastafaris. Sophie listened intently, plugging questions at appropriate slots. Mary-Sue smiled at me. We were probably thinking the same thing: “good for Rory”. And we went north. To the Blacklands.
To be continued…
Next on Foglines: Jammin’ in Babylon
Text © BMO and Equinoxio
Fog, snow, mist, etc. sources: Kikipedia and Boogle. 🙂