Winter

This is a better day for me than most have lately. I’ve reached my final day of coronavirus quarantine, and I return to work tomorrow. Getting up at 04:30 will be a bit of a challenge, but I really want to return to work and get my regular paychecks again.

Today is the first day of winter in the Northern Hemisphere; if you live below the Equator, then it’s the start of summer for you. Apparently, if you look to the sky tonight, Jupiter and Saturn are the closest you’ll see them in the sky during your lifetime. The last time they were this close was in 1623, but in many parts of the Northern Hemisphere no one could see it because it was not late enough, or the planets were too close to the ground. In order to find this “conjunction” of Jupiter and Saturn visible at night, you have to go clear back to March of 1226, over 794 years ago. If you have a telescope, that would be an awesome sight. From what I’ve read, this is only going to be visible for about an hour after sunset. If you’re astronomically-challenged, an app like Google Sky Map should be able to point you in the right direction.

Besides this celestial convergence and the winter solstice, today is what many call the “shortest day of the year”. This is a misnomer, as the shortest day of the year in the US is the second Sunday of March. Whereas the beginning day of Daylight Saving Time is literally the shortest (clocks go forward one hour, thus leaving 23 hours in that day), today is the day with the least amount of sunlight of the entire year. Depending on your latitude, you might be in perpetual darkness today. Where I live, the sun appears for only 9½ hours, rising around 07:45 and setting at about 17:20.

This year, notorious for all things stupid, weird, upside-down, inside-out and bizarre, the beginning of winter doesn’t even feel like it. I’m experiencing 60° today, my daughter over in Wichita, KS, has about 62°, and southern California is at like 80°. How sad is it that one needs to turn on their car air conditioner four days before Christmas? Sure, in two days, the temperature here at home will drop 15°, but our Christmas will still be like 55°. Whoever said they’re dreaming of a white Christmas is bonkers. In 48 years, I think I’ve seen snow on Christmas once. My first 18 years were in the LA area, and snow in Los Angeles almost never happens; the subsequent 30 were in southern Utah. Sure, we get cold most of the time, but snow is a rarity here. When I mention Utah, most people think of the snow in winter, but the weather in this extreme southwest corner of Utah is more comparable to Las Vegas than Salt Lake City. Cedar City, UT, is about 50 miles north of St George along the freeway. In that distance there’s an over-3000 foot difference in elevation (5850’ and 2700’, respectively). I guess that’s life at the edge of the Mojave Desert. Believe it or not, the Mojave Desert encompasses over 47,500 square miles. It’s big and dry, but it’s not the world’s biggest desert. Neither is the Sahara. The biggest desert is actually at the bottom of the world: Antarctica. Over 5 million square miles of desert. A desert does not necessarily have to be hot—just dry. Hardly any precipitation falls on the southern continent. There’s just a lot of ice. Anyone want a huge snow cone?

I leave with you this quote of the day:

“To appreciate the beauty of a snowflake it is necessary to stand out in the cold.”

Aristotle

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