The Four Seasons.

Friday, November 15, 1996

Rain and Snow.

have this funny feeling that it's still Spring. It's Monday, 71F and has been raining for over two days. Almost 6" of water here at last count. Well, it could have been snow...
Balmy, stormy and warm. Tornados were sighted throughout southern Pennsylvania and northern Maryland, just like in early Spring; but (almost) certainly never in the Fall. Last year on this date, we had 3" of very wet, heavy snow. Trees crashed-down everywhere; most hadn't lost their leaves yet and the extra weight of the snow proved too much for them. Mostly, the very bad quality Bradford Pears (Pyrus calleryana) fell apart. But many other trees also checked-out as well.
I'd been telling people that for almost seven years now, both in our advertising and during on-site evaluation visits. It's a nice feeling to be right. Though I hate to see plant material fail and people become disappointed in what they've bought (from other places). But that's why more and more people are coming to my Garden Center & Nursery: they won't have that problem again, because we don't sell problems. We provide solutions.
A massive cold front is moving through right now, just behind the warm front from the Gulf. And it's sucking cold air in behind it. Snow storms all over the plains states and midwest. With all the rain and warm weather, it just doesn't feel like the onset of Winter.
All that's about to change quickly, I have a feeling.

Winter Preparation.

Each year, at about the halfway point in October, the signs of the coming Winter are unmistakeable: animals are gathering food, finishing the work on their dens or nests for the Winter, and plants are changing color, dropping leaves and going dormant. People, it seems, need a "weather-person" to tell them what's happening. I watch the plants and animals, since they're far more accurate than any so-called weather service. They can also sense earthquakes hours ahead of the event. (That's handy if you live in quake-prone areas.) There's a limited window of opportunity for us at the Garden Center & Nursery to get ready. Between the normal deluge of Fall landscaping jobs, 25% off Fall Nursery Stock Sale installations, large tree installations and specific site improvement projects I map out every year, we have our hands full for the year.
I wrote a special ad last year called Winter Over that ran in many local southern Pennsylvania and northern Maryland newspapers and caused quite a stir. It runs each year at this time in a somewhat modified version, and tells people why it is now time to get their gardens ready for Winter, what to do, how to do it and what not to do. It went against the so-called advice they've received from other garden centers and nurserys, and it ruffled some feathers. It's about time someone told the truth. I really enjoy ruffling some people's feathers.

Win95 Error Code List.

During the past eight weeks of installing and re-configuring Windows95 on my office and home Pentium 586s, I've run into a bunch of unusual messages from Microsoft. Here's a smattering of the error files messages that I've received on the way:

WinErr: 001 Windows loaded - System in danger.
WinErr: 002 No Error - Yet.
WinErr: 003 Dynamic linking error - Your mistake is now in every file.
WinErr: 004 Erroneous error - Nothing is wrong.
WinErr: 005 Multitasking attempted - System confused.
WinErr: 006 Malicious error - Desqview found on drive. WinErr: 007 System price error - Inadequate money spent on hardware.
WinErr: 008 Broken window - Watch out for glass fragments.
WinErr: 009 Horrible bug encountered - God knows what has happened.
WinErr: 00A Promotional literature overflow - Mailbox full.
WinErr: 00B Inadequate disk space - Free at least 50MB.
WinErr: 00C Memory hog error - More Ram needed. More! More!
WinErr: 00D Window closed - Do not look outside.
WinErr: 00E Window open - Do not look inside.
WinErr: 00F Unexplained error - Please tell us how this happened.
WinErr: 010 Reserved for future mistakes by our developers.
WinErr: 013 Unexpected error - Huh ?
WinErr: 014 Keyboard locked - Try anything you can think of.
WinErr: 018 Unrecoverable error - System has been destroyed. Buy a new one.
WinErr: 019 User error - Not our fault. Is Not! Is Not!
WinErr: 01A Operating system overwritten - Please reinstall all your software.
WinErr: 01B Illegal error - You are not allowed to get this error. Next time you will get a penalty for that.
WinErr: 01C Uncertainty error - Uncertainty may be inadequate.
WinErr: 01D System crash - We are unable to figure out our own code.
WinErr: 01E Timing error - Please wait. And wait. And wait. And wait.
WinErr: 020 Error recording error codes - Additional errors will be lost.
WinErr: 042 Virus error - A virus has been activated in a dos-box. The virus, however, requires Windows. All tasks will automatically be closed and the virus will be activated again.
WinErr: 079 Mouse not found - A mouse driver has not been installed. Please click the left mouse asson to continue.
WinErr: 103 Error buffer overflow - Too many errors encountered. Additional errors may not be displayed or recorded.
WinErr: 678 This will end your Windows session. Do you want to play another game?
WinErr: 683 Time out error - Operator fell asleep while waiting for the system to complete boot procedure.
WinErr: 625 Working Error - The system has been working perfectly for the past ten minutes.
WniErr: 902 Screen Error - The system is working perfectly, I'm not lying, your monitor is wrong.
WinErr: 72a Crucial Halt - Hang on, WHAT was that?
WinErr: 72b Memory Error - What? Tell me again.
WinErr: 39c Disk Error in drive a: - Although your disk is in perfect condition (I just RE-formatted it), I don't like it any more. Get another.
WinErr: 983 Hard Disk Error - The files on the hard disk were neatly arranged and fully optimized, so I had to mess them up and put a couple of hundred .TMP files all over the place.
WinErr: 294 BlackMail Error - $500 to Gates or your computer gets screwed.
WinErr: 294b BlackMail Error - $500 to Gates or I'll show your wife the JPG's you just downloaded.

Wow, were we ever having some fun with that stuff...

Wind Chill.

As temperatures fall and the wind howls, we begin hearing about the danger of "wind chill." The wind chill index, shown below (courtesy of USA Today), combines the temperature and wind speed to tell you how cold the wind makes it "feel." Even though the chill is given as a temperature, it's not really temperature. It's based on polar research going back to the

early 1940s and is meant to be a guide to how much you should bundle up when going outside. Low wind-chill numbers shouldn't keep you from going out; they should encourage you to dress properly. Meteorologists have raised scientific concerns about the whole idea of wind chill. Heck, let those meteorologists wear wet-shirts outside and see how quickly those freeze to the skin if they want to do some real empirical testing and reporting. Screw their "scientific concerns"; -100F is f*cking cold!

Real Snow.

It's Thursday morning and it's snowing. Not just flurries anymore; snow. Almost 2" down already, but it's expected to melt later today. When I left for work at 6am, it was dark so I didn't notice the heavy flurries all that much. At least it's not the blizzard conditions we sometimes get, and the midwest and plains states just had. After passing through Red Lion on the way, a small town that seems to divide the weather into Harrisburg-north and Baltimore-south, the snow got heavier. But nothing on the order of what the midwest got over the past few days. Some areas in extreme northeast Ohio and southwest Michigan got 54"+ of the white stuff. Jeeeez...
My Landscape Crew seems to take it all in stride. Snow and bitter cold is just a part of their job now and they cope and compensate for the hardships. It gets very and somewhat dicey fswith equipment weighing several tons being used on the job, but they're very careful. No one wants an accident when they're dealing with people's lives.
After reviewing the jobs for the remainder of the week with Alan Miller, my Landscape Foreman, we decided that discretion is the better part of valor; we'll handle some projects today that don't require major pieces of equipment and wait the snow out. With any modicum of luck, it'll be gone by afternoon or tomorrow at the latest. There's always a way to accomodate the changing weather conditions with any number of substitute projects.
The first snowfall is always special for me. It signifies a visual transition from one season to another; a change of mind and personal requirements; and a passing of time. Many people hate snow and what it requires the human spirit to endure and overcome. I think it's wonderful. It's the subsequent ice storms and blizzards that I hate.

Virtual Garden Review.

Each month, The Virtual Garden reviews gardening-related Websites on the InterNet. As one of the best-known repositories of such information, we were reviewed on September 30th. And they said some very, very nice things about this Website. Go have a look after you've finished this week's Journal.
The main Time-Life/ Pathfinder Virtual Garden and Toolshed Website is located here. Spend some quality time over the Winter visiting with them. Hey, let me know when you're going and I'll meet you there.

J o h nS h e l l e y

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