Monthly Archives: September 2012

What I choose to remember from September 11, 2001

As I listen to a plane go overhead today, I remember how quiet it was here in Ann Arbor after 9/11 when the entire US airspace was shut down. You could hear the birds a lot more easily, and the sky was clear.

Here's what I wrote at the time:

A fighter jet made a circle over the center of campus as [we] were heading downtown, the only plane in the sky the whole day. On Labor Day there had been a low-flying small plane trailing an advertising banner for a bank (I won't bank there, now) but nothing like that today. Totally clear blue skies and no jet contrails like normal. 

From Geotimes, 2004:

The empty skies also allowed David Travis of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and his co-workers to determine how contrails might be changing local temperature. Their results, first published in Nature in August 2002 and further elucidated last March in the Journal of Climate, showed that during the days when jets were grounded in September 2001, sunshine increased the temperature at ground level instead of being reflected by contrails. At night, the researchers found, the absence of an insulating layer of contrails meant greater ground level cooling. 

It's hard to think that this happened more than a decade ago.


On the importance of a morning deadline

I've always written better when there has been a deadline. Here's what I have on top of my mind on a chilly September morning, written over the span of about an hour.

Chicago teachers are on strike. The Chicago Tribune's live blog of the strike notes that 144 locations are open to handle kids that get free lunches and breakfasts, and that the CTA is offering free fares to students to get to those schools. Teachers are on the picket lines, chanting "What do we want? Fair contract. When do we want it? Now!" 

Cuba had a power outage yesterday. An AP story (via Huffington Post) says that "millions" were affected, for up to five hours. No explanation was given for the outage, and the English language page of Radio Havana had no mention of the incident.

Ann Arbor: A crew from Beal is demolishing a house at Kingsley and First. [photo] Before demo: [photo]. Photos from Ross Orr (voxphoto).

Ann Arbor: Road construction continues all over town. The corner of Packard and Stadium is down to one lane in each direction, causing delays. 

Ann Arbor: Gas prices in the area range from $3.82 (Costco) to $4.25 (BP, Exit 169) according to, a service of GasBuddy.

Ann Arbor: See the Arborwiki Unbuilt Developments page for a look at proposed development and construction in Ann Arbor that never made it past the planning stage.

University of Michigan: The Wolverines beat Air Force at Michigan Stadium, despite an overwhelming show of air power by Air Force in the pregame. [video of B-2 bomber] (via MGoBlog). Parking prices were $50 at Pioneer High School as rain the night before forced parts of the golf courses to be closed. We parked 3 cars at $15. Next week: Massachusetts.

For 906 day, some photos of Marquette, MI from Shorpy

906 day (September 6) celebrates the area code of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. First I've heard of this holiday, but I heartily approve.

In honor of this day a couple of nice photos of Marquette, MI came via Shorpy. The photos of the harbor and ore docks, Front Street, and a panorama of downtown Marquette date from 1908 and 1909 and are from glass negatives from the Detroit Publishing Company.

A detail below shows the Hotel Janzen, with a train's smoke just to the left of it and a piece of City Hall at the far left.

Picture 21

Erratic water levels on the mighty Huron River, September 2012

This graph measures water levels downstream from Argo Dam. Water levels are not supposed to fluctuate this much – it's not good for the river.

More data at the USGS.


Update: I checked with USGS to make sure that the gauges were working fine, and got back this result:

We're pretty certain everything is working just fine there. I believe we have a hydrologic technician there today making a streamflow measurement and he'll verify the operation of the equipment at the same time. Tom 

Second day of school (no photos)

My Facebook stream is full of pictures of kids on their first day of school. (That's great!) Sorry that I don't have a first day, or even a second day, photo to share.

The second day at our house featured a last-minute lunch prep (mac and cheese) and then two bicycle rides, one each for the 7th grader and for the 2d grader. The Burns Park school grounds were busy with a stream of parents and kids coming for dropoff; I haven't seen the new Summers-Knoll morning rush yet.

By all guesses it's going to be a good year.