Autumn, milwaukee, Nature, Uncategorized, wisconsin

Walks Around Wisconsin. Milwaukee, October


It’s that time of year again.

The days are mellow but at night, there’s a bit of a nip in the air.  OK, really more of a wholehearted bite.

Autumn in Wisconsin — hard cold winds straight off the Canadian prairies sweep summery days away.


Experienced walkers in these parts know how to stay the course during the cold winds.  Put on your heaviest boots & take on some ballast – – drop a half-dozen rolls of quarters in your coat pockets, maybe a couple pints of Captain Morgan, the favored antifreeze in these parts.

Wax the ear flaps on your Stormy Kromer hat to cut wind resistance and head into the headwinds.


People are using to weaving, here in the city that leads the country in excessive drinking, so tacking & jibing with the wind comes pretty naturally.

Signs in the park remind dog owners that during High Wind days, any breeds smaller than a St Bernard should be double-leashed and aviation wheel chocks are recommended when they stop by a fire hydrant.


Who knows where the summer’s heat is carried off to – – I seem to recall an old Chippewa legend — when the North Wind blows into town, all the sunshine’s warmth is swallowed & carried to Capistrano.

Or perhaps I’ve got that muddled somehow. But modern science offers an equally crazy story to explain the change in seasons.


This old planet wobbles along on a bent axle or tilted axis, something like that?

“Wobble & Tilt” should be a carnival ride, or cop lingo for an inebriated pedestrian, but it’s scarcely appropriate behavior for a mature planet.

And recently I’ve become hopeful that scientists will buckle down and stabilize this situation.


The Big Red Ball. Photo by Jeff Miller / UW-Madison



Last month, apparently lacking adult supervision, those crazy kids at NASA deliberately crashed a spaceship into an asteroid.  (Some articles called it a “moonlet” which makes me feel bad, like we’re picking on the little guy.) The idea was to see if they could change the asteroid’s course as a kind of test run for a planetary defense system.

So I’m thinking, once NASA has practiced up a bit, crashing spaceships & changing orbits, etc. perhaps they can correct Earth’s wobble & tilt problem?

Redirect some pointless wandering rock to smack into Earth.  Nothing over the top like last time, when they wiped out the dinosaurs, just a smack on the wrist with a ruler, so Earth straightens up and flies right.   Haley’s Comet is due for a visit in 2061, they should have it all worked out by then.


These same science types are working on jaunts to Mars, where temperatures during the tourist season average -81 degrees F.


We laypeople may not know much about space travel.  But we do know, that those sorts of scientists, interested in the Red Planet, and eighty one degrees below zero, are not from around here.

No one from Wisconsin is much interested in traveling somewhere colder.  The Wisconsin science types are mostly in Madison, huddled around a plasma magnetosphere called The Big Red Ball.



Our planet has a magnetosphere of course, so at least we’re protected from solar winds, even if it doesn’t help with the Alberta Clippers or the Arctic Cold Fronts.


The Big Red Ball, at the U of Wisconsin, kinda looks like a Hollywood mad scientist thing – – covered with magnets, wires, gauges, and pretty sure a 48-cup stainless coffee maker. And it cranks out 500,000 degrees F.  or 5 million K, something like that, basically “real hot,” a miniature sun.  And the scientists really don’t care if they discover a darn thing — as long as the funding holds out, the lab is nice and toasty.

And that reminds me, time for cinnamon raisin bread toast and hot coffee, gotta go.






27 thoughts on “Walks Around Wisconsin. Milwaukee, October

  1. It’s good to see you back in harness with a post in your traditional tongue-in-cheek style. I see the weather report from Milwaukee today says a low of 43° and a high of 59° (both of which are prime numbers).

    • Thank you, Steve, I’m getting more familiar with and comfortable in my new job, and sometimes have a bit more free time for writing. That would not have occurred to me that those were prime numbers it must be neat to have a mathematical mind.

        • I am currently a college counselor working for a program with high achieving kids in a pretty tough public school to get them into some of the most selective colleges. Next year I’ll be doing actual college advising but this year it’s more academic skillsets and mindset development so that they can be successful. We ask a lot of them.

  2. I stopped and stared for a good while at that header photo of the leaves. Are those maple? Whatever they are, they look like autumn sunlight and condensed into autumn color; they’re beautiful.

    We’ve not yet had one of our ‘big winds ‘ the blue northers that arrive from north of you, and produce some of the same effects down here. Because prolonged strong northerlies will empty our bays, I have to be sure not to get stuck on a boat that’s pushed away from the dock or dropped so low that I can’t get off. I’ll tell you this: once is enough to make a girl cautious!

    Your Big Red Ball looks like a chapter of Steampunkers Anonymous got loose with funding for a new project. It’s really great — if somewhat inexplicable!

    • Haha thank you Linda, I think the big red ball looks like 16 kinds of dangerous! But I guess we just have to trust that those guys know what they’re doing with it. It does look like a steampunker dream.
      That leaf picture in the header was just a cell phone snap and then I used one of these quickie watercolor filters. I can’t quite put my finger on it but this fall has just been an unusually pretty one, all the different sorts of trees have really outdone themselves, including sumacs which I remember (I think?) is one of your favorites.

      • I do enjoy the sumac. It’s one of the dependable sources of native color for us. Sometimes it will turn shades of yellow, orange, and reddish-rust all at once, and if there’s a blue sky to set it against, all color envy gets washed away.

  3. The Arctic wind you described, so full of chill, did not originate from BC, where we have enjoyed summer-like conditions for most of October. This Wednesday, I plan to publish a post on our tomato plants still alive and doing well.

    • Thanks Mick, yes I’m exaggerating again we’re mostly having pleasant weather and 18C during the day, but some frosty nights.
      The scientists working on fusion always seem to be “ten years away” from a usable energy source, for many years, but I read recently that they may actually mean it nowadays, so maybe they’ll take one along to Mars, who knows.

  4. Darts and Letters says:

    One of the boys used to have a stormy kromer from the UP, I always loved that hat and wished I had one of my own. A compact Torus Injector sounds simple, elegant but effective…….in a complicated way. Sounds like you’ve got a new position… it in education? autumn looks really pretty around Milwaukee. that third picture up from the bottom is neat. Looks like you climbed a tree for that one!

    • I do, since summer I have been working as a college counselor at a local high school, helping high achieving kids from disadvantaged backgrounds try to get into elite schools and get funding (this is the mission of my organization).

      Thanks, I like how that shot came out, but no climbing was involved!

  5. I wonder if Wisconsin dogs are smart enough to stand on the upwind side of hydrants? And what would they do with a big red ball?

    The nice color is finally showing up around here. On the other hand, all that rain that shunned us from June through mid-October is playing catch up. So no pretty pictures from here, just yet.

    • Wisconsin dogs are definitely smart and mostly hang around in bars and bowling alleys where it’s warm and there are French fries being dropped. And they’re not usually Akitas or Huskies, like you’d expect, but Great Danes, nice & tall so they don’t get lost in the snowdrifts.

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