frozen niagara

Many pictures on social media and in the news about the Niagara Falls freezing over. Amazingly, some parts of the national park is still open, like the journey behind the falls attraction. Instead of the roaring noise of tons of water rushing down, and a thick veil of water, it’s now just a sheet of ice. The Indy reporter braved the conditions:

My fingers turn red and stiffen as I snap a few photos, rubbing shoulders with others wincing from the bitter wind chill. As we chat, our breath crystallises, as if forming cartoon conversation bubbles

It’s not unusual for the Falls to freeze over, as the area has harsh winters due to lake-effect snow of the Great Lakes. Such a long period of sub-freezing temperatures so early in the winter is not as frequent. The last time was during the polar vortex of 2014. Quite a lot of pics being circulated this round was actually from 2014, according to snopes. Other years that the Falls were frozen include 2007, 2011, and 2012.


Yep. I was there during one of those years when the Falls were frozen. This was from March 2007. Here’s the rest of the Toronto & Niagara set.

climate change and the food of the future

It’s very, very hot. Climate change deniers may insist otherwise, but we are slowly and surely destroying our planet. I confess I’m also guilty of not doing as much as I can–I don’t sort my rubbish (we have no recycling collection separate from regular rubbish collection), I’ve been turning the air-con on a lot, I still eat meat.

That said, I take public transportation, I cook my own food from fresh ingredients, I try not to waste food and resources. I walk in the afternoon heat to the market before taking the shuttlebus home. It’s my reducing carbon footprint, getting exercise, and daily pokémongo activity. I’ve also been reading about how climate change affects food production and availability. Already, several food crops have been identified as being at risk:

  • coffee, chocolate, avocado — in 2016, Brazilian coffee farmers lost 90% of their crop due to drought and heat, many farmers in South American are turning to cacao. This drives cacao prices down and affects the livelihood of traditional cacao farmers in west Africa. Another knock-on effect is Californian farmers are now turning to coffee, which replaces their previous avocado crop. It’s simple economics. There’s a trend towards carob production, replacing cacao. The dessert of the future may be carob based
  • wine — as the world becomes warmer, vineyards will move closer to the poles. UK, Canada, China may be the wine producing countries of the future
  • honey and maple syrup — both very fickle products and at risk with changing climates
  • seafood — overfishing and pollution are two important factors in seafood production; as sea levels rise the type and location of seafood will change
  • sea vegetables — seaweed, kelp and sea vegetables may be the food of the future, they are hardly in difficult water conditions, absorbing nitrogen from waste
  • red meat — will become increasing rare and expensive, alternate protein meat sources will need to be found

Artist Allie West initiated a project to bring to life a possible dinner party of the future:

visualizes the possible future effects of climate change on our food system

All images below © Allie West, Heami Lee, C.C. Buckley, and Rebecca Bartoshesky.


The starter will be from the sea. Mussels and seaweed are both easy to grow and can survive in different conditions.


There will be no meat for main, because of rarity and price. Instead, it will be foraged vegetables such as burdock and mushrooms.


As mentioned above, carob will replace chocolate.

I don’t mind all these food. I love shellfish and can’t get enough of sea vegetables like samphire. I’ve had carob before, and although I’m not so keen, I’m okay with it taking a larger part of our diet in place of chocolate. But it’s not about me changing my palette to carob, or eating more oysters and mussels. Those are #firstworldproblems compared with actual suffering in regions that have been ravished by drought, or the refugees fleeing to Europe because They.Have.No.Food.

President Obama, writing about food and climate change says he will devote time to create a global network of activists to tackle climate change. But he also says he wants everyone to be involved–young people, families, people in developed nations and in developing nations. Make what we do on a daily basis matter:

It’s millions of decisions that are being made individually that end up having as much impact as anything

typhoon haima


No 8 signal all day today as typhoon haima was almost a direct hit. Windy definitely but quite quiet actually, not a lot of rain. Probably once it passes us.

Good thing mum went to the market in preparation yesterday, we have plenty of food, enough to last more than a week.

typhoon last night

We got a direct hit from typhoon Nida last night. It made landfall 40km away and there were winds at 150km/hr plus more than 60mm of rain. Many places were flooded. T8 was raised.



I heard some gusts of winds just before I went to bed but I slept through it all. When I woke up, there were winds and some rain but nothing out of the ordinary. There were bits of leaves over the windows but it was only when I looked outside that I realised it was a ferocious one. Branches all over the ground, the cover of our neighbour’s car had blown off and a couple of the papaya trees in the garden had fallen over.

getting ready, checking weather

I checked in as soon as the 48hr window opened up. The flight looks around 90% full already, but I got the seat I wanted. Since I’ll be travelling for almost 1 month, and into November, I figured I need to pack my coat and a couple of sweaters.


The forecast for race day is 15-23ºC, feeling like 25ºC. Ugh. Too hot, with no clouds. It’d be great if it’s 10 degrees cooler. The 2 days before and after are supposed to be cooler, so I’ll keep an eye out on the weather.


The weather in Ptown looks variable too. From 20ºC down to 10ºC. Add the windchill from the exposed position, definitely need my coat and fleece lining.

Packing is done. Taking enough clothes for 7-10 days. Hopefully we can find laundry facilities in Ptown, and I can handwash if necessary too.


hottest day in history, my fridge broke down


Today the observatory recorded the highest temperature since records began in 1885. Although 36.3ºC isn’t that hot compared with many other places (I remember driving in Provence during a 40ºC heatwave, and the car thermometer reached 100F/38C on the way back to Chicago), it was very uncomfortable with the triple whammy of extreme heat, over 90% humidity and horrible pollution. The forcast says 31-32ºC but in reality it will feel hotter because of the humidity.

The reason behind the weather is the monster typhoon Soudelor. We can see its size in the pic from the international space station.

So on the hottest day in recorded history, my fridge decides to stop working. I’ve had it repaired a couple of times already, the freezer coils frost up and the fridge compartment doesn’t get cold. The technicans say it’s either the thermostat or the timer. I got rid of the freezer coil frost and dismantled the back to see if I can reset the thermostat but I couldn’t get it working again.

I have 8 salmon filets and a bunch of frozen stuff I do not want to spoil, so I packed everything up into a suitcase and got a taxi to my parents’ place. Their fridges are usually pretty full and mum did grocery shopping today. My dad is so smart, he managed to find space for my stuff. Yay for parents!

three typhoons


I was texting mm about various stuff and she mentioned it’s typhoon signal #8. This means a typhoon is nearby and all schools and businesses are closed. Normally weather doesn’t get covered around the world but the fact that three typhoons are lined up to attack is covered in mashable and other places.

The first of the trio, typhoon linfa, has already made landfall. It’s the middle one, chan-hom, that is the biggest threat. It’s forecast to reach super typhoon status, with winds reaching 155km/hr, passing north of Taiwan to make landfall around Shanghai. That’s equivalent to a category 3 hurricane in the US.

It’s rare, to see three typhoons coming in so close to each other. The whole of June was ridiculously hot, looks like July is going to be wet over in that part of the world.

impact of heat and humidity on running

The problem with entering a race in October is the bulk of the training takes place during the summer months. If the weather regularly reaches over 30ºC and 90% humidity, it’s very unpleasant for being outdoors, let alone trying to run. I’m still not back at pre-holiday form, and add on the weather, recent outdoor runs have been poor:

  • 09-may: 9.5km 1.23.45hr 8.49min/km
  • 18-may: 10.02km 1.40.00hr 9.59min/km
  • 21-may: 5.01km 39.40min 7.55min/km
  • 25-may: 8.0km 1.16.45hr 9.36min/km *
  • 27-may: 6.36km 49.13min 7.44min/km

*wanted to do 10k, had to cut short because it was so hot, barely any shade.

It’s common sense, that heat and humidity affects performance. The explanation is fairly scientific too: when it’s hot, body temperature rises. Sweating is a mechanism for the body to cool down (thermodynamics: energy is required to convert liquid to gas, the energy in this case comes from body heat). When it’s humid, sweat can’t evaporate into the saturated atmosphere and stays on the body. Body temperature continues to rise causing heartrate to increase. The body compensates by diverting blood and oxygen from muscles to skin capillaries for cooling, and the body slows down.


The best condition for running is cold (around 10-12ºC) with a breeze and preferably with lots of shade or cloud cover. Running coach Jeff Galloway has a chart that correlates pace with temperature (I converted to ºC). It’s not scientific, but based on his and other runners’ experiences. It makes sense.


The folks at runontexas (via) has a table that shows the change with heat and humidity. This is in seconds per mile and assumes humid conditions means over 60%. It’s not hard to project that the effect when it’s over 90% will be even more pronounced.


As always, plotting data out in a chart makes it even easier to understand. The decrease in pace is exponential, once it gets to 30ºC and humid, expect to add 3 minutes per mile, that’s 2 mins per km.


Translating that to my own running. If I optimistically assume a base pace of 6.40min/km (10.45min/mi), then with current conditions, um, first of all it’s not recommended. If I did go running, then it’s a minimum of 8.32 pace. Since I’m nowhere near my base pace, I should expect to go even slower. This puts my recent runs into perspective, I haven’t been doing too badly on the shorter runs, need to build up endurance for longer runs. Wear a hat, find shade, hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. The latest run was decent, I stuck to shaded paths and drank about 1.5l of sports drink during the run, and more afterwards.

So this is all kinda depressing, but looking on the bright side, there is a silver lining:

when cooler weather returns you will be surprised at how you are in better condition and can run faster than you expect – often coinciding just in time for your goal fall race

I can only hope.

rain and thunder


The plan was to go running, but I got lazy. And then mid-afternoon the sky suddenly went from slightly overcast to completely black. Thundery and raining.

Ugh, vertical video. Forgot to turn the iphone to landscape, ooops.

black rain

festivalwalkblackrain01 festivalwalkblackrain02

So I’m at parents’ and just getting settled for the night after an early dinner. All of a sudden, it started pelting down with rain. We couldn’t get our windows closed quickly enough. Rain was quickly followed by thunder and what sounded like hail. It was completely dark outside with the rain like a ominous curtain. The thunderstorm and rain warning went from amber to red to black in just one hour.

So glad we were all indoors, mm pinged me that she was safely home, having gone gravesweeping with her family. She also told me about how the rooftop windows of a shopping centre nearby (my nearest apple store) got hit by either a column of rain or hail and there was water everywhere. Thanks to the power of social media, pictures are already all over twitter, instagram and facebook. Wow it looks like an indoor waterfall. When it rains here, it’s serious about rain. Welcome to the start of spring, finally!

happily indoors


Chicago is frozen and much of the UK is flooded. Here it’s been cold enough for 2 duvets and a fan heater. Today it’s almost t-shirt weather but I would still much rather be anywhere but here. I haven’t been outside since Friday, and I’m perfectly happy to stay indoors for days. I guess I don’t suffer from cabin fever a lot.

piddly storm


A lot of anticipation as the biggest storm of the year, the super typhoon usagi, approached. It did terrible damage to the Philippines and Taiwan, but when it arrived (an almost direct hit, passing only 100km from here) it was a giant let down. Waited the whole day for #8 storm signal to be raised, finally it got hoisted at 7pm. A little windier than usual but not much rain at all. I suppose I should be grateful but I was looking forward to a bout of heavy rain and bad weather. I’m strange that way.

lack of running


I know I need to start running again, it’s been far far far too long and I’m losing my fitness. So I got gerared up, went out and…it started pouring. Cats and dogs. With thunder. Yes, a real runner cares nothing about the weather, but I’m not feeling very brave today. Went home and did some weights.

thunderstorm, baskets, swimming


Woke up to a horrendous thunderstorm, heavy rain and very dark all around. When it started easing off in the afternoon I went off to the supermarket. Seemed like the whole neighbourhood had the same idea, the store started to fill up very quickly and there were long lines at the checkouts. So much so that they started running out of shopping baskets!

It even got nice enough for me to go swimming for half an hour.

spring showers


Spring is well and truly here. It’s been cloudy and showery all week. Too much pollution for the sun to come out for more than a few minutes at the time. I try to open the windows for a bit of circulation but there’s hardly any wind. The showers can get heavy, it’s awfully humid inside the flat and I have the dehumidifier working hard rotating between rooms. And I’m this close to turning the airconditioner on at night—I’ve had the living room one on for about half an hour when it got too hot and humid. The aircons in both rooms are new, so it’ll be breaking in new appliances.

humidity start

image from flickr user PhilCLogo

It’s officially spring, and it means it’s getting warmer and it’ll soon be humid as hell. The laundry is already taking far too long to dry. Time to run the dehumidifier for a few hours. It’s amazing to read how it works. Ah, just like the smell of freshly mowed grass, the sound equivalent is droplets of water dripping into the container as the dampness gets sucked inside the machine.



Had dinner at mm’s brother’s place, so he can show me his new home’s renovation and give me his contractor’s number. By the time we left, it was raining very heavily. I didn’t have an umbrella, so I got off at a near-enough station and changed to taxi. As we were getting close to the gates, Mum was already out there with an umbrella. The taxi driver said, “the greatest unconditional love.”

gale force June

It was 30°C a couple of weeks ago, I had to go out to buy a fan. And now it’s June. It should not be so cold I want to turn the heating back on. It shouldn’t be gale force winds outside.

snowed again

snow again

Snowed again last night. It was cute this morning, walking on fresh snow. A lot had melted during the day. Clear skies tonight, ugh. It feels really really cold. Cold do with some of those 5-min microwave jacket potatoes.



I was right, it snowed last night. Yes, it’s still piddly, and when I went to bed the chair on the balcony had about 2 inches of accumulation. Some of that melted overnight, and throughout the day, it seemed to turn slushy. I’m very relieved I didn’t have to go out. Now the snow has turned to ice, will have to be careful tomorrow.



This morning as I was walking to the tube station, the sky turned pink from the sunrise. The clouds were lined up in a pretty pattern and there was a crispness in the air. Took this on instagram, with the hefe filter. I have a normal pic on my camera that I haven’t bothered downloading yet.

the official chicago marathon weather obsession post


The obsession began a week or so ago, but every Chicagoan knows that it’s pointless to try to predict the weather here. But less then 36hrs from the start, I think I can officially start obsessing.

It’s been hot the past week, so it’s no surprise that the forecast is warm but not extreme. Probably better early in the day than last year, and then it will get hot towards the end. Another reason to work on speed next year rather than marathon distance races. The article, and the people on the rw forum say,

this is nothing drastically different than what they’ve been running in all summer and what they’ve been training in

Sigh. Except that some of us have been training during a


summer that is coldest in 13 years.

air conditioning on the tube


In this unusually hot weather it was nice to ride on one of those air conditioned Metropolitan line trains. I’d forgotten that the tube, or for that matter almost all the UK, isn’t air-conditioned. It is gratifying to read that by 2016 40% of the tube will use the air-conditioned trains. Can’t come soon enough for me.

I was thinking last night how I can get my fan shipped over. Of course the cost of shipping is greater than buying a new one here. I can’t remember summers being this hot when I was growing up, I’ll wait and see if I can survive this summer without any cooling electrical appliances.


taken almost 5 years ago, the first time I visited Chicago

Spring is here, but I’m not sure what I’m feeling right now. All I know is that tomorrow I probably won’t need to wear my coat.



Everyone’s talking about the supermoon tonight. For some reason I keep reading superMOM instead of moon, sigh. Didn’t feel like setting up the tripod and getting the big camera out, so I just snapped this on the s90 from my balcony. It was taken just after 3pm EST, when the moon is a mere 221,565 miles (356,575 kilometers) from earth. Looks like a big streetlight on this picture.

frozen london

Widespread delays and chaos all over the country. Heathrow is suffering, only a maximum of 1/3 normal service due to run till Wednesday with more bad weather expected. I really need LHR to clear up, mm is arriving on Saturday and I do not want her to spend Christmas Day not able to get on the plane or stranded at a European airport.

rain away | hardcore

The weather has gotten steadily worse since afternoon. Very windy. Heavy rain. Thunderstorm brewing. Gonna be cold too. Grrr, I’m hoping the rain and wind goes away overnight.

Race tomorrow at 8am. Any cancellation will be on the day, not in advance. Unless there’s a tornado, I’m determined to participate. Just a little planning with gear and i’ll should be okay. Feeling a little hardcore here, heehee.

it’s supposed to be the first day of spring

Yesterday I didn’t even need a coat, I was just in my sweatshirt. This morning, I woke up to…snow and wind. It snowed steadily all day, sometimes horizontally. There’s now about half an inch of accumulation on my balcony. Concrete surfaces like pavement and road are clear though.

It’s the shamrock shuffle tomorrow. It’s not gonna be pleasant.

commute contrast

Yeah, I’m still obsessed with the driving through snow thing. Overnight there was enough snow that I had to spend a good 10-15mins getting the car ready, and boy am I glad I shovelled the bit of the road around my car so I could get out. The drive took a little less time than yesterday, it was sunny so visibility was better.

When I got to the vendor site, I deliberately parked out in the open so I’d get the sun for as long as possible. When I left after 5, the snow on top had gone. There were huge chunks of ice where mud flaps would be and I kicked them off.

My parking space was completely covered. I had to totally dig a space big enough for the little car. The problem was that there was nowhere to put the snow, so I ended up piling it all in our backyard. It was kinda hairy, reversing back in, but I managed at the end.

i hate driving in the snow

I was supposed to be in Pleasanton CA this week for 3 days of training, but it got moved to Chicago. Or to be precise, a western suburb of Chicago. Instead of sunny weather, I woke up to 3-4” of snow, had to shovel my way out of my space and drive 1.5hrs to get to the training. Coming back was worse, still snowing, poor visibility and people driving without lights. I had to park on the street cos otherwise I’d have to dig my way into my space and dig myself out tomorrow morning. And now I’m looking outside and the snow is doing crazy brownian dancing it’s so windy outside.

I hate driving in the snow. I’m not used to it and I don’t have the right car for the conditions.


Parts of the East Coast got hammered with 2-3 feet of snow in what the President called snowmageddon. Airports are closed, state of emergencies declared and the brave citizens hunkered down.

Between that, and the record blizzards over in London, I think we’ve fared pretty well in Chicago this winter. If I wake up early enough tomorrow, I’ll probably go skiing.

running outside


This is the house this morning. I’d wanted to take a picture with the snow for the last 3 days, but I leave too early and come back too late for there to be any decent light. It doesn’t look too bad, because people have been diligently shovelling.

It was also a nice sunny day, so I took the chance to run outside. It was too cold for the ice to be slippery, and most of the pavement was clear. The only bit was at the end of Foster before reaching the lake that was still full of snow. Had to walk through that. I was slower and more careful, so 6.53min/km is not a good pace.


I shovelled the back and the front of the house before I left this morning. And all around my car, it was all surrounded by snow and ice. Driving was okay, visibility wasn’t too good and other drivers were driving way too fast for the conditions. When I got home I had to shovel the snow out of my parking space. Then for good measure I shovelled and salted the back so there’s a path from the back door to my car; and then i did the same for the front so I won’t slip tomorrow. No wonder I don’t feel like playing on the wii fit or doing strength training tonight.

shortest day+1

Heh, I missed winter solstice. Not that my family ever celebrated anyway. But now that we’ve passed the shortest day, can we have more daylight hours please? It makes finding the motivation for running easier (providing the snow gods also cooperate).

star wars weather


This fun star wars weather tool shows the weather around the world in terms of star wars places. So like it’s cold here in Chicago, but it’s much more fun to say it’s like Hoth. The description goes, “cold, ice, freezing desolation. you may have to climb inside a tauntaun for warmth.”

A little view page source tells me there are 9 places:

  • tatooine — hot, dry, occasional sarlacc — utinni!
  • dagobah — hot and wet and not in a good way — Yoda might be hiding somewhere
  • yavin 4 — hot and cloudy — bits of the Death Star might fall on your head
  • endor — temperate, grey and cloudy — stick around and you may get your own animated series
  • bespin — fog, mist, cloud, can’t see a thing — Lando is going to betray you.
  • kamino — wet — there’s also a significant chance of unconvincing CGI aliens
  • naboo — temperate, dry and pleasant — meesa like-a the weather these days
  • hoth — cold, ice, freezing desolation — you may have to climb inside a tauntaun for warmth
  • alderaan — huh? does not exist

So Hoth isn’t good, we should aim at Endor or Naboo.

[via giz]

winter running


Because of all the eating over the Thanksgiving holiday, I knew i had to do some serious running for the remainder of the weekend. The weather had been good, and then today when I woke up…it was raining and i heard rumbles of thunder. Sigh.

I did go out after lunch, and now with my new long-sleeved running shirt on top, and running gloves. I ran south along the lake, past Montrose beach. It was pretty deserted, I saw fewer than 10 other runners. At first it was fine, and then after I turned around it started to get very, very, very windy. The worst was that I was running against the wind, which slowed me down a lot. And then it started drizzling. Sigh. I was glad of my dryfit shirt and my hat.

So now I have to be prepared for winter running and figure out how to do it when it starts snowing. There’s a lot of good clothing and tips out there:

  • attire — layers, shell, hat, gloves, probably have to wear long pants soon — remember to wear a technical shirt underneath and not cotton
  • visibility — I’m thinking of getting some reflective strips for extra visibility, the neighborhood street lamps aren’t terribly bright
  • safety — I used to run at all hours, like 11.30pm, midnight. Not anymore in Chicago cos it’s unsafe, and I’d never go out to the lake in the dark. I already carry my ICE card in my ipod pouch, I’m gonna get a road ID soon

radio, sweets, rain

I left work early today to drive down to the dealership to get my radio installed. Finally. When I bought the car they couldn’t find the faceplate but for some silly reason they could only order the whole unit and that had to be replaced. Ah well, whatever, as long as I get some form of radio.

Then Car and I went to Walmart to buy sweets and stuff for our trip. While I was at it, I bought laundry stuff and shampoo and heavy stuff.

On the way home it started pissing with rain. Some people were still driving like maniacs, sigh. There’s recent talk about banning texting while driving, oh man these laws can’t come soon enough for me.

rained out

Originally I’d wanted to go to the grant park music festival because a) I’ve never been; b) it’s free; c) it’s outdoors but mostly d) it’s Rach 3! But this morning there was a huge thunderstorm, I went out to the drugstore (1 block) and got completely soaked even with an umbrella. So no, I didn’t go to the concert.

hot day

Woke up at 1am, 5am and then finally 8am. Bummer. But it meant I could go get my hair cut earlier, before the place gets busy. My hairdresser always gels my hair and styles it. He says my hair looks good when gelled cos it’s short and thick. The problem is as soon as I’m out of the door I run my fingers through it and flattens whatever style he put in. Hee.

Had to go to the supermarket. The delivery yesterday missed all the fruit and veg items. Just as well cos I bought more than I wanted, including my favourite rocket.

Slept all afternoon again. Crawled onto the sofa at 1-ish and woke up just before 5pm. Had rocket, yellow pepper, tomato and pear salad. Sprinkled a few dried tart cherries I got in Chicago last time, they’re not that tart, fit the salad perfectly.

I’m sitting here alternating between playing Jewel Quest and reading a book with the aircon on. I’m still hot and need to rub the sweat off periodically. Sigh.