Are they back or have they always been here?RoundTable photo

… that the Ides of March is Saturday, and it is also Buzzard Day in Hinkley, Ohio – the day the birds return. Two days later is St. Patrick’s Day, followed by Election Day. The vernal equinox, marking the first day of spring, is March 20. Does anybody remember what grass looks like?

… that there is a new electric-vehicle charging station for two vehicles in the Maple Avenue garage.

… that the City’s estimated cost for the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater chicago to dispose of the sludge from the water treatment plant is estimated at $327,651.32 for 2014. Here’s how the City describes the generation of sludge: “The initial phase of the water treatment process involves adding coagulants to raw Lake Michigan water in order to form a ‘floc,’ which helps to trap and solidify impurities in the water and allow them to settle out prior to filtration. This material settles out as part of the mixing, sedimentation and settling process into basins located underground on the north side of the Water Treatment Facility. During October and April of each year, this sediment, or sludge, is removed from the basins by manually washing and rinsing it into a sewer and sending it to the MWRDGC for treatment.” MWRD bases its charge on turbidity and quantity.

… that Landscape Concept Management, Inc., of Grayslake will continue to maintain the plantings along the Green Bay Road embankment between Isabella and Foster. There will be spring and fall cleanups, weekly litter debris cleanups, mulching, disease and insect control, pruning, replacement of native plants as necessary and a “mass cutting” of trees, which, according to the City “does not include the removal of any mature trees.”

… that the ice cover on the Great Lakes is about 91 percent this year – the “most extensive freeze-over of the lakes since the record-setting year of 1979, when nearly 95 percent of their surface area solidified,” according to a recent AP story. The freeze is good news, because it means that the Great Lakes can recover some of the water lost in the past decade.  Water levels in the Great Lakes “dropped sharply in the late 1990s,” with Lakes Michigan and Huron reaching their nadirs in January of last year, the article said. The warmer climate, among other factors, limits ice cover, and it’s the ice cover that limits evaporation. The snowpack in the Huron-Michigan basin holds 4-8 inches of water, the article said. Here’s a pic from the National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration, taken by satellite earlier this month, and one taken from a Southwest Airlines jet taken at a much lower altitude on Feb. 14.

… that, closer to home, Illinois State Climatologist Dr. Jim Angel reports, “This winter was comparable to the winters in the late 1970s in terms of the cold weather and snow.” Dr. Angel said his findings were that “this winter was in a three-way tie with 1917-18 and 1976-77. The coldest winter was 1977-78 [with] a statewide average temperature of 19.6 degrees. The winter of 1978-79 was in second place at 19.9 degrees. The Illinois statewide [average] temperature for February was 18.7 degrees, or 12.1 degrees below the long-term average. It was the seventh coldest February on record.”

But, even though this area has seen a lot of snow, probably around 80 inches, a lot of it has been so fluffy that the water content is less than one might expect. 

… that, with winter – or perhaps the beginning of the end of winter – come potholes.  From past years, most folks will remember that potholes are caused when water drips into cracks in the pavement and then freezes. The expansion weakens the pavement, so the cracks widen. Melting allows more water in, freezing causes more expansion and more weakening.  The website for Summit County, Ohio, states, “As the weight of cars and trucks pass over the weak spot in the road, pieces of the roadway material weaken, which will cause the material to be displaced or broken down from the weight, creating the pothole. … Water will freeze at 32 degrees Fahrenheit. When salt is used, it lowers the temperature that water will freeze. This creates an artificial freeze-thaw cycle that permits more occurrences of the damaging cycle to occur. This happens more often in the spring because of the melting that takes place and because the temperatures fluctuate above and below the freezing point very frequently.” The City of Evanston uses U.P.M., “unique patching material,” to fill potholes, because it can be used in cold weather.

… that this guy could be a harbinger of spring – or he could be a year-round robin.

The Traffic Guy thinks …

… that the yarn bomb at the Library was a great success. TG thinks the knitters’ next targets should be the VRADs. Yarn bombing had its genesis in the idea of “reclaiming and personalizing sterile or cold public places,” according to Wikipedia, the source everyone uses and some decry as not wholly reliable. The VRADs, the AT&T eyesores, are sterile and impersonal, and most if not all of them could benefit from a technicolor coat of yarn. Check out how Natalie Wainwright fancies VRAD couture.

… that everyone who can vote should vote.