# Wind Up for Wind Lessons

## Dear Kid,

It occurred to me that someday you might be in a situation where you need to know the speed of the wind and not have a wind-speed measuring device handy.

This is not a subject we spent a lot of time on when you were a tot. You were much more interested in learning to rollerblade and search for bad guys than in learning about wind.

At the time, I rationalized that it was a temporary oversight and we’d get to weather and wind speed study later, but somehow “later” never arrived. And here you are in college without a wind-speed measuring device and you have next to no idea how to figure out wind speed and obviously this is a huge hole in your education.

Therefore (and ergo), let us begin. You may want to take notes.

Observation is the key to understanding wind speed. For example, if the smoke from your campfire rises straight up, the leaves on the trees aren’t moving, and your mother is desperately searching for a fan because “there is no AIR,” it’s a good bet that there is very little wind (under 2 mph).

On the other hand, if houses are flying around in the air, you can be relatively certain that the wind is breaking the speed limit and it’s a good time to be underground lest you wind up with a pair of ruby slippers on your feet. (If you’re wondering how the ruby slippers would be big enough, the answer is “magic.”)

Estimating wind speed between “Can someone please find some AIR” and “Take cover!!!” can be a little trickier. But there are several methods which I shall now explain (you’re welcome).

The first is the Applied Mathematics (because I like saying Applied Mathematics) Military Flag Method.

First find a flag that is hanging in the wind. If you don’t have a flag handy, this doesn’t work at all. And it needs to be a regular size flag. The little ones we got at the Memorial Day parades don’t count. Neither do the banners people hang on their doors to indicate the specific football team they live for.

Now that you’ve found the flag, look at it. Estimate the angle between the bottom of the flag and the flag pole. Divide the angle by 4. The result is wind speed in miles per hour.

Fascinating, no?

However, sometimes we find ourselves in situations without a handy flag. Enter the Beaufort Method.

Sir Francis Beaufort was an admiral in the British Navy. To the best of my knowledge he was never the subject of a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta, and since he didn’t have to go around singing patter songs, he had plenty of time to think about wind.

Here are his rules:

• If the flag is not moving at all, the wind speed is below 11 mph.
• If it flaps lightly and sporadically the wind is blowing at around 12 to 18 mph.
• If the flag is flapping over the whole length of the flag, it is blowing at around 19 to 24 mph.
• If the flag is partially extended and flaps quickly, the wind speed is 25 to 31 mph. A fully extended flag flapping hard in the wind means wind speed is around 32 to 37 mph.

Now you know.

# Canada: Hockey, Polar Bears, the Flag, and Snow

## Dear Kid,

Olympic hockey is upon us. Which means Dad is getting up extra early (and extra awake) to watch early round competitions. I like hockey. Been a fan a long time. But overly excitable commentators and Dad coaching/commenting/refereeing before breakfast is a bit much.

Speaking of Canada, February 15, 1965, was the day Canada adopted what we now know to be the Canadian flag. Queen Elizabeth issued a Formal Proclamation and the flag went up. (Note: This is a good example of a time to use the phrase “run it up the flagpole.” Most other times are not.)

Way back in 1610 (that’s before you were born), Lower Canada was a new British Colony and therefore flew Britain’s Union Jack. The polar bears in Upper Canada weren’t impressed and continued to frolic on the icebergs. This was before global warming and the Titanic, so polar bear moms didn’t warn their cubs to stay off the bergs.

By 1763, the French had lost a sizable portion of Canada so the polar bears had to stop speaking with a French accent and all of Canada lived under the Union Jack. (Extra points if you know who lived “under the name of Saunders.”)

Fast forward to 1867, when Canada started getting uppity (as much as Canadians ever get uppity) and the Dominion of Canada was established as a self-governing federation within the British Empire. Which meant, among other things, a new flag had to be created. This was a swell time to be a flag maker. It took three years, but the Canadian Red Ensign was adopted (it was red with the Union Jack in the upper-left corner and a crest on the right).

That worked for a while, but eventually (and by eventually I mean it took a loooong time) Canadians began to point out that their flag didn’t have a maple leaf which is what they’d wanted all along, they’d just been too polite to say so.

King George V had nothing much to do in 1921 so he used the time to officially declare red and white the official colors of Canada. Officially. Which is why the maple leaf is white and not maple-leaf-color and why the background is red and not purple.

Canadians are very proud of their flag and of being Canadian–as they should be. While we have a lot of good stuff going for us as Americans, one doesn’t usually hear the term “ugly Canadian” batted around. Granted we don’t have crack-smoking Toronto mayor Rob Ford and we know how to pronounce the word donut. Then again, we eat too many donuts and have plenty of our own idiots.

Hope you had a good Valentine’s Day. Happy Saturday, and stay safe in all this crazy weather.

## Love, Mom

P.S. Winnie-the-Pooh lived under the name of Saunders

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# Fourth of July | Real Freedom and Ice Cream for Breakfast

## Dear Kid,

Happy Birthday, America!

The Fourth of July is our national holiday for picnics, the 1812 Overture, and fireworks. It is also a time to think about freedom.

There are all different kinds of freedom. There is freedom of speech, freedom from debt, freedom to vote, freedom from hunger…it’s a long list.

With college comes more freedom. Certainly different kinds of freedom. You’ll have the freedom to make choices about how you behave, about who you spend time with, about where you go. You’ll have the freedom to eat ice cream for breakfast or stay up for days at a time. But just because you have the option, doesn’t mean you should choose to act in a way that might make some people raise an eyebrow.

As you move in to a time of more freedom, take a moment to think about who you want to be. Freedom means (equally) the option to choose to say yes or no. (The occasional wacky meal is not a bad thing; eating nothing but ice cream for four years is probably not a recipe for success.)

Happy 4th!

## Love, Mom

1812 Overture and fireworks provided for your viewing pleasure.