WEATHER: Contemplating Your Belly Button In Isolation
Illustration: Bathtub (Image credit: Wix)
Highlights: Alternating days of warmth and chill, followed by end-of-the-week rain.
We're a few days past our last storm, which brought unusually cold weather to most of the country. Precipitation fell steadily late into Shabbat, with rain mixing with snow late Friday night in the higher elevations of the central and northern mountains. It was, alas, fleeting, unlike our winter rains.
Our next storm should arrive either Thursday or Friday, with a sharp drop in temperatures (but not close to freezing like our last storm). It will be the result of a storm moving across northern Africa combining with a low of polar origins moving southward past Italy. This will provide the storm with two ingredients: plenty of moisture from the Mediterranean and African dust as the storm makes its way past Cyprus.
Our previous storm moved across northern Africa, and subsequently left destruction across Egypt and flooding across southern Israel with greater than 100 km (62 mph) winds from south to north. This storm will take a more northerly track, and swing past Cyprus — hence, coastal cities are more likely to see direct impacts from this storm, including strong winds, lightning/hail, and heavy rains. However, if it takes a more northerly track, as some forecasts suggest, rains and winds will be over central areas, with heavier rains and winds over northern areas.
There are still timing questions and the exact path of the storm is still not certain, so an update will be issued later in the week.
What is even more uncertain is what day of the week is it? I find myself thinking that Monday is Tuesday or some other day is another day that already passed. It's very difficult when one doesn't have a set schedule to remember what part of the week one is in.
While trying to figure out what day it is, I thought it worthwhile to review some numbers. Not too long ago, about 1 out of 70,000 Israelis were sick. Now it's officially one out of six thousand. For this reason, the government has instituted social distancing, which is more (or less!) being observed. One of the ideas was to limit group gatherings and now only up to 10 people can pray in a minyan.
The thing is that the numbers we know of are probably an underestimation of the people sick because each infected person infects two to three people, while in comparison the flu infects about half that number. Moreover, if 10 people get together, there is approximately a 1/100 to 1/1000 chance of one person getting sick; since there are probably more than 1,000 prayer groups in a day, there is a very good chance that at least one person will get sick and infect at least two to three others. So, a small chance for each of us can have a large eventual impact on all of us.
Ways to slow down (or even stop) the infection of others are: to stay at home if you have symptoms (cough, sneezing, or sore throat); wear a mask if you must go out; additionally wash your hands frequently; and stay at least two meters (six feet) from other people. You can also wear disposable gloves, but change these frequently. Don't touch your face with the gloves (like a young supermarket clerk did today). Don't think you are immune because you're a teenager or still "young". Here is a website that sums up these suggestions.
But another way might be to have a wife who decides to make a shining example of the bathtub. She was so proud of her cleaning prowess that she required me to immediately supine within. We actually installed this tub a while ago, but I have to admit that my enthusiasm for baths does not compete with other time dependent obligations.
Of course, I couldn't just take a bath in such a clean and pristine tub without donning my Hawaiian trunks. I had to be properly dressed for the occasion. After the initial excitement wore off, I had plenty of time to supine and contemplate the time that had passed since my last bath and consider just where I was and where I came from.
I started with my toes. They still reach the end of the tub, meaning I haven't shrunk too much since I previously measured my length in such a way. I also noted that there were not too many grey hairs, which was reassuring.
But, I also noted that it is hard to tell that my belly button is an "outie." Most people have an "innie," but for some reason I am not like most people. My mother said that the doctor who delivered me regularly gave all "his" children a different knot than other doctors, but I wonder if he was simply bored and decided that day and time to do something different.
Or, maybe he took one look at me and decided that this child might be a bit shy and would need something to speak about when normal conversation fails. Yet, I never found that discussing belly buttons was much of a conversation starter, but more like a conversation finisher, unless I was having a bath with one of my brothers. In fact, I gave it up as a topic of conversation by the time I met my wife and never mentioned it to her.
I still haven't and I am not sure she ever noticed. After all, one doesn't necessarily see what one doesn't expect and childhood worries are best left in childhood.
Dr. Lynn is a lecturer at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Earth Sciences Department. He is also CEO of Weather It Is, LTD, a company that specializes in reducing weather risk. Click here to read more of this writer’s work in The Jerusalem Herald.