Dear Ginger Jar Readers:
I thought I would post this article about the Old Farmer’s Almanac from last September.  It is really interesting reading, considering today’s weather conditions.  Enjoy!

Janice Stillman, left, watches as Editor-in-Chief Jud Hale displays the
2009 edition of the Old Farmer’s Almanac in Dublin, N.H., Thursday,
Sept. 4.

By Jim Cole, AP

Old Farmers Almanac: Global cooling may be underway

Posted 9/9/2008 4:56 PM

By David Tirrell-Wysocki, Associated Press Writer
DUBLIN, N.H. — The Old Farmer’s Almanac is
going further out on a limb than usual this year, not only forecasting
a cooler winter, but looking ahead decades to suggest we are in for
global cooling, not warming.

Based on the same time-honored, complex
calculations it uses to predict weather, the Almanac hits the
newsstands on Tuesday saying a study of solar activity and
corresponding records on ocean temperatures and climate point to a
cooler, not warmer, climate, for perhaps the next half century.

"We at the Almanac are among those who believe
that sunspot cycles and their effects on oceans correlate with climate
changes," writes meteorologist and climatologist Joseph D’Aleo.
"Studying these and other factor suggests that cold, not warm, climate
may be our future."

It remains to be seen, said Editor-in-Chief Jud
Hale, whether the human impact on global temperatures will cancel out
or override any cooling trend.

"We say that if human beings were not
contributing to global warming, it would become real cold in the next
50 years," Hale said.

For the near future, the Almanac predicts most
of the country will be colder than normal in the coming winter, with
heavy snow from the Ozarks into southern New England. Snow also is
forecast for northern Texas, with a warmer than usual winter in the
northern Plains.

Almanac believers will prepare for a hot summer
in much of the nation’s midsection, continuing drought conditions there
and wild fire conditions in parts of California, with a
cooler-than-normal season elsewhere. They’ll also keep the car packed
for the 2009 hurricane season, as the Alamanac predicts an active one,
especially in Florida.

But Editor Janice Stillman said it’s the winter
foreasts that attract the most attention, especially this year, with
much higher heating prices.

So, in line with the weather and economy
forecasts, the Almanac includes information on using wood for heat: the
best wood, how to build a fire in a fireplace, whether to use a wood
stove and how to stay warm — all winter — with a single log.

Here’s the secret, popularized in 1777: Throw a
log out an upstairs window, dash down the stairs and outside, retrieve
the log, dash upstairs, throw the log out the window and so on.

"Do that until you work up a sweat and you’ll be warm all winter," said Stillman.

Last year, the Almanac correctly predicted
"above-normal" snowfall in the Northeast — an understatement — and
below-normal snowfall in the mid-Atlantic states.

New Hampshire, home of the Almanac, saw the most snow in 134 years and missed an all-time record by 2.6 inches.

Established in 1792, the Old Farmer’s Almanac is
North America’s oldest continuously published periodical. The little
yellow magazine still comes with the hole in the corner so it can hang
in outhouses.

Boasting 18.5 million readers, this year’s
edition contains traditional tips on gardening and astronomical
information and tide charts so accurate the government considered
banning them during World War II, fearing they would help German spies.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac is not to be confused with the Maine-based Farmer’s Almanac, published "only" since 1818.

The 217th edition also predicts social trends
such as sofas that measure body temperature, shopping carts that sound
an alarm when filled with too much junk food and closet shelves and
hangers that talk to give advice on matching shirts and ties.

"I would really hate that," Hale said. "What do
you mean these don’t match? Of course they match! You kidding me? Pink
goes perfectly well with yellow," he joked.

Upholding its tradition of being "new, useful
and entertaining," the Almanac offers tips on how to keep gardens
alive, even in snow, and how to keep people alive, even for 100 years.
(Some examples: Take it easy, use your brain, laugh and flirt!)

As printed publications fold around the country
because of falling readership, Stillman says the Almanac is keeping
pace with the 21st Century with a website that offers the printed
version and supplements that can be personalized based on a reader’s
ZIP code.

Hale said the magazine with the familiar
features remains popular in a digital age because, well, it’s an
almanac, and readers have said they like it being predictable.

"’Oh good,’ they say, ‘Not everything is disappearing."’

This year, after 154 pages of words of wisdom
from scientists and other experts, the 2009 edition closes with words
from children — letters to God from first- and second-graders.

One, signed Joyce, shows little kids know not to be ungrateful, even when faced with a big disappointment.

"Dear God," she wrote. "Thank you for the baby brother, but what I prayed for was a puppy."

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.
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