April 17th, 2011 - The Block Sinks!
Many of you have been supporters of the Meltdown since its inception back in 2005. For that, I am truly grateful.
April 13th, 2011 - Buds are Blooming
I seem to be a pretty popular person these days. Everyone wants to know the condition of the ice and whether or not the block has gone through. The answers? The ice is still frozen and no, the block has not gone through yet. I told you the ice was thick. It even surpassed my date of April 12th.
April 7th, 2011 - Red Sox 9, Yankees 6
Please allow me the time to clear up a few inaccuracies in last week’s update.
March 26th, 2011 - Meltdown Mania
Thanks to a late flurry of ticket activity, there are many new participants to the Meltdown that are receiving their first e-mail update on the contest. Are you in for a treat. To the rest of you seasoned Meltdown participants, my apologies for getting this update out later than usual. Believe me when I say that today was a day like no other.
Late March cold brought chills to the region in the form of heavy wet snow. Did anyone catch the Weather Channel last night when Jim Cantore singled out a small spot in the Berkshires and mentioned that they were in the bulls-eye of this late season Nor’easter? Well, that bulls-eye was centered over Goshen which received an 18” blanketing of snow today compounded by heavy winds which caused widespread power outages. Snow laden tree branches snapped bringing down power lines with them. The attached pictures tell the story. The first photo, taken yesterday, clearly shows the block and pallet sitting atop the ice. Twenty-four hours later, the top of the block is barely visible thanks to today’s snowstorm.
We’ve received almost 3,200 tickets and close to $700 in direct donations as of today. I still don’t have a final count because tickets are still being delivered through the mail. Only yesterday, I received an envelope that was mailed from Chesterfield and had a 3/24 postmark. Over the past week, tickets have come in from Prospect, Tasmania in Australia, Bayamon and Comerio Puerto Rico, Havana Cuba, Uruma City Japan and New Orleans Louisiana.
I have some other great news to announce. In recognition of the success of this year’s Meltdown, the Massachusetts State Lottery has announced a new ‘on-line’ game that will be called ‘Meltdown Mania’. The goal of the new keno-like contest is to select the closest date and time to the actual moment the block falls through the ice without going over. Contest players will be able to watch the ice melt through a series of closed circuit monitors that will be installed around Hammond Pond in Goshen MA in the spring of 2012.
Governor Patrick was quoted as saying “It’s time for the State of Massachusetts to take its lottery operations into the 21st century, embrace e-commerce, and sell its lottery products through the internet.”
“The goal of the contest is to attract a host of new participants,” according to State Treasurer Steve Grossman. “These would include young adults who are comfortable with social gaming; non-traditional lottery players who earn more than $75,000 annually; and older people who either have no access to traditional lottery outlets, or simply don’t want to wait in line.”
In an unprecedented move, the town Selectboard has authorized me to publish the cover page of the upcoming edition of the Goshen Gazette Magazine (see attached). The latest edition will hit newsstands this coming week and includes additional details on the contest that have yet to be announced.
As I mentioned, today was a day like no other.
Until next time…THINK SPRING
P.S. Before any of you rush over to your computers in an effort to be the first one on your block to purchase the new Meltdown Mania tickets, take a close look at your calendar and remind yourself what today’s date is.
March 26th, 2011 - Corn Flakes
The snow in Goshen went from mashed potatoes earlier in the week to crunchy corn flakes this morning as I left my driveway to check on the condition of the ice. The snow pack in the Hilltowns extends deep into the woods thanks to the cold temperatures that have returned. Even our annual 5th season (a.k.a. mud season) has taken a back seat to the change in weather.
March 21st, 2011 - Spring? What Spring?
March 14th, 2011 - Luck of the Irish
March 14th, 2011 - Naomi's Ride
Who ever thought watching ice melt could be so much fun?
It’s been a good week.
Last weekends rain raised the level of the ice in Hammond Pond by 12” leaving several significant cracks visible from the surface.
I picked up mail on Monday and had Meltdown envelopes from New Zealand, Salem Oregon and Haydenville MA which gives you a sense for how far reaching our contest has become. Later that night, I served as moderator at a Special Town Meeting in Goshen. I started the meeting with a moment of silence for our friend Steve Mollison who passed away two weeks ago. Steve, who was a strong supporter of the Meltdown, would not only have been in attendance at the meeting, he would have been sitting in the front row. At the end of the meeting, I pitched the Meltdown to those assembled in the hall. I happened to mention the need to come up with a better name for this year’s benefactor. In my opinion, the Harry Family Van Fund just didn’t have enough pizzazz. It was at that point that Laura Barrus, another longtime Goshen resident, mentioned that the Congregational Church was referring to it as ‘Naomi’s Ride’. So, in the spirit of cooperation and full disclosure, I’m going borrow that term until the contest is over.
On Tuesday, Todd Haskell and I ventured out onto the ice with his auger to determine its thickness. Those of you who have friended us on Facebook got a sneak peak at the resulting video:
One of the things that surprised me about the pictures of the ice was the volume of air bubbles that could be seen trapped in the ice. As you can see in the video, the ice closest to the surface had the highest volume of bubbles. Whereas the older ice at the bottom was clearer. An uneducated guess tells me that the surface ice was created by melting snow that captured small air pockets as it froze while the water at the base of the iceberg was formed simply by freezing underwater temperatures. But what do I know? I just run this contest. However you look at it, 30” of ice is thick enough for me to drive a fire truck on without falling through (don’t worry Sue, I’m only providing people with a visual).
Later that evening, the fire department met at the Goshen firehouse for our monthly Tri-Town drill with the Williamsburg and Chesterfield fire departments. This month’s training was on the use of our self-contained breathing apparatus or SCBA’s – sometimes referred to as our oxygen bottles by reporters who don’t know any better. Every year, each firefighter is required to go through what is referred to as a ‘fit’ test. Simply put, Hampshire County Fire Defense owns a piece of equipment that tests the fit of your mask to your face which we were putting to good use. Each test takes approximately 10 minutes and because we couldn’t get through all the firefighters that evening, we asked several of them to come back Wednesday.
In between testing the following night, Sue handed me an envelope that was dropped off at the firehouse earlier in the day. The outside of the envelope indicated that the contents contained Meltdown tickets. Inside the envelope, there were 2 pieces of paper. One was a sheet of tickets that had been filled out. The other had a note with a check taped to it. The note, from a Goshen resident, indicated that they wanted their picks to cover every minute of a day in April. Prior to Wednesday, I can honestly say that I had never given much thought to how many minutes there were in a 24-hour period. Thanks to an anonymous donor from our little town, I will never forget that there are one thousand four hundred and forty of them. The note went on to say that they hoped they would win because, if they did, they planned to donate their winnings to the Harry family.
Another 2-3” of rain fell on Western Massachusetts on Thursday. Berkshire County was under a flood warning while the rest of the state was under a flood watch. Beaver Brook golf course in Williamsburg could justifiably be renamed Beaver Brook Pond. Once again, the water level in Hammond Pond rose by a foot.
Sue received a call Thursday from a friend who suggested that she might want to take a look at the headlines that referenced her on the front page of this week’s Country Journal. It read ‘Fire Chief Saves Selectmen’s Life’.
As I mentioned above, it’s been a good week.
With two more weeks before ticket sales end, we have 1,982 tickets sold. A friendly reminder to those of you that are waiting until the last minute to submit your picks that ticket sales end on Sunday, March 27th.
Until next time, THINK SPRING
March 6th, 2011 -
A personal note – It’s been several weeks since my last Meltdown update and I’d like to take a moment to explain the hiatus. The wind was knocked out of my sails recently by the unexpected deaths of two close friends within 5 days of each other. However, as you’ll read below, we paid a visit to the Harry family this week. Seeing how they’re coping with the cards that they’ve been dealt and knowing that this fundraiser will contribute towards making their lives a little bit easier was the kick-start I needed to get back on the ice and back on the keyboard. So, with no further delay, here is this week’s update.
You know that winter has worn out its welcome when you get down to the last cord of wood for the fire, temperatures go from zero degrees two nights ago to the mid 40’s and heavy rain today and there’s a 3-inch layer of ice on the driveway that is just now starting to melt. I can’t think of a better time to have a Meltdown.
With daylight savings time less than a week away, the ice on the lake hasn’t changed its appearance in weeks. That’s about to be altered in a big way (see photo below). Has anyone ever heard of ‘Patchy Freezing Fog’? That’s what’s in Goshen’s overnight forecast from the National Weather Service. Just to spice things up, we’re also expecting between 2-3 inches of rain over the next 12 hours. We will be greeted by a coating of ice in the morning from the freezing rain that will come as a result of overnight low temperatures in the upper 20’s. The unseasonably mild temperatures we experienced today combined with the heavy rainfall that has yet to stop will promote rapid snowmelt which will drive sharp rises in area rivers and streams through Monday. Let’s see how much the 7-foot snow banks next to my driveway will shrink by next weekend.
Earlier this week, the Goshen Fire Department conducted a drill at the home of Nancy and Matt Harry. The purpose of the drill was for us to become familiar with the use of the elevator that’s been installed in their home. The elevator provides their daughter Naomi with a way to get into the house without having to leave her wheelchair. The visit also allowed us to understand the layout of their home in the event we have to respond there in an emergency. More importantly, allowing the family an opportunity to share their concerns with us will provide them with the peace of mind that comes with knowing there are many people around that are willing to help.
We have some friends who are currently vacationing in Spain. It’s clear to me that they went there to escape the weather we’re now experiencing. Their timing couldn’t have been better. Another Meltdown participant mentioned that it was difficult for them to judge the timing of the contest because the only ice they could find was in their cocktails they were enjoying on a beach in Key West. I have to be nice so I’ll simply say that I hope they didn’t forget to put on sun block.
Ticket sales are growing quite nicely. We currently stand at approximately 400 tickets sold to date with close to $200 in direct donations. As a reminder, individuals who prefer to make donations should know that 100% of that money will go directly to the van fund.
As you can see from this week’s picture of the block, all the snow that covered the pallet is now history. The ice itself is still quite thick with only a small section of open water visible near the spillway. The return of seasonable temperatures later this week will slow down any high speed melting that might have occurred today. There are two things that we can count on when daytime temperatures reach above freezing and overnight lows settle in the mid-20’s – sap from the maple trees and mud from the dirt roads.
Until next time, THINK SPRING!
February 14th, 2011 - Things Heating Up?
Has anyone besides me noticed that the temperatures have gotten warmer ever since the Meltdown began?
Last week when my daughter Hannah and I placed the block on the pond, walking out there was a bit of a challenge. The sequence went something like this…step, squish, step, squish, step, step, squish. Seeing the pond covered in a layer of snow was more than deceiving. There was 6 inches of slush sitting on top of the ice. That slush has now frozen solid and has since been covered with another 4 inches of snow we received last Tuesday.
Here’s a time-lapse sequence of us setting up the block:
Within an hour of my first update, I started receiving comments from you. The first one questioned what I would do if the ice didn’t melt this year. Yet another made it clear to me that he did not consider the first pitch on opening day at Yankee stadium to be a “significant date”. He went on to say that Yankee fans should be charged a premium to play. Since I need to remain neutral in my comments, suffice it to say that while tempting, I simply cannot support such a change in the rules…this year. My favorite Aussie brought to my attention that I referred to the contest as the 2010 rather than the 2011 Meltdown. I guess I was still working out the cobwebs.
Fast forward to this past weekend, the weather was, well, seasonal. Saturday I snow shoed up Mt. Greylock for the 76th running of the Thunderbolt Ski Race. The temps were in the single digits early but warmed up to the mid 20’s by noontime – cold enough to support a constant snow flurry throughout most of the race. Compared to last year when we had barely any snow and strong winds, this year’s race found the mountain covered in a blanket of white that was several feet deep.
Here’s a time lapse video I took of my climb up the mountain:
Tonight, the winds are howling outside. The National Weather Service has issued a wind advisory. We should expect to see sustained winds of between 15 and 30 miles per hour with gusts up to 45 and 50 miles per hour. This will be a good test of the Meltdown flag. I’ve attached a picture of the block and flag that was taken yesterday to remind you what our little pond looks like in the middle of winter.
The weather forecasters are teasing us with higher than what will really happen temperatures for Thursday and Friday. For a reality check, tomorrow night the mercury is expected to drop to 0. While it was nice to see melting snow today, Mother Nature is still in control and it’s still the middle of winter in Goshen.
Until next time…THINK SPRING
Feb. 9th, 2011 - The 2011 Meltdown has Begun
As many of you know, this is the 7th year of what has turned into an annual event in Goshen. The rules are simple – come closest to guessing the exact time and day that a 69-pound concrete block falls through the ice (without going over) and you’ll win half of all the proceeds. The block sits on a wooden pallet that holds a flag. The flag is simply a marker that shows where the block is when it gets completely covered in snow. The block is connected by a rope to an electric clock. The clock is plugged into an outlet in the gatehouse on the dam holding back Hammond Pond. Once the block falls through the ice or the ice floe moves away from the dam, the tension on the cord will pull the plug out of the wall socket and stop the clock. It’s that straightforward.
I’d like to introduce you to the beneficiary of this year’s Meltdown. Her name is Naomi Harry. Naomi is a 10-year-old young lady who lives in Goshen with her parents Matt and Nancy and her younger sisters Rebekah and Deanna. Naomi is a 5th grader at New Hingham Regional Elementary School in Chesterfield where she gets around with the help of an electric wheelchair. The reason? At the age of 5, Naomi was diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy. Last year, the family established a fund to purchase a wheelchair accessible van. This year’s proceeds will add to the fund and hopefully put them over the top. Individuals who would prefer to make donations directly to the fund should know that 100% of your contributions will make it to the family.
Regular updates will be posted to www.goshenmafire.com – the website of the Goshen Fire Department. Participants that include an e-mail address on their ticket stub will be added to an e-mail distribution list that is used to provide periodic updates and snapshots of the block. The current list includes several hundred addresses of people who are regularly entertained by these updates. The sooner your tickets are returned, the sooner you can become part of that exclusive group.
We’re also on Facebook. Become a fan and you’ll find more frequent updates, pictures and videos of the contest.
The deadline for ticket submissions is Sunday, March 27th. Note that this is a departure from previous years because it appears the effects of climate change are having an impact on our contest. Tickets received after that date (unless they were postmarked on or before 3/27) will be returned. This date is weather dependant and is subject to change.
Here are some statistics from the past 6 year’s of Meltdown events to consider as you make your selections:
- The most popular dates were 4/12 (264), 4/10 (262), 4/11 (255), 4/13 and 4/15 (249) and 4/8 (228).
- The ratio of morning to afternoon picks was 19% and 81% respectively.
- 80% of all the guesses were for times between April 1st and April 21st (hint, hint)
- The favorite times were 3 p.m. (283), 2 p.m. (256), 3:30 p.m. (202), 1:00 p.m. (193) and 2:30 p.m. (184).The winner is the person who is the closest to the exact time the clock stops without going over.
- Daylight savings time starts on Sunday, March 14th.Keep that in mind when making your selection.
- The official end of the previous contests were as follows:
- 2010 – April 2nd at 11:52AM
- 2009 – April 5th at 11:02AM
- 2008 – April 16th at 3:04PM
- 2007 – April 21st at 12:00 Noon
- 2006 – April 1st at 8:18PM
- 2005 – April 12th at 4:47PM
- Other significant dates to consider are as follows:
- 3/31 at 1:05PM – First pitch on Opening Day at Yankee Stadium
- 4/08 at 2:05PM – First pitch on Opening Day at Fenway Park in Boston
- 4/15 at 2:45AM – Day and time the Titanic sank in 1912
As always…THINK SPRING!