Liquid Lines

Crime Drops With the Temp and a Wonderful Winter Thus Far

By JON COEN | Jan 09, 2019
Photo by: Paul Boardman It’s been a great season of swell, but also decent weather and some really gorgeous skies to end 2018 and start the new year.

Happy New Year. Boy, was Monday morning cold!

I try to see the positive in every situation, so at the start of the week, I reminded myself that crime rates always drop with the mercury.

The research has been done by many organizations, including one study done just a year ago by Drexel University in our (sorta) neighboring city of Philadelphia. By comparing police activity data to weather statistics, researchers from Drexel’s School of Public Health determined that violent crime drops significantly from October to April. It does see occasional spikes in the winter when we have unusually warm days. So on those freak warm days in February we all love, violent crime rises 16 percent! Yet, on the coldest winter days, Philly is about as safe as Holgate.

No one likes being cooped up, including criminals. To them, sunshine means a fun day of assault and battery. Breaking into homes is much more pleasurable on warmer nights.

The study also showed that crimes don’t fall off on extremely hot days in the summer. That makes sense. Even the most level headed of us thinks about ramming our car into the idiot in front of us on those triple-digit days of August while stuck in traffic on the Boulevard.

So let’s view that little Arctic chill as a positive. There will be far fewer drive-by shootings in Surf City. The presence of those street toughs who hang around at Manahawkin Lake Park will be far less intimidating. The number of fights breaking out at the Barnegat Light pickleball court will drop dramatically. You have a much lower chance of being mugged on your way out of the Acme. The turf wars between Beach Haven West and Colony Lakes will likely cool off (the gang graffiti is unnerving).

Breathe this nice Arctic air a little easier.

BORDERLINE BLISS: I make jokes about a chilly morning, but on the whole, we’re in a hell of a lot better shape than we were last January. At this time last year we had just been walloped with a major blizzard, which let the door open to a record polar blast that lasted weeks and a winter that hung on through Memorial Day.

The Island and mainland have been as close to winter bliss as you can get to end out 2018 and start the new year. Although our average temps for November were only slightly higher than December, I think the latter half of November was actually colder than anything we’ve had since.

While we’ve had our share of storms, which have also resulted in waves (I’ll get to that in a minute), none of them have brought any real flooding, days of brutal northwest gusts, ice or other misery that we associate with winter on a glorified sandbar. The temps have been rather mild and I can’t really remember a stretch where we’ve had so many gorgeous sunsets, unseasonably warm clear and starry nights, windless days and other pleasantries to make winter more tolerable. As I’ve said many times in Liquid Lines, Southern Ocean County folks are outdoor types and the general mood around here is often of direct correlation to how much the atmosphere allows us to enjoy life on the beaches, in the woods, at parks and other places far from a TV screen.

We love where we live. But let’s be real honest, we love it a lot more when the conditions aren’t kicking us in the teeth. From bitter cold to extended heat, 2018 smacked us around a good bit. Winter is far different here when days start out in the 20s and 30s and the temps rise to the 40s or 50 than when we wake to teens and the afternoon highs are 27. You can keep that nonsense.

We’ve had nights where a passing front lit up like a fire in the sky. We’ve had perfect days for sitting around a firepit. There have even been some great opportunities for boating on the bay. And it would have been difficult to get a head count of the number of people on the beach on New Year’s Day in Ship Bottom.

On Dec. 23, the Werner family invited us up to the beach to watch the moonrise. From the bed of our truck, sipping hot cocoa on a 50-degree night, we all watched the fullest, reddest Christmas moon rise out of the ocean.

This, as they say, is living.

It’s been one hell of a stretch for the waveriders as well. Since early November, we’ve barely gone more than a week without a great head-high day. The timing of the swells, the size, the winds and the tides have all lined up pretty well. Even the sandbars, which have been less than ideal since being buried by 12 years of beachfill, are in pretty good shape.

Specifically, it’s been mostly south swells. We had one three-day stretch before Christmas, another three days after with a day of leftovers and then another banger on New Year’s Day. To top it off, this past Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning both produced combo swells of about 1 to 3-foot with offshore winds and decently rideability, the kind of swells which have been rare through winters of late.

In fact, the rest of this week and weekend will be the first truly flat spell we’ve seen in some time. Surfline.com has really gotten good with crunching historical numbers. And while we think of January as “winter” and generally a good month for surf, it’s traditionally a down month. I feel like that’s due to when high pressure sets in and we get those ripping offshore gusts for six or seven days at a time. We’ve bucked the trend up to this point. Some long-term weather models call for a change in pattern by the end of January and the Surfline forecasters are seeing signs that February and March could see pretty active weather, which would mean higher chance of swells.

WHAT ARE PEOPLE NOT GETTING ABOUT THE STAFFORD BAG BAN?: I feel like I have to address this since I’ve covered it now for over 10 years.

Stafford Township approved, back on July 17 of last year, Ordinance 2018-06, which completely bans the provision of single-use plastic bags in stores. Businesses and the public had five months to figure out how life would go on without plastic bags.

Just to provide some insight here, the idea is to get single-use plastics out of our waste stream. For those with zero understanding of environmental science, plastics are made of petroleum (oil) products. They never break down and they are a major contributor to litter. That’s easy to understand.

What’s more complex is that by making plastics bags and giving them away for free, we are taking finite resources out of the ground and adding carbon dioxide to our atmosphere. I know, it’s hard to imagine that bag being such a detriment but the U.S. uses about 100 billion of them a year. Now think in terms of 100 blllion detriments in one year. And the ones that don’t wind up in Mill Creek blow into the ocean to choke a sea turtle.

After reading numerous reports, articles and online discussion, I can come to no other conclusion than we’re simply not getting it. The idea – and former Mayor John Spodofora seems to be one of the few who undersands this – is that you bring a bag to the store with you made of canvas or other material.

I swear to whoever you believe in, it’s not that tough. You buy a canvas tote for a few bucks or get free ones handed out virtually all summer long. You bring said bag to the store and fill it with items. Then you save it, bring it back to the store, and do it all over again. I’ve been quietly observing the number of truly reusable bags at the grocery over the past few months and I can’t say I see a real difference. Again, it is so unbelievably easy.

ShopRite and Acme have taken to using thicker “reusable” plastic bags at a fee, in huge numbers, which is pretty much the opposite of what the plan is supposed to do. They are now disseminating thousands of more durable plastic bags that will take longer to break down.

What is even more confusing is listening to the online conversations about who should now pay for the bags that the store sells for a few cents.

Maybe we need to discuss this in more relatable terms. If the reason for the bag ban were the uprights on a football field, folks are kicking field goals toward the coach on the sidelines. We’re way off. I’ve read time and time again this talk about the 10 cent fee.

Sorry. Are we really talking about a dime?

I certainly don’t mean to sound like money isn’t an issue. I spent part of my Saturday night taking advantage of 50-cent Frijoles Negros at the ShopRite Can-Can sale. But everyone I see is carrying a cup of designer coffee. One Grande Java Frappuccino with Whipped Cream is $5. Every 15-year-old has a $750 super computer in his or her pocket. And how does the dime even register to those flag-flyin’ patriots who are calling it a “socialist tax” when it’s $50 to fill the gas tank of a Dodge Durango?

How long will it take to figure this out?

I hate to say it, but plastic bag bans are about the tip of the (melting) iceberg when it comes to what we need to do to correct humanity’s damage to the planet. People joke that paper straws and bag bans aren’t going to save the world. That's true. But those people certainly aren’t going to start campaigning for cars that have to be pedaled or plant-based diets (look up the environmental effects of the beef industry some time). We should have started with these relatively simple tweaks 25 years ago.

We need to be responsible for our actions now. At this point, we will have to reconcile with environmental catastrophes sooner than later. Why don’t we start making changes now so that our problems aren’t so big in the future?

SOME HAPS:The start of the year tends to be a little slow for happenings, but we’re not in total slumber mode.

There’s not much this weekend in regards to the Liquid Lines community. However, next Friday night, Jan. 18, the Union Market and Gallery will host a Winter Viewing Party of “Just Beneath the Surface.” In the spirit of transparency, I have dog in this fight and I love seeing people come out to see our area featured on the big screen. The event runs from 6 to 9 p.m. and will highlight both episodes from 2018, including the longboard segment. Union Market will have its entire menu available: some great food, desserts, coffee and smoothies. It’s definitely worth the trip down from the Island for the food and camaraderie. “Just Beneath the Surface” will also premier the Season Three trailer that night, which has not been seen anywhere yet.

Jan. 19 will see the first Science Saturday of the year at the Long Beach Island Foundation of the Arts and Sciences with the Coast Resiliency Puzzle by Lisa Auermuller, of the Jacques Cousteau Society. There are few things that we will face as a barrier island community in the next few years as important as how we adapt to a changing Earth and climate. Jacques Cousteau’s strong partnerships with local communities, state agencies and NOAA positioned it well to put federal adaptation tools to work for the state. Auermuller brings a unique insider’s perspective. Since the “Getting to Resilience” technical assistance project launched in 2013, almost 60 New Jersey communities have put it to work as they seek to reduce vulnerability and increase preparedness through planning, mitigation and adaptation.

The following week, LBI’s own Rick Bushnell of ReClam the Bay will discuss “Using Shellfish in Living Shorelines” at the LBI Foundation in Loveladies. As always, the admission is $5 and LBIF members are free.

This year’s Polar Paddle by South End Surf ’N Paddle will be Feb. 2 to benefit Alliance for a Living Ocean. The frosty paddle race starts at Pearl Street on the bay and goes around Mordecai Island (once for the 2-mile, twice for the 4-mile) The race starts at noon and is followed by a Potluck Party at the shop. Believe me, you will be hungry. Email Sheryl Paynter at South End if you are able to bring a snack or lunch at spaynter12@yahoo.com. Should the bay be frozen, the race will be rescheduled to March.

I’ve come to love this race because it’s the only actual watersports event that happens in the actual winter, and a chance for paddlers, lifeguards, endurance athletes and surfers to actually get to do something outside the traditional season. And again, it’s good to see everyone.

Resist the urge to binge watch. Get out and keep busy this month. Hope to see some rosy cheeks and smiling faces out and about.

joncoen@thesandpaper.net

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