Inversion Aversion

In late December, I published a post about the phenomenon known as inversion, which strikes Prague particularly hard (why, I don't know).

During inversion, normal air patterns are turned on their head, when cold air near the ground is trapped by warmer air above. When this happens, "air becomes stagnant and pollution becomes trapped close to the ground."

Inversion blocks out the sun in Prague for days, if not weeks, at a time, and makes the air unhealthy to breathe, since there's a lot of pollution -- from cars and coal-burning furnaces -- seeping into the sky.

When I wrote that post, I published a picture of the Prague skyline during an inversion. The photo was taken, believe it or not, at midday.

Here it is:

But what I didn't do, and am doing now, is publishing a photo of what that same view looks like on a relatively normal day (of which we've somehow managed to have a few).

Here's what that view normally looks like, also at midday:

You get the idea. It's awful.

Sometimes I don't know why I live here.


Pauline Lim said…
Dear Grant:

I think I know why you live there. You must be saving anecdotes for your future novel about an American ex-pat living in Prague. Isn't it? (That's what my Korean mom used to say. Actually, her speech pattern was, "It's a nice day outside. Don't you?"). As melancholy as Prague is, it's got a richly palpable history that you can't ignore. I felt its sad past much more than in France. As long as you don't go crazy.... A lot of great art came out of there.

Speaking of great art, I just read "The White Hotel", which started as a semi-pornographic, phantasmagoric rant in the era of Freud and turned into a devastating Nazi atrocity! (Hope that wasn't too much of a spoiler). Then I of course had to Google "Babi Yar" and read your posting about Lidice, ach! I need lighter fare now-- something fluffy, yet intelligent enough not to be boring. So I then read the young-adult book "The Golden Compass", but it was very sad-- with none of the laughs of the "Harry Potter" series. So we went to see Will Smith in "I Am Legend", hoping for some exciting "Independence Day"-like silly fun. Instead it was very bleak and depressing. Apocalyptic literature seems so pervasive these days. Is it just me? Or is the world really coming to an end?

At least I've recently had the pleasant discovery of watching football-- it's not at all sad, especially when your team wins all the time! Go Patriots!

However, I was very broken up after Zinedine Zidane's exit at the World Cup '06, so even that can become emotionally wrenching!

By the way, thank you for telling me about; I added the feature to my art website and our bike blog and it's been very entertaining!
Julia said…
I thought Prague's inversion was uniquely awful too until this Christmas. We visited my sister in Zurich and the entire Zurichsee valley was smothered with clouds and smog, same as here. Driving home we went up in elevation and suddenly discovered the sun. It was beautiful while it lasted. Then we drove into another valley(around the Bodensee) and the smog came back. My sister tells me that most of their winter is like this. Who knew!
Eileen said…
Grant, I have been enjoying your entries very much. It was fun to see where all the snow from Tour de Ski ended up! I bike every week in Prague for fun, exercise and to run errands. What are the "rules" for where and how to lock up your bike for short amounts of time(1-2 hours)? Bike racks are scarce and then when you expect to find one that was noted on an official cycle map(Hradcanske namesti), its no where to be found! Thanks. Eileen
Grant said…
Hi, Eileen. Sorry for the delay in responding. I've been away.

I have to say that I am usually afraid to lock up my bike and leave it if I'm out. If I lock it, it's usually outside a restaurant or something where I can pop out to keep an eye on it.

I know that my friends from Boston, Pauline and Ulandt, didn't seem to have any problems locking their bikes up to fences and posts and going inside places for tours, etc., during their visit late last year. They had expensive bikes, but good locks.

I guess you just have to take your chances. There are no rules that I know of, other than be very careful. Bike theft is a big problem here.

I locked my bike up to a post in a parking lot outside the Prague zoo the other week, and it was still there 30 minutes later or so.

Good luck!
Eileen said…
Thanks for the reply Grant. Now at least I can rest assured that that using a post or fence to lock my bike is not a faux pas. I am looking forward to a visit in March by my son and 2 of his med school buddies. They are big road bikers so I am grateful for your route descriptions as I know they will be seeking hours in the saddle on their visit to Prague. Eileen

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