Saturday, September 12, 2009

Unhappy Anniversary

I was minding my own business this morning, being a paving-guy in the ancestral digs' driveway, when the Top of the Hour radio program change happened.

The new show's intro music was missing, so my ears perked up. Before I knew it, I was listening to the Audio of 9/11/2001.

My hands were a mess, the radio was on battery power so I couldn't turn it off...or unplug it right away. I'd been in a very chipper mood this morning, and that came to a screeching halt when I heard those radio calls from FDNY personnel bravely meeting their demise in the service of others...and the 911 calls from the frightened and doomed in the upper floors of the Twin Towers.

I may be just an "Old Softy", but I'm no wimp. I may get a little dewy-eyed watching a few scenes from "Casablanca", but nothing else opens my tear ducts like reliving 9/11 does.

I was in San Jose del Cabo, Baja California Sur on 9/11, on a fishing vacation. The Terrorist Attacks on NYC and the Pentagon, changed my travel plans for a few days, and an ensuing hurricane kept SturgeUrge and me on the dry for a few days, so there was more than enough time to watch the unfolding coverage of events back in the States.

The Time Share Condos that we stay in had some satellite TV from the States: CNN, ESPN, KOMO-TV ABC's Seattle Outpost, some off-brand satellite networks that show American TV Reruns, and a couple of Mexican Channels.

The difference in the coverage between the US Channels and Mexico's TV Channels couldn't be more stark. I knew the droning personalities on CNN by rote. At home I usually tuned them out pending a click of the remote. Boring and familiar, even in the extraordinary circumstances of the day.

On ABC, the Seattle local talking heads were interesting, but they were just on long enough to cover Seattle news, weather, and traffic before throwing it back to ABC Network's Peter Jennings, who I'd never acquired a taste for.

On Mexico City's News, things were very different. Everything was new, I don't speak Spanish. Oh, I get along fine at restaruants, bars and fishing boats, but watching breaking news in the Foreign Tongue is beyond my pitiful Spanish vocabulary...If a panga got in a wreck with a beer truck at a Fish Taco Stand, I'd get most of the story...beyond that, salsipueda?

So watching the Mexico City feed, between the flashy overly produced dance-number Bimbo Bread commercials, and the breaking the sound barrier Weather Chicas bumping and grinding the forecast, the video of Ground Zero and environs scrolled away.

On Mexican TV, the News Directors were doing business as usual. Telling the story, and trolling for viewers, just like TV in America. Or rather, just like American TV before the 9/11 attacks.

I gather that September 11th, 2001 was the day when TV News in America decided that the size of their audience was not as important as the feelings of said audience. American TV decided to husband American's sensibilities so as to protect us from bad or disturbing feelings caused by grisly images of Lower Manhattan's Worst Day. I'm talking about the jumpers.

You see, Mexican TV showed a couple of minutes of victims jumping from the Towers that morning, having chosen to jump over incineration. Unlike American TV, which chose to "sanitize" their "reporting" lest Americans "get the wrong idea" about what had happened, Mexican TV rolled the tape every half hour, for most of the next few days. I didn't get the wrong idea, even with the oppressive tropical weather from the nearby hurricane, those images chilled me to my core. More than one couple jumped hand in hand. The reaction shots of gape-jawed witnesses on the street were more than galvanizing. I get that lump in my throat just recalling them.

Save your Volunteering for 9/12. 9/11 is for remembrance. Never Forget.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Happy Anniversary

Last month, there seemed to be another Big Anniversary almost daily.

First Moon Landing, 40th. Woodstock, 40th. Manson Gang commits the Tate/LaBianca Murders, 40th. Hurricane Camille, 40th.

All these 40th commemorations overshadowed a Big Anniversary for Groomers. Lost in the shuffle was July's 30th Anniversary of SONY's Walkman. A watershed event for Groomers and Audiologists World-Wide. July 1979 was busy just like August of '69.

Remember the Susan B Anthony Dollar? 30th. NASA's first Space Station, Skylab fell to Earth, 30th. Saddam Hussein assumed power in Iraq, 30th.

The Walkman made Grooming a Career Choice. Back in the days of Tucker Sno-Cats, Car Stereos hadn't been ruggedized enough for Grooming Duty. AstralTunes were the MusicLoving Groomer's Choice.

Those of a certain age may remember AstralTunes. These were personal cassette players that pre-dated the Walkman. They were like a car stereo, but came in a chest pack. The wearer listened with headphones.

I never owned AstralTunes, but I jumped on the Walkman when it was offered for sale in the USA. I paid full pop...$200! In 1980 Dollars! What's that worth today? $600? Do they even publish the CPI these days? I bought the Walkman a year before I started grooming...I wanted tunes when I was skiing, the Two C-Notes seemed reasonable at the time, but I was still young and stupid...who knew?

My original Walkman lived for a handful of years, which is pretty remarkable when I think about it. Even in a padded chest pack, it was Severe Duty. Skiing with the Walkman added impacts as well as moisture. Then the little cassette player would pull an all-nighter, five nights a week. I think the Walkman did Dog Years. I'm thinking that it did about fifteen years of service in five or six Winters!

I had several more Walkmen over the years, though by the mid-80's Car Stereos could serve in grooming machines. I still have a SONY Walkman, it's a cassette machine with an AM/FM Radio. I take it with me to the tire store, when I go Dock Fishing at Donner Lake, and when I'm doing Air Travel. I'm not a total Trogdolite, I got an iPod Nano last year.

I always liked radio, and early in my grooming life, FM Radio did the trick. Back then every FM Rock station had it's own sound. Programming hadn't consolidated into the One Giant ClassicRock Cartel we endure today. This dismal development in an otherwise creative medium, gave rise to AM Talk Radio.

I was always a Talk Radio Listener, starting right out of High School. ChicoDupre and I painted houses for a couple of summers, and listened to Don Chamberlain's "California Girls" Show, along with NPR's Radio Dramas and Info-Tainment Programs. It was destined I think, because I grew up listening to "The World's Greatest Radio Station" KSFO in San Francisco. KSFO in the late 50's and thru the 60's featured some of the most creative pioneering On-Air Talent ever assembled.

KSFO in those days had the great Don Sherwood, Jim Lange, and Terry McGovern. I remember staying up late listening to my old table radio during the "Cuban Missile Crisis" I was 10 years old, and KSFO reported what little there was to report as I waited for the worst.

After the Dawn of Free Form FM Radio and a decade and a half of rockin' good FM Music radio, I found my way back to Talk Radio. FM Rock was starting to ossify, just as portable electronics were making big strides in quality vs price. Reception was all important up on the Mountain, too.

Overnight, radio can be magic. Reception morphs into something remarkable when the Sun is active. The magic is Geophysical mostly, though the Art Bell Show did provide Jaw Dropping Listening over the years. Back in the late 90's the Sun was in it's last Maximum Cycle, Sunspots numbered in the thousands, and the Solar Magnetic Effects on the Ionosphere, made DX (Radio GeekSpeak for Long Distance Listening) memorable.

In 1998 I was doing some cabinet work in my garage one Sunday afternoon, I tuned up and down the dial trying to find something I could listen to on my GE SuperRadio. Finally I found a Gardening Talk Show, and settled in to get my sanding and prep work done. As I listened to the Garden Show, I noticed that I didn't recognize any of the plants the hosts were talking about. As I listened closer, I couldn't draw a bead on any of the automobile models they were advertising either. Piqued I paid rapt attention until I heard a Station Check...It wasn't an American station, not Canadian, and not from Mexico.

I flew downstairs and fired up the internet and searched the Call Sign...Australia! It was the middle of the afternoon in Truckee, which put the Australian station in the dark, so the over-excited ionosphere was reflecting the AM signal on the 2nd harmonic of their frequency. It was coming in like it was a 50KW Blow Torch in the next county! I emailed the station with a listener report, and requested a QSL ( a little certificate from the station verifying my DX listening, but I never received one from them) It was the longest DX I've ever done on AM radio. Shortwave listening is truly World Wide with just a decent set and a Long Wire Antenna.

So, what about the iPod you ask...the Nano doesn't have a radio. I get Podcasts of radio programs I can't receive on my Mountain, or that I sleep through. With Art Bell's retirement, I can't count on good Talk Radio every night anymore. Enter Apple's iPod. What a Fascinating, Modern World we live in.

OK, I looked up the CPI. The Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics still issues the CPI numbers, though in that obscure way that all Big Government Bureaucracies bury the lead. It's worse than I thought. The CPI for July 2009 is 645...that makes my old Walkman cost $1290 in today's US Dollars.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Dog Days

The mercury is going up...again. That's the forecast I've heard all day long today. It's the Top of the Hour Weather Tease on the AM Talker I had on while fixing the root cracks in Mom's driveway. I'll put the asphalt emulsion top-coat on in the morning. It's going to dry fast in the heat. Friday will be even hotter, before the cooling begins for the weekend...we'll see...

I don't know if there's less chatter about the other Heating Up Forecast lately, or maybe the name's been morphed from Global Warming into Climate Change...hedging their bets? I would...satellite temperature data show no warming since 1998. This means, dear reader, that if you are 28 years old, there has been no measurable Global Warming in your entire adult life!

I read an interesting Paper over at Anthony Watt's Blog today. It correlates the five "Ocean Products" of the AMSR-E instrument flying aboard the Aqua Satellite. Wiki has the scoop on Aqua here.

The Five Ocean Products are: Sea Surface Temperature (SST), Near-Surface Wind Speed, Vertically-Integrated Water Vapor, Vertically-Integrated Cloud Water, and Rain Rate. Dr Spencer plots these data, and the trend average, and whaddya know? The trend is down across the board. Granted it's just over seven years worth of observations, clearly not enough to declare a trend, or extrapolate a cycle from this tiny arc of data. Spencer conveniently includes the PDO data as well!

Aqua's AMSR-E also keeps an eye on Arctic Ice and Snow, but those data were excluded from this paper for clarity. Some may scoff...Ah-Ha! Doctoring the story! Let's look at "The Rest of the Story" re Arctic Ice.

This was going to be The Year according to NASA that the Arctic Ocean would be clear of Pack Ice. Some AGW Activists chose 2009 to focus World attention on this event by making expeditions to the North Pole in kayaks, in a Solar Powered Sailboat, and by Dog Sleds if memory serves. Not much news has been generated by these Warmin' Crusaders.

Well, actually plenty of news was generated, it just didn't get reported by the Legacy Media Outlets. It seems that the "unusually heavy" amount of Pack Ice thwarted these Climate Heroes in the early days of their respective expeditions, causing them to enlist the help of some less Gaia-friendly petroleum powered Ice Breakers and helicopters to affect their rescues. Plainly, these developments did not advance their Sky-Is-Falling Narratives, so I guess no Press Releases were issued...Curious, isn't this Good News? I'm calling it a "Happy Beginning" We could save Trillions of US Dollars if this need to "Cap and Trade" ourselves into poverty, Gaia didn't need our help after all! OK DC, on to something more Cost Effective!

Read about the surprised voyageurs here, and their Aug 17th Log Entry here. A crewman's sister blogs about their troubles too. It's not just funny business up North either, while AGW Alarmists cry from the rafters about retreating pack ice in the Arctic, the antarctic ice is piling up...BigTime!

Remember the Eastern Yin/Yang philosophy? It's science really...Nature is all about balance. Today is September 10th, 2009...the cream-filled middle of Hurricane Season. I notice that Hurricane Fred became the Second Atlantic Hurriacane of the 2009 Season on Labor Day. Fred got it together near the Cape Verde Islands. In my mind this is a paradox. During El Niño years, the Atlantic has below-normal numbers of tropical storms, named storms, and hurricanes. The data says the Pacific is acting more like a La Niña season, yet minimal Atlantic activity...could be our becalmed star...could be the PDO change, or Aqua's 5 Ocean Products....time will tell.

One will be interesting to find out just what is happening.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Back In Gear

Days off mean different things at different times of my year. We just observed Labor Day...I did errands on Labor Day! I managed to get up the Hill, and touched bases with the Boss and my neighbors. I evaded Holiday Traffic by going Thursday evening, and returning Saturday afternoon. Saturday, the eastbound traffic was awful...I tried that on Memorial Day, and turned around, defeated. Interstate 80 looked like the same "parking lot" as I blew by in the Westbound direction!

Elsewhere on CorduroyPlanet, the Northern Alliance met for the first time in twenty-or-so years! KirkVallus was on the road to and from Boise, Idaho, and touched bases with BajaBabe at the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. Saturday, SisterSweetly called in with the rain report for Humboldt County just before KirkVallus called his road report in...Rain in the Willamette Valley Friday, drier the more Easterly they got.

Back in the Inland Valley, SturgeUrge got roped into working Sunday of the Three Day, and Labor Day is not a good day to be on the water, though hanging around Boat Ramps on Big Holiday Weekends can be hilarious!

Folks get busy in America...Labor Day sneaks up on us, and all of a sudden it's: "Yikes, Summer's over and I haven't had the boat out all season! My wife's gonna kill me, or make me sell the thing." This is the perennial prologue to the "Boat Ramp Follies"

Outdoor Magazines have pages devoted to the various "Stupid Human Tricks" that make up the Boat Ramp Follies...usually the stories begin on the last page and tell a tale of unfolding errors that compound into the embarrassing punch line.

The worst story I ever read was about the Father and his Adult Son, launching the Son's new Boston Whaler. Dad had dreamed of owning a Whaler for his entire life. Raising a family put the dream forever into dreamland. Well, the son did pretty well after college, and picked up the Whaler before he got married.

The big day came, the boat was loaded and prepped , but as they started backing down the ramp for the Maiden Voyage, the boat rolled off the trailer, and all the way down the ramp to the water! The son's description of the Whaler's gelcoat drawing parallel white lines down the concrete ramp to the water made my stomach turn.

I can't say I've never been a chorus girl in the Boat Ramp Follies, but at least my Whaler's gelcoat is intact! I've forgotten to install the drain plug...twice. I left it in one winter too, when the boat was parked at a friend's corporation yard, and the boat filled with rainwater, right through the canvas boat cover. I had to do some rewiring that spring. Both times I forgot to put the plug in, I was barefoot so the water alerted me before the situation turned desperate.

Today I accompanied my Mother to her monthly Church Luncheon. We usually share a table with a nice couple who have lived fascinating lives. Dave and Janey are retired school teachers and missionaries. Dave was born and raised in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) He taught gifted high school classes, and returned to Africa to teach in Church Schools with Janey after they met and married in college stateside. Dave has had a life long interest in weather, and we always have plenty to talk about. We talked about hurricanes and he explained the weather in his native country.

I can't imagine what it would be like living a thousand miles away from the nearest ocean! Dave said: "we were 1000 miles from the ocean, 2000 miles from the Mediterranean!
When they had a big gully washer, they'd say: "It looks like the whole Red Sea is coming our way!" All the weather they got was Continental Weather. Orographic lifting caused most of the rain in Zimbabwe, and those same mountain ranges determine the strength of India's Monsoons.

I thought about America's Midwestern weather, Tornado Alley, and the phenomenal Thunder Storms I've witnessed from Colorado and New Mexico to Indiana. All of these are Oceanic in origin. The warm moist air-mass from the Gulf of Mexico meets the cold Canadian air, and wham-severe Weather. In the Big Picture, we think of the Oceans as stabilizing influences on our climate...never mind that the same "stable" oceans spin off nearly every storm we get in the Central Sierra Nevada. Stable is another relative concept, you see.

This afternoon, I did a quick scan of the BajaNomads website to see how the Hurricane Jimena Relief Effort is going. The Baja Bush Pilots and Cruz Roja are on the case. The situation is "stable" Help is on the way.

The oceanic influences on the Inland Valley's weather have been far from "stable" of late. It seems like the weather runs hot and cold almost daily. It's not typical for September, hardly "stable". I can't help but wonder...what's coming this Winter?

Sunday, September 6, 2009


To millions, WoW stands for World of Warcraft. Since I'm not a Gamer, I wouldn't know. I might be flip and say it's: Weary of Weather, that I'm tired of getting fooled by my local forecast office, though the stakes are exactly zero here at the beginning of September in the Inland Valley. With so many things competing for my attention these days, it's too easy to slack off with a smirk and a quip. No matter, what will be, will be...or some such self serving drivel.

It turns out I'm of sober heart and mind today. I've been catching up with Hurricane Jimena's aftermath across the Central Baja Peninsula. It's not good. There may be as many as 128K refugees as of Friday Sept 4th.

The BajaNomads H.Jimena thread stands at 47 Pages as of Sunday afternoon 9/6/2009! Fortunately, loss of life is not widespread. Damages are though.

Early reports say 1500+ utility poles are down, more than 100 High-Voltage Transmission Towers have toppled, and several Power Sub-Stations sustained damages. Water infrastructure is worse off, sadly. Highway 1 is just passable in many areas, and several mid-Peninsula Airstrips are unusable.

In anticipation of Jimena's landfall, CFE and Telmex (Electricity and Telephone) pre-positioned extra crews drawn from mainland Mexico, to provide fast response. They've gotten a big jump on restoration, but the damages are well spread out, so it will take some time yet.

The change in tenor of the posts on the Nomad's Jimena thread truly are heartening. The focus has evolved from situation updates, to stock taking, reconnecting and checking in, to organizing private relief missions. Nomads are truly sainted people. What would you expect? To know Baja and her people is to Love Baja...Unconditionally.

The Baja Bush Pilots have stepped up to the plate. Their advanced teams have been down south for a couple of days surveying the situation on the ground. Checking first-hand on needs from town to town, checking on airstrip conditions, aviation fuel availability, relief infrastructure, etc. While north of the border, the BBP's are lining up donations and planning drop-off and pick-up locations around the Southwest.

Poor Mulege! The lovely town took the brunt of Jimena, and was just recovering from Hurricane John...They've gotta be thinking what is it with Hurricanes that have names starting with the letter J? Juliette, John, and now Jimena have all done the Devil's bidding on the Rio Mulege and the town. Many homes along the river (locally known as the arroyo) couldn't sustain three direct hits. Reports say the river was Two Meters higher than when H.John clobbered town.

Out on the Pacific side, Puerto Lopez Mateos, center of the Bahia Magdalena Commercial Fishing Industry, may have suffered damage or destruction to as much as 90% of the town's structures.

Here's some links to follow along, and to help:

BajaNomad's Jimena Thread

Baja Bush Pilots

As it turns out, I am weary from weather...just not like I thought. Just reading about Mid-Baja's woes has me Bone Weary. Pray for Baja