Saturday, June 5, 2010

Whatever Gets You Through the Night

OK, I'll admit it right here, right now. I'm a captive to the weather. Call me a Weather Hostage.

@CorduroyPlanet follows Anthony Watts' excellent Climate Blog, Watts Up With That? This morning @WUWT tweeted: "WUWT at the top of the heap?" I went to WUWT, and the Blog is The Number One Science Blog online!

I read the post, then scrolled down to see what else Was Up. It seems the Climate Prediction Center (CPC) issued a La Niña Watch Thursday:

•A transition from El Niño to ENSO-neutral is underway.
•Sea surface temperatures are decreasing across much of the Pacific Ocean and have recently become below-average in portions of the eastern half of the basin.
•Although many models predict ENSO-neutral conditions, there is a growing possibility of La Niña developing during the second half of 2010.

This is bad news for yours truly. (Like I need a reason to obsess over the weather) I guess I'll just resign myself to a Summer of Paying Attention.

The CPC issues an Expert Discussion/Assessment every week.
This Product, in .pdf form is 30 pages long this week, and packed with images and data. It's quite the tome for WeatherGeeks, and it's loaded with tangents to investigate.

While reveling in all things ENSO, I had the TV tuned to 24/7News, who were tracking the launch of SpaceX's commercial rocket at Cape Canaveral, Florida.

When did we quit calling it Cape Kennedy? Why?

As always, "busy" Government bureaucrats put too fine a point on the name...officially, it's now "The Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral"

After some short delays for "Sensor Anomalies", the Falcon 9 rocket blasted off in picture-perfect fashion, carrying a dummy Dragon Capsule. SpaceX has been awarded a $1.6 billion contract for up to 12 operational logistics flights to the International Space Station.

"Operational Logistics Flights" is NASA-speak for hauling freight up to the ISS.

Buoyed by today's apparent "Bullseye" performance of the Falcon 9, SpaceX want's to take ISS Cargo to the Station on their next flight, foregoing an extra mission to prove out the cargo ship's rendezvous capabilities.

SpaceX contends the Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon capsule could be ready for human passengers by 2013, if NASA awards a contract for the work this year.

All this seems very ambitious to me, given NASA'a stately and deliberately paced flight test history. SpaceX is a Contractor in NASA's employ, and the customer calls the shots, so to speak.

SpaceX isn't the only Commercial Launch Outfit on the scene. More established companies like United Launch Alliance, which oversees Atlas and Delta rocket flights, and Orbital Sciences Corp., SpaceX's main competitor in the market for cargo services to the space station are part of Manned Spaceflight's Future in the Post-Space Shuttle universe.

Back on Earth, a quick look at the forecasts and radar images shows today's event staying far enough to the North to keep the Inland Valley dry. That looks like it for the foreseeable future. Back to the Diggins!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Hanging On

Boy, I'm tired today. I'm sleeping on time, full nights, at night. I haven't looked back since the BodyClock War. I did stay up kinda late last night. Fortunately, no soothing rain on the roof noise here at the Ancestral Digs! Feeling tired and lazy, I kept it low key, and left the garden to the gardeners today.

The latest wave of weather missed us for the most part, but my far-flung family and friends weren't so lucky...and I heard from most of them!

It started early, at 07:34 KirkVallus posted on Facebook: "The Weather Guessers say 1-2 inches of rain today!" An hour later he said they upped the ante to 3-4 inches, and that the rain was beating up his spring flowers.

At noon, I looked at the Noon News from San Francisco and Sacramento, both were able to show rain on video and radar. Precip was widely scattered, and the Sun came and went all day here at the Digs. This system is a dry cold front from the Gulf of Alaska with an entrained Tropical Moisture Tap coming all the way from the Philippines, providing the juice. Even though we didn't get any real rain to speak of here, we did feel the humidity as if we were in the Tropics!

Wednesday evening, SisterSweetly phoned. The rain was hammering her place in Humboldt County. She was sounding pretty tired of the rain.

About bed time, KirkVallus and I were back on Facebook...we chatted for a few minutes before he picked up the phone and called. We griped about the weather and the general state of the Universe and caught up for a half an hour or so before calling it a night.

I spent some time today looking for webcams near SisterSweetly's place, and looking at my usual cams to see where the rain was falling. It looked pretty darn nice in Cabo San Lucas, but it was gray and cloudy at LAX!

Tonight I looked at the whole roundup of AFDs. The "Weather Guessers" can't see beyond this system either. So, we're all fixated on this never-ending Rainy Season...At least I'm not the only weary one.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Fire Weather

It's kinda muggy in the Inland Valley today. I did errands all afternoon, and on my way home, I crested a hill that gave me an awesome view of Mt Diablo looming over the Inland Valley. Out past the big mountain, over the Central Valley, I could see building cumulus clouds typical of Summer afternoon thunderstorm buildup. Back at the Ancestral Digs, I logged on and looked at Reno's and Sacramento's AFDs. No mention of thunderstorms.

Many NWS Forecast Offices have a forecast product named "Fire Weather"

Fire Weather is a specialized forecast, tailored to Firefighting Planners and Wildland Fire Managers. This product delves a little deeper into Local Observations, reporting values like Fuel Moisture, Upslope and Downslope Winds, above and beyond the usual temps, rainfall, wind speed and direction. Fire Weather forecasts local winds, humidity, chances of Wetting Rain, and Lightning, for several times during the day.

During active Wildland Fire Season at the DaveCave and environs, I usually have my Police Scanner on 24/7. Every morning the Local Fire Stations broadcast their morning reports, and Grass Valley Dispatch reads the Fire Weather Forecast, so I know the Product is utilized by our Wildland Firefighters.

Beyond the Morning Reports, the scanner gets quite active during Fire Weather. Sure you hear all the Fire Dispatch Calls, but when there's active weather locally, you hear the Fire Lookouts calling in Smokes, and Grass Valley calling the Fire Lookouts for help confirming Smokes or Fires reported by the Cell Phone wielding Public. This can be very compelling listening, especially in late Summer and Fall!

At the risk of making another Seasonal Prediction, I've been wondering just what effect our lingering wet regime will have on Fire Season. It all depends on whether Summer gets hot, and the Heat Spell lasts. There's a video of the 150 days of 2010 Pacific Ocean Sea Surface Temps posted on Anthony Watts' Site that shows the ocean cooling that could herald the change of the guard Sea Surface Temperature-wise. El Niño seems to be turning into La Niña at breakneck speed. I wonder what the likelihood of a Long, Hot Summer is, given the likely La Niña...on top of the PDO in it's cooling phase?

With all the cool conditions extending the grass growing season, you can expect some nice fat deer this season. Should there be a Hot Indian Summer (not likely), and a Dry Fall (more likely, thank you La Niña!) we could see some Severe Fire Conditions. Still, four to six months out...conjecture is conjecture.

We'll have a better idea in four or five months. That's a Prediction I can make...without reservations.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

What Did I Just Hear?

I'm busy downloading my latest photos to the computer and renumbering them. The 6 O'clock news is on, but I'm not attention is on the photo files, and my renumbering scheme. I'm typing away, Columbus-Style, and I thought I heard a Weather Teaser say showers Thursday and Friday!?

My chest tightened as I raced to click on the Reno AFD. Not much there.

I clicked on the SFO/Monterey AFD...they say:
"Thursday and Friday remain tricky as the models are having a difficult time with the Southern extent of rain"

What a relief! That's a lot of hype for a couple of ratings points!

Hey Media-Types! There's plenty of weather-weary people out there with raw nerves when it comes to continued cold wet weather, and you are exploiting their sensitivities without grace! Shame on you!

Whew! Sorry to be such a Scold!

OK, I'm better now.

Monday was Memorial Day. It was warm and felt like Summer.

Tuesday the clouds scudded in, and the afternoon was 15F cooler than Monday. I picked up some groceries and cut up the Privet branches and got the pieces into the Garden Recycling Bin. Wednesday's Garbage Day here in the Inland Valley.

I made my first beach ball impression with the new CorduroyPlanet Linoleum Block pictured in progress above. All in all it was a nice weekend.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Perks/Inside Baseball

Here's a little Inside Baseball for you regular readers...

I've been working on a Logo for CorduroyPlanet. Doing a Branding Project Study is a better description. You've seen the First Round's efforts posted atop the blog. Click on the CP Beach Ball label at the bottom of this post to see them all.

Last Fall, I found the World Globe Beach Balls on Amazon...I think I paid roughly 50 cents a piece, because I bought a dozen. The first version was just letters I printed on colored paper, cut with scissors, and affixed with Packing Tape to the Equatorial Region of the Beach Ball..."Ransom Note Style". This worked great for Still Photos indoors. Out in the Elements? Not so much...

During my series of snowfall and snow melt photos, the melt-water found it's way to the paper with predictable results. I began seeking a way to print directly on the Beach Ball with waterproof colors. Let's just say: "It's a work in progress"

I've been doing silkscreen prints for nearly 40 years, but pulling a print on an 11 inch diameter squishy Beach Ball is testing my cleverness to be sure. I haven't actually made a stencil yet...lets say I've been Conceptualizing... What is it the Elite Athletes do to prepare for Record Attempts or difficult new moves? Visualization...yeah, that's the ticket.

I've been a carpenter for 36 years. I've built plenty of Round Things large and small. I built a beautiful 18ft mahogany Sea Kayak in my garage at the DaveCave, so I know a thing or two about making lumber and plywood do compound curves. I was letting the little pliable globes get the better of me!

I can't remember the exact second of my may have been more Evolution than Epiphany, because I don't remember any Lightning Strike Moment.

Rubber Stamp! I'll make a rubber stamp or two, and ink it with paint rolled on like a block print.

I set out to find a real Artist Supply Shop in the area, and found one in North Oakland, right near the California College of Arts and Crafts.

Last week I visited the Art Shop, found what I wanted and went to the register to check out. The salesperson asked if I had their Discount Card, and went on to say: "They're free for Teachers and Students, for everybody else they're $10 a year. You get 10% off everything..." No thanks" I replied. "Better to do it when you're spending hundreds" replied the salesperson.

Today I made my second shopping trip to that Art Shop. This time the fellow behind the cash register started the Discount Card spiel, and I said "I teach people how to drive Grooming Machines, but not in a School Situation" "We can give you one! What's your first name?"

Waddya know. A Perk! We groomers never get enough perks. And never in Summertime!

See that? One nice day here in the Inland Valley, and it's Summertime...Simple me...