Saturday, October 2, 2010


I said I've been thinking a little more about grooming fact during the Heat Wave here in the Inland Valley, I was thinking about about all things snow and ice when I came upon a story of an "Ice Boat" that sank while in production for a BBC GeeWhizTV Show, "Bang Goes the Theory"

I read the story, and while looking at the photo, I remembered seeing an episode of The History Channel's "Modern Marvels" that delved into the WW2 scheme to build a giant aircraft carrier out of "Pykecrete"...the same stuff the British TV guys made their little runabout with.

Pykecrete was the creation of Geoffrey Pyke an inventor who worked for England's Combined Operations. Pykecrete was simply frozen water and wood pulp.

Combined Operations spearheaded many innovative projects that helped win the war...most notable were the "Mulberry Harbours", the concrete temporary harbors that the Allies towed accross tha English Channel to construct fully functional harbors at the Normandy Invasion Beaches, where war material was brought ashore to fuel the Allies march to liberate Europe form Hitler's clutches.

In concert with the Mulberry Harbors, Combined Operations' "Operation Pluto" strung fuel pipelines across the bottom of the Channel to bring fuel to the Allied warfighters.

"Operation Habakkuk" was Pyke's frozen airbase idea. The Modern Marvels episode showed archival footage of the scale model tests done in Canada. The project fell out of favor and was never brought to fruition. The scale model took three hot summers to melt away.

While I was looking at the History Channel's site for the Habakkuk video, I found some grooming video from the "Winter Tech" Modern Marvels episode.

The clip isn't exactly Grooming 101, but it is Grooming on TV.

If memory serves, the first groomer I saw on the Big Screen was a scene from Stanley Kubrick's horror classic "The Shining". It wasn't actual grooming per se, it was a Thiokol Sprite Troop Carrier driven by Scatman Crothers at night with the snow falling as the music swelled to pump up the suspense.

Tucker SnowCats were featured prominently in the Jerry Bruckheimer Actioner "National Treasure". The aerial scene of two SnowCats ranging across the frozen Arctic in search of a lost 19th century sailing ship is awesome. The editor even cut in a scene of the Tucker's small blade pushing some snow away from the entombed ship...a nice edit says this Critic!

There's a little SnowCat footage in the Trailer

In my opinion, "National Treasure" is a Modern Classic. It's half of my "Annual Independence Day Film Festival". It gets Top Billing over "The Patriot" with Mel Gibson. Strangely, I've never watched the SciFi "Independence Day" on Independence Day, though there's lots to like in the Will Smith blockbuster. "Independence Day" just isn't a 4th of July Movie, like my film festival faves are.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Vindication is Such Sweet Succor!

Here's some climate news that I've been waiting for since I became aware of politicized climate science more than two decades ago!

Now, I'm a "Seat of the Pants" Guy...I always have been. You know the type...comfy Levis, rough hands, regards common sense as essential...I'm a German Engineer's Kid too, so I know a thing or two about reality and mathematics.

As I get more massive in my dotage, I give a lot of weight to Mass (groan...sorry!)

I've just never bought into the CO2 theory of Anthropogenic Global Warming. The minuscule  portion of the atmosphere made up of CO2 molecules just wasn't weighty enough to do all the horrible things the AGW Alarmists were saying it was doing...even if Mankind raised the levels of Atmospheric CO2 tenfold!

It's the water stupid! (to hijack a meme from today's political dust-ups)

Earth's Oceans outweigh Earth's Atmosphere by many orders of magnitude. Oceans are many times more dense, too. Throw in all of Earth's living feedback loops, and the only possible conclusion to the question, "Who's in the Climate Driver's Seat?" is our Oceans powered by the Sun.

Some Science Guys at the Science and Public Policy Institute,  published a paper wherein they plotted the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation + the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, and compared the resulting plot to North America's temperature record, and voilà, Climate Clarity Illustrated!

There it is! Mystery solved, the Sun runs our climate.

Like photovoltaic solar power, the Sun excites the collectors, and the energy is stored in batteries for on-demand usage. Earth's Oceans are huge "Wet Cell" Battery Analogs,  that store that thermal solar energy, making it available to moderate temperature extremes in the short term, and drive continental temps over the long, multidecadal scale, that will be found eventually, to be driven by long-period Solar Cycles! CO2 is but a bit player on the Global stage! Just not enough Mass to store enough energy to deflect a needle of even the most sensitive instrument.

So, everybody, take a break! The sky is not falling, the Planet is not suffering from a fever, mean old Mankind isn't killing the planet or the Polar Bears. Take some time to enjoy our little Blue Jewel of the Solar System...everything is going according to plan (and the Laws of Physics)

Now relax...smell the roses...kick off those shoes...something to drink?

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Sunshine Daydreams

May 2010 Aurora viewed from the International Space Station

What's this? Every day lately, it seems like there's new, confounding news about our Sun. Just this morning I saw a story about the low state of the Aurora Borealis:

"The Northern Lights have petered out during the second half of this decade, becoming rarer than at any other time in more than a century, the Finnish Meteorological Institute said Tuesday."

So, the Solar Minimum has been hanging on for at least two years longer than historical observations suggest it should. Solar watchers are getting encouraged by a slight uptick in sunspot activity, and the associated auroral displays...there's a sweet photo gallery at the link as well.

Darn the luck! I've yet to see the Aurora Borealis with my own two eyes, despite being up all night every Winter these past 30 years! I remember the last time we had a big display of the Northern Lights...

I want to say it was 1997 or 1998. I woke up early, before my alarm went off. I was listening to Art Bell on the radio, and he had callers from across North America calling in relating the awesome show they were seeing.

I live in a densely wooded neighborhood, on the south facing side of a pretty good grade. Before I even got out of bed, I phoned a friend on the Westren Slope of the Sierras, woke him up, and quizzed him about what he was seeing. "Oh...My...God"...was his first response. He said: "The whole sky was red, so bright that the aurora is throwing shadows!"

"Thanks, enjoy yourself, bye!" I replied as I hung up, threw on some clothes and ran up to the street where I could barely make out a dull red tinge to the sky through the forest. It looked like the glow of a far-off forest movement, no shimmering curtains of color, no aurora overhead in the sliver of sky above my street.

A couple of hours later, I walked into the Groomer's Locker Room, and the Swingshift Crew were lit up like the skies had been earlier. They'd seen quite a show from their perch atop the Sierra Crest! There eyes were a little wider than usual at shift change, and they had a little extra spring in their step. I quipped the next morning that "I was worried that All Star Winch Pilot would trip over his tongue!" That night's Aurora Show was seen as far south as the Baja Peninsula!

These guys aren't Groomers...still, they are driving SnowCats!
I was pretty disappointed that I missed the show, but I was happy for my guys. Hurry up Sun, let's get Solar Cycle fired up! I want to see the show with my own two eyes!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Inside Baseball

A curiously American phrase that one. Perhaps I've chosen a slightly off the mark title for today.

Inside Baseball implies dreaded minutia as it relates to something most can't or don't want to deal with or otherwise relate to.

OK, I can hear the stampede for the doors...I have it coming, I have been going on about September Baseball most of the month...

So here it is. There's just a flood of climate news coming out daily. Most of it huge in significance, too.

It's fair to declare AGW Dead...RIP
Anthropogenic Global Warming isn't happening...period. The Climate Gate Scandal opened the door on reality a little...what with all those leaked emails showing the conspiracy to "hide the decline". That is, to hide the observed global temperature decline while the scientists and the policy makers who fund their research were all shouting "the planet has a fever"

All week long, Anthony Watts' Climate Blog Watts Up With That, has been reporting on climate stories one after another, that all break new ground and show unequivocally than mankind and it's industry are but a flyspeck in the Big Climate Panoply.

Studies cited on WUWT have reported newly discovered Oceanic Cycles that correlate precisely with Europe's weather, and the advance and retreat of the glaciers in the Alps. Cyclic warming and cooling of Atlantic Ocean Sea Surface Temperatures are running on a 65 year periodic cycle, independent of the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation! (AMO)

"In the monthly Atlantic SST record, we can observe that the recent warm phase peaked in 2005 and subsequent cooling of North Atlantic started, despite the recent AMO peak as a response to 2009/2010 El Nino. This climate shift is even better visualized in the 0-700m ocean heat content record for the Northern Atlantic. Based on previous records, we can expect the European climate to follow the SST record and to mimic the 1940-1975 cooling trend."

Simple physics says that ocean temps drive terrestrial air temps, not the other way around!  The mass of the oceans is several orders of magnitude larger than the mass of the's a simple matter to do the endothermics and exothermics are a little rusty, but I remember the core principals 40 years on.

What's going on here? Why is so much climate science showing up that goes against the AGW grain?

It's the law of averages, the pendulum swinging to the other side after 30+ years of alarmist gravy-training.

There's also the little matter of increased computing power, and the scientists who "thought outside the box" rather than succumb to the fashionable alarmist orthodoxy of the day.

As I'm always inclined to, I'd venture that the same mechanisms at work in the Atlantic are also at work in the Pacific. ENSO and the PDO, these cyclic temperature fluctuations will likewise be correlated with our Temperature and Glacial Records once some grant money is ponied up to crunch these datasets.

This past week, peer reviewed papers laid waste to Arctic Ice Loss Alarmism, related new understanding of our Sun and it's effects on Earth's Climate Systems, and reported Solar observations so startling as to defy belief.

That's a lot of good news in my book. The debate will go on for several more years, but we will look back on September 2010 as the beginning of our return to climate sanity, when the Western Liberal Democracies began to let go of our Climate Fetishes, and started to get back on a path towards sanity and growth.

Even some of the Media are starting to report the Climate Skeptics' it what it is: Progress.

I guess it wasn't all that Inside Baseball after all...

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

34th America's Cup News

Just a short note before I settle in to watch tonight's San Francisco Giants game.

San Francisco's Mayor Gavin Newsom, and the SF Board of Supervisors issued a Press Release detailing the City's Agreement for Hosting the 34th America's Cup in San Francisco.

The San Francisco Chronicle has a story on the goings on.

You can spend a cozy evening catching up with the Chronicles America's Cup Coverage at their website...including  a piece about the new boats: "Facebook Generation vs Flintstones Generation".

There's a lot of Historical Inertia surrounding the America's Cup...part of the Organizer's strategy is to bring the Cup into the 21st Century so it can continue into the 22nd Century!

Here's the link from the Chronicle's "Facebook vs Flintstones" story where you can email the Mayor with your support.

Time's a wasting!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Rested Up

Mea Culpa!
I kinda did a throwaway this apologies...I'm much better now!

Niche Sports Sunday
Pretty good race under the Singapore streetlights. We're on the Home Stretch in Formula One, too. High tension...just like September Baseball...

I found the America's Cup News I missed during my Reno Air Race Sojourn. The Organizers had published the specs for the new boats, and introduced the 34th America's Cup Regatta Director. I can't express how excited I am for this to happen on San Francisco Bay!

Time to manage my Belgian Fantasy Bicycle Racing Team...the UCI World Championships come up in October. This is where the Rainbow Jerseys come from...

September Baseball Update
My SF Giants prevailed in Denver this afternoon, the win putting them back in 1st Place in the NL West with six games to play in the regular season. There was a little torture in the 8th inning, when Giants pitcher Matt Cain lost his bid for a No-Hitter just five outs from the feat. A second hit halved the giants' lead, but the Boys in Orange and Black prevailed. September Baseball Torture is so sweet...when it's your team that wins!

Rally Time
I actually got off the dime and ran downtown to the Farmer's Market between the HDTV Replay of the Singapore Grand Prix and the Giants' Game. It was really heating up...but that means more vine ripe heirloom tomatoes! I grabbed a week's worth of Red Zebras, and snapped some photos.

I set about watering in the Diggins for the second time this week...Indian Summer is going to be the longest "Heat Wave" we've had this Summer...I'm happy to report that the buried soaker-hose scheme is working perfectly!

Sweet Torture

There's just something about September Baseball. Last night's game flat wore me out.

Most of the year baseball is known as "America's Pastime". When your team is in it, in September, fighting for the Pennant, it's not a pastime's transformed into something else...something alternately ecstatic and epic....some would say Biblical, what with all the praying going on.

Down the stretch, emotions are high...every pitch becomes a weighty drama...every close call becomes a controversy, or worse a conspiracy. Lots of emotional exercise, while time no longer passes weightlessly!

Last night's San Francisco Giants game versus the Colorado Rockies was one of these "Titanic Struggles", full of ups and downs...torture as the Giants' TV announcers quipped.

I didn't realize it at the time just how much it took out of me! I woke up this morning two full hours later than usual...after turning in early! In just a couple of hours, I get to do it all over again!

With my team in it in September, my Sundays are bulging at the seams with Sporting Diversions. Add Pennant Race Baseball to my niche sports, throw in a little NFL football and it's enough to make a man weary!

I recorded this morning's Formula One race from's the only F1 raced at night, under the lights. Singapore at night is very telegenic. I'll be catching the race replay in HD when the San Francisco 49ers kickoff against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Sheesh! It's a half an hour 'till kickoff, an hour to the green flag in Singapore, and the first pitch is just two hours away now!

I'd better get a quick power nap and call it a weekend!