Sunday, October 21, 2007

Malibu Fire, 21 October 2007

Google Map of the Malibu Fire.
Web site of the fire.
LA Observed’s Here In Malibu.

I’m going to look up the Santa Monica Airport (SMO) frequencies and see if I can get info on the air freqs the water birds are using.


Swam 1,000 yards today, the first in a long time that I’ve swum that far in a workout. It wasn’t too hard and I wasn’t too tired when I finished. I could have done more, but arms and shoulders were a little tired and my blood CO2 was fairly high. The distance was good, so I called the workout a success and called it a day.

Telecommuting with robotics

In the middle of September I took a day off work and went downtown to the LA Convention Center to see the Wired NextFest. (I haven't written about NextFest yet, but I will soon.)

But what I wanted to write about is the link to the robot used as a telepresence avatar. With my program at work about to incorporate and envelope (and probably be consumed) by telecommuting, this could be a useful thing to propose as a virtual presence for people who are remoting in to meetings.

Shrinking icepack

An even better representation of the shrinking ice pack.

Defrosting the icebox, warming the planet

I've been following the saga of climate change since I was an undergraduate and studied both global warming (IR absorption by CO2, CH4, NOx, etc) and ozone depletion. I find it a sad irony that most people are just now discovering the problem when the scientists have known about the imminent problems for decades. In fact, Al Gore's book came out long before he became VP in the Clinton Administration, but to the degree that anybody was paying attention it was the whacko right wing who screeched that he is a psychopath.

(I am not making this up. I have a friend who while supposedly being an environmental scientist and engineer, he is much more strongly a radical neoconservative Republican and far right conservative. He ranted wildly about Gore before that election, and to this day 15 years later still rants wildly about Gore as a "psychopath". He's not the only rational person I know who gets wildly irrational when attempting to confront Gore and the scientific fact of Global Warming Climate Change, GWCC.)

NASA has recently released their mid-September satellite imagery of the minimum extent of the Arctic sea ice. The pictures are scribed with the extent of the ice pack for 1979-2000, for 2005, and then for 2007. The shrinking of the ice is shocking to see, but it is simply the end result of what we have known and expected for decades.

It is worth reading the entire description of the picture (see the link), but here is the final sentence.

In 2007, all Arctic sea ice records were broken by August, more than a month before the end of melt season.
Note that in the (approx.) six months of melt season from spring to autumn, the ice had melted back to its previous minimum more than a month before solar insolation fell past a seasonal level where melting begins to reverse. So there was another whole month of melting, thus setting a new record. We can expect 2008 to be worse.

NASA working with Google Earth

I subscribe (by email) to NASA's Natural Hazards Updates, part of the NASA Earth Observatory. This sends daily notifications of satellite pictures of significant events - storms, floods, volcanoes - essentially any natural event that is best seen from low earth orbit. They use several satellites to provide the images, and include a one-sentence description with a URL of each event. There are usually two events listed everyday.

I just opened Friday's email and found a description and link to an erupting volcano in the Red Sea. I found it interesting because I didn't know that the area was active, but what was very interesting in the message was a link to a Google Earth KMZ file. NASA - the 900 pound gorilla of space imagery - is working with Google Earth!

It's pretty cool to see a government working with common commercial tools and adopting them so quickly.

Thursday, October 18, 2007


Hilarious. A riot.
Total geek humor, but too funny everytime.
Every time I look at it I get a new ATF.
I am too geeked out.
My favorite today.
Okay, the next one is great too...
Yet again!

See what I mean?

Monday, October 15, 2007

Writing for Attribution (and satire)

I just checked my "scorecard" of letters to Salon and I've got 9 "Editor's Choice" out of 17 total letters! Woohoo! I don't always try to write for score, but I nearly always try to make it witty, or pithy, or satirical.

I haven't mentioned that I'm taking a class at UCLA Extension in Political Satire, but I am. It's not exactly what I expected it to be; that is, it's not at all a class on how to write satire. But it is a good overview of American satire and satirists of the past century (with a few other token eras and cultures thrown in for contrast and comparison). Now that I'm in the class it's fun to look back at a collection and see where it stands. For an amateur, it seems to hold its own.

Not that I'm patting myself on the back you know, I'm just sayin' ...

Sunday, October 14, 2007


I got in the water for 500 yards yesterday. It was easier than the 500 yds I did last weekend (which I did not write about). I should have stayed longer, but... boooring.

Mapping Dimona

For a long time the satellites that map the earth have been fuzzing out the Israeli nuc site at Dimona. Now, for some reason, Google Earth shows it clearly. Thanks to Arms Control Wonk for pointing this out. (KMZ file on the site.)

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Wes Anderson retrospective at the Aero

There is a Wes Anderson retrospective at American Cinematheque's Aero theatre this week. I went to see The Royal Tenenbaums this evening. It's a quirky (Hollywood technical term) story of a dysfunctional family, and boy could I relate to it. I'm sorry I didn't see it before my dad died, but I'm glad I didn't see it when it came out. That is, I don't think I could have handled seeing it before last Thanksgiving, but I wish I'd seen it between then and when he died.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Mod Blog, or modding the blog


I used the Blogger Help Link (in the link below, named "Link") to figure out how to modify this blog's template so as to add the Link button that you (hopefully) can see.

As I slowly learn html, this is a small but pleasing step in the process. (And I did make a copy of the original template before modifying it.)


One of these days I will write about my father's death.