Saturday, September 02, 2006

Calamity John

Now it's beginning to look quite alarming. Instead of John staying west of Baja, the current forecasts show John moving into the Gulf of California, the Sea of Cortez, and moving directly into Arizona via the route Nora took several years ago. There are heavy precipitation hits forecast all over Arizona, with a particularly colorful bullseye in the Prescott area.

And soon too! The calamity is forecast to start Monday morning and extend at least through Wednesday.

But before freaking out too soon, the GFS model disagrees with NOGAPS model, and instead keeps John west of Baja, with only a mild breakup forecast.

In general, I trust the NOGAPS model better, because it is a baroclinic model (takes into account temperature gradients), whereas the GFS model is a barotropic model.

I'm going with the alarmist forecast.

Friday, September 01, 2006

John's Not Heavy, He's My Brother

Left: Deborah prepares to keep a wary eye on Hurricane John.

Doug asks for clarification regarding Hurricane John:
Wow, that's "heavy"! Heavy as in "something more than the usual"? Or, heavy as in "this could be life-threatening if you are outdoors"?
So far, it looks like several days of more thunderstorms than usual - like the normal Arizona monsoon, just more of it, and more widespread.

But never trust a disintegrating hurricane, I say. The way in which a hurricane disintegrates can sometimes be very important (remembering the classic disintegration of Hurricane Octave in 1983, and the flooding that followed). We'll just have to keep an eye on it.

Also, that warm-water corridor along the coast is quite narrow, and it will be hard for Mother Nature to maneuver that lumbering hurricane along it. Like a sumo wrestler on a balance beam. So, the forecast is subject to change, and things need not be as dramatic as they look now.

But right now, late next week looks wet.

Meanwhile, the National Hurricane Center polls its models:
John Prepares Stealth Attack

The latest forecasts suggests Hurricane John won't quite devour Hurricane Kristy, as I mentioned yesterday. Rather (like WWF wrestlers), Kristy will go into orbit around John's south side, and John will grab her arm and slam her towards the Mexican west coast, as John moves north along the west Baja coast.

But John will try to do something unseen since Hurricane Claudette tried it in 2003. There is a narrow corridor of life-sustaining warm water extending part way up the Baja California coast, to Punta Eugenia, and John is forecast to follow that narrow corridor. So, when John finally completely disintegrates, it will be rather close to San Diego, and large amounts of moisture will disperse into Southern California, Arizona, Nevada, and Utah. Heavy rains will fall in the desert mountains, probably starting as early as Tuesday, and continuing through the week!
Washington Post Whitewash

The Washington Post, that bastion of neoconservatism, is trying to spin the recent revelation that Richard Armitage was apparently the source of the Plame identity leak, into excusing away all the rest of the bad behavior of the Bush Administration. Once Plame's name was exposed, there is no question that Karl Rove and others ignored good sense, grabbed Plame's name, and conducted a ferocious media campaign to defame Joe Wilson. Even more importantly, Wilson's main point, that Iraq was not attempting to secure Niger yellowcake uranium, was never discredited. But the Washington Post lies away anyway:
Mr. Wilson chose to go public with an explosive charge, claiming -- falsely, as it turned out -- that he had debunked reports of Iraqi uranium-shopping in Niger and that his report had circulated to senior administration officials.
That statement is not true. His report did debunk uranium-shopping reports. Whether Wilson's report circulated to every echelon above him, who can say, but who else, then, was Wilson writing for, if not senior administration officials? That's what CIA reports are all about, after all.

Coupling those two phrases together constitutes deliberate deception on the part of the Washington Post. The Editors need to be body-slammed, and hard, for their lie.

New Mexico's District 1 Congressional Representative, Republican Heather Wilson, cannot endure a transparent injustice: THIS year, she was NOT placed at the FRONT of the New Mexico State Fair parade.

Sometimes life is just not fair.
"The Full Monty" Opens Tonight

This morning, about 1:30 a.m., I was wandering past the Sierra II Community Center while walking my dog Sparky, when I heard the familiar, keening buzz of a rotary saw. I peeked inside the side stage door of the 24th Street Theater, and, sure enough, everybody was hard at work! Could it be? Yes it is! Tonight is opening night for "The Full Monty"!

I didn't have any success with this week's B3ta's Question of the Week:
As a teenager I went to the Venice Carnival. I made a mask out of a paper plate, got a metal coathanger and bent it into horns around my head and draped a black tshirt over that. At the time I thought I looked really cool, but thinking it over...

Tell us about your own oh-so-cool fashion innovations.
but I liked my entry nevertheless:
I wanted to go to the school Halloween party with my fellow ten-year-olds as Bagheera, the black panther, from the Jungle Book stories, but I couldn't get my parents to help with the costume. So, I cut up lots of brown-paper grocery bags, colored them an oily-black with some crayons, stapled them together over my body, and went.

At the party, some big ox of a dad could not stop pointing and laughing. The wound still hurts.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Mended Rift

I was looking for this week's Weekly World News lead story about a sister ship of HMS Titanic having been discovered frozen in an iceberg, crew and all, but instead found this:
As any high-school science student knows, nature abhors a vacuum. But according to cosmologists, after eons of enmity, "vacuum" and "nature" have made up. In fact, "They're tighter than Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes," renowned astronomer Ivan Habalish told Weekly World News.

Habalish said the bad blood dates back to the creation of the universe.

"For billions of years, vacuum was the only kid on the block. Then Boom! Along comes the Big Bang and suddenly nature is populating the universe with galaxies, stars, and planets.

"Nature didn't help matters by saying, 'Vacuum just sucks all the air out of a room. I abhor it.'"
Fearing For The Future Of Pop Music

Paris Hilton:
Though her movies are "fun", it's music that Hilton says truly fulfils.

"Singing words you've written and touching people with music is the best thing I've ever done out of all my business ventures. It's what I'm most passionate about.
When Hurricanes Collide

Interesting situation developing off the Mexican coast, south of Baja California. Big, bad Hurricane John is preparing to swallow weaker cousin Hurricane Kristy in the next few days.

Collisions of hurricanes are not terribly common, but they do occur. Usually, a big storm catches up to, and incorporates, a smaller, weaker storm.

In February, 2005, after first wrecking American Samoa, strong Cyclone Olaf caught up to Cook-Islands-wrecking, but weaker, Cyclone Nancy, in the South Pacific northeast of Australia.

In 1993, Hurricane Hilary caught up to and devoured Tropical Storm Irwin, also off the Mexican coast.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Mind Your Filipina

E. Let me at him!
M. Put away the garden shears! Violence never does any good!
(shears thrown from the back porch into the yard, contact made, followed by shouts and an angry feint from below towards retaliation).
E. Let me at him!
M. Put down the mop! This doesn't help anything at all!
(mop thrown from the porch, followed by a clatter of metallic impacts as the mop bounces off the air conditioner).
E. Get out of the way! Let me at him!
M. Put down the steak knife! You are not as strong as you think! The last thing we need is to get you hurt and then we have to call the cops!
(carefully step behind E. and relentlessly squeeze, so as to peaceably disarm, and thus have everyone avoid the cutting edge).

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Auditions At Step One

Step One Dance and Fitness is hosting auditions at 3 p.m. Sunday (Equity and Non-equity) for a new Broadway musical called "Lost and Found." There are quite few roles, in particular, for African-American singers and dancers. They didn't have extra fliers, so I have no further details. Give Step One a call at 448-7837 for more information.
Bubble, Bubble....

Sturm und drang. Last night, I fired A.: fireworks ensued. Even though the work he did is incomplete, I HAVE to move on from these projects, if only for my own peace of mind (I just want it to end).
Ernesto Makes Florida Landfall

For Tampa, it looks like heavy rainfall tomorrow, with breezy conditions, up to 21 mph at maximum. No chance for wind damage, except from local heavy thunderstorms. And watch for flooding!

South and North Carolina will get Ernesto on Thursday: North Carolina and Virginia on Friday. Looks like lots of rain, particularly in North Carolina.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Ernesto Edges East

The newer forecasts suggest Ernesto will rake central Florida from south-to-north, or eastern Florida, and not bother western Florida so much, which is good for Tampa. Northerly winds will tend to pull drier air from the north past Tampa, hopefully minimizing the rains that can do so much damage.

Nevertheless, there is disagreement regarding how far west the storm will go. Some forecasts suggest Ernesto will barely clip eastern Florida, making landfall in the Ft. Lauderdale area. I tend to discount these forecasts, however. There is a trough in the upper Mississippi Valley that isn't moving rapidly eastwards, and that trough will tend to pull the storm westwards, onto the Florida peninsula itself.

Both the NOGAPS and GFS models are in agreement, oddly enough, and suggest that Ernesto will make its closest approach to Tampa about 9 a.m. Wednesday morning, with the center of the storm passing east of Tampa, squarely halfway between the east and west coasts.

The strength of the storm looks fairly minimal for western Florida - maybe 30 mph winds at most at closest approach to Tampa, making for an experience not much different than Wilma was last year, for Tampa.

There are signs that the Carolinas, particularly North Carolina, will see a major rain event from Ernesto.
West Side Story Rehearsal, DMTC, Sunday Evening

Choreographer Dian Hoel leads Bernardo (David Ott) and Riff (Robert Coverdell) through their knife fight.

Silverado Bric-A-Brac

Left: My room's table, full of corks

Where's Venus when you need her?

Where's Vincent when you need him?

A sunny Sunday morning, looking through a bar and past a wedding reception's buffet lunch, towards the golf course beyond.
Sierra Research's 25th Anniversary Dinner

Left: Silverado Country Club, just northeast of Napa.

There they are!

(Janice's slide show link - no sign in required)
Napa Valley Tour

Left: A pleasant Saturday afternoon, looking across the Napa Valley from the tour bus. They place lots of shiny mylar strips throughout the vineyards to ward off birds. It seems to work: at the Laird Winery, I watched a flock of birds circle around the vineyard, but after a while settle for a grove of palm trees instead.

Given the heft of the wine industry in California, the agricultural land in the Napa Valley is probably some of the most valuable agricultural land in the world. Beauty aside, land use looked tightly-controlled, but I wonder who does the controlling? Passing by the various wineries, there were indications that eccentric Iranian and Canadian wine moguls, among others, were at work in the valley, but surely they can't control everything. I wonder what would happen if you tried to open up a Wal-Mart Super Center in these fields? How long could one survive the wrath of vintners unleashed? Who would lash out hardest?

Tour guide at the Mumm Winery, illustrating the differences between grapes. The Pinot Noir grapes are purple, and small: the green Chardonnay grapes are larger. All the ripe grapes taste great, of course.

Apparently the harvest started a few days ago. According to the tour guide, the winery is very, very busy of late. Nevertheless (and mysteriously), I saw no farm workers. Do they start before sunrise, so they're finished by noon when the tourists arrive? Or was Saturday A Day Without A Mexican?

Reserve Brut, served for guests, at the Mumm Winery. The outside of this hall is very rustic, but the inside is highly-technical. No expense is spared in the Napa Valley! They take their food and wine very, very seriously here!

On the tour, one could look through windows and see where the various highly-technical stages of bottling are carried out. The process of disgorgement was particularly interesting: freezing the used yeast in the bottle's neck and using the carbon dioxide generated from fermentation to pop the icy used-yeast cork out.

They also have a nice photo gallery here at the Mumm Winery, featuring Ansel Adams and Robert Turner, among others.

A map of the Napa Valley viticultural areas. The geography of wine is surprisingly complicated, even in such a small place like the Napa Valley. The grapes grown right at the Mumm Winery are primarily used for Cabernets and Merlots: grapes for other varieties are trucked in from elsewhere in the Valley. For examples, Chardonnays are largely grown in the Los Carneros District, where the Sonoma and Napa Valleys meet, and where the weather is more-overcast in the morning, and thus milder, than on the sunny east side of the Valley.

Scenic vista at the Laird Winery.

At the Laird Winery, our tour guide, Linda, sat at our table. While we were drinking a Cabernet, she said "do you taste that?" We said, "do we taste what?" "That dust-like taste," she said. "That's what is called 'Rutherford Dust.' It is specific to the wines produced from grapes grown in the immediate vicinity of the town of Rutherford. Wines from Yountville, or St. Helena, or Oakville don't have this taste."

Indeed, there was a dust-like taste to the Cabernet, but I think you have to taste quite a few wines from a number of Napa Valley locations just to make sure you have 'Rutherford Dust,' and not something else, like Napa Dust, Davis Dust, or, God forbid, Sacramento Dust.

I remember a fellow, years ago when I was working at Kirtland Air Force Base, who had the ability to taste different Pepsis, and tell where in New Mexico the Pepsis were bottled, based on the taste of the water. We needed that fellow's skills on Saturday.

Chilled storeroom at the Merryvale Winery. Each of these barrels is made of French oak (California oak is apparently too crooked and tastes wrong to be suitable), and costs $1,000 to $1,250 each. The good thing is that the barrels can be reused (provided one doesn't try to go from red to white wine and one is willing to wait a decade, or so, for the barrel to become available).

In the Merryvale Tasting Room, we were treated to the second tasting level (Reserve). There is a description of the wines we tasted here. I really liked the Antigua Dessert Wine (but then, I've always had a sweet tooth).

Georgette ponders giant casks (of amontillado?) in the Merryvale Winery's darkened dining hall. The sumptuous setting looked specifically designed for a Gothic novel.....
Bubble, Bubble, Toil And Trouble