Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Record Warmth for Antarctica & Unprecedented Atacama Desert Rains; Whereabouts of James "Mountain" Inhofe's Snowball Unknown

OK, not quite.

*******

The following is reposted from the Weather Underground site. It is by Christopher Burt, the Weather Historian for the Weather Underground site and author of the book Extreme Weather: A Guide and Record Book. I added the colors to the text.

Argentina's Esperanza Base on the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula. It is located near 63°S latitude. Image from Wikipedia.

Possible New Continental Heat Record for Antarctica

By: Christopher C. Burt, 5:27 AM GMT on March 26, 2015
Source here.

On March 24th Base Esperanza (under Argentinean administration) located near the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula reported a temperature of 17.5°C (63.5°F). Although this is the warmest temperature ever measured since weather stations became established on the southern continent, it is complicated by what the very definition of 'Antarctica' is. Here’s a brief review.

OGIMET


OGIMET

METAR tables for Base Esperanza (top) and Base Marambio (bottom) for the days of March 23-24. The 17.5°C (63.5°F) at Esperanza on March 24th and 17.4°C (63.3°F) at Marambio on March 23rd exceed any temperatures yet measured on or very close to the Antarctic landmass. Tables from OGIMET.

The 17.5°C (63.5°F) temperature at Esperanza occurred just one day following a reading of 17.4°C (63.3°F) measured at Base Marambio (also under Argentinean administration) on March 23rd. Marambio is located about 60 miles (100 km) southeast of Esperanza. Both figures surpass any temperature yet measured at either site. Esperanza's previous record high of 17.1°C (62.7°F) was recorded on April 24, 1961 according to Argentina's met service SMN (Servicio Meteorológico Nacional) and the previous record for Base Marambio was 16.5°C (61.7°F) on December 7, 1992.

More importantly, the temperature at Esperanza exceeds any figure yet observed on the Antarctic landmass or Peninsula. According to the WMO, the all-time warmest temperature yet observed in Antarctica was 15.0°C (59.0°F) at Vanda Station on January 5, 1974. Vanda Station is located near 77°S latitude but was occupied for only brief periods, mostly during the Austral summers, between 1967-1995. It now has an automated weather station and is occasionally visited by researchers. Base Esperanza’s weather records began in 1945 according to data published in The World Survey of Climatology: Vol. 14, The Polar Regions. On page p. 353 there is a table of climate data for Esperanza based upon the POR of 1945-1960. I am not sure if the POR has been continuous since 1960 up to the present. Base Marambio was founded in 1969 and is a relatively large facility with at least 55 year-round personnel, a total that swells to 200 during the summer.

Map of Antarctica showing the locations of the various sites referred to in this blog. A table of what the highest observed temperature on record for each of the four sites discussed is below the map.

Despite the fact that the temperature record from Vanda appears on the list of world weather extremes maintained by the WMO, the WMO has not yet investigated all-time weather records for Antarctica, so the Vanda reading and the recent observations at Esperanza and Marambio remain 'unofficial' (so far as continental world-record-temperature extremes are concerned) although the recent temperatures at Esperanza and Marambio are 'official', at least preliminarily, according to SMN.

That being said, and given the recent extraordinary temperatures observed at Esperanza and Marambio, there is a chance that the WMO may wish to launch such (an investigation of Antarctica’s warmest measured temperature).

Should this happen the first issue will be the definition of the region of 'Antarctica' for the purpose of weather records relating to the continent. There could be perhaps three (or even four) possible scenarios.

[There follows discussion of the scenarios about what is geographically and geo-physically-and-meteorologically meant by "Antarctica" the continent. The relevant part is that if Amsterdam Island is considered part of Antarctica, then the all-time continental high would be 26.4°C (79.4°F) set on 30 January 2005.]

More About the Unusual Warmth at Bases Esperanza and Marambio

One surprising aspect of the temperatures measured recently at Esperanza and Marambio are that they occurred in autumn, nearly three months past the usual warmest time of the year in the Antarctic Peninsula. According to NOAA December is typically the warmest month in Esperanza, with an average high temperature of 37.8°F (3.2°C). The March average high temperature is 31.3°F (-0.4°C), so temperatures on Tuesday, March 25th, were more than 30°F (17°C) above average. However, looking at the statistics in the World Survey of Climatology (referred to earlier) it is interesting to note that the warmest temperature observed at Esperanza during the period of 1945-1960 was a 14.6°C reading during an October and the 2nd warmest was 14.2°C during an April (also tied in January). So we can see that record high temperatures for Esperanza are not confined to just the summer months.

Departure of temperature from average for Tuesday, March, 24, 2015, over Antarctica. Temperatures were more than 30°F (17°C) above average. Image credit: University of Main Climate Reanalyzer.

A strong high pressure ridge and a Foehn wind led to the record temperatures as Jeff Masters explains here:

This week's record temperatures were made possible by an unusually extreme jet stream contortion that brought a strong ridge of high pressure over the Antarctic Peninsula, allowing warm air from South America to push southwards over Antarctica. At the surface, west to east blowing winds over the Antarctic Peninsula rose up over the 1,000-foot high mountains just to the west of Esperanza Base, then descended and warmed via adiabatic compression into a warm foehn wind that reached 44 mph (71 km/hr) at 09 UTC on March 24th, near when the maximum temperature was recorded. A similar event also affected Marambio on the 23rd.

Jet stream image for Tuesday, March, 24, 2015, over Antarctica. An unusually extreme contortion of the jet stream allowed a ridge of high pressure to extend far to the south over the Antarctic Peninsula, bringing record-warm air from South America. Image credit: University of Main Climate Reanalyzer.

KUDOS: Thanks to Maximiliano Herrera for bringing this to our attention and researching the temperature records for Antarctica.

Christopher C. Burt
Weather Historian

*******

The CWG had an entry about it including a correction that I helped get -- see my Arcturus24 comment.

There was a second Weather Underground Jeff Masters blog entry discussing this record heat in the context of various worldwide extreme weather events last week.

These events included a freakish rainstorm in the normally virtually rainless Atacama Desert that has killed at least 17 people and caused widespread destruction. That entry is here (link embedded):


An aerial view of the widespread destruction caused by the flash flooding in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile as seen in the days following the March 25th rains. This picture was released by the Chilean Air Force.

*******

The Chilean rains specifically refer to the 24.4 mm (nearly 1 inch) recorded at Antofagasta, Chile in the Atacama Desert, the world's ultimate rain shadow desert. Specifically, 0.96" fell in a single day on March 25, 2015 -- corresponding to 14 years' worth of rain for that virtually rainless spot where the annual average is put variously as 1.7 mm or 3.8 mm (i.e., between 0.07 and 0.15 inch).

This is reportedly the heaviest rain in that region in 80 years.


A video from Copiapó, Chile of the Copiapó River on March 25, 2015. The normally dry channel in that rainless land has been transformed into a raging, roaring, deadly torrent of liquefied mud.

Not surprisingly, there have been fatalities and widespread destruction across the region. The current death toll is put at 17 with another 20 missing. In addition, at least 4500 people are homeless and in shelters.

Below are some additional pictures from the cities of Copiapó and Chañaral, two hard hit cities in the Atacama Desert (and not to be confused with the larger provinces of same names). Copiapó is 250 to 300 miles south of Antofagasta by air (much more by land route). Chañaral is maybe 50 miles north of Copiapó and on the Pacific Ocean.

A man struggles in the fast-moving muddy flood waters in Copiapó, Chile, March 26, 2015.

*******

A family crosses a muddy flooded street in Copiapó, Chile, March 26, 2015.

*******

Three men attempting to "walk" across deep, wet mud in Copiapó, Chile, March 26, 2015. Really bad idea, guys.

*******

A policeman stands guard amid the flood-ravaged city of Chañaral, Chile, March 26, 2015.

*******

More flood damage in Chañaral, Chile, March 26, 2015.

I suspect the weather and sky conditions even in this picture -- really humid with lots of clouds -- was quite unusual.

*******

Current sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies in Celsius for the Western Hemisphere, March 30, 2015. Source: NOAA-NESDIS.

Elevated SSTs in the eastern tropical Pacific associated with the current warm ENSO contributed to this highly unusual event as did an unusual upper level synoptic pattern -- one that ties into the weather pattern that brought record warmth to the Antarctic Peninsula (see the Masters / Henson entry for explanation).

--Regulus

Monday, March 30, 2015

Briefest of End-of-Weekend Updates -OR- Out Like a Lion, This March

One of the two bad-ass lion sculptures at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 4:27PM March 29, 2015.

*******

Today -- or rather, technically, yesterday, Sunday -- was a pleasant day spent talking a lengthy walk with my friend Nick that brought us down to the National Mall (following brunch at Trio with Gary, et al.) and over to Georgetown, where we stopped at Mr. Smiths (in its unlikely new home that once housed the Georgetown Chadwicks) and then to the Pizza Paradiso on M Street) before we parted and (following a minor heart palpitation episode) walked to Larry's Lounge, where I met Gary and then (courtesy a distance-wise unnecessary but cold night welcome ride from him) returned home.

I probably walked at least 6 miles, perhaps 7 miles, including through the residential backstreets of Georgetown to Dupont Circle just after nightfall.

I have lots of pictures that I would like to post. However, I'm quite tired and need to go to bed. That entry will have to wait until, perhaps, Monday night after the gym.

The Men and Women Killed in Service Memorial, American Red Cross Building grounds, Washington, D.C., 4:41PM March 29, 2015.

I remarked to Nick that it looks like that woman is robbing the wounded guy. (Yeah, yeah, yeah -- I get it -- it's a Christ and Virgin Mary thing going on. Here's a better view.)

*******

In the meantime, read this New York Times piece by Eric Foner (link embedded): Why Reconstruction Matters.

I hate, HATE, HATE the 19th Century-styled Southern-dominated politics of our frickin' country that controls us even in the middle of the second decade of the 21st Century. This country can break-up tomorrow if it wants with the South its own goddamn country to which not a single penny in my goddamn tax dollars go and has NO representatives in the House, Senate, or goddamn Electoral College. This includes virulently homophobic Indiana and its Governor Mike "White Man's Burden" Pence. Fuck him.

"Jesus said, yea verily, kill all gays and eliminate all taxes and regulations on billionaires and their corporations!"

*******

I hate just as much our late-stage capitalist system whose drive for profit creates and sustains the vulgar and hateful entertainment razzle-dazzle machine that facilities this endless political nightmare.

OK, that's all for now. I'll try another entry later (i.e., tomorrow) after work and the gym. I would like to mention the (as-yet-unofficial) all-time record high temperature of 63.5F / 17.5C reached last week in Antarctica and to post the remaining pictures I took on my Sunday walk.

--Regulus

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Jukebox Saturday Night Entry for March 28th, 2015: My Foolish Heart and Ray of Light Edition


 "My Foolish Heart" as performed by Margaret Whiting from her album Margaret Whiting's Great Hits (1959)

This is a really sweet piece. My Foolish Heart was written by Victor Young (music) and Ned Washington (lyrics) and sang originally by Martha Mears in the 1949 movie of same name. Many artists have sang versions of it over the years.

*******

I'm only going to post two songs tonight, so let's end with something old school and yet Saturday night upbeat ...


"Ray of Light" by Madonna from her album of same name (1998)

The hyper-spasmodic fast-forwarded video of our civilization rushing through a day and a night is very much in the Koyaanisqatsi spirit. I like that.

*******

OK, that's all for now. I will try to update the blog tomorrow (Sunday).

--Regulus

Saturday Evening Post for March 28th, 2015: Weeded & Seeded, Real Good D.C.-Style

**This entry was posted March 28, 2015.**

A blustery, mostly cloudy dusk, 1400 block W Street NW, Washington, D.C., 6:52PM March 28, 2015.

This was taken on my approx. 6 minute walk from the gym back to my apartment in the 2000 block of New Hampshire Avenue NW.  

*******

Saturday night.

This is a quick update -- ahead of my planned jukebox Saturday night entry -- because I am planning on going to Jake's place in Arlington tonight for a house-warming party (yes, outside the D.C. Bubble). This is part of Andrea's group. I've not really been around them much lately for a variety of reasons, although I am still good friends with Andrea and I quite like Nick.

He might not have liked me so much when I told him that he reminded me a bit of this guy at left. Facially, that is.

Yes, that's the Germanwings flight 9525 suicidal kamikaze pilot, Andreas Lubitz, seen in a half marathon he rain in Hamburg in 2009. He was just 21 or 22 in that picture.

In this case, Jake and his roommate (Matt) live quite close to the Ballston Metro, so I can take the Metro. As a result, this won't be a repeat of the really annoying situation two weeks ago involving Gary and a house party. Yes, he and I are fine now, although I've no doubt we'll have another episode like that in the future if only because there have been so many in the past.

The only question is whether I should ride my bike to the Foggy Bottom Metro to pick up an Orange Line train to trek across (under) the Great Potomac Ocean. (I also checked the WMATA site and see that there are no weekend closures or delays on the Orange Line.)

By the way, Metro is about to put the 7000 series trains into service on April 14th, but only on the Blue Line at first. Here is the WMATA press release.

It is a blustery, breezy, variably cloudy night following a chilly, partly to mostly cloudy day with daytime highs that failed to break 40F and instead remained in the mid-to-upper 30s F (although the calendar day high at KDCA will show 42F that occurred just after midnight).

Obviously, a cold front came through and cold air advection has been going on. Temperatures tonight are forecasted to drop below freezing -- around 27F even in downtown D.C. - while tomorrow is sunny and brisk with highs forecasted right now only around 46F. (I suspect KDCA itself, though, will find a way to touch the 50F mark.)

The upper level pattern really shows no sign of changing -- the eastern North America trough keeps "reloading" while western North America is way above normal and in prolonged drought.

As a brief update ...

Yesterday after work, I went to the Marshall's and the Target in Columbia Heights and bought about $100 worth of stuff (courtesy my IRS and D.C. tax refunds that arrived simultaneously earlier this week). This included two pairs of gym shorts, 10 pairs of socks, a three-pack of boxer briefs, a new shirt, and a new duffle bag to replace the one I have that is tearing.

I walked home down the sidewalk of 16th Street with my stuff, got ready, and headed back out to Larry's Lounge, where the place was in high speak-easy gay bar mode. I met Gary, Howie, and Mike there.

The place was quite crowded and festive for much of the time. Gunther had put on the 1995 film Jeffrey (muted and closed-captioned). There followed a characteristically awful and violent movie, also muted, and I tuned it out.

I then headed over -- in the sharply colder and blustery night air -- over to Fox & Hound where I met Jamie for a bit.

He and some others were outside smoking and talking to a homeless person known as "Baby Alice" who roams 17th Street begging for money, sometimes literally with a tin cup. I don't know how she survives. I thought for sure she was not going to make it on one brutally cold night in February. I followed her into the McDonald's and gave her $5, not that this would make any meaningful difference.

Thereafter, I went briefly to No. 9, but the place was about to close, so I just had one drink. I spent about 45 minutes reading up on the Amanda Knox saga that apparently is now over for good -- and she's totally exonerated by Italy's highest court. In the end, I still don't have a real sense of anything. I went to bed around 3:30AM and didn't finally get up until 2:15PM.

Another picture at dusk in the 1400 block of W Street NW, Washington, D.C., 6:53PM March 28, 2015.

To be clear, there is something called the Capital Manor Cooperative along the south side of this stretch of W Street NW. It is Section 8 housing dating back to the D.C. old-school world of Mayor-for-Life Marion Barry that is trying to survive the massive gentrification of this part of the District. That sign announces the block is a "Weed and Seed Community" -- a reference to a long-ago U.S. Department of Justice anti-drug program that had some presence in D.C., and that undoubtedly met with total and complete failure except to spend a bunch of money on nothing. (Actually, I can't tell if the program still is in existence or not.)

*******

I had a good gym workout this afternoon -- the usual three-part jogging, weight-lifting, and swimming -- at the Anthony Bowen YMCA. I'm also doing two loads of laundry as I write this, or rather, the machines in the basement of this old apartment building are doing it for me. I was able to find two washers and two dryers despite the fact the laundry room is busy. I started doing my laundry on Saturday evenings precisely because it is usually not busy, but sometimes it is.

OK, that's all for now. Jukebox Saturday entry to follow.

--Regulus

Friday, March 27, 2015

Rainy Night March Muse -OR- Hotmail Cools for the Former Fool, While the City Beautiful Rules

Rainy night looking south along 14th St. from W St. NW, Washington, D.C., 10:21PM March 26, 2015.

Three of images in this blog entry were partially taken by yours truly while walking the short distance home from the Anthony Bowen YMCA to my apartment and one as soon as I got home. It was raining moderately to heavily at that point (see below).

*******

I'm getting a way, way late start on this entry, which is necessarily going to limit the content. It is already 12:08AM as I start.

Tonight featured a rainy frontal passage following a suddenly warm day -- the warmest since last October -- that stood in contrast to all the cold weather / below normal temperatures of the past few months.

For Thursday, March 26th, 2015, it reached 77F at KDCA or +18F above the normal daily high (but no where near a daily record). KBWI and KIAD both reached 74F.

It was thus the warmest day of 2015 -- and since last October (2014) at all three airports including the 28th at KDCA (which was also the last time it reached 80F), the 15th at KBWI, and the 14th at KIAD.

As for rainfall...

(Updated 8:56AM 3/27/2015 for final March 26th rainfall (precipitation) figures):

It looks like 0.35" of rain fell at KDCA, 0.20" at KBWI, and 0.12" at KIAD.

For completeness, KDMH reached 70F on Thursday and had 0.37" rain.

A strong cold front is pushing across the mid-Atlantic region and Eastern Seaboard tonight and highs tomorrow through Sunday are forecasted to reach no more than 50F with sub-freezing lows possible Sunday morning (around 28F in D.C.)

Actually, there is another batch of moderate-to-heavy rainfall arriving in the Metro D.C. area as I write this up. However, any additional rainfall will be counted in the March 27th tally.

Sterling (LWX) NWS radar in enhanced base mode reflectivity, 12:20AM EDT March 27, 2015.

*******

Y-Weigh-In ...

So I went to the gym tonight and had a full three-part workout. However, I must note that my weight notched up to 144.5 pounds on the not-entirely-accurate scale in the men's locker room. This is up 3.5 pounds from my all-time lowest and 1.0 to 2.5 pounds above my typical range in the past 18 months.

Two points: First, I only check my weight once every week to 10 days. Secondly, my weight is still 39 pounds below my most conservative measurement of my heaviest weight in mid-June 2012 -- and it's really more like 43 pounds of fat. I need to use the huge, old scale at the National Capital YMCA for a really accurate weigh-in, but I just don't go there much anymore.

Rainy night looking north along 14th St from W St NW, Washington, D.C., 10:21PM March 26, 2015.

"Rainy night in the City of Electric Dreams ... "

*******

Now it is possible I put on a tad of muscle mass -- I mean, I notice a difference. Maybe it's some combo of a bit of muscle, a wee bit of extra fat, and the big pile of hair atop my head now. However, odds are it is just fat. And that pleases God to know end.

God Demiurge's "Perfect Vision" for me (while swimming)

*******

Anyway, I jogged 6.5 miles on the treadmill through two course runs (various places on the South Island of New Zealand and the Trinity - Shasta National Forest of California, including Gold Bluffs Beach in Prairie Creek Redwood State Park, and ending in the Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park); spent 70 minutes weight-lifting including some free weights, although not crazy intense; and 20 minutes in the swimming pool.

I'll go again to the gym on Saturday afternoon.

*******

Brief Mention of the Germanwings Jet Aircraft Intentional Crash ...

I was going to write a bit about the terrible Germanwings flight 9525 jet crash in the French Alps this past Tuesday that killed 150 people and that appears to have been quite a deliberate action by the young German co-pilot, Andreas Lubitz, age 27 or 28 (both ages are being bandied about) and with no known terrorist associations. However, it's just too much to get into right now. Suffice it to say, it is major news both in Europe and here in the States.

This undated Facebook picture of Andreas Lubitz posing by the Golden Gate Bridge has gotten a lot of attention.

******

Getting Rid of My Hotmail Account...

I am in the process of getting rid of my Hotmail ("Outlook") email account. I've had it at least since 2001, and it was my main "social" email for a number of years. It also was my main email account during my nightmare 2004 and through so many frickin' god-awful years, namely, 2007 (when I began work at the Japanese turkey farm) and through 2010 until I got my current job. This included the year of 1099 "independent contractor" American corporate capitalist wage-slave hell.

In recent years -- as I've moved most of my social email activities to Yahoo -- I've only used Hotmail to send the pictures taken with my various flip-open cellphone cameras.

At some point late last year, the picture "text" message functionality of Hotmail inexplicably stopped working. That is, no matter what picture I sent to myself from my cellphone, the image was not attached or otherwise embedded.

This eliminated any use for my Hotmail account. Furthermore, because I am charged a ridiculous amount of about $21.45 each year (that's $19.95 plus a shifting tax amount), and have been for years, it has just become time to get rid of the account outright.

Rainy night at New Hampshire Ave and V St NW, Washington, D.C., 10:25PM March 26, 2015.

*******

The only trouble is that I have exactly 12,629 photos in a certain folder covering 361 "pages," many of which I have posted on this blog and the earlier ones, though many I have not. I also have another 74 in my Inbox that I never went through and sorted. I will lose all of these once the account is closed or July comes and I've not paid my bill, whichever comes sooner. (As it is, I've deleted the bank card info so it can't just debit automatically.)

I deleted literally thousands of emails tonight in broad, fell swoops, and then had to re-delete them in the "Deleted" (trash) folder in a similar manner. I got rid of awful messages from all kinds of people including EVERYTHING associated with the absurd M. WADE Tipamillyun (and the Sideshow Crow) charade with its years of mind-boggling pointlessness and self-inflicted nonsensical agony surrounding this ultimately imaginary episode.

Simply put, I thought I had hit pay dirt, but it turned out it was just perfumed poop, but I was too ass-hat dumb to see that. At this point, I've nothing but contempt and regret at the whole nearly decade-long flippin' farce. It's finally over, though, and to adapt Martha Stewart's adage slightly, that's a good thing.

View from my 5th floor apartment looking out the kitchen window at the intersection of 16th and U Streets NW and New Hampshire Ave NW, Washington, D.C., 10:28PM March 26, 2015.

*******

Oddly enough, I came across a few emails between me and another person who once worked in that establishment, and who I kind of liked at the time in a friendly way. Alas, I've lost touch with him -- a single email to an AOL account last year went unanswered. All I know is that his family runs this vineyard in the Willamette Valley of Oregon, and not to be confused with this vineyard of almost same name located in San Luis Obispo County, California.

He got out of D.C. I wonder whatever happened to him.

*******

The intersection of 16th and R Streets NW, Washington, D.C., 9:04PM March 25, 2015.

I took this picture last night.

*******

S'no Job...

OK, that's about it for now. Oh, yes, my former co-worker and friend, "DD," sent me this image after running my name through something he called "Box's job description generator" -- not sure what that is or what criteria he used -- and this is what he came up with:

2:28PM 3/28/2015 CORRECTION: It is Vox's job description generator. DD's text message auto-corrected incorrectly. The article with generator is here.

DD, you're just a barrel of witty laughs.

He did one of these job generators for himself, and it came up as follows (with this name removed):


Someone tell me how this works and I'll come up with some stuff for me and for him.

*******

OK, that's all for now. My next update will likely be on Saturday.

--Regulus

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Middle-of-the-Week Update: Slow but Serene Recovery, Dad's Deep Thoughts, and a Review of the Wild "Wrecking Ball Jupiter" Hypothesis

The ancient abbey of Mont Saint-Michel along the coast of northern France at sunset on March 21, 2015.

This was taken during a "supertide" created along the French coastline by the "super" New Moon right on (or slightly after) the Northern Hemisphere spring equinox. The once-every-18-year tide turns the rocky promontory into an island. Additional information here and photos here.

Oh, and there was a total solar eclipse associated with this new / "super" / spring equinox Moon in that part of the world, although the lunar umbral shadow (i.e., the path of totality) did not touch mainland Europe.

*******

Sigh.

OK, I'm finally getting around to updating this blog. Once again, it isn't the best week for me to post entries. I'm still suffering some after-effects of the Sunday night / Monday morning episode. That's an episode that will never happen again.

The odd side effect has been to keep me from being able to get mildly irritated, much less wildly agitated, about anything. This includes EVEN listening to the news or reading political commentary about whatever monstrosities the GOP is doing or plans to do and why it will probably succeed. (Indeed, I fully expect corporate fascism and dystopia in America in the next 10 to 20 years while the entire legal and economic fabric set up during the 20th Century is obliterated in a media-fueled carnival ride and general political polarization and widespread general idiocy and/or cluelessness of the electorate. Expect it.) Anyway, my point is, I'm feeling oddly and uncharacteristically serene.

Crocuses blooming in Washington, D.C., March 22, 2015. Image by Clif Burns and featured in this CWG entry.

*******

I made it to the gym on Monday night and had a complete workout (except for a reduction in the treadmill incline). I didn't go last night or tonight -- not going tonight was probably a mistake -- but I fully intend to go tomorrow night. Last night, I went with Andrea to Harry's Pub on E Street, then to No. 9, and finally to Larry's Lounge, where I met Gary and Jamie. Tonight, I went to Tsunami for some dinner and, briefly, to No. 9 before making a beeline home by 915PM.


I've been on the phone with my dad while posting this entry. I haven't talked to my mom in a few weeks. The best quote of the conversation is as follows (and I'm paraphrasing since I didn't expect it and have to recreate it):

"I don't want her comin' in the room hittin' me when I'm layin' in bed. I might not be able to get up and defend myself without twisting my ankle. And I can't hit her back. We'd both end up in jail. That would be terrible. Who would feed the cats?"

Perhaps it's the after-effects of Sunday night / Monday morning, but I've decided to just embrace the insanity. Oh, and to be clear, my dad is 74 and Shannon, about 42, is not living with him because she's still banned from the Flagler-by-the-Sea trailer park. That banning edict is far more effective than anything the criminal justice system down there has done. However, they meet up regularly including going to sundry dive bars in and around Flagler Beach, where it's never not karaoke night.

OK, that's all for now. I'm going to try to post another entry tonight, though it is rapidly getting late.


In particular, I like to post an entry on the findings by two astronomers, one from UC Santa Cruz and another from Caltech, when they ran simulations of implications of the Jupiter "Grand Tack" hypothesis. The results of their study is nothing less than what should be called the "wrecking ball Jupiter" hypothesis, and its theorized role in obliterating early planets in our Solar System and "clearing the way" for the formation of Earth (and its giant Moon).

Diagram of orbital distribution of extrasolar planets smaller than Jupiter so far detected by the Kepler mission compared to orbits of Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars. Credit: Konstantin Batygin and Gregory Laughlin, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), March 23, 2015.

*******

Jupiter would have done this by migrating inward toward the Sun as it formed, resulting in perturbations to the many planetesimals and even multiple planet-sized bodies including any "super-Earths" that existed, causing a cascade of cataclysmic collisions that swept the inner Solar System clean with a paucity of widely-spaced material from which came, eventually, Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars. Our Solar System is now known to be an oddity in terms of the rarity of large planets close-in to the parent sun (or, for binary systems, suns).

Artists conception of a planetary collision in the early Solar System.

Eventually, Jupiter was pulled back out to its current orbit by the formation of Saturn and resulting gravitational attraction. That there were all these other planets in the early Solar System is assumed given how common it is in the almost 1,700 single and multiple planetary stellar systems so far (mostly indirectly) observed.

A simulation by the UC Santa Cruz and Caltech pair of astronomers depicting the eccentric orbits (turquoise) of planetesimals created by Jupiter (whose current orbit is shown as a thick white circle) in its Grand Tack. The result would have been countless cataclysmic collisions that removed any "first generation" of planets that crowded the inner Solar System Credit: K. Batygin/Caltech). See more here.

*******

In so doing, Jupiter's Grand Tack allowed the four relatively small and widely spaced rocky terrestrial planets to form. This includes Earth, which (via a separate theory) also got "lucky" through some titanic collision to create a giant double planet "Moon" that has played such a formative role in the development of life on Earth.

Outright freaky image captured by the Hubble Space Telescope on April 21, 2014 of the shadow of Jupiter's moon of Ganymede crossing right over the Great Red Spot, appearing as an actual eye.

Ganymede is the largest moon in the Solar System -- substantially bigger than Earth's Moon. Ganymede is also now thought to have a massive liquid salt water ocean under its ice, potentially with more water than in Earth's oceans.

Comparison of the sizes of Planet Earth, the Moon, and Jupiter's moon of Ganymede.

*The Earth photo is from the Apollo 17 "The Blue Marble" iconic image taken December 7, 1972. My understanding is that the astronauts on board saw this image upside down based on their trajectory and orientation of departure.

*******

OK, that is all for now. I had intended to post a brief update but ended up writing the bulk of what I wanted to anyway. I will try to update the blog again tomorrow night after the gym.

--Regulus

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Dissociative & Associative Commissions -OR- Welcome Notes from the World of the Living

Cirrus clouds in a blue sky above L'Enfant Promenade, Washington, D.C., 2:06PM March 23, 2015.

Except for the lead image above, the pictures in this entry were all taken on Sunday afternoon in Arlington as I accompanied Gary on a visit to see his mom and take her to lunch and shopping at Ballston Common Mall and a nearby CVS.

*******

My apologies for the lack of updates last night. I had intended to post a quick entry after I got back from Larry's Lounge last night, or something this morning. However, for reasons that I don't really want to go into here, I was totally out of commission for about 12 hours -- from about 1130PM last night until roughly noon today. Furthermore, although I was able to get into work by 1:15PM today and work half a day, I wasn't fully functional until this evening at the gym.

The corner of 13th Street N and Troy Street at the edge of Rosslyn, Arlington, Va., 3:29PM March 22, 2015.

*******

I was actually home by 11:32PM and in bed by 11:45PM, but for the first 15 minutes or so, each minute or so that past during which I would nod off felt more like an hour. (I kept looking at my alarm clock's red digital display.)

It was sort of a dissociative experience. I looked once more and the clock's bright red digital display said 12:05AM. At that point, I nodded off what I thought was just briefly -- but when I looked at the clock, it now read 6:00AM (or within a few minutes of it). I've no recollection of those six hours.

I could have alien abducted in a UFO hovering, unseen, over Washington, D.C., and been probed in funny ways I wouldn't even know it.

This was a large plush rattle snack stuffed animal at Curious Kids Toys, Ballston Common Mall, Arlington, Va., 5:01PM March 22, 2015.

This stuffed rattle snake -- which would surely scare a lot of children, rendering its usefulness as a stuffed animal problematic -- was rather coiled up. It would have made an interesting addition to the odd stuffed animal revue that occupies by bed.

Curious Kids Toys Store was filled floor to celling with plush stuffed animals, toys, and assorted playful bric-à-brac. However, I was very chagrined to observe that there were NO PLUSH HIPPOS. That's just bad business practice.

*******

The next six hours featured a more broken sleep, though gradually I started to feel better, less light-headed. (This whole story partially ties into the migraine headache I has this weekend and the Imitrex I take for it.) Eventually (around noon), I was able to get up and get ready for work -- and was grateful to be back into my regular routine.

However, I was bound and determined to make it to the gym this Monday night, if only to determine that I was not able to work out. To my surprise, I pushed through the regular workout including the 6+ mile treadmill jog (although I didn't do it at the usual inclines but only half of them), some weightlifting, and a swim.

I feel mostly fine now, though not entirely.

Tips Ahoy! Curious Kids Toys, Ballston Common Mall, Arlington, Va., 5:05PM March 22, 2015.

I was thinking that M-Wade Tipamillyun and the Unloved Crow Creature could play this game, except it would be set in a certain bar and involve pretend-cash tips in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100 "queer bucks" (i.e., pink dollars). You toss the dice and lose turns for not being rude and/or insulting enough or insufficiently judgmental. And the person with the lowest tips at the end of the night is the biggest loser.

Oh, and the lightning round features the bar taken over by two drunken female "bachelorette" parties and a Prius station wagon filled with lesbians.

*******

Suffice it to say, that is never going to happen again. At this point, I'm just glad to be back to my normal self. Indeed, I find myself in the unusual situation of not being pissed off about something of a political nature that is totally beyond my control in the larger world and part of the media/entertainment razzle-dazzle machine. Indeed, I don't even really feel like posting all those links from last week that I was so keen on sharing / excerpting.

Prior to that, I actually had had quite a rather pleasant Sunday with Gary visiting his mom in Arlington. The three of us went to Ballston Common Mall, had lunch at the Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery there (the I Love Thai place was closed, possibly for good), and drifted about including through the Macy's and the Curious Kids Toys store (mentioned above) where the images in this entry were taken by yours truly.

Children's games, Curious Kids Toys store, Ballston Common Mall, Arlington, Va., 5:06PM March 22, 2015.

When I saw this "Party Kit" box, I thought immediately of what one would need for an "After Hours Party Kit." Well, let's see ...

*******

Thereafter, we did some shopping at a CVS along Wilson Blvd near where his mom lives (she's close to the Court House Metro), dropped off her and her purchases, and headed back into D.C. We went to No. 9, which was fine, and then to Larry's Lounge, which was also fine, except there followed the reason for which I was out of commission, which I don't want to discuss right now.

As for tomorrow, I am unsure whether to go to the gym again or not. As I have plans on Wednesday, my next visit would then be on Thursday.

The window display at Curious Kids Toy store, Ballston Common Mall, Arlington, Va., 5:11PM March 22, 2015.

I was all about that giant inflatable Earth globe. Of note, the antipodal point for Washington, D.C., is somewhere in the Indian Ocean a few hundred miles off Cape Leeuwin in far southwestern Australia.

*******

It's a chilly, cloudy night and there is actually a chance of a few snow showers in the forecast into the wee hours even here in D.C. This particular winter season for the eastern part of the United States does not want to end, or only very reluctantly and slowly. Here is a relevant CWG entry on the topic (link embedded): Colder-than-normal pattern for East shows little sign of giving in.

As a result of this chilly spring, we actually might have -- for the first time in the 23 years I've been in and around the D.C. area -- the Yoshino "Japanese" cherry trees along the Tidal Basin at their blossoming peak when the culminating cherry blossom festival parade occurs. This year, that is scheduled for April 12th, 2015. (Typically, the blossoms peak weeks before the actual parade occurs.)

Gary, his mom, and yours truly, Ballston Common Mall, Arlington, Va., 5:33PM March 22, 2015.

Sharon was recounting to me her elementary school teachers back at PS 186 (now the "Dr. Irving A. Gladstone Elementary School") in Brooklyn, New York in the early to mid-1950s.

*******

OK, that's all for now. I've posted this blog entry, had some dinner (steak, jasmine rice, steamed broccoli and carrots, and lightly flavored fizzy (Seltzer) water), and now I'm heading to bed for a pleasant sleep and hit a restart on my work week tomorrow.

Good night.

-Regulus