Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Short Time Capsule Entry: Pictures from My Maiden Voyage on the New Metro Silver Line and Bike Ride Back on the W&OD Trail

The Washington & Old Dominion (W&OD) bike trail in / around Reston, Virginia near mile marker 16.5, 3:08PM July 27, 2014.


Home at this midnight hour after an OK day at the office and a good gym workout tonight. Tomorrow I have to go to the Landover office and have my quarterly employee appraisal -- and in AP's absence, the top boss is acting supervisor of her division and so she is appraising me. As for the treadmill / weightlifting / bit of swimming three-part workout, I'm kind of tired now.

A high tension tower and wires along the W&OD trail, Reston, unincorporated Fairfax County, Va., 3:07PM July 27, 2014.


I made dinner and I'm watching -- or rather, listening on my broken 1996-era Magnavox television -- to reruns of The Golden Girls. About the TV, my mother is going to send me one of the extra spares that she and Ray have. It is a 19" flat screen. This is very nice of her to do, especially as I just don't really have a spare $170 to $200 to spend on getting a new one. It is just a question of the TV's safe arrival and being able to hook it up.

The view looking back to the west along the W&OD trail in Fairfax, Va., probably around mile marker 15.5, 3:16PM July 27, 2014.


I was trying to post an entry featuring a complete reposting of the following two pieces:

Why Am I Moving Left? by Andrew Sullivan

The view of the Tysons Corner area, Virginia from the Silver Line Metro on my maiden voyage on it -- the day after it opened to the public. This is near the Greensboro Metro station (itself an odd name since it was originally going to be Tysons Central or Tysons 7, both of which would have made more sense). This was taken at 2:42PM July 27, 2014. As I recall, I was in car 5047.


In posting those pieces, I was going to break it up with the 15 or so pictures I took on Sunday of my maiden Silver Line voyage out to Wiehle ("We-LEE") - Reston East and bike ride from there back into Arlington on the Washington & Old Dominion trail before veering off on the Custis Trail into D.C.I probably biked in all between 21 and 23 miles.

The Wiehle - Reston East Metro station platform, Reston, Fairfax Co., Va., 2:52PM July 27, 2014.


But such an endeavor would require me to stay up until 4AM and I'm just not going to do it. Furthermore, I now realize I would not have nearly enough pictures. So in lieu of that entry, I am posting this shortened entry with 8 of those aforementioned pictures.

Passengers on the Wiehle - Reston East Metro station platform, 2:52PM July 27, 2014.

That large Hispanic lady was part of a family of five including a little boy that rode the Metro to the end on what was surely their first ride -- but then they got immediately back on the next train heading back into D.C.


Also, I was thinking that I still need to post the first installment of my "Wall-P and Me" vignettes in their 21st Century American-style Kafkaesque style.

Remember in each, I end up in some ghastly (even dead!) courtesy whatever farcical American-style situation -- all while little Wall-P just gads about indifferently, spouting sundry banalties.

During this time, and regardless the situation, Wall-P just repeatedly checks its financial holdings on its numerous personal electronic devices, feeling vindicated in its perceived superiority whenever the financial value of this or that stock, bond, or other holding rises (as they all inexorably do). It also takes endless client calls from the superrich and corporate powerful that it serves, although sometimes it is suddenly berated by Staff for trivial infractions (which causes it to lean close to the ground).

As for what it says, well, when translated out of its computer-encrypted series of rapid-fire monotonic clicks and clacks, it turns out to be 24th Century Pinyin-Amero-Inglex that, in turn, is merely early 21st Century pro-oligarchical overclass / Washington Consensus conventional wisdom banalities and fixations, which it perceives -- strictly because of the monied and powerful interests behind the opinions -- as Received Wisdom of Ages (God-Free, of course). When translated, it sounds something like: "Eh. Eh. Ehehehe. This proves I'm right. Eh. Eh. What does the repawwwht say? My methods are the correct methods. Eh. Eh. Ehehehe."


Speaking of the future ...

Here is the plaque marking the time capsule placed by the citizens of Vienna, Virginia in 1990 to the citizens of Vienna, Virginia 50 years later in 2040. This was taken at 3:39PM July 27, 2014.

The half way point will actually be next year.

Just FYI, the most memorable time capsule plaque inscription that I ever saw was in Tampa, Fla., in 1997 or thereabouts that said something like: "From the Citizens of Tampa, 1979, to the Citizens of Tampa, 2079."


But even that kind of entry will have to wait.

OK, that's all for now.

The red caboose of an old Washington & Old Dominion train that is located in Vienna, Virginia in the small park along the W&OD trail, 3:39PM July 27, 2014.


Oh, yes, as for tomorrow evening, I am skipping the gym and instead I am supposed to meet AP after work at Larry's Lounge. I don't think Chris is working there, though. Also, I likely will not be updating the blog tomorrow night.


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Freak Los Angeles Summer Thunderstorm with Deadly Lightning: Recap and Climatology Info

Rain is visible falling from the freak thunderstorm that struck Venice Beach, Calif., on Sunday, July 27, 2014.


This entry notes a most unusual -- and tragic -- weather event that struck Southern California on Sunday: A genuinely freak summer thunderstorm swept over Venice Beach and generated a lighting bolt that killed a 21 year old man* and injured at least 13 others including one critically.

A lightning strike victim is attended to by lifeguards and paramedics, Venice Beach, Calif., July 27, 2014. (I'm unsure if this is actually Fagnano himself.)


The man who was killed has been identified as Nick Fagnano while the critically injured man is said to be a 55-year old off-duty lifeguard. Still another person was struck by lightning on Santa Catalina Island while playing golf but was treated and released.

Lifeguards and paramedics rush to help lightning strike victims, Venice Beach, Calif., July 27, 2014.

Not exactly an episode of Baywatch.


A man is treated by paramedics following a glancing strike while another young woman is comforted in the aftermath of the Venice Beach, Calif., lightning strike, July 27, 2014.


Fagnano was in the ocean when the lightning bolt struck, sending a huge electrical charge through the nearby seawater and electrocuting the swimmers and surfers. It took some time to get Fagnano from the water and transported to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead.

*His age has been variously put at 20 or 21.

Lightning strike victim Nick Fagnano and a companion in an undated photo.


This article in the Los Angeles Daily News has a little more information on him including the fact that he was a 2012 graduate of Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, Calif., had also attended Santa Barbara City College and Santa Monica City College, and was about to entire the Univ. of Southern California (USC) as a junior.

He was an only child. His Twitter page is (for now) here.

Beachgoers and pedestrians on the beach and pier in Venice Beach, Calif., following the freakish lightning strike that resulted in multiple casualties, July 27, 2014.


Summer thunderstorms in Southern California, specifically, the L.A. Basin, are exceedingly rare (a bit less so on the Mojave Desert). And what a freak way to die in Southern California -- and in mid-summer, no less.

For the weather record, the storm dropped a daily record 0.14" of rainfall at Los Angeles Int'l Airport climate station (KLAX) while a trace of rain fell at the downtown Los Angeles (USC) climate station (KCQT). (Indeed, KCQT recorded "Trace" on two consecutive days, the 27th and 28th of July.) Meanwhile, Long Beach Airport (KLBG) reported no precipitation.

The weather that day -- and indeed for the period Friday through Monday -- featured an influx of warm, moist air from Mexico as a monsoonal area of low pressure moved northward into Arizona.

Cloud-to-ground (CTG) lightning strikes recorded in Southern California by county, July 25 - 28, 2014.


As reported here (whence comes the above map) over 1,400 cloud-to-ground lightning strikes were recorded in Southern California in that time including 28 cloud-to-ground strikes in Los Angeles County. The bulk were in San Bernardino County.

Again, a highly unusual weather event (if not pattern) for the Los Angeles area in summertime.

This UK Daily Mail article has a lot of pictures of the chaotic aftermath of the lightning strike.

A lifeguard undertakes a rescue of lightning strike victims at Venice Beach, Calif., July 27, 2014.



Of note, the Los Angeles/Oxnard NWS Forecast Office (LOX WFO) posted on its main page a link to this interesting and relevant study (link embedded): Lightning Climatology for the WFO Los Angeles/Oxnard, California County Warning Area by Jamie Meier and Richard Thompson.

Lightning flash density for the LOX WTO's county warning area (CWA) as shown in four panels for the seasons clockwise from upper right: winter (a), spring (b), summer (c), and fall (d) based on data for the period 1987 - 2000.


To reiterate, it's not that lightning strikes in the L.A. Basin never happen -- as the figure above and below from this report shows, they certainly do -- but rather it is the time of year and the location that is so strange.

Lightning flash density for the LOX WTO's county warning area (CWA) for the "monsoon season" of July, August, and September based on data for the period 1987 - 2000. (This is basically a close-up of panel (c) above.)

Even this time of year, the flash density for the area including downtown Los Angeles and Venice Beach is effectively zero. You have to get into the San Gabriel Mountains and Antelope Valley to experience any significant lightning.


As an aside, while I never actually been to Southern California -- it is the one corner of the country I have totally missed* -- I have long been fascinated by its (lack of) weather and those (rare) instances when that weather is stormy and unusual including thunderstorms, out-of-season rainfall, and exceedingly rare intact tropical cyclones (tropical storms and even hurricanes).

*I don't count flying through LAX from IAD en route to Honolulu in 2002, though I did see the L.A. Basin from the air.


Meanwhile, back here ...

I believe this is just before sunrise along the Chesapeake Bay at Rock Hall, Md., July 26, 2014.


As for our weather in the D.C. area, it continues to be very quiet and unusually mild (i.e., not hot and horribly humid). There have actually been record lows, in particular at the BWI Airport climate station (KBWI). Here is a useful CWG blog entry on all the KBWI record lows this July and his year -- and why that isn't quite as odd as it sounds and doesn't "prove" GOP/Talk Radio global cooling fantasies.

OK, that's all for now.


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Brady Bunch of Pictures (and More On My Inadvertent Dognapping and Friend's Lockout)

Brady the puggle on Chris's sofa, Washington, D.C., 9:38PM July 9, 2014.


This entry features seven pictures of Brady the adorable and angelic puggle that I took over the past few weeks, specifically, on July 9th, 20th, and 27th, with my crummy cellphone camera. I already posted one of them.

Another picture of Brady the adorable puggle on Chris's sofa in his apartment, Washington, D.C., 10:40PM July 9, 2014.


Alas, the last one was taken on the day of my royal screw-up when I finally got Brady back home. I had taken him to my place rather than back to Chris's place -- and I promptly fell asleep with him in my bed. Chris thus has no dog and no key to get into his apartment until the next morning.

Brady and Chris, 9:02PM July 9, 2014.


I still feel really terribly about this and want some way to make it up. As it is, I'm not sure if Chris is still angry at me or not, and even if he's not, I'm not sure I'll again see his little Brady. Oh, and Brett might be mad at me, too, since she was the only one he could reach when I disappeared.

Chris and Brady, Washington, D.C., 8:44PM July 9, 2014.


Brady eating a late dinner, Washington, D.C., 12:51AM July 20, 2014.


Brady getting a tummy rub, Washington, D.C., 12:55AM July 20, 2014.


Below is one more picture featuring Brady and me. First, let me say, yes, it is a crummy cellphone picture -- and I was really hung over at that point and looked and felt like crap, still deeply upset about having caused Chris to be locked out of his apartment for six hours and not knowing where was his dog (and making him even consider the possibility I had dognapped Brady).

Recall I still had his keys and brought Brady back at that point, but I'm not exactly sure where Chris was at that point. He wasn't answering my texts or calls. (Earlier, he had texted me 8 times and left 3 voice mail messages. I never even bothered to listen to the voice mails. I can imagine ...) The whole thing was a sh!t show. To be clear, Brady was fine, though.

Yours truly with Brady on Sunday morning, Washington, D.C., 9:45AM July 27, 2014.


God, I'm an idiot. So much of what I do turns out, at best, the exact opposite-outcome of what I intended, and more commonly, it just ends up chaotic pure sh!t. Yeah, I mean well, but so does any damn, blundering idiot.

I might as well just be a Fox News / Talk Radio-enthralled House GOP Teabagger. At least they pathologically don't give a flyin' flip when things go disastrously wrong -- which they naturally and instantly do whenever they're in power (talk about pure sh!t) -- and instead from deep inside their reality bubble just blame and hate others. (By the way, the above political cartoon, though at least four years old, is one of my favorites.)

Anyway, this concludes my Brady bunch of pictures. I do so love that little guy.

-- Regulus

This Summer in Washington, D.C. (an Ongoing Series) and AT's New San Fran Sutro Tower View

**This entry was posted on July 29, 2014.**

Pleasant evening outside the Hampton Courts apartment building looking toward the 2000 block of New Hampshire Ave. NW, Washington, D.C., 7:08PM July 28, 2014.


I'm starting this entry at 12:30AM but I'm so tired and just can't post much of anything. Indeed, this is not the entry I intended to post. Right now, I'm watching -- or rather, thanks to my broken television, just listening to -- reruns of The Golden Girls. (My mom hinted that she might send me one of the spare TVs that she and Ray have. It's a 19" flat screen TV, which is just what I want.)

My work day was fine -- although things are still difficult at the job for a variety of reasons involving billability and even company finances though the latter should be resolved one way or another in a couple weeks. I then went to the gym after work and had a good three-part workout (jogging, weightlifting, and a short swim in the pool).

It's nice and important to recover from all the weekend excessive drinking and going out.

The evening sky looking to the west as seen above the 1500 block of V Street NW, Washington, D.C., 7:35PM July 28, 2014.

Actually, owing to how short it is and the layout of the Brittany, the Camden Roosevelt, and the Augustana Lutheran Church, there are no actual addresses in the 1500 block of V Street NW.


The weather this Monday was quite spectacular -- and highly unusual for late July -- with a gusty northwesterly breeze and cerulean skies fleeced with out-of-season, highly picturesque cumulus and stratocumulus clouds. Temps. weren't especially cool -- it reached a high of 86F at KDCA and KBWI (2F and 1F below the normal daily high, respectively), although KIAD only reached 81F (-7F below the normal daily high).

Dew points were around 55F, so it wasn't exceptionally dry. It was the gusty northwesterly breeze that was odd. By nightfall, temps were dropping into the 65F range.

Having said that, check out this Capital Weather Gang entry, and note in particular the absurdly Photoshop (or otherwise) altered image that purports to show what a nice day it was, specifically, the blue sky and instability cumulus / stratocumulus clouds over a D.C. streetscape. It looks like a Thomas Kinkade painting -- as if he were doing a "Summer in Washington" series.

The evening sky over 1424 W Street NW, Washington, D.C., 7:39PM July 28, 2014.

I was walking to the YMCA when I took this. The 1424 W Street building is next to but does not appear to be part of the Capital Manor Cooperative complex in the 1400 block of W Street that creates the cheek-by-jowl juxtaposition of D.C. yuppie boomtown and Marion Barry-era Section 8 housing located next to the hulking, decrepit Frank Reeves Municipal Center.


Tomorrow's high is (once again) forecasted to be only 78F or so -- which is really below normal -- and the overnight low as low as 60F even in the District proper.

We could use some additional rain but nothing meaningful is in the forecast. And we got screwed out of heavy rainfall that was originally forecasted to accompany the frontal passage, which turned out to be almost entirely not stormy.

Lastly, I would like to post this picture:

AT, who left the company last week and has already relocated in San Francisco and started her new job there, sent me this photo of the super-retro-looking Sutro Tower looming above the backside of her apartment building in the Cole Valley section of the city.

I told AT about the Sutro Tower and how she would probably be living near it given her Cole Valley location -- and this photo shows I was correct. However, unlike Wall-P, I'll refrain from any rapid-fire, "Eh. Eh. EhEheh. This again proves the superiority of my ways."


OK, that's all for now.


Monday, July 28, 2014

Not a Good Weekend, Inadverent Dognapping and All ...

The W&OD trail and one of the many high tension towers that line it. This is around mile 14 in Fairfax, Va., 3:16PM July 27, 2014.

I took a 20+ mile bike ride yesterday that started at the far end of the new Silver Line (Wiehle Ave. - Reston East), where I picked up the nearby Washington & Old Dominion (W&OD) bike trail around mile marker 16.5.


Sorry for the lack of updates on Sunday.

This wasn't the most restful weekend, that's for sure. Oh, and I also inadvertently "dognapped" Brady in the wee hours of Sunday morning -- and caused Chris H. to be homeless for the night. What happened is that I brought Brady first to Larry's Lounge and then, instead of bringing him back to Chris's place, I brought him and Chris's keys to my place -- and promptly fell asleep for 5 hours. Brady was with me in bed the whole time.

I'm really sorry, Chris.

Little angelic Brady safely back in Chris's apartment, Washington, D.C., 1:04PM July 27, 2014.


Anyway, I intend to update the blog tonight.


Saturday, July 26, 2014

Jukebox Saturday Night Entry for July 26th, 2014: High Summer Never Felt So Good Edition

"Who's That Girl" by Guy Sebastian ft. Eve from the album Twenty Ten (2010)

Songs and albums are often eponymously named (though which is which?). In this case, the release year is eponymous with the album name (or vice versa). Whatever the case, this song and video is so Millennial post-everything post-modern.

Updated 11:03AM 7/27/2014: I really like this song and video -- and it's kind of stuck in my head this morning.


Here is something sort of mellow American country rock from way back when ...

"Let Me Love You Tonight" by Pure Prairie League from the group's album Firin' Up (1980)

Of note, Pure Prairie League ("PPL") is still together and quite active -- although, obviously, the members have changed and there were periods when the band was not active. Indeed, PPL is scheduled to perform at The Birchmere Music Hall in Alexandria, Va., on Aug. 9th. (I suspect that link is only good for so long.)

The lead vocalist in this video is Vince Gill, who today is a member of the Grand Ole Opry, among other activities. His website is here.


And to end with something Saturday night upbeat ...

"Love Never Felt So Good" by the late, great Michael Jackson on the posthumously released album Xscape (2014)


And here is the another version of that song / video featuring Justin Timberlake ...

I used to hate Justin Timberlake but now I kind of like him.


OK, that's all for now. As I mentioned in my just-posted previous entry, I intend to update the blog tomorrow.


This Gentile's Sabbath Visit to the DC-JCC and Uganda: The Good, Bad, and Money Laundered

**This entry was posted July 26, 2014.**

Exterior of the Jewish Community Center of Washington, D.C. as seen from the 16th Street NW side in a picture taken six years ago on May 25, 2008.


I'm home at this 8PM hour following a brightly sunny, 88F hot, and moderately humid (63F dew point) late July day here in Washington, D.C. I didn't go to my regular gym today -- the Anthony Bowen YMCA -- but actually went with Gary to the Jewish Community Center of Washington, D.C., ("DCJCC" or just "JCC") nearby on 16th Street where his racquetball league regularly plays.

Gary said he never saw the JCC so empty on a Saturday as this one.

As for me, not being Jewish, I didn't think I could go much less be a member. I stand corrected.

The lobby of the JCC, Washington, D.C., 3:56PM July 26, 2014.


Anyway, I had about a half hour workout -- no cardio, just weights -- and then went in the smallish, curiously old pool with its hard cement, undulating bottom and ancient-looking tiles. It's a strange little pool ranging about 20 meters in length, not more than 5 meters wide and ranging in depth from 3-1/2 feet to 5 feet. It was heated with the water probably about 82F.

There were all these small plastic toys in a plastic crate at one end of the pool, not to mention all kinds of warning signs (there are no lifeguards) and lots of life-saving and first aid equipment. A ventilation fan of some sort behind a door whirled away. There were two other people in the pool in the half hour I was there.

The indoor pool at the DCJCC in a picture I found online. During my visit today, as mentioned, there was far more "stuff" on and along the walls.


Overall, the four-story JCC is the kind of place you could -- in fact, people do -- make into a multi-purpose social club that includes physical fitness, movies and plays, meals, and just kvetching about the outside world. Every room is named for a substantial donation made by Mr. & Mrs. Whoever, or alternatively, This or That Foundation.

I'm most intrigued that the place was there for so long, moved out in 1969 as D.C. fell apart back then, and then ultimately returned in 1995 as the city resurrected itself with the new JCC opening in January 1997. But the building itself cannot be wholly new -- it just looks too old in places including the gymnasium and aforementioned pool.

The lobby of the JCC with a large sign listing a roster of Who's Who and What's What in Washington, D.C., who had give money to the organization. This was taken at 5:02PM July 26, 2014.

The Graham Family Empire, specifically, the grande dame Katharine and the deeply-troubled Philip of The WaHoPo publishing empire had their names on that plaque.


Last night, I had in the end a nice time at Old Ebbitt Grill at dinner with Jake, his mom and sister (visiting from Indiana), Nick and Luana, another fellow named Dan (see below) and myself.

While I spent too much money, this was mostly I had three drinks at dinner and then at the Old Bar with Dan, who is part of the Tuesday "TNDC" crowd. He gave me one of the two 1,000 Ugandan Shilling currency notes that he brought back from Uganda and had with him.

As an aside, I inadvertently ended up washing the bill when I did my laundry earlier. Except for being wrinkled it survived quite well ...

... the 1,000 Ugandan Shilling after I had "laundered" it. Ha ha.

At the current exchange rate, this is worth 38 U.S. cents.


Dan was in Kenya and Uganda helping set up the necessary support infrastructure for the smartphone-based mobile banking that has become so popular there and across sub-Saharan Africa. Indeed, much of Africa is undergoing a "mobile revolution" major transformation in all kinds of sectors.

This is a very good thing. Africa needs more good things.

A woman in rural Kenya gets an eye exam using a smartphone with an application that can perform ophthalmological analysis.


Uganda sounds quite interesting -- except for that rabid kill-all-the-gays homophobic thing. However, that seems to be as much a legacy of American fundamentalist Protestant screwing around as anything else.

As for Dan, he is actually an Iraqi American Jew with family connections to Israel, and naturally, we talked about the situation in Gaza and the larger Israeli-Palestinian issue while having a few drinks at the Old Bar. Also, since it all seemed kind of relevant, I tried to explain to him what was the "Raid on Entebbe," which I'm actually old enough to remember hearing in the news.

I also tried to explain my dad's joke from the mid-1970s that he thought was so hilarious back then:

"My name is Idi Amin. I love Americans. I had two for lunch today."

As a weird aside, I was actually in New York City in August 2003 when the news arrived that Amin had died -- and what's more,  I discovered it on that electronic news ticker "zipper" at Times Square.

Thereafter, I biked back home by 1AM, nixing the idea of going elsewhere. I biked to Nellie's but it was just too mobbed with a line out the door. And the streets were overloaded with young, drunk people gadding about -- including on the side streets.

Yours truly, Richard Todaro, in my apartment a short while ago, Washington, D.C., 6:13PM July 26, 2014.


Tonight, I'll probably go to Larry's Lounge since Chris H. is supposed to be working there. As for tomorrow, I want to take a bike ride on the W&OD Trail -- starting nearest to the new Wiehle - Reston East Silver Line terminus station. The first portion of the Silver Line opened today.

Lastly, I intend to post a political-themed entry with some good reads from Paul Krugman and Andrew Sullivan, among others, but that might not be until tomorrow.

Yours truly again, Richard Todaro, in my apartment, Washington, D.C., 6:20PM July 26, 2014.


OK, jukebox Saturday night entry to follow shortly.


Friday, July 25, 2014

When My Friday Met My Saturday -OR- Under the Strangely Cerulean Late July Sky

The central fountain at Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C., 12:21PM July 25, 2014. The water was clear and almost an emerald green -- and surprisingly not disgusting.

Not visible in this picture is just how mobbed the city was -- not just on the National Mall with the annoying, Metro escalator-clogging, overweight Middle American tourists but around Dupont Circle, too. People everywhere these days.


So today was basically an unexpected off day from work. (I'll try to make up the hours over the weekend.) To be clear, I intended to go into the office -- and in fact, I did go -- but the entire internet / phone / file system was down when I got there and I was told that it was permissible to work from home. I took the opportunity to get my planned haircut (hours earlier than I originally thought) at the Hair Cuttery (Brittany wasn't there so Bea cut my hair). I went there after stopped at Panera at Dupont Circle for lunch and discovering its downstairs and surprisingly pleasant seating area.

But by the time I got home, I had one of my periodic migraine headaches and just didn't feel well. It was a non-aural one, though. However, I still managed to go to the YMCA gym late afternoon and did my Saturday routine instead on this Friday (except for the swimming part because the pool was closed for two hours and then when it opened and I was ready to go in, it got quite crowded). Oh, and I felt a lot better after the workout than at the start of it, when I thought I might faint from a light dizzy spell.

1600 block of 19th Street NW, Washington, D.C., 12:25PM July 25, 2014.

What a deep blue sky. Odd for late July.


I'm home now and was going to do my laundry -- again, another chore I typically do on Saturday evenings -- but it turns out that Jake and his family and Nick and his fiancé are meeting at Old Ebbitt Grill at 830PM in celebration of Jake's graduation from a graduate program. (I'm not even sure what it is in.) Earlier, I sort of tried to finagle an invitation, but I didn't think it would work. However, it apparently has, so lieu of doing my laundry and making dinner, I am going to "OEG" for dinner. I'll bike down there and then go to No. 9. These are two other activities I typically do on Saturday, as well.

I was at Larry's Lounge last night -- following the planned goodbye happy hour for AT at Zengo in Chinatown. Chris H. was working, and later on, I went to his place (with his keys he had given me) and brought Brady to the bar. But I also saw a fellow named Joe M. that I had not seen in at least a decade. He was with Bob and Aris. They were with another straight, married couple named Paula and Peter. Together, Bob, Joe, Paula, and Peter all worked years ago for Rep. Barney Frank (indeed, Peter was his chief of staff at one point).

The weather -- following a frontal passage yesterday that did not bring us any rain as all the precipitation stayed just south of here -- was excessively sunny today with nary a cloud in the sky. However, the temps were quite pleasant for "high summer" with a high at KDCA of only 83F and dew points around 53F. But the high is already offshore and a return flow has quickly set up. It should be warmer and much more humid tomorrow. And then on Sunday an out-of-season strong frontal system is progged to move through with possible heavy thunderstorms.

Tuesday is forecasted only to reach 77F here, about 11F below normal high for the day.

Updated 11:43AM 7/26/2014: The current forecast now has a high on Tuesday around 82F here is D.C., which, alas, is probably more realistic given the time of year, the part of the world, and the present-day climate situation. A high of only 77F in D.C. in late July is just very hard to achieve. End of update.

OK, that's all for now. I intend to update the blog tomorrow.


Thursday, July 24, 2014

On Universal Mind & Mathematical Structures, and Scary-Close Monster Coronal Mass Ejections

A picture taken on or about July 21, 2014 by Jeremy Fletcher at Snettisham in Norfolk, England along a body of water called The Wash. The picture appears to show a face -- Fletcher said it could be that of God ... or Sean Connery ... or Karl Marx ... 

The picture was carried in an article in the UK Daily Mail and then picked up in this entry by the Capital Weather Gang.

By the way, I think the name "Washington" ultimately derives from "Town on the Wash." (Yes, I am well aware that Washington, D.C., is named for George Washington.)


For this entry, I would like to discuss two articles of note.

The first one is this New York Times article (link embedded): Beyond Energy, Matter, Time and Space

Synopsis: Humans might think we can figure out the ultimate mysteries, but there is no reason to believe that we have all the pieces necessary for a theory of everything.

The article by George Johnson discusses two books: The 2012 book Mind and Cosmos by philosopher Dr. Thomas Nagel and the new book (2014) by  the world-renowned MIT physicist/cosmologist Dr. Max Tegmark entitled Our Mathematical Universe: My Quest for the Ultimate Nature of Reality.

The Nagel book subtitle is "Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False."

In summary, Dr. Nagel argues that "mind" -- along with matter and energy -- is "a fundamental principle of nature" -- and that we live in a universe primed "to generate beings capable of comprehending it" so that biological evolution has a direction and even a purpose rather than being (quoting from the article) "a blind series of random mutations and adaptations."

The early evening Sun is about to disappear behind an approaching cloudbank from a distant, broken cluster of thunderstorms, as seen from near L'Enfant Plaza looking west along D Street SW, Washington, D.C., 6:07PM July 23, 2014. The storms moved into the D.C. area but the coverage was very spotty and they missed the District proper.


The New York Times article states that Dr. Nagel's ideas are conceptually similar to those of biologist Stuart Kauffman, who has suggested that Darwinian theory must somehow be expanded to explain the emergence of complex, intelligent creatures, and philosopher David J. Chalmers, who has endorsed the concept of "panpsychism" by which he means there is a kind of consciousness, even if rudimentary, that pervades Cosmos.

Meanwhile, Dr. Tegmark argues that the Universe actually IS a mathematical structure with space, time, energy, and matter emergent properties of this structure.


The second article is about the massive -- and likely massively destructive -- solar storm that very nearly struck Earth two years ago to the day.

The solar coronal mass ejection (CME) of July 23, 2012 as measured by the STEREO-A probe (see below for more information).

To be clear, these are false colors: The plasma from the Sun is incandescently white.


The initial article I found was actually this WaHoPo online Capital Weather Gang blog entry by Jason Samenow from July 23, 2014 (link embedded): How a solar storm two years ago nearly caused a catastrophe on Earth.

Synopsis: On July 23, 2012, the sun unleashed two massive clouds of plasma that barely missed a catastrophic encounter with the Earth's atmosphere.

This is shown in a pair of computer model simulations of the July 2012 CME event:

A diagram showing the "sweeping" jets of solar plasma emitted by the rotating Sun (located at the center) with the locations also show of Earth and of the two NASA STEREO (Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory) probes that monitors the Sun (including its CMEs).

The two probes, STEREO-A and a STEREO-B, are located along Earth's orbit except one is ahead of Earth and the other is behind Earth. The STEREO probes are part of the NASA Solar Terrestrial Probes (STP) program and the space weather detection system. They are therefore quite important satellites.

(Please explain to your nearest Teabagger that this means spending "gub'mint money" on "SCIENCE" and "environmental observation" (though that might be too esoteric a term with too many syllables) to help EVERYBODY on Earth, even white Anglo-Protestant American people, and its true despite the fact that these probes don't DIRECTLY "prove" that "pre-Flood" Noah lived with the dinosaurs.)

This shows the CME actually striking the STEREO-A probe -- right where Earth was located a week earlier.


The July 2012 event featured a pair of "Carrington"-class* coronal mass ejections (CMEs) in rapid succession that almost blasted Earth's atmosphere directly, and that followed a CME just four days earlier that "cleared a path" in the existing solar wind plasma / interplanetary medium that would normally slow down a CME.

The double structure of the July 22 - 23, 2012 CME as seen from STEREO-B.


*"Carrington" refers to English astronomer Richard Carrington, whose extensive study of the Sun and its sunspots and discovery of its differential rotation also included chronicling a massive (Carrington-class) CME that in fact struck Earth in late August - early September 1859. That event is known as the Solar Storm of 1859 or the Carrington Event.

While such a double-CME strike would not have harmed Earth's biosphere (including humans) thanks to its strong geomagnetic field, the effect on electrical grids, electronics, navigation systems, and pretty much every satellite there is would be devastating. Even toilets might not flush due as plumbing and sewage systems failed due to the reliance on electrical motors.

Schematic diagram of economy-wide connections and interdependences.

But where is The Washington Consensus and how will it and its "entitlement reform" and "deficit reduction" fixations and warmongering protect us??


This, in turn, would have had cataclysmic effects on (as the CWG entry notes) "commerce, transportation, agriculture and food stocks, fuel and water supplies, human health and medical facilities, national security, and daily life in general."

For this reason, a better CWG blog entry title would have been "How a solar storm nearly destroyed civilization as we know it two years ago."

UPDATED 2:51AM 7/24/2014: The blog title was changed at some point earlier tonight to a more accurate: "How a solar storm two years ago nearly caused a catastrophe on Earth." My link above reflects the change. The URL itself still reflects the original title.

A National Academy of Sciences study in 2009 estimated the total impact of such an event would be $2 trillion or 20 times worse than Hurricane Katrina (not sure if that's just a U.S. impact). But that study analyzed the effects of a CME / solar storm like one that happened in May 1921. The Carrington Event of 1859 is estimated to have been 50 percent stronger.

Estimated U.S. power grid effects of a 1921-like geomagnetic storm. I couldn't figure out what the red-versus-green spots mean but the more closely packed they are, the greater the likelihood of system failure. The solar storm is estimated at 4,800 nanoteslas (nT) per minute centered at 50N latitude.


Back in 1859, though, none of these sensitive systems existed and thus it went unnoticed, although some telegraph wires were fried, resulting in a few fires in telegraph offices. Well, it wasn't entirely unnoticed -- there were some fantastic auroral displays down into the tropics.

The direct report to the NASA story (link embedded): Near Miss: The Solar Superstorm of July 2012.

Oh, and the NASA story cites a February 2014 article by physicist Pete Riley of Predictive Science Inc. in Space Weather entitled "On the probability of occurrence of extreme space weather events."

Riley analyzed records of solar storms over 50 years and by extrapolating the frequency of ordinary and extreme events, he calculated that there is a 12% chance of a Carrington-class storm striking Earth in the next decade.

That's uncomfortably high given the consequences.

If a CME above a certain strength (not sure what that is) were observed to be heading directly toward Earth, it would be necessary to power off pretty much the entire grid for a short period of time -- or else have it fried out and take months / years to repair with the attendant massive disruptions to civilization. But it isn't clear we would have enough time.

The NASA YouTube clip on this topic is also worth watching:


I guess that's about it. I'm fairly tired at this late hour following a busy work day (despite my deeply uncertain situation is likely to remain another couple months) and a decent gym workout, although I was in a terrible mood much of the day.

I had intended to post some Brady pictures tonight but it's too late now. I'll try to do so on Friday or Saturday during the day. OK, just this one:

My little love, Brady the puggle, in Chris's apartment, Washington, D.C., 12:55AM July 20, 2014.

No geomagnetic storm is going to adversely affect this little angelic pup. God, I love that little dog.


I'm probably not taking the computer home tomorrow as I am doing a post-work happy hour for AT, who I mentioned in an entry over the weekend is leaving for a new job in San Francisco. We're going to Zengo tomorrow in Chinatown. I have enough left over money before my scheduled Friday paycheck that I can go. Thereafter, I might go to LL if Chris H. is working there.

OK , I'm signing off now. It's only nearly 3AM, as usual, when I finish these blog entries. Sigh.