Posts Tagged ‘America’

 

Rain Coming And Folks Are Excited

Monday, February 24th, 2014

gfs-bufkit

“It will be good for the state.” Those were Helaine’s words a few minutes ago. We were talking about the threat of rain in SoCal. We’ve had hardly any since last year’s rainy season–also a dud.

The image above is a screengrab from the afternoon GFS, using BUFKIT. If you want to know what kind of person I am, I find it fascinating. I like charts, graphs and numbers. They like me back!

I’m not going to be a whiner. Drought sounds and is bad. However, our infrastructure was designed knowing we get droughts. It needs much less than normal rain to work properly. No one is being forced to conserve.

We will finally end the fire season. That will be a relief to many. California has a tendency to burn.

Our first rain comes Wednesday evening. A cold front off a low hitting the California Coast near the Oregon border is the trigger. Not a lot. The GFS says around a quarter inch.

Meteorologists are lucky here. I’ve read and seen all sorts of quantitative precipitation forecasts (QPF). It’s our least accurate prediction. They’ll all be wrong, but unlike snow, no one will check up on them.

The rain (and snow) should be significantly heavier farther north, including the Sierra Mountains. They are our sponge! Snowfall in the mountains is slowly released through early summer. Much of what would run to the ocean now flows toward the Southland.

Water from the Sierras is California’s lifeline. It’s how we house people and grow crops in the desert! Like so many other spots in America, we have overcome nature to tame a place not naturally suited for any of what now happens on it.

The second wave of rain arrives Friday morning. The GFS shows three inch range, much more than this area can easily perc. Flooded intersections and slow traffic will follow. Thunderstorms, less frequent here than back east, are possible with heavy embedded downpours.

NEXRAD is pretty bad here. Too much topography. There are lots of holes using individual radars. This is one place where composites help.

During these storms our temperature will stay in the 60s.

Friday’s deluge will taper to showers then some scattered drizzle under cloudy skies through Sunday. People here are looking forward to this brief change. I will miss my friend, the blue sky.

They’ve Ruined Times Square

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

times-square-daytime-empty.jpgNew York City has ruined Times Square! Is that blunt enough? They have changed the entire complexion of the “Crossroads of America” by removing vehicular traffic–and it sucks!

I’m a Times Square guy. I’ve been going there since I was a little kid. I remember when it was a scuzzy strip of sleaze. No regrets from me those days are over. The family friendly, advertising overgrown, garishly bright Times Square that replaced the sleaze was magical.

No more.

The secret of Times Square was you were walking through a city in perpetual motion. The traffic on Broadway and 7th Avenue just reinforced that ‘heart of the city’ feel. The lights from the cars and trucks and the sound of their horns performed as an underscore does in a movie.

times-square-empty-at-night.jpgGone! It’s gone. New York City has closed off Times Square and turned it into a pedestrian mall. The excitement is gone.

When we were in New York last week I originally thought we’d picked a dead night. Nope.

With broad spaces of the square open the feeling of the crowd is gone! Every night feels like a dead night. There is too much space in a city which prides itself on the optimum use of too little.

I’m sure there are good reasons for this move, but they’re lost on me. Times Square has now been fully “Disneyized!’ It’s disappointing.

ruby-red-staircase-times-square.jpgThis blog entry could easily end right here, but there is one thing that was done right–the rebuilding of the TKTS facility in the northern end of Times Square. A ruby red staircase has been placed over TKTS stretching toward the statue of Father Duffy.

This wide open access staircase was constantly full of tourists with cameras during my trips through the area. It’s a great vantage point from which to view the surroundings.

It would be better with traffic flowing around it.

looking-south-into-times-square-from-stairs.jpg

Janet Napolitano Gives The Wrong Answer

Monday, December 28th, 2009

I really didn’t want to write about security and the Delta Detroit incident but then Janet Napolitano, secretary of Homeland Security, appeared on Sunday morning TV. She delivered one of the most stupefyingly insipid comments I’ve ever heard–an insult to America.

This week’s suicidal crazy used the same chemical, PETN, shoe bomber Richard Reid used!. That led David Gregory on Meet The Press to ask if this was a security failure. Napolitano answered:

SEC’Y JANET NAPOLITANO: Well, I think we don’t know enough to say one way or the other in that respect. The forensics are still being done, the investigation is still underway. I think the important point here is that once the incident occurred, everybody reacted the way they should; the passengers did, the flight crew did. And literally, within an hour, additional measures had been instituted not only on the ground here in the United States, but abroad and, indeed, on the 128 flights that were already in the air from Europe.

No! The correct answer is, “Yes, this was a failure. We shouldn’t be letting known threats carrying explosives on airplanes. I am very upset. This will be fixed immediately.”

We got none of my answer.

We are trying to protect targets when it seems more manageable to find threats.

A Vegas Night Out For Fabulous Food

Monday, November 30th, 2009

This blog entry is dedicated to my daughter Stefanie–fashionista and now tour guide. It was her idea to have dinner outside on Las Vegas Blvd. That is so touristy. It was perfect! Maybe there’s a lesson here. Just because tourists do it doesn’t make it wrong.

We set out with my cousins (it was after all their car) to Paris, midway down the Strip. From there we walked to the Planet Hollywood Casino.

planet-hollywood-entrance.jpgPlanet Hollywood is a great example of rebranding. Previously known as the Aladdin and with a Middle Eastern theme, it had a mid range target. As with many of those immense hotels Aladdin had a mall. The Desert Passage was a long, circular affair. The few times I was in it was empty.

Now Planet Hollywood has turned this closer to a ‘mall’ mall than the upscale shops at Caesars or Venetian. There were people roaming last night.

Two quick notes:

1) Jerry Springer is a headliner at Planet Hollywood! He emcees the America’s Got Talent stage show.

Who knew?

2) There’s a fat guy with a beard dressed over-the-top as a woman who stands on the street outside the PH. He takes photos with tourists working solely on tips. He might be the richest man in Vegas. He was crazily busy last night.

Considering the weather, he was also very cold!

We headed back to Paris and into Mon Ami Gabi¹, a French bistro attached to the Paris Hotel on Las Vegas Boulevard.

bellagio-fountains-from-paris.jpgWe wanted to sit outside on the patio… and did at Table 138. We were right on Las Vegas Blvd with a great view for people watching and to see the fountain show across the street at the Bellagio.

At one point my Cousin Michael asked if the propane heater could be moved closer to the table. Fire regs–it could not. But about five minutes later another heater was hoisted from the street and placed adjacent to our table.

paris-and-eiffel-tower-las-vegas.jpgScore one for the waitress and manager who made that magic happen. That was an above-and-beyond move. I’d recommend this place just for that–but there’s more.

The menu had some French flare but it was obviously designed for American audiences. Before the meal we were brought hot baugets. Not warm–hot!

There was a lot on the menu to choose from. Stef said her French onion soup was the best she’d ever had. I enjoyed my potato and leek soup.

For dinner I had a brie cheeseburger. It was excellent on a tasty bun. The french fries were plentiful, though so thinly cut there was little substance. Helaine had a hanger steak. No complaints on the main course.

entrance-to-paris-hotel-las-vegas.jpgThis is Vegas and a tourist destination, but the prices seemed reasonable. We are non-drinkers all, so that kept the check in check. As it was this was an anniversary treat from our cousins. That was very sweet though totally unnecessary.

We were too full for desert! In fact the past two night’s meals will probably affect what we eat for the rest of the trip. It’s easy to have too much–and we have.

¹We had pronounced Gabi, “Gabby.” The waitress pronounced it “Gah-bee” with the accent on the second syllable. I never did well in French.

Is This Really What America’s Clamoring For?

Monday, November 16th, 2009

grilled cheese to go.jpgI went to the mall with Helaine and Stef on a shopping expedition. I wish it wasn’t, but clothes buying is always a painful experience for me. I don’t know why? Stef and Helaine try their best to make me presentable. I grateful for that even if it isn’t obvious in real time.

While in the mall I spied this sign for a new store on its way to fill empty stomachs everywhere–Grilled Cheese To Go! I am not making this up.

Seriously, did someone do research and find grilled cheese sandwiches were a little too difficult for 21st Century Americans to make on their own?

I will be curious to see how this fares. Undoubtedly I’ll be wrong and it will be an immense hit.

What I Don’t Understand About Filibustering

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

Embedded in the tumult over healthcare insurance reform is the promise if Democrats try to bring a bill to the Senate floor without 60 votes Republicans will filibuster!

Ooooh–filibuster. It’s the boogie man of Roberts Rules. Anyway, we’re not exactly seeing an insta-Congress now.

OK–I’m sort of slow on this. I’m sure I’m missing something. The last filibuster I remember seeing was delivered by Jimmy Stewart in “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.” Good scene. He collapsed convincingly.

I assume the modern version would be a tag-team filibuster with individual Republicans and conservative Democrats taking turns yapping.

Again, I’m sort of slow on this, but why not? Seriously. Why wouldn’t the Democrats want the Republicans to do this?

The latest polls show the vast majority of Americans want insurance reform including a public option. The Republicans may not be scared of the Democrats, but aren’t they scared of the voters? Do they really want to throw a monkey wrench in the works while America stares at them?

A filibuster would open them to all sorts of accusations they currently avoid. It would make them seem smarmy in a much more visible way.

Let them filibuster!

Again, I know I’m missing something here… or maybe everyone else is too damned scared for their own good.

Where Was Plum Island’s Security?

Sunday, September 27th, 2009

anthraxresearcher.jpgWhy is no one else disturbed about the recent Plum Island incident? The boater that washed ashore on Plum Island last week may have saved his own ass while also showing how lax security is on a most mysterious and hazardous island!

I hear your question. Why should I care about Plum Island?

Plum Island is located off the North Fork of Long Island. It’s less than 10 miles from Connecticut. It used to be run by the Department of Agriculture. It’s a scary place.

We’re proud of our role as America’s first line of defense against foreign animal diseases.

We’re equally proud of our safety record. Not once in our nearly 50 years of operation has an animal pathogen escaped from the island.

The island houses labs performing dangerous research often with live diseased animals! They publish papers with titles like, “Swine Genomics and Biodefense Countermeasures Discovery ” Some tests are performed on genetically engineered cloned swine–so called “knockout pigs.”

No wonder Plum Island needs “state-of-the-art biosafety practices and procedures to prevent a disease organism from escaping into the environment.”

In case you weren’t already convinced of this place’s importance, “Land, buildings and other facilities of the Plum Island Animal Disease Center were transferred to the Department of Homeland Security in June 2003.” You know them–the shoe people from the airport.

Basically you would expect this place to be protected in the manner of a James Bond villain’s lair! High tech security. Constant diligence. Massive law enforcement presence. Actually that’s close to what Plum Island claims.

Restricted access to authorized employees and approved visitors. Trained security professionals and surveillance systems guard the island, laboratory and storage areas 24/7. All employees have pass security clearances.

Last week an unlucky boater drifted across the Sound, landed on Plum Island and walked a few miles across it before being found… but only because he’d stumbled upon the security facility and waited!

New Haven Register: “Security personnel had been away from the office to look for Young and found him upon their return, according to John Olsen, Coast Guard operations controller.”

Just a guess, but had this been a real emergency I don’t think he would have walked to the office and waited, right?

I don’t know everything on Plum Island and probably don’t want to. Even with the little I know this undetected incursion scares the crap out of me.

Has DHS come to the same conclusion I have? God, I hope so.

Redefining Recession

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

The Wall Street Journal quoted the Fed Chairman today:

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said Tuesday that the recession was “very likely over,” as consumers showed some of the first tangible signs of spending again.

Ben–not here. Not that I can see.

There is a great disconnect between the conventional standards for judging economic conditions and our current economic condition. What Bernanke said might be true, but it’s meaningless. We need to change what we measure. GDP misses today’s America.

We also need to come to grips with the new reality–in many cases machines are cheaper than and better able to perform jobs than people. It’s happening in my business. We’re not alone.

There are jobs people did when I was growing up that just don’t exist anymore, or don’t exist at the same level of pay.

Sadly, the benefits of labor saving devices have mainly been reaped by business owners who happily do more with less. Maybe it’s time to redefine our thoughts on what a full work week is and re-align our tax structure to discourage businesses that produce profit without producing a product.

Wikipedia: The eight-hour day movement or 40-hour week movement, also known as the short-time movement, had its origins in the Industrial Revolution in Britain, where industrial production in large factories transformed working life and imposed long hours and poor working conditions. With working conditions unregulated, the health, welfare and morale of working people suffered. The use of child labour was common. The working day could range from 10 to 16 hours for six days a week.

Here in the U.S. the 40-hour week didn’t gain any traction until the mid-1800s. Then, as now, more modern processes and tools had greatly increased productivity. It happened before. It can happen again.

There just isn’t enough 40-hours a week work to go around. I can’t see how there ever will be again.

Why I Love Charlotte, NC

Monday, August 31st, 2009

When I lived in Charlotte, NC back in the early 70s it was a sleepy, genteel, southern city. “If you die in Charlotte you have to change for heaven in Atlanta,” was the often heard swipe at the city’s second class status.

That was ages ago. Charlotte has changed radically. There is virtually nothing left of the downtown Charlotte I knew. Everything is new. Everything is clean. Everything encourages you to be downtown!

Bringing people downtown didn’t happen overnight. Converting areas adjacent to downtown into residential neighborhoods was incredibly important. Adding restaurants and culture were important too.

Over the last decade Charlotte quietly became America’s banking center. With consolidation that may change.

Banks needed huge headquarter sites. Skyscrapers stand where there were once two or three story buildings. Times are getting tighter. One huge residential tower was abandoned where it stands and may end up being too far damaged by sitting exposed to be finished! It’s tough not to blame consolidation there. A more balanced collection of white-collar employers would have helped, though who really knows?

Sunday for breakfast we went to a funky restaurant in a neighborhood reminiscent of Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles. L.A.’s Melrose has more density, but this part of Charlotte seems to be coming along.

If you’ve never been to the Queen City of the South these photos will acquaint you.

Danny Moves Your Fanny

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

danny-thurs-afternoon-plot.gifBack in Buffalo fabled morning disk jockey (and all around good guy) Dan Nevereth had a jingle (and ad campaign) which said, “Danny moves your fanny in the morning.¹″ My question is whether that will be true Saturday morning as Tropical Storm or possibly Hurricane Danny bears down on New England?

I keep looking at the data on Danny hoping to find a morsel which will give me a little relief. Nothing. It’s unlikely we’ll get hit directly, but how much impact will there be? The line between some and none is tough to find.

Added to this a planned weekend trip out-of-town. I fly out and back in not much more than 24 hours! If conditions warrant my trip is canceled. That’s not even under discussion. My first obligation is here in Connecticut.

When do I make my decision? I always tell viewers to wait until the very last moment. I’ll follow my own advice. A decision to “eat the ticket” won’t be made until Saturday morning.

No matter what Danny doesn’t look like it’s going to be a powerhouse. That’s good. The romance of a hurricane is that only in the abstract. I’ve never met anyone who felt the same way after a few days without electricity.

¹ – Video of this commercial is not on Youtube! It’s probably the only commercial in America not online. I’d love to see a copy if you have one.