Posts Tagged ‘California’


Bad Night — Good Dog

Friday, May 8th, 2015


I’m in Irvine tonight. It’s raining. These are large economy size drops. That’s what convective showers produce. The atmosphere is unstable under a dome of cold air aloft.

The window thermometer reads 50. It’s raw tonight.

I escorted Doppler outside a few minutes ago. Now it’s coming back to me. I remember inclement weather! Isn’t this why we moved?

I looked down my street. No puddles. They might be against the HOA rules or possibly a city ordinance. Maybe both?

As always, Doppler was efficient. We were back in the house in a flash.

Helaine left a towel by the door. As I picked it up, Doppler laid down and rolled on her back. She’s been dried before. She obviously enjoys it. I carried her upstairs under my arm.

Bad night. Good dog.

Just A Story

Thursday, April 23rd, 2015


I got an email tonight from an Air Force reservist assigned to Vandenberg AFB. It’s about 3.5 hours north of here on the coast.

Vandenberg reminded me of my weirdest airplane flight ever. I was flying to my cousin’s bar mitzvah in Santa Maria, California from San Francisco. I’d spent a few weeks traveling with my pen pal, David. I was 18. This was my first time away from home alone. My first time out west.

I was booked on Hughes Air West, owned by Howard Hughes. He’d recently bought four airlines and merged them. The flight attendant wore one insignia, the pilot another, the coffee cups showed a third.

Look at the photo above. The plane says “Air West,” but the tail still has the Bonanza Airlines logo on it.

This was a milk run: San Francisco-San Jose-Pasa Robles-San Luis Obispo-Santa Maria. I believe the first leg took under ten minutes.

The aircraft was a Fairchild F-27. It’s a prop plane with the wing over the fuselage. I could watch the landing gear extend and retract out my window.

This was exciting. My first commercial jet flight was a few weeks earlier. Now an afternoon of flying!

The route connected small towns. San Luis Obispo actually had “San Luis Obispo” painted on the tarmac. Too small for a sign.

As we approached Santa Maria the pilot informed us there was fog and we’d be putting down at Vandenberg AFB to wait it out.

We landed then stopped on a taxiway. An air force officer came on-board and told us there would be no picture taking.

Vandenberg is the military’s space center. This was the height of the Cold War. I had long hair. Who knows?

We took off again and headed toward Santa Maria. The plane began to descend, making a sweeping downward oval in the sky. We kept losing altitude for what seemed an eternity. With the wing above, I looked down hoping to soon spot Earth.

We couldn’t have been more than a few hundred feet up when we broke out of the clouds. The pilot gunned the engine simultaneously pulling the gear and nose up.

Truck on the runway.

This day is indelibly etched in my mind.

Look Who Wanted Out Of The Rain

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014


We’ve have two days of rain in SoCal. Very unusual. Yosemite Falls is falling, reasonably rare for December. Up north in San Francisco the rain has set records!

Through 7 a.m. Wednesday, San Francisco had received 1.36 inches of rainfall since midnight. Combined with 1.61 inches received yesterday we have a 2-day total of 2.97 inches. With more rain on the way, Wednesday will be the rainiest 2 days in San Francisco since at least January 2008. – Roberta Gonzalez KPIX

Here at the Casa de zorro (translate it–go ahead) we have new visitors driven up by the water seeping down. Worms!

This was a common occurrence in Connecticut, not so much here. And these worms are different. They’re very slender. Hollywood worms!

I’m not sure what kind of sensors worms have, but as I knelt down with “Clicky” the closest worm raised its head (or whatever the front end of a worm is called).

When the sun returns, the worms will disappear. Until then they’re a little creepy.

It Sounds Like New England

Sunday, November 16th, 2014


I woke this morning to a howling wind. The sound is unmistakable. We’re in SoCal, but my ears said winter in New England!

I’m hearing Santa Ana winds. These are dry, often hot winds coming from the east. The official meteorological term is katabatic.

A katabatic wind, from the Greek word katabatikos meaning “to flow downhill”, is the technical name for a drainage wind, a wind that carries high density air from a higher elevation down a slope under the force of gravity. Such winds are sometimes also called fall winds.

As the wind flows downhill it compresses, warms and dries. It picks up speed flowing through canyons and passes. The sound is the same, but the effect is nearly the opposite of the New England howl I’m attuned to.


At the moment the temperature is 73° and the dewpoint -8°! The relative humidity is 4%.

The wind sucks the moisture from anything it passes. You would be hard pressed to show visible perspiration today. Santa Ana sneezes are often accompanied by a little blood on the tissue.

This is very dangerous fire weather. We had drizzle a few days ago. Any beneficial effect of that rain is gone. If it’s not green it’s tinder.

Red Flag Warnings are up across Southern California. There will be fires. They will spread.

When a weather feature has its own name, it’s significant! Think Nor’easter.

A few more days of Santa Ana wind will follow.

I Voted… Two Weeks Ago

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014 fileadmin user_upload elections gen2014 sbs BT239.pdfI voted. Actually, I voted by mail two weeks ago. That’s a first.

It was a ballot, but also a small book! There were four pages with check boxes, plus instructions, short bios from each candidate and statements for and against each ballot proposal. That’s 36 pages in all!

My ballot includes paragraphs like…

Vote NO on Measure W. It’s a fraud. Measure W is NOT a “term limits” measure. It is just the opposite. It is a TERM EXTENSION for the Mayor and City Council.

Speaking of mayor and city council, they are supposed to be elected in a non-partisan fashion. It’s still Democrats versus Republicans. You just have to dig a little deeper to know who is whom.

My cousin, Melissa, is running for Irvine City Council. I’d like to see her elected. She’s probably relieved the campaign is over. It’s been more than an additional full time job… a thankless full time job.

It is nearly impossible for any person to be familiar with everything being decided. Should I really be choosing Orange County Water District, Director District 5? Maybe some positions are better appointed than elected?

A mail-in ballot should encourage high voter turnout, but the complexity of the ballot probably does the opposite. It’s intimidating.

The most highly contested element of today’s election is a proposition which raises the maximum ‘pain and suffering’ payout in medical malpractice lawsuits from $250,000. The insurance industry has spent tens of millions trying to defeat it. The interest of insurance companies and me never seem aligned–especially in this.

I will not miss the political ads in TV. How can they get more objectionable every year?

No Shirt. No Flight.

Thursday, September 18th, 2014

melissa and charlotte smirkIt’s 10:00 PM. Helaine and I should be on a plane approaching Milwaukee. Instead, the plane is over Western Kansas and we’re in SoCal.

We were headed cheeseward on the occasion of my niece Melissa’s daughter’s naming. Grand niece, right?


She’s really adorable and I’m sure I’m already her favorite uncle. If not, please fix that.

Thank you Arizona criminals!

It all started around 2:30 at a Tempe, Arizona gas station. A fight there turned to gunplay with one man critically injured. The perps took off.

Cops quickly spotted them speeding from the scene. These guys weren’t giving up easily. They hit the gas hard until the police were forced to back off for safety.

shirtless suspectThey were next seen at Phoenix’s Sky Harbor Airport. Two of the suspects, a man and a woman, were quickly arrested. The third guy, shirtless for easy identification, ran into Terminal 4.

Shirtless! Was he hoping to get on COPS?

Terminal 4 is where Southwest’s TPA-DEN-SMF-SNA-PHX-AUS Flight 4661 usually makes its next to last stop.

We were ready to board at John Wayne when the gate agent told us to sit, Phoenix was closed!

First Southwest delayed the flight. Then they cancelled. They pulled the trigger very quickly on what looked to be a full load. Surprising.

Within seconds nearly everyone at Gate 16 reached for their pockets. We got emails. We got texts.

I tapped in Southwest’s number.

“We can call you back in 12-17 minutes,” the not-really-a-woman on the phone said.

I pressed one for yes.

Forty five minutes later they called back.

We were stuck. Christina, Stef’s best friend, is scheduled to stay here Sunday night . This Milwaukee trip was already squeezed into the tiniest possible space.

We picked up Doppler at the sitter and came home.

sky harbor shooting arrestDay wasted!

We will reschedule soon. We’ve got a great niece to see and my folks, plus Trudi and Jeff’s three generations.

Oh, and Phoenix suspect… on behalf all the people inconvenienced by your stupid, violent act and on behalf of the poor man you sent to the hospital, don’t get your hopes up for character witnesses.


John Wayne Airport claims to be located in Santa Ana, but it’s really in a complex governmental no-man’s land. No one calls it Santa Ana, probably because Santa Ana is poor. That’s not very comforting.

The airport is commonly referred to as Orange County or John Wayne.

Because the magnetic field of the Earth changes ever so slightly from year-to-year, this summer they had to renumber runway 1R-19L and 1L-19R to 2-20 left and right. Honest.

A Different Kind Of Time Lapse

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

“Don’t you get bored,” Stef asked after seeing my latest time lapse. In a way she’s right. Just clouds passing by.

On the other hand you can actually watch and see physics in action! Everything happening is happening for a well defined reason.

Tonight is the full moon and we’re close to perigee. That makes the Moon big and bright and very visible as it moves past the window.

I like this one especially. I like the night.

full moon time lapse

Another Beautiful SoCal Sunset (With Time Lapse)

Sunday, August 24th, 2014

As I was passing by, Helaine asked if I’d seen the evening colors? “It would probably make a good time lapse,” she said.

Too late. The camera was already suctioned on the guest bedroom window, pointing at the setting Sun.

If I could only rip down the houses west of us for a better view.





Lunch In Surf City

Thursday, July 24th, 2014


IMG_3701_6274“We should get together,” I said a few days ago to Larry Fitzgerald. This afternoon we were texting each other to apologize for traffic and parking related delays.

We met in Huntington Beach, aka Surf City. It’s two days before the US Open of Surfing. It’s “the season” in HB.

There was trouble at the Open last year. Violence. Rioting. Huntington Beach suffered a black eye then worked hard publicly to guarantee there would be no repeat in 2014.

IMG_3709_6282It was hot in SoCal today. Temps were near 90 just a few blocks inland. At the HB Pier the report was 78&#176 with the water at 68&#176. Lovely.

We were going to lunch at Ruby’s, a 50s themed diner at the end of Huntington Beach’s long fishing pier. We were there for the schmooze, not the kitsch.

Considering it’s Thursday the beach and pier were jammed! This is an active beach with volleyball, bicycling and surfing. An in-water lifesaving course was in progress alongside the pier.

IMG_3707_6280It was hazy today, but I made out Santa Catalina in the distance and a few offshore oil rigs which look a lot closer in my photo than they actually are.

This is oil country. I even shot pumps in action behind someone’s house!

We decided we’ll meet again. Cameras again too!

East Coast/West Coast Difference

Saturday, July 19th, 2014







We went whale watching yesterday. Not only did we get to see lots of sea mammals, we got to see lots of coast. By-and-large it’s very different from the East Coast.

From Florida to Southern Maine beaches are mainly the extension of a flat coastal plain. Not here. Because the West Coast is on a tectonic subduction zone, many spots have cliffs right down to the water’s edge.

That has led to terracing. Row-upon-row of homes get ocean views because they’re built into hillsides.

If we had snow or got ‘the big one’ this would be a major problem. Right now homeowners try not to think about it and spectacular views win the day.