Posts Tagged ‘California’


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.

Where We Live

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014


This week marks a year since our hectic first week in Irvine. This is a totally different world. Nothing’s the same, right down to the side of the street that borders the ocean!

As the wheels began to turn and moving became more-and-more certain, we made a few house hunting trips to Orange County. Our cousins are nearby. That was a huge draw. Stef is close, but not too close. No winter.

Helaine likes new. For us that’s the right call. There’s lots new here.

Irvine is a rapidly growing suburb in Southern Orange County. We are inland from Laguna Beach and Newport Beach. To our north and east are foothills, then the Santa Ana Mountains, mainly wilderness.

This is unlike our former New England home in nearly every way. We lived in a town that grew organically. Our property line was not a rectangle.

Here, everything is by design. Each house is different, but in the same sense identical twins have differences. Irvine is a medley of your favorites in the beige family.

Housing developments pack the homes in then leave lots of common space with parks, pools and trails. That’s part of the deal for being allowed to build here. We have a city block sized common area with pool, basketball and tennis courts and large dog friendly lawn. It’s a minute’s walk away. There are kid playgrounds within a few blocks in every direction.

We saw a model and bought a house to-be-built. I walked in the door and sighed. Helaine asked what was wrong. I said we’d found the house. We were looking for this layout. Three bedrooms, two and a half baths, on two floors with around 1,900 square feet of living space.

We knew most, not all of what we were getting. Houses are different when they’re alongside their neighbors. As it turns out we chose well and got lucky. We’re very happy the way things turned out.

Our goal was a great kitchen for Helaine and great office for me. She is amazing in the kitchen, especially baking, and deserves to have a suitable space. My office is more about what’s in it than what it is. It began life as a third bedroom. It’s currently messy, but otherwise perfect.

We are very surprised by our utility bills. Because we have neighbors north and south we get morning and afternoon sun, but are shaded during the day. Our electric bill averages in the low $50 range. There’s also $15 for gas and $30 for water. All seem constant year round.

We seldom use the air conditioner. Low humidity is a big deal. We sleep with windows open 350 nights a year–maybe more. I leave a laptop on the patio and sit out there every night.

This is a community with lots of immigrants, most from Asia. Not all speak English. I often say hello and am met with a pleasant, but perplexed, smile.

I have a Chinese family on one side and a California raised Korean family on the other. I know one family well, the other not at all.

The Chinese family is multi-generational, living together. Some housing developments sell models specifically designed for that.

At Halloween one neighborhood father explained his young daughter didn’t speak English. She’d only been here a week. Welcome to America. Let’s go door-to-door and beg for candy.

I love this neighborhood because of the vitality I see. Young families on the move. If the American dream has disappeared, word hasn’t gotten to the people living here.

We got very lucky.

I Missed The Anniversary

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

Google Maps

Yesterday marked one year since we’ve been in California. Good grief a lot has happened!

Actually, the best way to tell this story is to start months earlier. We decided to leave Connecticut not long after I left FoxCT. That decision set everything into motion. Unfortunately, it s-l-o-w-e-d the clock. Things dragged on as we had one foot out the door!

It wasn’t until a few weeks before departure that the clock resumed, now at double time!

The number of things you have to do before you leave is mind boggling. We are attached to so many accounts and businesses. Everyone needed to know.

Meanwhile, we moved to California a few days before our house was ready to close. Officially we probably counted as homeless.

before-and-after-autoWe drove 2,862 miles, all with me at the wheel and Doppler on Helaine’s lap. Contrary to the smart money, I didn’t get a speeding ticket.

Nebraska is much too large!

This year has gone a lot faster than last. We’re very much into our new surroundings. We already feel like this is home… even though we know few of our neighbors and still need the GPS for many in-town trips.

The amount of life reconstruction necessary in a move like this is crazy. We needed a new everything. We had to find doctors and dentists, dry cleaners and supermarkets, even the best pizza place (we found some of the worst first).

No California pizza compares with anything made in Connecticut. Full stop. End of story.

I’ve settled in to being semi-retired. I don’t know what that means either, but it’s good. I’m working for UC Irvine Extension and Each is fun work in its own way.

I definitely miss being on television. In a perfect world I’d be filling-in or doing weekends in LA or San Diego. If you’re news director of a station, consider this your opportunity to drop me a line.

However, even without TV, this move has been crazily wonderful. Helaine and I have ditched winter and moved closer to our daughter. We couldn’t be happier.

All in one year. Wow!