John Oliver: Live


John Oliver played the City National Grove of Anaheim tonight. Someone nice gave me two tickets… so I took her. Third row. Well done.

First things first. We fought ridiculous traffic on the 5. It took 45 minutes going, 17 to get home.

City National Grove was originally built as a theme restaurant. Lucky for us it was converted into a live venue. The auditorium seats around 1,700.

One of my Facebook friends asked who John Oliver is?

John Oliver is very funny and very fast. The show has structure, but he is skillful enough to divert when conditions warrant then find his way back.

The first ten minutes, ten funny minutes, were spent riffing on the venue and Anaheim in general. Onto his act, a series of observational essays.

I can’t tell you any jokes he said. I’m not sure there were any jokes. His stuff is funny in context. That’s tougher than telling jokes.

John Oliver is shorter than he looks on TV. Join the club. His nose is… uh… prominent. He’s thin.

“He was on around an hour,” Helaine observed. “I’ve never seen a comedian on that long without water.”

Time and money well spent. It was like a date.

News At The Speed Of Internet

CNN is on with news from Tallahassee. People have been shot in the FSU library.

CNN didn’t break this story. I first got the news on Twitter. That’s becoming more rule than exception.

FSUShootingInternal640Florida State’s original tweet about a DANGEROUS SITUATION caught fire! News like this explodes through social media. It becomes unavoidable.

Meanwhile, it’s still the traditional news sources we turn to once we get the tipoff. That’s why the TV went on. But their resources pale in comparison to crowd sourcing. Right now it’s social media CNN is relying on!

I saw someone complain Fox News and CNN had dropped the ball. I guess he was expecting them to have crews standing by in Tallahassee in case anything ever happened at midnight.

There’s a new boss in breaking news.

The Guy I Work With, Reviewed In The Times

zoom bob berman book coverI host our webcasts. Usually I work alongside (metaphorically–he’s near Woodstock, NY) Bob Berman, Slooh’s staff astronomer.

Bob’s written a bunch of books, making science more approachable. His latest, Zoom: How Everything Moves, From Atoms and Galaxies to Blizzards and Bees, was reviewed this morning in the NY Times.

Although I like to think I’m well-informed about the history of science and current cosmological theory, I learned a number of new things here, and they were conveyed with the fluent immediacy of a writer skilled at boiling complicated concepts down into easily understandable sentences served straight. – Michael Benson NY Times

It wasn’t a good review, it was a rave!

Congratulations Bob. That’s quite an achievement.

My copy is in the mail, due from Amazon this afternoon.

Buffalo And The World’s Weirdest Weather


The photo at the top of this entry is Buffalo, Wednesday Tuesday afternoon. It’s my old neighborhood on Elmwood Avenue. The Sun is shining brightly.

Wondering where the snow is?

robhimself793: I’m about a mile from the snow band, I have very little snow, maybe 6″. Just a mile south and people have 3 feet.

You’re seeing one of the more interesting aspects of Lake Effect snow. It is VERY localized. There’s heavy snow just a few miles from where this image was captured.

Lake Effect snow is the product of convection. Heat and moisture are transferred upward into the clouds from the relatively warm lake. You can see that in this time lapse of Lake Erie, one of the coolest pieces of weather video I’ve ever seen.

Heavy Lake Effect snow needs cold wind roughly parallel to the lake to get going. The resulting storm forms slender ‘streamers’ which reach out from the lake. They are often just a few miles wide, with flurries at the edges and white out conditions in the middle!

Near the Great Lakes it’s possible to drive from no snow to 4″/hour conditions in just two or three miles! These bands can stay stationary for hours, or even days!

Buffalo gets a lot of snow each winter, over 90 inches! Because of Lake Effect there are heavier snowbelts south of the city. People in Buffalo scratch their heads why anyone would want to live there, as we scratch our heads over Buffalo.


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Doppler’s Birthaversary


Three years ago today a very apprehensive Helaine and I drove to the pound in Wallingford to get Doppler. A few days earlier Doppler chose me when I came to look at their ‘special case.’

We still can’t understand how anyone abandoned this dog–but someone surely did.

She was left in a baseball dugout with her brother (or father–we don’t know), Bentley. They arrived at the pound with their nails curling inward, their coats matted with poop and mud.

Doppler get her hair cut-IMG_7871-05262012-h700We’ve heard stories. Sometimes people become sick, or die. Their relatives don’t know what to do with the dog. Sometimes people lose jobs and can no longer afford the upkeep.

A dog discarded is the end of what’s already a tragic story.

We took a chance adopting. We got lucky!

May262013_3798She came trained. She came polite. She came laid back. She fit in perfectly starting on day one.

Doppler has seen a lot in the past three years. And now, after a coast-to-coast ride on Helaine’s lap, she’s a Cali girl.

A few hours after we brought Doppler home our friends Cheryl and Steve adopted Bentley. Another “happily ever after” story.

doppler-doesn't-want-to-be-recycledWe don’t really know how old Doppler is. She’s very puppyesque, but our Connecticut vet’s estimation (based on her teeth) is six or seven.

Who got luckier? Doppler or us?

It Sounds Like New England

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.

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Can Philae Be Brought Back?

I’m not going to say Ulamec is lying… Oh, what the hell. He’s lying.

The whole team decidedly ISN’T delighted. Everyone expected more. Everyone is disappointed.

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Everything Had To Go Right… And Didn’t

The probe has come to rest alongside a large boulder. It is blocked from the Sun. Its solar cells, hoping for eight hours of daylight, only get one and a half.

Philae will work for a few days, then run out of juice.

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Isn’t It A Little Early?

Since when does Christmas start this early? What the hell is going on? Why are there “Black Friday” sales now?

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Our Upcoming Guest

This is exciting. I just made reservations to have my dad visit us in OC. There’s more prep involved when you’re 89. My dad’s good to travel. He has physical limits. There is one flight a day from Milwaukee to Orange County. It stops in San Francisco, but he doesn’t have to change planes. Perfect! […]

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