Getting Out Of A Drought Is Easier Than Getting In


Everyone in California is excited. All the signs point to a strong El Nino winter. El Nino’s usually (not always) mean more wintertime rain and snow in California. We need water. Supplies are running very low.

First, a few truths. What falls in Los Angeles, Palm Springs or Irvine means little! Some of it might enter the system, but we are primarily set up to harvest snow. None of those places get snow.

Our most efficient collection comes from spring runoff, meaning most of SoCal’s drinking water starts someplace else. The Coachella Valley mainly taps the Colorado River. Our drinking water’s watershed is hundreds of miles away in states that don’t even border California.

For Los Angeles and environs, water is transported via aqueduct from the Owens Valley at the base of the Sierras, also hundreds of miles away.

I’m not sure there’s any place in Southern California that’s naturally suitable for even a fraction of its current population density. The only answer is water from afar. It’s our pact with the devil. Even the most environmentally friendly of us uses more than SoCal can deliver.

As bad as this drought is (very bad), it’s absolutely wrong to look at how many inches below normal we are as a meaningful number. Water systems aren’t set up to need normal conditions. Water supplies must be over-engineered to provide cushion for bad years.

Normal precipitation supplies more water than we actually need. We don’t have to make up the entire deficit inch-for-inch.

I can’t find any specifics on how much precipitation is needed for positive inflow, but my suspicion is the bar is lower than people think.

Here’s my semi-educated guess. An average year’s rain would likely put us where we were two or more years ago, not where we stood last August.

What’s taken us seven years of mainly bad precipitation won’t need anywhere that long to recover.

So, I welcome El Nino with open arms and hope he doesn’t bring the usual ‘extras’ — flooding and landslides. Everything good in California has a price.

My Studio’s Final Piece

pipo xs7

I am in full tracking mode. My package has made it from Indiana to Kentucky. It’s resting down the freeway in Ontario. It comes Friday. It’s a PIPO XS7.

Yeah, I’ll explain.

I’d like to make my studio available for hire. That means finishing the job on my teleprompter. It needs a computer. The XS7 is the tiny computer which will be dedicated to this task.

The XS7 has roughly the same power as a high end cell phone or tablet. I don’t claim to understand, but someone (probably Intel) has created an SoC (service system-on-a-chip) that makes these things easy and cheap to make. A bunch of companies have similar boxes at the same price.

Its CPU is an Intel 3736F quad core. There’s also an HD GPU on the board. It can stream high-def content… though not in my use.

No fan. Totally quiet. It draws about 20 watts.

You can choose to boot into either Windows 8.1 or Android. The prompter software that came with the hardware is Windows. Choice made.

From a historical perspective this is amazing. There’s a lot of power in a modest package.

The PC world is changing again. Technology is cheaper than ever. It’s a tool to be harnessed.

Where’s The Competent Insurance Company?


If there’s a competent insurance company I haven’t come across it yet. Today’s fun experience courtesy of Blue Shield of California. I have their optional supplemental dental HMO.

I got a letter from them saying they were unable to deduct the premium. It’s probably because I hadn’t given them an account. Makes sense.

The letter listed a phone number and instructions for taking the deduction from my checking account. I called. Got transferred three times. None was the correct person.

Finally Donald, (who originally called me Gregory, then said it was against company policy to tell me his last name though it was on the email he later sent me) said he’d help anyway. Could I fax?

Sure. It’s 1985 again. I can fax.

The fax is in. Maybe the problem is solved. We’ll see.

Meanwhile, none of the instructions on the original letter from Blue Shield were helpful nor representative of the steps I actually took. No option from the phone number they provided was correct.

It’s not just Blue Shield. This isn’t my first time at the insurance rodeo. I have yet to deal with an insurance company whose right hand knew the location of its left hand.

We trust these behemoths with life and death decisions about our care and treatment. Meanwhile, they can’t even get a phone call right!

Has Severe Weather Coverage Outlived Its Welcome?


Over my career I’ve broken into hours-and-hours of primetime programming and preempted hundreds of commercials. There’s a reason we stop everything for severe weather.

Now is the right time to reconsider. Is that the right way in 2015?

People want narrowcasting. That’s what cable cutting is all about. The Internet has spoiled us.

In most TV markets severe weather events only cover a fraction of the audience. Viewers who used to ‘put up’ with this no longer will. Too many options. Too much shiny tinfoil on a string.

On top of that, cable companies run automated systems that sometimes overrides live coverage!

And, of course, fewer people watch traditional ‘local stations.’

Is the answer virtual Internet stations that exist purely to broadcast wall-to-wall when weather warrants? It would allow a lower threshold for coverage, since it’s now ‘opt-in’.

I read stories of coverage by my fellow meteorologists in weather active markets and wonder if they’re helping or hurting? Is it time for a change?

We’re Hearing Booms

Marines with 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, establish security during a helicopter raid, as part of the Marine Corps Combat Readiness Evaluation (MCCRE), aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., Aug. 4, 2015. The MCCRE is used evaluate the operational readiness of a designated unit. (U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Cpl. Demetrius Morgan/RELEASED)

All day long we’ve been hearing distant explosions. Sometimes you can even feel the vibration. I’m used to Disneyland’s fireworks. This is different. Deeper in pitch, a sign of distance, and more powerful.

Helaine finally said, “Call the police.” I did.

“Camp Pendleton,” she said. “They’re having exercises.”

Camp Pendleton, a major USMC training base, is 35 miles away!

CAMP PENDLETON – Artillery units at the seaside base are conducting live-fire training exercises that will involve firing on the Whiskey and Zulu impact areas on the northern part of the base.

Extended firing is expected Sunday and residents in South Orange County can expect to hear noise and feel some booms. Depending on atmospheric conditions, the sound of the explosions may be amplified and heard up to 50 miles away, base officials said. —

My dad trained at Camp Pendleton before the Navy shipped him out to invade Japan. They’d land on a beach by boat and try to secure it while under simulated enemy fire.

By day they’d hand dig fortifications. At night they’d be bulldozed away.

It’s never stopped.

Weather In The Coachella Valley

I forecast the weather in the Palm Springs area. It’s called the Coachella Valley. I know some of you reading this have never been west. It’s different than the rest of America. That’s especially true for Palm Springs. By virtue of location, Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley would be a desert even if they […]

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Ricki And The Flash

I am a good husband.

Rick Springfield is in another movie.

Oh crap. “Hard to Hold 2?”

Please. No.

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A Good Time To Be A Geek

I remember the past, but am much happier here. If you can master the technology around you, this is a very good time to be a geek.

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My Last Night With Jon Stewart

I didn’t watch from Day One. I wasn’t impressed by his MTV or movie work. Jon Stewart was an acquired taste for me. Once I started watching I was hooked! The Daily Show was on my DVR every night, the first thing I watched after the news. He was liberal, sure. He was also smart […]

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Every Picture Tells A Story — This One Especially

My sister, ace child psychologist and motivational speaker, would have none of it.

“Go now or I’ll beat the *** out of you.”

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