Gray And Gloomy

In SoCal people look forward to these gray days as a break from our endless sunshine. An OC native I spoke to yesterday was curious if I missed rain?


I wanted to say, “You’re nuts.” I held my tongue.


When I got up this morning (OK–it was afternoon. So shoot me.) the sky was gray. Not as bad as the photo (above) from the Mt. Wilson camera… but still gray. That’s not unexpected this time of year. May Gray is a well worn California phrase.

As it turns out, what looks like typical SoCal marine layer cloudiness is anything but! There are moderate to heavy radar returns from Central and Southern California.

The NWS office in San Diego describes it this way:


cali-radarThere are reports of street flooding in San Diego. Storm drainage isn’t very good in most older neighborhoods. It doesn’t take a lot to flood.

Even though these cells are moving in my direction it’s likely few (if any) will get here. The mountains east of us enhance the rainfall on the desert side, then stabilize the airmass as it moves back to lower elevations.

In SoCal people look forward to these gray days as a break from our endless sunshine. An OC native I spoke to yesterday was curious if I missed rain?


I wanted to say, “You’re nuts.” I held my tongue.

Actually, I feel gypped on days like today. Stupid attitude, but it is what it is. My mind has independently decided it’s supposed to be sunny and mild every day. I have no control over the letdown I truly feel.

By tomorrow we should be back to normal.

The World’s Greatest (Non) Job Interview

People were feeding the squirrels with impunity. The squirrels were so docile some people were actually petting them. Yuck!

As soon as I found out my contract wasn’t being renewed I began to reach out to TV stations in-and-out of Connecticut. I knew I’d be in Florida and California (two places I’d enjoy living in) so I ‘carpet bombed’ news directors in those spots hoping for a nibble. Sure enough I soon got this:


What day works for you?

It was from a news director at a station in San Diego. I was excited… very excited until he added in a later email

Monday Jan 17th at 1pm is good – what is your cell?
FYI I do not have a position for you but would love to meet you.

I did the math. This would be five hours of driving from L.A. with no upside. I started to think of excuses to pass on the invite.

I mentioned this to a few friends and they all said the same thing, “Go!”

I did. They were right. It was one of the most uplifting TV days I’ve had in a long time!

Helaine and I decided we could shorten my drive by spending last night with relatives in Orange County. She’d never been to their home (which she now considers perfect for us… can we move in there now… there’s a vacant unit down the block) and, as it would turn out, it gave her a day to spend with my Cousins Melissa, Michael and Max.

Google Maps said my trip would take a little over an hour. Nicely done Googleboys.

Unfortunately, I didn’t trust California traffic and left myself 2&#189 hours. I spent a l-o-n-g time parked up the block and out-of-sight from the TV station.

I would have been even earlier, but there was a scenic overlook on I-5 north of San Onofrio inside Camp Pendleton.

Of all the scenic places I’v seen in the last week this was the least! The stretch of Pacific Coast was pedestrian. The view to the east was worse. The most interesting feature was something that should not have been! Just beyond the “Do Not Feed The Squirrels Or Birds” signs was the largest scurry&#185 of squirrels I’ve ever seen!

People were feeding the squirrels with impunity. The squirrels were so docile some people were actually petting them. Yuck! The whole thing was weird.

I got back in the car and headed south.

I’m not going to name the station nor the news director I saw, but at this moment I would crawl over broken glass to work for him. I am assuming he does not read the blog, so this is not a suck-up… though I am not above that if I thought it would help.

He was supportive of his people, embraced technology and never once cried “woe is me” over the sorry state of TV in general or TV news in particular. He was genuinely proud of what they were accomplishing on a daily basis.

The news facility was recently built from the ground up. It looked comfortable. Being in San Diego some of what went on-air was actually being done outside. There was even a chromakey wall out there large enough park a convertible in front of. It looked like a drive-in theater!

He pointed to an area where the reporters worked in close proximity and talked about collegiality. Be still my heart.

Do I wish there was a job? Yes, of course. Even without one my visit restored some of my boyish enthusiasm which has been partially ground away over time.

To my friends who suggested I go–thanks.

Postscript: Not one cloud all day. Not one.

&#185 – There is some dispute whether there is or should be a name for a group of squirrels. Experts say they are solitary animals. It didn’t seem that way to me. Scurry is the accepted word by those who are willing to look past the solitary nature of most squirrels.

We’re In Orange County Now

It was really just a good excuse to come and visit. Michael and I have always been close. Melissa is the sister Helaine never had.

I have to make a quick run to San Diego tomorrow morning. Rather than risk the traffic from Los Angeles Helaine and I headed down to my cousins in Lake Forest in Orange County. It was really just a good excuse to come and visit. Michael and I have always been close. Melissa is the sister Helaine never had.

We stopped for some pizza before heading back to the house. This was ranch land before houses were built. There were certainly no lakes in what is now Lake Forest.

While we sat around their firepit I snapped this shot of the backyard.

Hey California: Don’t Kvetch About The Weather, OK? (video)

I don’t want to hear it. Was that clear enough? I just don’t want to hear it was crowded at the pool or the sunshine was blinding. Stifle it.

The mercury hit 100 degrees in San Diego today! Los Angeles came in at 96 degrees. People in Southern California were kvetching about the heat!

I don’t want to hear it. Was that clear enough? I just don’t want to hear it was crowded at the pool or the sunshine was blinding. Stifle it.

Thursday in Connecticut was awful. Chilly. Rainy. Breezy. Ugh!

I left work in a hard drizzle (yes, you can have a hard drizzle) that penetrated the atmosphere so effectively umbrellas were no help!

This would probably be a good night to start drinking! I’m frosted at Mother Nature and totally envious of my daughter who’s living in the San Fernando Valley complaining about the heat.

Cut me a break!

To you Stefanie I dedicate this video.

Weather Is Always Eclectic And Strange

It’s tough to explain something before it’s happened that’s going to be tough to recount after it’s happened!

weather center.jpgI’m not complaining. My ‘office’ is well lit and well equipped. I have cable TV at my desk. I am not lifting boxes in the factory. I get it. Still, this week has totally wiped me out and it’s only Wednesday.

Thankfully the forecast has been reasonably fine. That’s not the problem. It’s just the complexity of the week’s weather.
We haven’t had weather as much as we’ve had samples!

After the fact someone will try and pin a specific reason why this week has been so weird from a weather perspective. Whatever they say will sound studious, but be wrong! Weather is too complex to easily fit into soundbites.

Weather is always eclectic and strange. This is the rule, not the exception. We seldom see average weather.

Here’s my problem right now: It’s tough to explain something before it’s happened that’s going to be tough to recount after it’s happened! Every word becomes critical. It’s been like this all week. My head is spinning.

All through my professional life strangers have told me how boring it would be to forecast in Los Angeles or San Diego. At this moment that seems so appealing.

Strange Summer Weather

Now summer is acting a little strange in a good way. After a long period of rainy days (I have yet to water my lawn) we’ve turned the corner.

Spring was a no-show in Connecticut this year. Now summer is acting a little strange in a good way. After a long period of rainy days (I have yet to water my lawn) we’ve turned the corner.

Here’s the latest observation from nearby New Haven

METAR KHVN 141753Z 18008KT 10SM FEW045 24/12 A3001 RMK AO2 SLP161 T02390122 10244 20194 58005

Basically it says there are few clouds and a light southerly breeze. It’s 75&#176 with a dew point of 54&#176. 75&#176/54&#176 means mild and dry–San Diego like!

This summer has, so far, evaded high humidity. That’s really unusual and unlikely to last.

Sleeping summer nights with the windows open is quite a treat. So is saving money by not running the air conditioner.

The Numbers Are In

Nielen ratings are in for last night’s debate

The Nielsen ratings are in for last night’s debate. I’m confused by the list of stations aggregated which doesn’t include Fox News and MSNBC, both of which would add significantly to the final total.

If these overnight numbers stand, the ratings are well below other recent debates.

OK–I’m a little surprised. I thought for sure there would be a lot more interest considering all the buzz.

DMA Rank Market RTG Rank RTG SHR (000) 21 St. Louis 1 52.1 82.0 649 48 Memphis 2 49.5 67.0 330 26 Baltimore 3 47.1 66.0 515 9 Washington, DC (Hagrstwn) 4 44.6 68.0 1030 29 Nashville 5 44.0 66.0 424 46 Greensboro-H.Point-W.Salem 6 42.2 61.0 285 32 Columbus, OH 7 41.5 63.0 377 43 Norfolk-Portsmth-Newpt Nws 8 41.4 59.0 298 58 Richmond-Petersburg 9 40.3 55.0 211 18 Denver 10 39.7 65.0 586 24 Charlotte 11 39.3 54.0 426 7 Boston (Manchester) 12 39.3 58.0 944 22 Portland, OR 13 39.0 74.0 450 31 Kansas City 14 37.7 61.0 350 16 Miami-Ft. Lauderdale 15 37.2 52.0 573 38 West Palm Beach-Ft. Pierce 16 36.4 55.0 282 27 Raleigh-Durham (Fayetvlle) 17 36.2 54.0 377 51 Buffalo 18 36.1 54.0 230 25 Indianapolis 19 35.3 59.0 379 53 New Orleans 20 34.8 48 209 11 Detroit 21 34.3 55.0 661 59 Knoxville 22 34.3 51.0 185 61 Tulsa 23 34.1 55.0 178 45 Oklahoma City 24 34.0 55.0 231 40 Birmingham (Ann and Tusc) 25 33.5 48.0 245 52 Providence-New Bedford 26 33.5 50.0 211 15 Minneapolis-St. Paul 27 33.4 59.0 569 19 Orlando-Daytona Bch-Melbrn 28 33.4 52.0 479 62 Ft. Myers-Naples 29 33.3 51.0 164 28 San Diego 30 33.0 59.0 349 50 Louisville 31 33.0 48.0 218 17 Cleveland-Akron (Canton) 32 32.9 55.0 505 37 San Antonio 33 32.9 48.0 261 20 Sacramnto-Stkton-Modesto 34 32.7 55.0 454 4 Philadelphia 35 32.1 51.0 941 44 Albuquerque-Santa Fe 36 32.1 50.0 218 23 Pittsburgh 37 32.1 51.0 371 6 San Francisco-Oak-San Jose 38 32.0 62.0 779 13 Tampa-St. Pete (Sarasota) 39 31.7 49.0 569 49 Austin 40 31.6 52.0 201 36 Greenvll-Spart-Ashevll-And 41 31.5 46.0 265 64 Dayton 42 31.4 50.0 161 1 New York 43 31.3 48.0 2317 8 Atlanta 44 30.9 52.0 714 3 Chicago 45 30.7 51.0 1067 14 Seattle-Tacoma 46 30.3 58.0 541 30 Hartford & New Haven 47 30.2 45.0 306 47 Jacksonville 48 30.0 47.0 196 33 Salt Lake City 49 29.9 63.0 261 35 Milwaukee 50 29.2 49.0 262 34 Cincinnati 51 28.3 49.0 256 42 Las Vegas 52 27.9 46.0 196 5 Dallas-Ft. Worth 53 27.7 46.0 671 2 Los Angeles 54 26.4 50.0 1484 12 Phoenix (Prescott) 55 24.8 47.0 448 10 Houston* 56 0.0 0.0 0 Weighted Avg. of 55 markets* 33.2

Honduras Plane Crash – How The Web Should Be Used

This airport is interesting to plane spotters, so there’s a bunch of video available on Youtube. Each is, unfortunately, scarier than the last.

A plane ran off the runway in Honduras this afternoon. Tegucigalpa is well known by pilots as a tough approach to an airport shoehorned inside a city that’s grown around it. In that way it’s not unlike San Diego’s airport, or the recently replaced Kai Tak Airport in Hong Kong.

Officials have been struggling for years to replace aging Toncontin International Airport, whose short runway, primitive navigation equipment and neighbouring hills make it one of the world’s more dangerous landing strips.

The airport was built on the southern edge of hilly Tegucigalpa in 1948 with a runway less than 1,600 metres long.

The altitude of some 1,000 metres forces pilots to use more runway on landings and takeoffs than they would at sea level. And because of the hills, pilots have to make an unusually steep approach.

The difficulties are complicated during Central America’s frequent downpours, and during the springtime burning of farm fields, which produces smoke that often forces the airport to close for days at a time.

Drudge had the story and an interesting link: “VIDEO: WHAT IT’S LIKE TO LAND AT TEGUCIGALPA…”

This airport is interesting to plane spotters, so there’s a bunch of video available on Youtube. Each is, unfortunately, scarier than the last.

This is a great example of how to use what’s already on the Internet to extend conventional news coverage.

Dick Martin – The Sillier of Rowan and Martin

The male attempts to find the queen bee, and when he does, they mate in mid-air. Then the queen moves on, taking with her the male bee’s genitalia.

rowanandmartin.jpgDick Martin died this weekend. He was the sillier of Rowan and Martin, the nightclub comedians who become huge stars through “Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In.”

I saw them perform in 1975. It was my first grownup nightclub experience.

I was out-of-work and depressed about life. My ‘gold friend’ Bob flew to Phoenix, then we drove through California from San Diego to San Francisco before turning east to Las Vegas.

We hit the Vegas Strip and pulled into Caesar’s Palace. It was ‘the’ place in Las Vegas back then, without question.

We had no reservations and not much money. They wanted a credit card for ID. Bob had none. I had an Esso (now Exxon) card. The room was put in my name.

We spent the next few days playing two dollar blackjack and eating shrimp cocktails. We wanted to take in a show and ended up seeing Rowan and Martin, with opening act Teresa Brewer.

I don’t remember much of Rowan and Martin’s act, except that it began with Dan explaining the mating habits of bees. The male attempts to find the queen bee, and when he does, they mate in mid-air. Then the queen moves on, taking with her the male bee’s genitalia.

Dick Martin paused and pondered for a second, smiled and said, “Only way to fly.”

You bet your bippy.

Blogger’s note: Of course this routine is on the Internet! What isn’t?

Note 2: My friend Bob says, “I remember it very well. Saw Alan King grab a few chicken wings, and I remember how large the hotel room was. It should have been, it cost us $22.00.”

More From The California Foxes

Just got this from my Cousin Melissa from Lake Forest in Orange County:

Fire has shifted back toward our house as we could see from increased smoke and ash – containment actually going down – we are back in Newport.

No wind, more support in the air and on the ground, yet the fire is still getting away from them. San Diego remains ferocious. New fire next to the nuclear power plant at San Onofre. They say it is “not threatened” but there are acres of power lines in and out.

With the wind dying and the humidity scheduled to rise, things should improve. However, fires already burning aren’t as impressed with improving conditions as the ones that haven’t yet ignited are.

Too Nice To Work

I have grown to like my new Sunday through Thursday schedule… except today. It’s just too nice outside. This is as close as Connecticut gets to San Diego.

Working today is the equivalent of going to summer school. No one has ever wished for summer school.

Earlier, we did some more spring cleanup around the house. Boxes, which had been piled in the garage all winter, were broken down and tied with twine. Heaven knows, I don’t want to get another rejection sticker for my improperly bundled recyclables!

Yesterday was the completion of the bathroom painting project. It took its physical toll while using twice as much paint as anticipated.

I wonder if trash haulers prepare themselves for a busy week following the first real spring weekend day like this? They should.

New Weather Data Rolling In

This is the part of the forecast cycle I hate. There’s no time after this for me to call a ‘do-over’.

The nighttime model runs are rolling. The 00z NAM is finished. The 00z GFS (preferred) is barely through Thursday evening.

The storm looks fairly well on track, though a bit later and a little slower than I expected. It’s more nuance than major swing.

My goal tonight is to leave the proper impression, so when people experience tomorrow they’ll say, “That’s what I expected.” Easier said than done.

Any openings in San Diego?

Gotta Love Cabo

Aboard the Norwegian Star

I’m on the balcony. It’s around 1:00 PM. The breeze is gentle, the air is warm and moderately dry. We are at anchor in Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur, Mexico.

If you’d like to find me on a map, it’s easy. Find Los Angeles, then trace the coast south with your finger. Pass San Diego and Tijuana. Keep tracing until you run out of land. I’m there. Simple!

Before I get to more specifics about today, let me wrap up yesterday.

We did decide to see Dave Heenan, the comedian, again. This time he was in the Spinnaker Lounge on Deck 12. It’s a nightclub style venue. I’m guessing it seats 400 or so. The chairs are comfy. The service is excellent.

There’s no doubt, Norwegian Cruise Lines is making money on booze! It’s tough to sit anywhere for any length of time without a waiter or waitress approaching to ask if you’d like a drink. They are everywhere taking orders and delivering drinks.

Dave Heenan’s show was totally different than the one we had seen earlier in the week. He says, and I believe him, that he ad libs everything. He knows enough jokes to keep a stream of consciousness running for 45 minutes at a clip.

Best line of the night. Speaking about the cleanliness of the southern restaurant chain, “Waffle House”: “I saw a cockroach there throwing up.”

When the show ended, we walked downstairs to Aqua. That’s deck 12 to Deck 6 for those counting. It was nearly closing time and the restaurant was emptying out. Once again the meal was great and once again I had a light cooking meal that couldn’t have been light. It was Chicken Parmesan with pasta. The dessert was a souffle.

I could get used to this life, if my arteries would allow it.

We finished dinner and headed back up the six flights of stairs to Deck 12. Steffie wanted to see Dave Heenan again – and he was funny enough that it made sense.

Another 45 minutes with hardly a repeat… and when he did repeat, he’d acknowledge it was something he said earlier.

Our night was done before midnight. We were all tired. There’s just so long you can lead this kind of life without a recharge. Anyway, today’s port call would be very early and with much less time than any of the others.

I’m not really sure whether it was the captain’s announcement or Helaine in the shower that woke me this morning. They happened pretty much simultaneously. We were anchored near the harbor at Cabo.

Everything I know about Cabo, I learned on Love Boat. Everything she knows about Cabo, Steffie learned on MTV. Who has the more liberal knowledge? Captain Stuebing – you’ve let me down!

From the balcony, I immediately made up my mind. This was the most beautiful of the ports we’d seen.

Looking out I could see miles of white beach flanked by five and six story hotel (maybe condo) buildings. Between us and the shore was a huge yacht. Whatever you’re thinking of, it’s bigger. A helicopter sat on an upper deck in the rear of the ship. Attached by lines were a few jet skis and other small boats.

I can’t see the name, but I do have the tail number of the copter. The ship is registered in some British Commonwealth country (based on the flag, which has a Union Jack). The chopper is from the United States (the tail number starts with “N”).

Helaine and I went up to Deck 12 for breakfast while Stef showered. As soon as we had a vantage from the port side of the ship, I saw the rocky outcropping that makes Cabo San Lucas so famous.

There is no harbor here large enough for the Norwegian Star, so we walked down to Deck 4 and got on a tender.

I’ve seen this on cruise ships before. There is actually a dock that swings out from the ship’s hull which is used for boarding.

A few of the lifeboats had been lowered down to the water. They would be used for tendering.

Again, with so much else on this ship, these lifeboats are super sized. I believe they can sit 125 or so in case of emergency! This is not some little dinghy.

The trip to Cabo took five minutes – no more. We landed at a marina full of moderate to large sized fishing boats – most from the states. There was an amazing amount of activity in the harbor and the marina.

When you looked to the water, you saw boats and you saw pelicans. Lots of pelicans.

I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen Pelicans up close like this. They are not pretty birds. They are substantial. We saw more than one down a fish whole in his beak!

Like I said, Steffie knew this place from MTV – specifically Laguna Beach. She knew where she wanted to go and Helaine already had directions to “Cabo Wabo.”

“Cabo Wabo” is owned by rocker Sammy Hagar. It’s a few blocks off the main drag, up a hill and across the way from a strip club. Inside was set up for small concerts with bar service. My guess is the real money maker is the merchandise stand near the front door.

Steffie now has a t-shirt and I have a hat. Sammy can taste some more Tequila on us.

Cabo is loaded with little shops selling silver and crafts. We went into a store where Helaine got a bracelet and another where I got a silver bookmark (now in Thomas Friedman’s “The World Is Flat,” which I should finish before Ls Angeles).

We headed back to the ship, through the marina area. Every few feet someone wanted to sell you something. There were hats and serapes and little carved toys. If it could be sold… If Heche en Mexico could be stamped on it… it was here!

We didn’t buy anything from these vendors, but we did make one more stop. At a bend in the marina, a Mexican man stood, holding two iguanas. One was wearing a sombrero. Neither seemed particularly mindful that they were the main attraction in this man’s business.

For $2 US, I could have my picture taken with the iguana – and I did! Actually, nimble fingered Stef shot of a half dozen – maybe more.

The mere fact that Stef got this photo is amazing, considering she was laughing herself silly at the time.

We tendered in and were back on the ship by 12:30. Right now, as I type, the last of the tenders are bringing passengers back. A few of the tenders have already been hoisted on their davits and stowed for their real job. We should get underway within 10 – 15 minutes.

This is our last port before returning to San Pedro/Los Angeles. We’ll be at sea all night tonight and all day tomorrow. We dock early Thursday. Los Angeles is the better part of 1,000 miles from here.

With a few blasts of the ship’s horn, we’re underway. Though we’ll be doing 21 knots on the trip north, it takes a long time to accelerate to that point.

We headed south first, then a sharp u-turn around the tip of Baja.

I am surprised, 45 minutes after leaving Cabo, a Mexican Navy patrol boat is keeping pace between the Norwegian Star and the coast. Finally, at 2:48, it makes a clockwise turn and heads home.

We’re all alone in the Pacific.

There is no doubt this was our most beautiful Mexican stop.

Bob Comes To Visit

I’m writing this early Sunday morning. I want to make sure something’s posted for Sunday and I don’t expect to be home for much of the day.

My friend Bob Lacey came by tonight. Bob has lived in Charlotte, NC for the last 30+ years. First he worked for WBT-AM, then WBTV, and now the FM, “The Link,” where with Sheri Lynch he hosts a nationally syndicated morning show.

I met Bob my first day in commercial radio.

I broke in at WSAR in Fall River, MA by doing an hour of Bob’s show. Bob supervised. It was my first real on-air job. We’ve been friends ever since.

We’ve both been through a lot of living since that day in early fall 1969. I can’t go into all of it here, but there’s not much that’s remained constant, except our friendship.

Bob jokingly calls me his “Gold Friend.” It’s tough to think of anything anyone’s ever said of me that is quite that flattering.

In 1975 out of work and with my life falling apart in Phoenix, Bob flew out and together, we drove the Western United States and a small part of Mexico. That was an amazing trip.

When I think back of what we did, hitting Puerto Penasco, Mexico, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Barstow, Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon, it still boggles the mind.

This was before cellphones and the Internet. We had a little cash and of the two of us, I had the lone credit card – an Esso card!

There were girls we tried to pick up… who blew us off, and two guys in San Diego who tried to pick us up! We cleaned our clothes by the dawn’s early light at a dusty laundromat alongside the railroad tracks in Barstow, CA. I spent all day playing $2 blackjack at Caesar’s.

We got along famously. Bob was my guiding light on that trip. By the time we returned to Phoenix, a new job had mysteriously appeared and I was off to Philadelphia.

Later today we plan on returning to the ‘scene of the crime,’ WSAR at the foot of Home Street in Somerset, MA. Then we head north to Boston and the Red Sox – White Sox game.

We don’t have tickets… but I’ve stuffed some cash in my wallet and we’ll hope for the best with scalpers. This will make three major league games in a month or so, after 15 years with none!

If everything works out as planned (and who knows) I’ll be on Amtrak before dark and in New Haven before midnight.

Photos and the actual trip report to follow.

Destination Revealed

I woke up today waiting to go on my mystery birthday trip. Helaine held the secret.

We headed south down I-91 to I-95 and then turned toward New York City. I asked if we were taking the Cross Bronx Expressway? We were. We headed onto the George Washington Bridge. We weren’t going to New York.

I turned to Helaine and asked, “Are we going to Philadelphia?” She said, “Yes.” So, here we are.

We’re in a very nice hotel on the Delaware River, across from Camden, NJ. Camden looks very nice from this distance.

There’s a lot to tell, but I am totally bushed. There will be lots of photos. That much is already established. And, tomorrow we’re seeing the Phillies play San Diego.

How cool is that?