East Coast/West Coast Difference

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







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.

Another Broadcast For Slooh

The image at the top of this entry shows some of the asteroid’s movement through the sky. We captured this with Slooh’s telescope in Chile. You’re seeing an object the size of an aircraft carrier from millions of miles away!

I hosted another broadcast this morning PDT for Slooh.com. Near Earth Asteroid 2014 HQ124 won’t hit Earth, but it will be in the neighborhood the next few days. That’s good reason for us to go live.

The image at the top of this entry shows some of the asteroid’s movement through the sky. We captured this with Slooh’s telescope in Chile. You’re seeing an object the size of an aircraft carrier from millions of miles away!

After the broadcast I stopped to ponder our own technological achievement. We had participants on from the East and West Coast, plus England and Australia. We used images taken in Australia and Chile.

We had the right experts and pictures with lots of insight, coordinated in Hartford, CT where our producer/director sits.

We’re about to make a huge technological leap which should bring up the quality of our transmissions greatly. Noticeable change.

It’s all pretty exciting and, for me, nerdy fun.

Southern California’s Palace Of Baseball

We brought a picnic of leftovers! OMG! All sorts of goodies from Sunday that made it into a soft sided bag and past security. The Foxes dined at the park!


As Phillies fans, Helaine and I were excited by the chance of seeing West Coast games in person. Last night was a first chance. We dropped Doppler at the sitter and headed up ‘the 5’ toward Chavez Ravine. Phillies versus Dodgers.

LA has traffic. Get used to it. It took 1:20 door-to-door. I can live with that.

IMG_20140421_181714-w1400-h1400Helaine got us great seats down low just up the line from first base. We had an unobstructed view of everything. It was a little tough to judge inside/outside pitches, but other than that, perfect.

We came early. The park is different when the teams are on the field taking batting and fielding practice. We watched A.J. Burnett walk up to the fence, sign autographs and take pics with fans.

Did he have to? No. Class act.

IMG_20140421_193333-w1400-h1400Speaking of which, thank you Dodger Stadium for being a class act too. Every employee we came across was helpful and friendly even though we were wearing Phillies gear. Maybe baseball realizes at the current cost for tickets we deserve to be treated well.

The stadium itself seems to be in pristine condition. It’s cool to see the zig-zag roof over the bleachers and hexagonal scoreboards, now in sparkling high def color. There are more advertising signs than in ’62, but this isn’t a 21st century glitter palace.

IMG_20140421_180820-w1400-h1400We brought a picnic of leftovers! OMG! All sorts of goodies from Sunday that made it into a soft sided bag and past security. The Foxes dined at the park!

The Phils opened with two runs in the first and never looked back. The Dodgers looked lackluster–like patsies on this night. It got chilly toward the end. We were prepared.

380828_20140421_184132-97324829.jpg_1024x1024Nice place to see a game. We should do it more often. Angels Stadium is even closer.

I’m On A Boat (photos)

And then there were the dolphins! It was dinner time for them.

Guilty? Do I feel guilty being here on the warm West Coast while most of my friends shiver and shovel? Sure. Not enough to hop the next plane back, but guilty nonetheless.

Yesterday we were invited to take a cruise into the Pacific. A friend of Stef’s has a beautiful boat docked in Marine del Rey.

I know–boating in January. Here in SoCal you can… so you do. Yesterday was unseasonably warm. Los Angeles International hit 80&#176!

I always though dogs were natural swimmers so I was a little surprised to see Roxie in a life vest with a handle on top. It’s possible to lift her like a dachshund handbag!

Marina del Rey has a beautiful protected harbor. A breakwater just offshore keeps the waves of winter storms out, but it wasn’t necessary yesterday. Lots of people took advantage. The number of boats and the high percentage of sailboats (most puttering slowly under power, not sail) out on this Saturday was impressive.

Once out in the open ocean the entire coastline was spread out before us. Looking north we easily saw Malibu with homes on the beach and clinging to the nearby hills and canyon walls. Catalina Island stood out to the west. We saw people playing on the beach with distant large, snow covered mountains behind them. Crazy!

And then there were the dolphins! It was dinner time for them. We saw most from a distance, but a few sprung out from the water inches from our boat. It was one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen.

When I mentioned where I’d be some Facebook friends quested I’d cut a video singing “I’m On A Boat.” Those friends will be disappointed.

The Furniture That Made Me Cry

“Is it leather?” Stef repeated to the salesperson.

“Faux leather.”

Close enough.

This is a good story. This is a family story. This is about Stef living on the West Coast.

She had been sharing an apartment for the last year in “The Valley.’ Now she’s on her own in Hollywood!

For those of you who know the Los Angeles area you know much of Hollywood is not desirable. Stef seems to be in a nice part and under 10 minutes from work!

In Los Angeles having a ten minute commute is the equivalent of finding free all day parking in Manhattan… or Sasquatch!

With her few sticks of bedroom furniture she began to live in a barren space. TV watching in the living room was either done from the floor or… actually no or. It was just the floor!

Today she went furniture shopping. I guess I knew she was, but I’d forgotten until the email arrived with a photo. She bought a table and chairs and a few stools for the breakfast bar. Later she picked out a sofa.

“Is it leather?” Helaine asked on the cell.

“Is it leather?” Stef repeated to the salesperson.

“Faux leather.”

Close enough.

This is my child. I changed her diapers. I spread enough baby powder to look like a desert sandstorm. Now she’s bought furniture!

It made me cry.

It’s tough to think of her as a child now.

You Must Be On Vacation

Two small children just walked into the gate area with their parents. The kids are wearing t-shirts with what I assume are individual pictures of their parents 30 years ago. It shouldn’t be creepy, but it is.

“You must be on vacation. No computer!” The words came from Helaine. They were dripping with sarcasm.

We are at Bradley’s Gate 2 and I am plugged in… more accurately plugged in twice. The iPhone, which still had 90% battery remaining is getting topped off for the trip cross country. It has replaced the laptop as my flying companion. At the moment it holds five or six hours of video along with a few hundred songs. More importantly, in the airplane mode it has enough power for BDL-DEN then DEN-LAX.

Two small children just walked into the gate area with their parents. The kids are wearing t-shirts with what I assume are individual pictures of their parents 30 years ago. It shouldn’t be creepy, but it is.

We’re 1,670 miles from Denver. It should be farther, shouldn’t it? It should be almost all the way to the West Coast. We’ll still be 860 miles from the Pacific.

Helaine and I were talking about trips-gone-by on our way up here. I remembered sitting on a delayed TWA L-1011 at Philadelphia. The doors were open. People freely walked back-and-forth between the plane and terminal. Those days will never return.

When I blog about flying I often get comments from people who don’t, won’t or have never flown. Don’t worry about missing the glamor. It’s been a long time since flights were glamorous–since people get dressed-up to fly. What you’re missing is this whole beautiful country.

America is much more diverse than what you’d expect if you’ve only traveled as far as you can drive.

Tonight we’ll be in Santa Barbara. It’s on the ocean but it couldn’t be more different than any East Coast ocean town. The Pacific Coast itself is different than the Atlantic. Anyone who’s been to both can differentiate them in a lineup.

This will be a long day of traveling. The scheduled terminal-to-terminal-to-terminal time is eight hours.

If time permits I’ll check in from Denver.

A Call From Cali

Stef had a little problem with her car today. The oil was changed before she left for the West Coast, but today the routine maintenance light came on. Undoubtedly no one bothered to reset it. I went on Google, found the fix, emailed it, then followed up with a call. Any excuse to speak to her is good.

I don’t know if Stef realizes what I have come to realize… and I assume every parent at some point realizes. Frequent contact is good. Yes, absence does make the heart grow fonder.

We talked for a while and then she told me she called my folks and spent ten minutes on the phone with my newly sighted and very, very, very happy father.

If my speaking to Stef is a plus, calling her grandparents is a double plus with gold star and cheese on top delivered by a unicorn!

Tomorrow at 6:50 AM Helaine hops a flight (or really flights) to make the first parental visit to the Coast. She’s bringing a camera. Stef thinks it’s for her, but I really want to see if the place is as clean as she claims!

You can move away and grow up but that doesn’t stop you from still being our child.

Packing For The Trip

I wonder what percentage of what I bring I actually use?

“Does Helaine pack for you when you travel?” Ted asked me that last night. He knows how I am spoiled at home. Helaine does, but I like to think of it as a defensive move on her part to keep me from wearing what, left to my own devices, I would wear!

On my last solo trip out west I was complimented more than once on what I was wearing. That was her doing.

Today was packing day for tomorrow’s West Coast trip. I watched as Helaine paraded my wardrobe in front of me. I was there for… well I’m not sure why I was there, but I truly appreciate her help.

This is a photo trip. I’ve packed my tripod, flash with diffuser, two camera bodies, six lenses and a myriad of batteries, flash cards, chargers, etc. I wonder what percentage of what I bring I actually use? My backpack is stuffed to the gills.

It’s “June Gloom” season in Southern California. I will try my best to not let the gray sky ruin my shots.

I Owe A Lot To Jack Reilly

“We all laughed in the control room,” he said. “Would you like to come to New York and do some fill-in for us?” he asked.

Jack Reilly passed away today. I can’t begin to tell you how much I owe him.

From TVNewser:

Jack Reilly, the former Good Morning America executive producer and later vice president of news at CNBC, passed away this morning at St. Vincent’s Hospital in New York at the age of 84.

Reilly was VP and managing editor of CNBC from 1994 to 1998. Before that, he was the executive producer of ABC’s Good Morning America from 1986 to 1994. Reilly transformed GMA, a faltering #2 show, into the nation’s top-rated morning show – a position the show held for more than five years.

reilly_jack.jpgThe time was the mid-90s and I was working here in New Haven. One afternoon our news director Liz Crane (now Liz Gray) asked me if I’d like to do the weather on Good Morning America/Sunday. “This Week with David Brinkley” was interviewing someone at Yale, had already asked for our satellite truck and then as an afterthought asked if we would also supply a weatherman.

This was a big deal to me and I told EVERYONE I knew to watch. Truth is, this kind of affiliate hit was nice but inconsequential to the network. You do it. Your friends and family see you. Life goes on.

The first hit followed an interview with tennis great Tracy Austin. She had just gotten married. While Dana King (I love Dana King) conducted the interview from New York Tracy stayed at home in a room full of wedding gifts.

Dana finished the interview and briefly introduced me. This was my chance to play it straight–just do the weather. I didn’t.

“Dana, if you talk to Tracy again, would you ask if she got the Corning Ware we sent?”

After the weather ended our sat truck operator ran out of the truck. “The producer wants to speak to you.”

Oh s**t. I was in trouble. I could feel it. On the other end of the line was Jack Reilly.

“We all laughed in the control room,” he said. “Would you like to come to New York and do some fill-in for us?” he asked.


I continued to be GMA’s go-to guy working weeks at-a-time until one winter’s day Spencer Christian got stranded on the West Coast. A lower level producer called and asked me to fill-in. I felt committed to do the day in Connecticut–a big weather day.

That was it for me. The GMA calls stopped. I have second guessed myself a million times on that call.

I aggressively pursued trying to get back in their good graces–but it didn’t happen. A few years ago I gave up.

I liked working at the network. What made it better was parachuting in while keeping this job. It was a very cool place to work–seriously big time with loads of people and pressure to perform.

Jack Reilly made that happen. It didn’t matter to him I was working in New Haven. He saw me. He laughed. He followed his gut.

Later on he was squeezed out at ABC. The show was never quite the same after that. Whether the Today Show passed GMA while Jack was there or after I can’t remember.

Jack Reilly is a lot of what TV was and no longer is. He will be missed. My condolences to his family and friends. Thanks Jack.

Charley Meet Fay

I remember Charley blossomed very quickly before landfall.

fay forecast.gifTropical Storm Fay’s track is starting to resemble Hurricane Charley’s. Charley hit Florida’s west coast four years ago this past week. Certainly, Charley took a more southerly path getting there, avoiding Hispanola and the interaction Fay is having with Cuba’s landmass. From here on out the forecast tracks are very similar.

I remember Charley blossomed very quickly just before landfall.

Charley rapidly intensified, strengthening from a 110 mph (180 km/h) hurricane with a minimum central barometric pressure of 965 mbar (hPa; 28.50 inHg) to a 145 mph (230 km/h) hurricane with a pressure of 941 mbar (hPa; 27.49 inHg) in just 6 hours. The storm continued to strengthen as it turned more to the northeast, and made landfall near the island of Cayo Costa, Florida as a 150 mph (240 km/h) Category 4 hurricane at approximately 3:45 p.m. EDT (1945 UTC) on the 13th. An hour later, the hurricane struck Punta Gorda as a 145 mph (230 km/h) storm. However, the eye had shrunk before landfall, limiting the most powerful winds to an area of 6 nautical miles (11 km) of the center.

Fay will cross Cuba a weaker storm. Cuba is quite mountainous (ask Fidel), the hurricane’s mortal enemy. However, the Gulf is very warm this time of year–explosively warm.

The Farnsworth Invention

I went to NYC tonight to see “The Farnsworth Invention.” It is the story of David Sarnoff (Hank Azaria) and Philo Farnsworth (Jimmi Simpson). Farnsworth invented television but was robbed of his patent.

I drove to the city by myself. Helaine and Stef were driving east, seeing Joy Behar at Foxwoods.

I was going to meet up with the secretive son of my secretive West Coast friend. He, along with a friend of his from school, had flown east for a few days. My secret friend’s family has a secret small apartment on the Upper East Side, which is where the son and his friend are staying.

By the time I reached Manhattan, they were out. I headed down to Greenwich Village to pick them up.

I’d like to think I know New York City very well, but the lower end of Manhattan where streets no longer run parallel and have names instead of numbers, is another story. It’s very confusing and I left the GPS home.

We drove down St. Marks Place and headed north to 8th Avenue and 45th Street. The Music Box Theater is on 45th between Broadway and 8th.

Lots of people avoid driving in Manhattan. I embrace it. It’s actually a lot of fun, if you go in with the right mindset. Just remember, the goal is to fill any open car-sized space with a car. To the victor goes the spoils!

Parking is simple. You enter Manhattan knowing you cannot park on the street and that off-street parking is ridiculously expensive. With tax, parking was $44.

At least we got to watch the cars ride the car elevator, which not only goes up and down, but also goes sideways!

The Music Box Theater is small as Broadway houses go. We sat upstairs, about halfway through the balcony The site lines were excellent, as was the sound. There’s no doubt we were looking down on the actors, which isn’t a plus.

The Farnsworth Invention portrays both Philo Farnsworth and David Sarnoff as themselves and on-stage narrators. Sometimes, as narrator, the actors break the fourth wall, acknowledging and speaking to the audience or even clarifying a point by talking directly to the other character, who remains in character!

To pull this off, you need superb timing. That’s how it’s written and how it was performed!

As the first act progressed, I grew to like the visionary character that was David Sarnoff… but was I? Was it really Sarnoff or the way he was being portrayed by Azaria? Sarnoff was quite the businessman, but was he charming too?

Hank Azaria’s voice reminded me of George Burns. I know that’s strange. Of course, Azaria has a million voices, many of which are heard on The Simpsons&#185.

The likability of Philo Farnsworth is less in question. He, a Mormon, electronics savant from the middle of nowhere, stays simple and true to his science even as everything around him gets more complex. I think Jimmi Simpson was a great choice.

The show actually has a large cast. I’m saying actually, because none of them was memorable. That’s a necessity, as they were each playing three or four little roles.

The play was written by Aaron Sorkin (West Wing, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, Sports Night). It tells two stories… often conflicting stories… simultaneously. From two perspectives, they piece together the life of Philo Farnsworth who, with no formal training and a limited budget, created most of the technology that is TV.

As he worked, Farnsworth raced against RCA and a team led by Vladimir Zworykin. Zworykin would ultimately get the patent, using what the play refers to as “industrial espionage,” to finish his project with bits of Farnsworth’s technology.

In the end, was this amazing discovery better off with scientist Farnsworth or broadcasting entrepreneur Sarnoff, who know how to market TV to the masses?

Maybe I’m too easy on Broadway, but I loved the show.

The entire Fox Family is back on Broadway later this week. It’s a musical.

&#185 – Moe the bartender, Apu the Kwik-E-Mart owner, Police Chief Wiggum, Professor Frink, Dr. Nick Riviera and Comic Book Guy.

Putting Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

I’m fascinated by our upcoming election. I read as much as I possibly can. That’s a tall order.

Recently, I’ve heard pronouncements from both Republicans and Democrats, that when the votes are counted, they will control the House of Representatives. They can’t both be right, can they?

Of course politicians have a vested interest in not giving up. Remember the grief Jimmy Carter got when he conceded to Ronald Reagan?

From PBS.org: Though he had been begged not to, the president gave his concession speech before the polls had closed on the West coast, hurting several Congressional Democrats in tight races. “You guys came in like a bunch of pricks, and you’re going out the same way,” a furious Tip (O’Neil) told a Carter operative.

Conceding too early can hurt national political parties. In other words, you’ve got to take everything you hear with a grain of salt.

So, who can you trust? I don’t know, but I’m curious if it might be a betting site.

I’m about to write about TradeSports.com. I have never bet on this site and don’t intend to. I’m not even sure its business is legal… at least not in the US.

Tradesports takes ‘book’ on a variety of ‘contests.’ You can bet on sporting events and snowfall in New York. It’s a pretty eclectic mix. There are a number of ‘contracts’ available on political races.

If you think money bet really is ‘smart money,’ The Democrats will win the House, the Republicans the Senate. I’ll be watching all the political races TradesSports tracks to see how they do.

The two graphs which follow are updated in realtime. They show the contract price on bets for Republican control of the House and Senate respectively. As a numbers geek, I find this part fascinating.

Must Be The Season

I spend a lot of time watching the tropics. It comes with my job. These tropical systems are fascinating and devious.

Right now I’m watching two with great interest. The first is Ernesto, off the Carolinas and officially just below hurricane strength.

When Ernesto’s path out of the Caribbean was first predicted by the Hurricane Center, it was centered in the Gulf. Actually, it was well into the middle of the Gulf. Ernesto actually moved up the center of Florida and emerged in the Atlantic.

Not even close.

This is not to say the Hurricane Center doesn’t do a great job. They get the word out, which is probably their most important job.

Even though Ernesto is a wimp, people will die and property will be destroyed. We can predict, not prevent. I feel frustration over that. Isn’t that silly?

Stef’s move back to college is scheduled for Saturday. That’s Ernesto’s big day in the Northeast. Darn!

The second storm is more interesting on an intellectual level, though it won’t affect me personally. That’s Hurricane John, in the Pacific, off Mexico’s West Coast.

John is on track to strike Cabo San Lucas. We were there in January.

Cabo is a beautiful seaport town. It’s at the southern tip of Baja California. Stretching south of the city, into the Pacific is a string of rocky islands, called Land’s End.

If John passes just west of Cabo, its winds will be out of the south. They’ll be guided by Land’s End, piling water into the harbor and flooding all the low lying areas. Meanwhile, damage to the homes and businesses built on the surrounding hills will be immense.

Again, as with Ernesto, I can see it happening in my mind’s eye. It’s like watching a car crash in slow motion. There’s just nothing I can do about it.

With proper warning, most people will be saved. You can’t move a building. You can’t stop the terror for those who have nowhere else to go, or the uncertainty for those who get evacuated.

What’s Up With My Colon?

It’s after 3:00 AM. I am having my first thoughts of going to bed. One more spin through the channels.

TV at this time of day has little in common with what ‘normal’ people see. If infomercials aren’t the majority programming right now, they’re pretty close. It’s everything you might see during the day and more… like program length commercials for Girls Gone Wild!

One the new staples of all night TV are programs dedicated to my colon. I think three separate ones are currently running. That’s too much colonic interest for me.

More than once I’ve heard someone quote the statistics on how much fecal material was in John Wayne’s colon, postmortem. Take that Ron Popeil!

The pitch is for an herbal supplement. They don’t have to say everything. I can figure it out. If we’re getting rid of all that gook stuck inside me, I’d better not plan on any long drives in the country for a while.

The folks on the colon infomercial I favor look like a trio who washed out as carney’s. They’re on a cheesy set with a backdrop photo that seems to be Las Vegas. I’m supposed to take medical advice from them?

Can there really be that much demand for this kind of product anyway? And, if there is, is there really enough profit to promote this on an infomercial (which traditionally only work with very high markup products)?

This is even more unfair to those on the West Coast. For them, this stuff starts running three hours earlier.

Good Morning From Los Angeles

The sun is shining through high, thin clouds, as we begin our day in Los Angeles. The curtains in our hotel room are parted, so we can see plane after plane after plane on final for LAX.

When last I wrote, we were waiting to leave Baltimore. As with our first flight, I had a Southwest “A” boarding pass while Helaine and Stef had “B”s. I got on the plane first to look for three seats together. Usually, I can get close to the front with an “A”, but on this ISP-BWI-LAX-SAC flight, with many Islip passengers already seated, I could get no closer than row 15.

Who cares? A seat is a seat. We got 15 D-E-F. A couple with two small children slid into 15 A-B-C.

He started crying as the gear went up. He cried for much of the flight. As soon as the other babies on board heard him, they too began to cry.

Maybe cry isn’t the right word. They screamed as if being tortured. I can make that analogy because I was being tortured.

BWI to LAX is a long flight in a 737 with no entertainment, no food and really loud babies.

Helaine had bought me “Inside the Richest Poker Game of All Time,” by Michael Craig. I started it as we took off and finished it as the lights of LA showed beneath the plane. It was good, not great.

Much of the flight was fine… until we got to the Rockies. From there until the West Coast it was rough road with the seat belt signs lit.

The ‘best’ didn’t come until we landed.

First, we sat on the runway for 10-15 minutes. They were waiting for the last possible available gate (and found it).

Baggage claim was like a suburb of Hell! I don’t think I’ve ever seen Southwest with a facility like this. There were two baggage carousels and an announcement saying flight numbers would be posted above each. Both monitors were blank.

After a while a voice came on the PA saying the bag would come where the bags would come – honest. Don’t ask us – honest. Just keep looking – honest.

The curb area at LAX was disorganize chaos. Cars, buses and vans were darting in and out. Horns honked. We made our way to the “RED” sign, where hotel courtesy vans stopped.

The hotel was just a few minutes away, and was very nice. Again, we had booked on Hotwire.com and gotten what seemed like a good deal.

This Westin is a step up from last night’s Holiday Inn. There is art work on the wall and a nice desk area. The beds were soft and firm (it is possible to be both). Even with airplanes flying nearby, it was reasonably quiet – somewhat like the sound the volcano makes in your room at the Mirage.

There are barking dogs we’re hearing. It’s possible this industrialized neighborhood is where the animal shelter is located. Most likely they’re working dogs for the TSA, Customs or other governmental agency.

Both Helaine and Steffie say if they ever look the way they look under the bathroom lightning, shoot them.

As soon as we’re all dressed, it’s off to the pier and onto our ship. We are so lucky to be here. So lucky, even with our extra day on the road, it all worked out.

If we would have stuck to our reservations, we’d be in the crying lane right now.