Monday, July 25, 2011

Hot, Hot, and More Hot ...

... and I'm not talking about the sauce on my burrito either.

The entire month of July has been running hot with highs above 100 for most of the last few weeks. Normally, the highs at this time of year are in the upper 80s, so you might say that the temperature has been running 12-16 degrees above historical norms for the past month. Couple that with unheard of amounts of rain and it has not only been hot but humid with occasional floods here in the semi-desert.

L and I were talking about it tonight at supper as we contemplated next month. August is usually the scorcher around here, with occasional highs in the 116 to 119 range. If August runs 10 degrees above the historical norms, it could be a bit too toasty for my taste. Not only that, but that will be the time of the county fair and marching parade. Nothing says semi-desert like marching a few miles in 100 degree heat while carrying a tuba on your shoulder. One year L and I led a precision marching keyboard and kazoo team in the parade - and boy were we glad to reach the end of the route. I can't imagine doing it in even hotter weather.

The extreme temperature variations, unusual rainfall, and severe wind all bring to mind the idiocy of those who espouse the no climate change line. Sort of like this editorial cartoon concerning everyone's favorite and least factual news station:

Of course, one always has to keep in mind that all news media are a bit slow on the mental uptake, especially around any sort of a rating period. In these days of Jerry Springeresque news coverage it is no wonder that many people forgo the mass media in favor of the bits and pieces they can glean from the internet. Nothing brings it home like the "local color" segments.

Time for me to head back to waiting for it to cool off a bit. What's the weather doing in your neck of the woods (or desert as it may be)?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

I Resemble That ...

Sad to say, I resemble that cartoon. This year was my 35th college reunion and next year will be my 40th high school reunion. The only point of poor correspondence is that I won't reach my 60s until two years after that.

I find it amusing to look back. When I was a youngster, the very idea of making it past age thirty was foreign. Now it seems like a brief flash. It has been longer than that since I went to high school.

Back in those days of yore, vinyl records were king and eight track tapes were just starting to fade into history. I remember that the first stereo I traipsed off to college with had a record player and an eight track player and an AM/FM radio. The ultimate in media sophistication!

While I was in college, the new-fangled tape cartridge came out and began battling reel-to-reel tape decks (and quickly dominating the automobile market and the also new-fangled Sony Walkman was the iPod of the day). And today I look around and find all of those technologies eclipsed. Even CD-ROMs are dying now in the face of online streaming and mp3 players like the iPod.

And speaking of online streaming, I was asked by Foursons what I thought of the new NetFlix pricing plan where the unlimited streaming is $7.99 a month and the one-at-a-time mail order DVD is $7.99 a month. This is as opposed to the combination being $9.99 a month under the old plan.

If it was just me, it would have little to no impact. I'd just move to streaming only and continue on my merry way. But (there is always one of those), L uses the mail order one-at-a-time DVDs for her watching pleasure. It comes down to the fact that we use the same entertainment sources in different ways. I stream movies as a background amusement while working, etc. L consciously sets aside time to watch a movie as an event, completely engrossed in watching. So when I am forced to modify our plan come September, I suspect it will be to go with the unlimited streaming + one-at-a-time DVDs.

The more interesting point here is how NetFlix is working to push people to move to a new technological base. A while ago, the mail order option was the right way to compete (and drive to extinction) with the movie rental stores that started in the days of VCR tapes. Now that almost no movie rental shops exist, NetFlix wants to move its customer base to streaming. That eliminates the hassles of physical inventory and shipping and simplifies their business model. But there are still some who want the physical media and the sometimes newer releases only available there. So NetFlix has very wisely left in place a plan for them where they can pay a higher price per movie and help finance the bandwidth expansion NetFlix needs. A win-win from their point of view. From my point of view as a technologist, it makes sense. As a consumer, I am a bit PO'ed that they effectively increased my price by 60%. It makes me think of the cable and satellite companies.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Rain, Rain, Go Away ...

... come again another day.

We have had rain nearly every day for the last week. More than 3 inches in the last two days alone. Given how little rain we normally get, this seems like a flood of biblical proportions.

Coupled with the rain has been lightning and thunder and wind - so Molly the wonder dog has been Molly the shaking dog hiding on my feet. It's funny but Molly will hang with L as her best buddy until the thunder starts and then it is time to find me. She seems to think that I will save her. {*grin*}

The worst part about the rain is that it is keeping the area dry land wheat farmers from harvesting. Every day while it is too wet and muddy to harvest is yet another chance for hail and wind to destroy the crop. Not a good thing.

The answer to the falsehood in the list of woes and happenings from last time was the boredom of Netflix being down. Everything else was true.

(Does anyone else feel that the new beta blogger tool leaves a lot to be desired? I know that I do.)

Thursday, July 7, 2011


All sorts of odd / tragic / funny things have been going on here. Interspersed in the litany of woes and good tidings below is one gaping falsehood - the rest are true. Which one is it?

  • Storms. Four storms in seven days; including hail and 70 mph winds and rain. This area is a semi-desert that normally gets less than 14 inches of precipitation a year, but in the first 6 days of July alone we have had close to 2 inches. Can you say damp? I knew that you could.
  • Humidity. (See above.) Normal relative humidity levels here seldom exceed 20%. But already this month there have been days with humidity levels close to 90%. Sort of like moving to New Orleans without Bourbon Street!
  • Heat. So far the hottest has been only 107 degrees. I just can't wait for the dog days of August when it sometimes hits 115 or more.
  • Worry. My (younger) brother had a heart attack. Of course this was while he was recuperating from surgery to re-attach the tendons in his foot. Sometimes when it rains it pours. (He is out of the hospital now after some recovery time and getting stent(s) put in.) 
  • Stress. L is doing the prep work to paint the trim on the house. (Thank heavens the house is brick and doesn't need painted.) The scraping and wire brushing and contemplating having to do a primer coat and a paint coat has left her a bit sore and grouchy. Nothing like heat and humidity and grouchiness to make all come to a boil. She especially didn't appreciate my suggestion that she get up at 5am and work while it was still cool. Something about getting up early was the proverbial straw that broke the camels back.
  • Cats. This month seems to be the grand prize of found cats that no one wants. Especially the feral ones. We must be getting 10 calls a day or more about found cats and kittens. Normally we could go months without that many found cat calls.
  • Fear. Molly the wonder dog gets extremely nervous when the thunder and lightning are around - to the point where she jumps in your lap and quivers. So for the hours while the storms move through, Molly gets no more than a few inches from me or L. Sort of like having a two year old around again. {*grin*}
  • Micro-bursts. Some friends own an amusement ride manufacturing business in the area. A micro-burst before one of the hail storms picked up a completed Ferris Wheel, moved it laterally about 15 feet, then toppled it and mashed it to pieces.  No one would have believed it except for the eye witness who was sure his pickup truck was next.
  • Toads. All the rain and water has led to a bumper crop of toads throughout the yard. Enough of them that even Molly the ever curious has reached the point where she simply stares at them and continues on her way. I don't know whether to attribute this relaxed attitude towards toads to boredom, learning that they really don't taste good when you lick them, or ...
  • Pieces. My ancient lawn mower has finally gone to pieces. It survived the years of the Son abusing it mowing lawns (including this one), but old age has finally crept up on it. Guess it is time to look for a new one when I spend more time fixing it than mowing with it.
  • Boredom. Netflix was down for a whole day and I had no entertainment. {*grin*}

So which one is the figment of my fevered imagination?
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