Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Launching a weather balloon

BMGM wears very unflattering cargo pants and an even more fattening latex balloon! There's a Vaisala 92-SGP instrument package/payload attached to this 200 gram balloon. For the tropical sounding missions, we used a 600 gram balloon.

Bad Dad was flying overhead with a spectrometer. A satellite we were calibrating was flying higher still.

We are back. The first day of school went fine in our absence. She's very enthusiastic about the school year. She came home and practiced her German dialogue with us. (Bad Dad learned to speak German before English and I had studied it in HS and college.)

Monday, August 29, 2011

A Thousand-to-One Long Shot Hits!

Eric checks in:
You may recall some saying there was only a one-in-a-thousand chance that an exotic-looking "new-physics" bump in the Fermilab data was due to statistical fluctuation.

And yet, that's what it must have been. Newly released LHC data, with higher statistical precision, show no hint of the bump.

Astonishing: a one-in-a-thousand long shot comes true! Truly an outcome no one would have expected. Unless, just maybe, the original Fermilab "one-in-a-thousand" claim was classic misinterpreted-p-value bullshit?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Storm Surge

I am unseemly fascinated by natural disasters. An earthquake and a hurricane in one week! It makes life here seem tame by comparison*.

One headline from CSM, Hurricane Irene: why storm surge could be the biggest problem, piqued my interest, but it didn't explain all the environmental dangers.

Do visit this University of Illinois multimedia page with a video demonstrating the effect of a hurricane-generated storm surge and the slope of the beach at landfall.

The timing of the storm surge upon landfall is also going to be key. If it coincides with a high tide, it will be more damaging than if it made landfall at low tide. Keep an eye on the NOAA tide tables and the predicted storm track. Right now, Irene looks likely to approach the shores of NC and New England shortly after low tide. But things can change in the upcoming days.

The article didn't even mention salt water intrusion into aquifers, something I mentioned in Consequences and Blog Action Day 2010: Our water footprint. I follow this closely, as part of my tapwater comes from a coastal aquifer.

According to NOAA, "U.S. coastal counties depend on groundwater for 18% of their fresh, potable water. This groundwater is at risk from an increasing coastal population and coastal storms." Salt water from the storm surge can contaminate freshwater aquifers through cracks in the ground, both natural and man-made (wells). If that happens, wells turn brackish and unusable.

If you have it, you can throw money at the problem. I read about one family in North Carolina who complained to a reporter about how they had to buy trucked-in water for a year following another hurricane for that reason. A Bangladeshi family living on low-lying delta farmland probably does not have that option.

There is an entire magazine devoted to promoting the lifestyle of putting oneself in harm's way Coastal Living. I, for one, would like to stop subsidizing this lifestyle with our federal FEMA money, but I digress.

Read Saltwater Intrusion Puts Drinking Water at Risk and the case studies. IMHO, that's a much better use of our federal tax dollars. I'd much rather support scientists and their work than shoring up beaches for the vacation homes of the wealthy who really ought to know better.

If you want to read some more hair-raising stories about storm surges, try Storm-driven groundwater flow in a salt-marsh. "Storm-related flow could also drive significant contaminant discharge from developed coastlines. The enhanced transport and variability observed here likely affected hundreds of kilometers of the coastline impacted by the storm."

Happy reading.

* Actually, this week is very exciting chez BMGM. We've got a camp production and a botched school registration (class schedule conflicts galore) on the home front, a field test on the work front, and then another field test almost immediately following this one. I will be launching weather balloons timed for satellite overflights while Bad Dad flies under the satellite track with a spectrometer. What an exciting date! It's enough to make one dream about two line elements.

We hope to be back in time for the camp production. I heard the kids in rehearsal this morning and they sound awesome.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Not gray, but the weather was uncooperative

I've made a few things this summer that are not gray.

Iris attends a performing arts summer camp in downtown El Segundo, where she also practices going free range. I am not a fan of the new 2 week sessions that replaced the 3 week ones. That gives me only one weekend to get a costume together.

This year, the auditions went very well and she was cast as Captain Hook #1 in Tinker Bell. She sang her solo beautifully. Her costume IMHO, was equally impressive. I apologize for cutting off her head, but I didn't get permission from Captain Hook #2 or his parents to post his picture on the internet. His costume is store-bought.

Iris' costume is made out of polyester stuff I found at SAS Fabrics in Hawthorne. I had very low expectations for the item, which I had determined would be a one-use costume not suitable for repurposing into her regular wardrobe.

I couldn't find a suitable children's pattern. I went through my entire pattern collection, looking for something suitable. Then I came across Vogue 8721, an Elizabeth Gillet NYC pattern. It comes in XS, which is slightly too large for my 10 year old. I rationalized that coats need to be over-sized anyway. Her coat does not resemble the pattern envelope picture.
I elongated the body of View D to coat length, lengthened the sleeves to full-length and removed the bust dart fullness/length. The pattern has high-ish set-in sleeves and a fat 5/8 inch seam allowance. The fabric is an unforgiving polyester. I didn't pin or baste the sleeve but put the longer sleeve side next to the feed dogs and stitched away. I figured, if there were any dimples at the sleeve cap, it wouldn't show from the cheap seats where the working parents who come in at the last minute are relegated. ;)

I did a double take when I looked at the armscythe on the pattern. The sleeve is highly asymmetrical front to back. It allows the sleeve to hang towards the front of the body, the way our arms are attached. I had to measure around the body and sleeve pieces to convince myself that there was no error.

Amazingly, the sleeve set in perfectly on the first try on both sides. I shouldn't have been surprised, because Kathleen over at Fashion Incubator has been harping on forever about how to draft a proper sleeve. She would approve of this pattern. Kudos to the patternmaker for this one!

Now I really want to try View B. I bought the pattern just to see how this one is assembled.

The play finished at 3:30 PM. Bad Dad had to go back to work. Iris wanted to go to a library. The El Segundo library was closed on Fridays due to the state budget crisis. The main Redondo Beach library is open on Friday, but is 3 towns south. I checked the Thomas guide with a sinking feeling. There is no good way to get between downtown El Segundo and downtown Redondo Beach without enduring a ~6 mile/10 kilometer stretch of PCH. PCH is a parking lot on summer Friday afternoons.

I was feeling really sorry for myself before I got a grip. PCH stands for Pacific Coast Highway, California State Route 1, the stuff of California legend.

Moreover, this particular stretch has the double distinction of following historic El Camino Real.
People come from all over the world to visit this place. Traffic, schmaffic. They are here for both the sunshine and the people-watching. So I donned my shades, fresh lipstick and we rolled through El Segundo, Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach and Redondo Beach, putting on a good show for the tourists. (The Beach Boys hail from Hawthorne, bordering ES and MB to the east. )

The sun didn't cooperate, as evident in these GOES imagery animations from the CIMSS Satellite Blog.
  • GOES-11 West, geostationary over the equator at 135 West longitude, is on the left panel.
  • GOES-14 stored in space, geostationary at 110 West longitude, is in the middle.
  • GOES-13 East, geostationary at 75 West Longitude, is on the right panel.
These are three views of the same area from three different look angles.

The NOAA GOES-14 satellite (positioned over the Equator at 105º West longitude) was brought out of on-orbit storage for a brief period of testing, beginning on 10 August 2011. A comparison of GOES-11 (GOES-West), GOES-14, and GOES-13 (GOES-East) visible channel images (above) shows the evolution of stratus clouds along the southern California coast and the immediate offshore waters of the Pacific Ocean on 10 August. The images are displayed in the native projection of each GOES satellite, so the cloud features appear slightly different due to the different viewing angles.
Go visit the CIMSS Satellite Blog to learn more about how scientists calibrate satellites, often by intercomparison between different satellites. A NASA Goddard SFC scientist once told an audience at an American Meteorological Society meeting that GOES East and GOES West IR brightness temperatures vary by 3-4 degrees Celcius/Kelvin over Colorado!

They knew it was not an error because GOES East reads hotter in the morning and GOES West reads hotter in the afternoon.

Do you know why? Do you know why the temperatures are different between the two satellites over Colorado, but not over Oklahoma at a similar latitude?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Fail to Win!

I look happy because I've refashioned two items that were not quite right into things that I wear frequently.

Remember Burda 7517 FAIL? I lopped of the bottom to turn it into a top, narrowed the side seams to get rid of the unflattering bell shape, removed the front darts and added back darts. I actually like it now.

Remember the Butterick 3133 I made to wear in conservative Zanzibar? It like it much better at 27" than at the old 32" length.

I turned two fails into a big WIN.

Notice in the background that it is 5 PM and the marine layer (off-shore fog bank) still hasn't fully dissipated (or, perhaps it is rolling back in before it even had a chance to fully dissipate).

I shouldn't complain when the rest of the nation is suffering weather like this.

Partly cloudy with a high of 70F every day is preferable to heat indices over 120F and sensible (bulb) temperatures of 108F.

This week's forecast for our area is typical. If you come visit us in coastal LA during the summer, don't forget to pack your jacket along with your bikini. You'll also need less sunblock than you think.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

No More Gray

We've had marine layer clouds every morning for months on end. It doesn't help that I've been sewing and knitting gray all summer*. In reality, they are subtle non-colors (black/gray/cream/brown) with hints of myriad colors. Exhibit A, Aran Ring V2 in undyed alpaca from the Twist Yarns of Intrigue's own line of yarns.
The yarn comes in enormous 8 oz/650 yd skeins for ~$27/skein. It's a finer micron count than Frog Tree Alpaca, another yarn I considered for this design. In the end, the softer Twist yarn won out. I thought that 1 skein would be sufficient to make myself a version of the Golden Braid. When I finished the cabled section, I decided to keep knitting to make a short vest.

I ran out of yarn at a very unflattering length. I had to go back for a second skein for another $27. This sweater weighs 9 oz so I have quite a bit left. What should I do with the rest?

Although it is light in actual weight, it is incredibly warm and I won't be able to wear it until the weather cools down. In the mean time, you can pet it at Twist Yarns of Intrigue in Manhattan Beach, CA. It's front and center as you walk in (paired with Cathy's shibori skirt). Cathy has more alpaca, some undyed, some hand-dyed in her own subtle shades.
I might even be willing to sell or trade the 7 oz I have left.

Raveled here
Pix of me wearing it in Meeting Shams.

* But I've recently switched to pink. More on that later.

How thick is the marine layer? (Translation: How cloudy is it?)
Consider the MODIS La Jolla subset from NASA's Terra satellite, local time of ascension, 10:30. The marine layer is inland.
Compare with the MODIS La Jolla subset from NASA's Aqua satellite, local time of ascension, 13:30. It's a little bit clearer inland, but there are still plenty of thin clouds along the coast that are a bit too thin to show up well in the visible spectrum. On the ground, it still looks a bit gray.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Does this ever work?

This person (?robot?) won't let up. This is the second one I've gotten recently. Does this kind of email solicitation ever work?
fromMonique Aros via
reply-toMonique Aros
dateTue, Aug 9, 2011 at 1:01 PM
subjectReminder to Join the Tampico Beverages Blogging Program
unsubscribeUnsubscribe from this sender

1:01 PM (6 minutes ago)

Hi [BMGM] -
I haven’t heard back, but I don’t want you to miss an exclusive opportunity to be part of our blogging program! TAMPICO® Beverages has just launched “Unique Like You” – a photo contest celebrating the arrival of the 20oz, single-serve bottles now in store! Enter today for a chance to win some cool swag – including a laptop computer – plus have the chance to be included in a TAMPICO® photo mosaic! :)

We’d love for you to be part of this launch by joining our blogging program*! Let me know ASAP if you’re interested and I’ll send over all the details you need to be an official program participant on behalf of Bad Mom Good Mom!

Looking forward to hearing from you,

Monique Aros
Account Executive


American Pop
Social Media Marketing
main: 818 840 1030
twitter: @moniquearos


She's a real person. She is apparently a journalism student and she had to post a blog for Journalism 100 class. I will let the quality of her analysis speak for itself.

A friend about to be downsized said that she is considering going back to school to get a masters in social media marketing from USC (total tuition about $100,000 she doesn't have). Do you think this kind of education is helpful? Valuable in either an intellectual or economic marketplace sense?

Is there a better way to allocate our collective time and money?

Do tell. I have my own biased opinions about this, but I want to hear others.