Archive for April, 2002

Goodness, gracious, great balls of fire!

Tuesday, April 30th, 2002

So… Becky and I were on our way back from Burbank yesterday afternoon at around 2:15 PM, taking the 110 freeway through the area around Elysian Park and Dodger Stadium, when suddenly traffic began to slow down. Considering that this is L.A., that didn’t necessarily mean anything unusual was happening… but we both noticed that the air was suddenly a bit smoggier than usual even by L.A. standards, and Becky wondered aloud whether traffic was slowing because of a fire. I had been wondering the same thing myself.

Just then, we rounded a turn on the freeway, and it became obvious that there was indeed a fire, coming from somewhere between us and the downtown skyline ahead. As we later admitted to each other, each of us had the same, predictably Sept. 11-induced reaction deep down inside: “Oh my God, downtown has blown up.”

But the closer we got, the more apparent it was that the smoke was coming from very nearby — possibly right along the side of the road.

As we crawled forward, we eventually saw that the fire was actually on both sides of the freeway. On the left, a hill was smouldering; on the right, several trees and shrubs were on fire. Ash rained down on Becky’s car. There were firemen all around, as well as at least one news cameraman, and several helicopters were flying overhead.

We drove right past one burning tree.

Traffic slowly snaked through the fire zone. Finally, as we moved out of the area, the air ahead of us cleared (and we could see for certain that downtown was not on fire). But looking behind us, we could see the huge plume of smoke billowing up as the procession of cars slowly continued. Becky commented that it looked like one burning tree (the one we had driven right past, I think) was about to completely go up in flames… and about 10 seconds later, it did, largely collapsing and redoubling the amount of smoke behind us.

For more photos of the fire, including larger versions of the images above, click here! For the Los Angeles Times story about the fire, click here.

Post from cell phone

Tuesday, April 30th, 2002

One exam left till I’m a senior!

Post from cell phone

Monday, April 29th, 2002

Just drove through GIANT brush fire along freeway (110) north of downtown! Photos soon.

Post from cell phone

Saturday, April 27th, 2002

At Troubadour in West Hollywood waiting for Great Big Sea to take the stage.

I’m a Zionist and a Palestinian nationalist

Friday, April 26th, 2002

Just wanted to clear that up. My latest rant…

3 papers down, 1 to go…

Friday, April 26th, 2002

…just in case anyone was wondering. I’m on page 9 of my 15-page last paper, which is due, uh, yesterday. I’m handing it in a day (and a half) late. In other news… NEW PHOTOS SOON!!! Stay tuned!

Northern lights underway!

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2002

The shock wave from Saturday’s X-class solar flare rushed past Earth at 9:50 PM Pacific time Monday, and contrary to my previous statement that it probably “won’t produce a big aurora storm,” a strong display of Northern lights is now underway! Check out this satellite map to see how far south the “auroral oval” is stretching — all across the upper Great Plains.

For the very latest auroral satellite images, click here. For a chart of the “Kp Index” (the higher the numbers, the more intense the storm), click here. For the latest news, visit!

My Lovely Schedule This Week

Monday, April 22nd, 2002

Speaking event (for Journalism class), 7 PM

Photojournalism midterm, 10 AM
Conference with writing instructor, 2 PM
Journalism paper due, 4 PM

City Council meeting (for Government Reporting class), 10 AM
Interview with USC official (for Gov. Rep. class), 3 PM
Event at City Hall (for Gov. Rep. class), 7 PM

Writing 340 portfolio due, 2 PM
Writing 340 Essay #4 due, 2 PM
1,500-word Government Reporting story due, 3 PM
Court case brief due, 4 PM
Two write-ups of USC events due, 4 PM
15-page Political Science paper due, 7 PM

Northern lights past and present

Sunday, April 21st, 2002

Well, it looks like yesterday big solar flare won’t produce a big aurora storm. The flare was on the Sun’s western limb, so the shock wave it produced is likely to deliver only a “glancing blow” to Earth, according to Whatever Northern lights we do get will probably happen Monday or Tuesday.

In the mean time, an S3-class radiation storm is in progress! One of the things such storms do is, they create “noise” in satellite images, which you can see in the animation above. (Another example.) See how it looks like there’s about a thousand comets moving in all directions? And notice how those “comets” mysteriously appeared at the same exact time the shock wave happened? Well, guess what? They’re not comets — they’re just noise, caused by the high levels of radiation. But don’t worry, there’s no danger to humans (although if you’re flying in an airplane at high latitudes, you might get the equivalent of about one chest x-ray worth of radiation).

In other news, it turns out the Northern lights over the weekend were visible from Southern California — but not with the naked eye. You had to have a camera set on long exposure and facing north. (Wouldn’t have worked for me anyway. The only “Northern lights” you can see from USC are the lights of downtown L.A., which is due north of us.) Here’s an image from San Diego:

Finally, a bit more space news: apparently Bush’s missile-defense system would jeopardize all space travel because of all the space debris it would produce. Thanks to for the link!

Random link…

Sunday, April 21st, 2002

Thanks to Amy from Tennessee for linking to my site. Here’s a link to hers!

Solar storm continues

Sunday, April 21st, 2002

Here is a chart showing the radiation storm now in progress, caused by the solar flare about nine hours ago. Still no word on whether a CME (Coronal Mass Ejection) is heading toward Earth.

“Temblor!!!” Um… no

Sunday, April 21st, 2002

Okay, first all, it’s “tremor,” not “temblor.” Temblor is a stupid word. Like, do you honestly meet your friend on the street and say, “Dude, that was one hell of a temblor?” Of course not, because it’s STUPID!!! Don’t even get me started.

Secondly, here is some more local coverage from the Plattsburgh, NY area.

Finally — and this has nothing to do with the earthquake — those of you from Newington may be interested to know that they’re demolishing the old Mrs. Pips building!

Here comes the sun (again)

Sunday, April 21st, 2002

Another solar flare! It happened at around 6:50 PM Pacific time. This one is a powerful X-class flare, and it is already causing an S2 (moderate) radiation storm on Earth! But it’s unclear whether another Coronal Mass Ejection (the things that produce Northern Lights) is headed toward Earth. If it is, it would get here in 2-3 days. Stay tuned to for the very latest!

Northern lights latest

Saturday, April 20th, 2002

Wow! This one is from Wisconsin. More aurora images from last night: click here!

CNN’s on-air apology

Saturday, April 20th, 2002

Last night on CNN’s “NewsNight,” anchor Aaron Brown made a remarkable statement at the top of the show that essentially amounted to an apology for doing too much coverage of the Robert Blake case on the previous night’s show. I happened to catch it live, and I found a transcript today. Here is the transcript.