Well, folks, we could be looking at our first serious tropical threat of 2006. It’s too early to be sure, but Tropical Storm Chris has thus far defied expectations, first by not dissipating last night, and now by strengthening unexpectedly into a relatively strong tropical storm. He’s at 60 mph and counting, as of 2:00 AM EDT. According to the public advisory: “SOME STRENGTHENING IS FORECAST DURING THE NEXT 24 HOURS… AND CHRIS COULD BECOME A HURRICANE LATER TODAY.” AccuWeather, as usual, is more bullish than the NHC: “Chris could easily be a hurricane by Wednesday morning.”
Dr. Jeff Masters writes of the surprise intensification: “The Hurricane Hunters found much stronger winds than expected in Chris this afternoon. … Most surprising were the winds in the southeast quadrant, which were in the 55-60 mph range.” Adam Moyer at The Storm Track also notes the unexpected strengthening, and admits: “For the last few days, Bryan and I (and NHC for that matter) have been skeptical of the development of the former Invest 99L [Chris’s “name” before becoming a tropical depression -ed.]. ‘Too much shear,’ we said. ‘Too much dry air,’ we said. Clearly, we were wrong.”
I gotta say, I wonder if they’re going to keep being wrong. At the moment, Chris is officially expected to become a Category 1 hurricane in 36 hours, and then see its intensity plateau at that level. I wonder if it’ll get stronger, faster. As an amateur weather observer with no meteorological training, I don’t have the expertise that Adam, Bryan, and of course the NHC meteorologists have… but sometimes I, like Margie Keeper, get a feeling about a storm, a sense that it has “a certain je ne sais quoi.” And sometimes, it seems like storms that defy expectations have a tendency to continue defying expectations. I suppose I’m anthropomorphizing a bit, but… I dunno. Let’s just say I wouldn’t be stunned if Chris is a major hurricane five days from now. I’m not predicting it; I don’t have the expertise to do that. I just have a hunch.
What are the experts saying will happen next? Moyer writes:
As for the forecast, it’s pretty difficult at this point. None of the global models have yet to pick up on Chris, so it’s up to the hurricane-specific models to make the forecast. Shear is actually fairly low over Chris at the moment (<15 kts). So long as it stays in a low-shear environment, there is no reason Chris can't intensify, since...SSTs are warm and the dry air is sufficiently far away. The GFDL briefly takes Chris up to hurricane strength and the SHIPS models approach it, but their initial conditions are too weak. The offical NHC forecast has it becoming a hurricane in 72 hours. I tend to agree with their forecast, again provided that Chris stays away from shear. [There is] an upper-level low over the Bahamas. If Chris moves toward the upper-level low, shear will increase and Chris will probably be blown apart. For the track forecast, the models are quite divergent. Some have tracks directly across Haiti and Cuba, while others recurve it out to sea without threatening the US. For now, I would just take the average of all the models and keep it moving to the west-northwest. Interests in Florida and along the Eastern Seaboard are going to want to start paying attention to Chris in the near future.
And, er, maybe the Gulf of Mexico, too, if Chris manages to move through the Florida Straits, right in between Cuba and Florida — which, coincidentally, is precisely what the official forecast track calls for right now. Hurricane Chris entering the Gulf this weekend? A scary thought, given what’s happening with the Loop Current. The Houston Chronicle’s SciGuy is also concerned. But let’s all remember how unreliable 5-day forecasts are. It’s way too early to know where Chris is headed. All we know is that he’s worth watching.
I’m a couple of days late on this story, but… scientists have discovered the biggest thing in the universe, and it’s a giant blob. No, I’m not talking about Oprah.
One of the underappreciated benefits of having a dog is that, by virtue of the necessity of going outside at odd times to walk him, you sometimes see things in the sky that you would otherwise miss. Once, while walking Robbie, I saw the International Space Station pass overhead; another time, I saw a meteor. Just last week, I caught an awesome lightning show because Robbie demanded to be walked at just the right moment.
Well, today it happened twice. This morning at just after 4:30 AM, Robbie woke me up with his characteristic whine that, translated from dog to human, means “I have to pee!!!” Needless to say, my initial reaction was something other than gratitude. But, as it turned out, the dog’s timing allowed me to catch a rare, beautiful glimpse of the very early pre-dawn sky — including the morning star, Venus:
(Of course, Venus is really a planet, not a “star,” but you knew that.)
Then, almost 15 hours later, at a time when I would normally be sitting inside blogging or watching TV, Robbie again demanded a walk — and, looking at the very same horizon, I witnessed a beautiful, fleeting display of sunlit clouds:
The timing really was perfect. Literally five minutes later, the sun had moved on — except for a tiny, tiny sliver of pink at the top, and that too disappeared with 10 or 15 seconds after I took this picture:
Pretty neat. Thanks, Robbie. :)
P.S. Sometimes, walking the dog gives me the even rarer opportunity to videotape myself breaking my elbow while attempting to jump over a tennis net. But that’s not quite the same thing…
Those who watched the Colbert Report last night — or caught the evening rerun today, as I just did — will be amused to know that Wikipedia’s page on African elephants, although it has now been protected to prevent further vandalism, at one point yesterday looked like this. Heh. [UPDATE: Video here.]
P.S. Also from last night’s episode of the Colbert Report:
“From Joe Lieberman, all you hear is all Iraq, all the time.” –Ned Lamont
Heh. Pot, kettle?
According to the latest reports coming out of Cuba,
Generalissimo Francisco Franco Fidel Castro is still alive.
A somewhat momentous occasion in my family occurred this past weekend, as five years after moving into an apartment in northern Manhattan which served as a sort of “home away from home” in NYC, my parents moved their stuff out of there and returned permanently to Newington. The lease on the New York apartment expired today.
Mind you, the house in Newington has remained my parents’ primary “home” throughout the last five years, so they’re not really “moving” per se. They’re more “consolidating,” if you will. :) They got the New York apartment — the “Dolyan Heights,” we called it, or just “the Dolyan” — while my mom was in art school part-time at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, so she’d have a place to stay while in the city and an art studio to work on her printmaking. (She was there on 9/11, barely a month after they got the place. Luckily, the apartment is about as far away from the World Trade Center as you can get while still in Manhattan.) After she graduated from Pratt in 2003, the Dolyan allowed my mom to maintain a foothold in the City, which was essential for various art shows, teaching jobs, and so forth.
My dad also spent a fair amount of time in the Dolyan, as did I, whenever I happened to be in New York. Indeed, in 2003, after graduating college, I lived there for several months while working in Tribeca. I never really thought about how far away the Hudson Heights region (between Washington Heights and Inwood) is from Tribeca until the Blackout of 2003 struck, and I suddenly had to figure out how to get from one tip of Manhattan to the other (a distance of about 10 miles) with no subways running, no ATMs working and a dollar of cash in my pocket. :) Anyway, the Dolyan was my home during the blackout, and it was also home base for Becky, Shannon, Adrienne and me during one of the funnest weekends ever. I have lots of happy memories of that place.
Alas, keeping the apartment was no longer practical for my parents, so they have finally bid farewell to the Dolyan. Here’s the final picture of the apartment, looking rather barren after my parents have hauled all their stuff into a rental van for the drive back to Newington:
To the next renters of Apartment 2K at 802 West 190th Street, if you’re reading this: I hope you enjoy it as much as we did! Here are a few photo galleries featuring pictures of the Dolyan:
Becky visits CT & NYC, May 31-June 3, 2002 (scroll down; Dolyan pics at the very bottom)
The Great Northeast Blackout, August 14, 2003 (not actually a photo gallery, but a blog post with lots of photos and links to even more)
And, last but not least, here’s an aerial view of the neighborhood. :)
There is no excuse, nor should there be any tolerance, for anyone who thinks or expresses any kind of anti-Semitic remark. I want to apologize specifically to everyone in the Jewish community for the vitriolic and harmful words that I said to a law enforcement officer the night I was arrested on a DUI charge.
I am a public person, and when I say something, either articulated and thought out, or blurted out in a moment of insanity, my words carry weight in the public arena. As a result, I must assume personal responsibility for my words and apologize directly to those who have been hurt and offended by those words.
The tenets of what I profess to believe necessitate that I exercise charity and tolerance as a way of life. Every human being is God’s child, and if I wish to honor my God I have to honor his children. But please know from my heart that I am not an anti-Semite. I am not a bigot. Hatred of any kind goes against my faith.
I’m not just asking for forgiveness. I would like to take it one step further, and meet with leaders in the Jewish community, with whom I can have a one on one discussion to discern the appropriate path for healing.
I have begun an ongoing program of recovery and what I am now realizing is that I cannot do it alone. I am in the process of understanding where those vicious words came from during that drunken display, and I am asking the Jewish community, whom I have personally offended, to help me on my journey through recovery. Again, I am reaching out to the Jewish community for its help. I know there will be many in that community who will want nothing to do with me, and that would be understandable. But I pray that that door is not forever closed.
This is not about a film. Nor is it about artistic license. This is about real life and recognizing the consequences hurtful words can have. Its about existing in harmony in a world that seems to have gone mad.
(Hat tip: Drudge.)
P.S. I am reminded of another Great Anti-Semite In History: Richard M. Nixon. Funniest bigoted quote ever: “You know, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a funny thing, every one of the bastards that are out for legalizing marijuana is Jewish. What the Christ is the matter with the Jews, Bob? What is the matter with them? I suppose it is because most of them are psychiatrists.”
Tropical Storm Chris has formed east of the Lesser Antilles. It’s the first tropical storm to develop this season from a tropical wave that came off of Africa — right on cue for the beginning of August, when we would expect to begin seeing such storms.
It’s clear from the 5:00 AM discussion that the National Hurricane Center really doesn’t have a terribly good handle yet on the track or intensity forecast for this storm. “Last night’s computer model runs did not start out with a very good initial picture of the current strength of Chris, and dissipated the storm within 72 hours,” writes Dr. Jeff Masters. “We need to wait until the next set of model runs based on this morning’s 8am EDT (12Z) data are available before taking much stock in both the track and intensity forecasts of the models.” The 12Z model runs will be incorporated into the 11am EDT (8am MST) NHC advisory, so that forecast will be worth watching for.
For what it’s worth, the current forecast track has Chris heading in the general direction of south Florida — but I wouldn’t put too much stock in that at this point. Five-day forecasts are always unreliable, but especially this one.
FLhurricane.com says: “most likely it will remain a Tropical Storm or even get weaker because of shear. But there is an off chance it could become stronger so it remains something to watch.” AccuWeather says:
Tropical Storm Chris will bring squally conditions to the Leeward Islands Tuesday and Wednesday. But, since it will be moving through the Leeward Islands, friction caused by the islands might prevent the depression from intensifying. Computer models continue to show a west northwest course which will keep the system over or near the Greater Antilles. This could further prevent intensification, and a large upper-level low north of the Bahamas may shear the storm later this week. If the system can avoid most of the islands, we project the system will be somewhere between the central Bahamas and southeast Cuba by Friday. This system could directly affect Florida early next week.
The bottom line is: stay tuned.
As you may already have heard — Texasyank certainly has — Reggie Bush signed a contract over the weekend worth $62 million with the New Orleans Saints, and thus is no longer a holdout at their training camp.
The same cannot be said, however, of Matt Leinart and the Arizona Cardinals. Not only have they failed to agree on a contract — as a result of which Leinart is a no-show at training camp, which started yesterday — but they aren’t even talking.
More on both Leinart and Bush here.
With all the tragic news about Newington High School graduates lately, it’s nice to read some good news about one of the stars of my graduating class: professional baseball player Joe Serfass, a.k.a. the future Mr. Tara Boisvert. :) From the Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers article titled “Mets’ Serfass finding success in bullpen“:
If one player in the St. Lucie Mets’ clubhouse is an example of rebounding from a potential career-ending injury, it is pitcher Joe Serfass.
The 25-year-old reliever had Tommy John elbow surgery during his freshman season at Eastern Connecticut State University in April of 2000. …
Serfass battled back from the operation and worked as a starter the rest of his college career [winning the Division III national championship in 2002 -ed.] but was moved to the bullpen by the Mets after signing as a nondrafted free agent.
And it is a move that has paid dividends for the organization.
The tall right-hander has a fastball that tops out at just 85 mph, so he relies on crafty pitching to baffle opposing hitters. Instead of blowing the ball by them, Serfass sinks his pitches in and out, letting the defense do the work.
Through the weekend, he was 1-2 with a 1.97 ERA in 32 innings pitched. Opposing batters were hitting just .221 against him, and he had fanned 25 while walking three.
“I’m pretty tough on myself and expect not to give up a run every time I go out there. I’m happy with the numbers so far,” he said.