Sunday, February 24, 2013

Not Such Deep Thoughts – Freaky February Edition

Blackouts, Whiteouts, Pope-outs, asteroids and meteors, this has been one special February so far. Lots to talk about, so let’s get this party started.

Super Bowl XLVII was notable on a lot of levels, but will probably be best remembered for the second half blackout. In the first half, the Ravens romped, and it looked like the game was going to be a boring blowout. At halftime, Beyonce bounced, and that amped things back up a little, at least it did for me… but then the second half opened up with a Ravens’ runback and I started picking up and getting ready for the rack. Not being a Ravens fan, I had little desire to watch further. Then the lights went out, and everything changed. First off, it silenced Phil Simms for a while, and that was awesome in and of itself, but it also gave the shell shocked 49ers time to gather themselves a bit, and when the lights came back on, they made a game of it. An exciting one, no less, that came down to the final possession. In the end, the Niners came up a little short, but it was a valiant effort, and not without a bit of officiating controversy. Non calls aside, the 49ers lost the game by not showing up in the first half, and the Ravens won by hanging tough for the full sixty minutes. Gotta give them credit, no matter how much it kills me.

Note to football players; God does not decide sporting events. You win because you outplay the other team, period.

Note to conspiracy theorists; if I was getting ready to turn off the TV, how many others were? Is it possible that CBS and the NFL, fearing financial disaster, had a hand in the blackout? Faux News is said to be working on an expose piece and claims to have footage of Roger Goodell entering the control room just moments before the lights went out, carrying a huge bucket of Gatorade.

Just when I thought we might squeak through with another mild winter, bam, we get clobbered by a record breaking blizzard. High winds, whiteouts, bone chilling temperatures and over two feet of fine powdery snow; yikes, what a mess. The whole region came to a screeching stop, which is a good thing. The driving ban prevented people from getting caught on the roads, and it really helped out with the massive cleanup efforts. Some people were outraged by the ban, felt it was infringing on their personal freedoms, to those people I say; STFU. If you’re not a doctor, a cop, a fireman or a plow driver, you don’t belong out clogging up the driving lanes, putting people’s lives in danger to save your sorry butt.

The 2013 Farmers’ Almanac called the recent weather in the Northeast almost to a tee, by the way. Here’s part of their Zone 1 Northeast February prediction: 8th to 11th, unsettled; light snow and flurries. 12th to 15th, a major Northeast snowstorm develops, accumulations could exceed one foot with strong winds causing blowing and drifting of snow. 16th to 19th, lingering snow showers and flurries. Dead on, but just a couple of days late on the blizzard, it actually happened on the 9th and 10th. Still an amazing feat of prognostication though, considering it was written several years in advance. How the heck do they do that, you ask? Well, it’s complicated. I’ll let them explain; “The Farmers’ Almanac weather predictions are based on a secret mathematical and astronomical formula. Developed in 1818 by David Young, the Almanac‘s first editor, this formula takes many factors into consideration, including sunspot activity, moon phases, tidal action, and more. This carefully guarded formula has been passed along from calculator to calculator and has never been revealed.” However they do it, I’m impressed.

Note to all; the Almanac has also red flagged February 24th to 28th and March 20th to 23rd for major coastal storms along the Atlantic Seaboard. The February 24th to 28th storm was predicted to just brush the Northeast as it heads out to sea, and that seems to be the case so far, but the March 20th to 23rd storm promises strong winds and heavy precipitation. Methinks March will not go lamb-like into that good night.

Extreme weather is becoming a bit of a trend these days. I don’t know if it’s global warming or just a normal planetary cycle, but I do know this for a fact; never in the history of this beautiful little planet has there ever been as many people or as much industry. Never. Ever. Does it make a difference in the delicate balance of life? Well, I’m not a climatologist, nor do I play one on TV, but it’s hard not to think so. Manufacturing waste, vehicle exhaust, billions of humans and bovines breathing, belching and farting, it all adds up people, and it worries me a little.

Note to self; never, ever, buy ocean front property.

We got yet another February surprise when the Pope resigned without warning last week. The last time a Pope resigned was in 1415, almost 600 years ago, so you can see why it's caused such a stir, and just to make matters more interesting, there was a purported lightning strike on the Vatican the same day. Hmmm… Lightning has long been associated with the fortunes of Rome. From about 300 B.C. until 400 A.D., a group known as the College of Augurs looked to the skies for signs of Jupiter’s will in the form of birds, lightning and meteors. So, we’ve got the lightning, and we’ve got the meteors (I’ll get to those in a second), if something freaky happens with birds soon, I’m heading for the hills. All kidding aside, I think what the Pope is doing is a good thing. The church is in turmoil, and for once someone is saying “Hey, we need someone at the helm who has the strength to tack against the wind.” The time has come to stop leaning on tradition, and the fact that the Pope can make such a decision gives me great hope. Imagine the strength it took for him to do this; to give up the most coveted position he could ever imagine, I think that alone is a sign from God, a sign of hope.

On the 15th we had a very close encounter with asteroid 2012 DA14, a 45 meter, 130,000 ton space rock. It didn’t just pass between the Earth and Moon, it passed between the Earth and our geosynchronous satellites. That’s a pretty close shave, and as if to emphasize how vulnerable to this sort of thing we actually are, it was both preceded and followed by 2 unrelated meteor strikes. The Chelyabinsk meteor, a “smaller” 10,000 ton space rock, streaked across Russian skies on the morning of the 15th, exploding in an airburst over Chelyabinsk. The force of the explosion was equal to 500 kilotons of TNT, and the resulting shock wave injured 1500 people and damaged 4300 buildings. There was also a meteor sighting in the San Francisco area later that day. No impact was recorded, just an impressive light show. To put things in their proper perspective, if the 10,000 ton Chelyabinsk meteor did so much damage, imagine what a direct hit on a populated area by a 130,000 ton rock like DA14 would do. Can you say nuclear winter?

All right, enough weirdness, let’s talk tech. Here’s a quick update to my last post; My Love/Hate Relationship With Apple. We finally got our Snow Leapord disc delivered and successfully upgraded the iMAC’s OS, as well as iTunes and VirtualBox. I also added 4GB of RAM while I was at it. I didn’t continue on to the latest OS, Mountain Lion, thank goodness. I found out (just in time) that Mountain Lion breaks older versions of Microsoft Office, so we saved ourselves from another heavy dose of collateral damage. Phew… Anyway, now the little pink nano is set up, sync’d, and fully functional, and it is a pretty slick little device, but as I said in the previous post; this was way too much hassle just to set up a simple music player. Way too much.

While we’re on the subject of Apple, upgrades and collateral damage, I also upgraded my Apple TV’s firmware and guess what? Now my wired desktop no longer shows up in the connected devices/available iTunes library list. My laptop, my Touch and my wife’s wired iMac all do, but not my desktop. I’m not sure if it was my latest iTunes upgrade (10.7) or the upgrade of the Apple TV device to version 5 that messed things up, but it’s a real pain. When I’m streaming my iTunes music I have the Apple TV screen saver set to use the contents of the My Pictures folder so there’s a constant stream of our Kodak moments on the big screen, and the desktop is where the bulk of my pictures live. My suspicion is that although the iMac has a wired connection, it also has built in Wi-Fi, and Apple TV firmware has been modified to only look for devices that have their own built in Wi-Fi, and no longer looks for wired devices that are accessible via an external Wi-Fi connection such as a router. You’re killing me here, Apple…

Note to Apple; the short life span of your products (ie: new models or major software revs every 5 to 7 months) will be your undoing, we are not all Apple Fanboys.

OK, last thing, promise. Spring Training is cranking up, and the question on all good Sox fan’s minds is; can they pull their nards out of the fire? The team has pretty much self imploded and it appears that things can’t get much worse, so that’s something to hang your hat on. But how they fare in the standings this year is of less importance to me than how they act and play. As long as they give it 100%, I’m behind them. Any less and I’ll be turning them off.

Note to Red Sox; forget the fancy demographic studies and bringing in high paid mercenaries. If you want a successful and embraceable team, start with the basics; hard working players with integrity and a love of the game, add in a little inspirational leadership, mix well and bake for approximately 180 days. It’s a no fail recipe.

That is all.