July 9, 2007

Museum Park

I recently did what very few people do these days: I visited Bicentennial Park. There's been a lot of heated discussion about carving out a section of the park and building museums on it. Those for moving the museums into the park argue that they will become a reason for going to the park, and they maintain that hardly any space is being lost.

I've pointed out that museums tend to grow; today they want to needlessly carve 8 acres out of the site instead of taking over some of the blighted lots in the city already designated to hold buildings. I can hear the arguments in 20 years or so: "But we're only talking another 6 acres."

I decided to visit the site, and see for myself what "just eight acres" looks like. I also overlayed the proposal in Google Earth. You can download it HERE. I'll be posting more shots of the park under commentary on Bicentennial Park, and still others on Camera-Ephemera, without commentary .
So here's the shots where Museum Park will be:

A shot of the entire museum site from the edge of Biscayne Bay. Everything in view here will be under the two museums. The trees across the meadow are along Biscayne Boulevard.

Half of this field falls in the museum zone, and everything beyond the far strip of pavement.

Everything beyond this hillside (and that strip of pavement) will be under museum.

July 6, 2007

Why the NHC staff are wrong.

So after having the balls to stand up and speak out about problems facing the National Hurricane Center, Proenza is now being stabbed in the back by a large group of NHC employees.

A group of them held a TV press conference today, to explain why they have sent in a petition calling for Proenza's removal.

The group did start off with a list of reasonable points: his management style has divided the staff into factions, he has left out or ignored dissenting staff positions in his reports; things that mark a poor manager.

But then they started digging a hole for themselves. Specifically, they stated (or their spokesman stated) that the whole aging satellite issue was "nonsense." Sure, it's likely to fail, and sure, they'd lose 10 - 16% of their available data. But they claim it won't make any difference at all. "We can still use other data sources to make accurate forecasts."

All right. Maybe they can make up for the loss of ONE satellite. And in fact, they damned well ought to - they are supposed to have redundant satellites, after all.

So we lose QuickSCAT. So it will be a DECADE before it's replaced. That's OK, there are other satellites, it's true. Two of 'em.

The problem is that their life expectancy isn't projected to last ten years from now. And THEIR replacements aren't even in the design phase, either. Proenza correctly realized that the problem really isn't the loss of one obsolete satellite, but the fact that there are no replacements - upgraded or otherwise - in sight. So they can make up for the loss of QuickSCAT. But how will they do without ANY satellite data from a specific region?

Dr. Jeff Masters is one of the detractors; he says the delay in replacing QuickSCAT is reasonable: "NHC needs a "next-generation" scatterometer, one that has greatly improved capabilities.." He fears that in the fuss being raised, we will rush to launch a satellite without making any upgrades. And that would be well and good IF the satellite system was being properly administrated, with ample time to design, build and launch replacement units. But guess what, Jeff? THAT AIN'T THE SYSTEM WE GOT.

Proenza is doing what a good administrator does: he's looking at the bigger picture. And he's using the worst case scenarios to do it, because that's good planning. Only an idiot plans on everything going well and working favorably. Good planners - COMPETENT planners - plan for the absolute WORST. Because if you're prepared handle the absolute worst, the not-so-horrible is pretty easy to deal with. Anyone ready for dismemberment is more than ready for a scratch.

So the folks who signed the petition are probably great meteorologists, but they are incompetent fuck-ups as long range planners. Proenza was absolutely right to leave out their comments. Sorry guys, I call them like I see them.

I commend Proenza. And for those backstabbing jerks in the NHC? They are their own worst enemies; their complacency puts the Center at risk.

July 1, 2007

The Terror that Preens in the Night

I love this story:
NEW YORK (AP) -- A peacock that roamed into the parking lot of a Burger King in New York City was beaten by a man who insisted it was a vampire.

Hey, it's an easy mistake: