Monday, August 8, 2022

a little light entertainment


.. is in our forecast! We shall see how it plays out.

This is the storm that chose to be coy over a week ago, it retrograded further off the coast instead of ending our hot spell. This time for sure -?

Saturday, July 30, 2022

Tech Check


 In two weeks we may be running on flashy new 5g gear!
Or, if the signal doesn't quite match our coverage map.. nice try.

Fingers crossed! 
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Test Drive Success!

We are able to capture a decent 5G signal from our hill-top, and a mobile-carrier switch to T-mobile is under way. Their Magenta plan does more for us at the same price we're paying now, and adding internet this way will save us quite a bit. The risk is out there for signal clogging in bad weather or too many trees, but for now we're giving it a shot!

Hands On With T-Mobile's 5G Home Internet Gateway | PCMag





An Unusual Heat Storm

In general, the pacific NW USA endures heat waves in 3-day snips. A lot like snow in that way - extended periods of heat or cold are rare. So we are living through an exception!We're on day seven of temperatures above 90° - and we're expecting one more. Portland's record for 95+ is seven days, and I think that record is at risk.
Our heat storms generally end in one of two ways. The transition that I remember mostly from my youth is a few nice thunderstorms (big ones only by NW USA standards), . Not a massive squall line like the rest of the US gets at the end of a heat wave, though; just storms that form along the Cascades and drift NW to valley-dwellers around sunset. The day after would be cooler as marine air slipped into the valleys.
Nowadays the t-stormy phase gets skipped for the valleys nearly every time, and a strong but dry west wind brings a Marine Push. Wind ramps up late one afternoon and rushes in with cool air, and a cloudless evening in the 60s replaces 80-100° heat. Less exciting but still dramatic. Living here for eight years (north of Portland, aligned with the long lower-Columbia estuary) this has become the default ending.

We had several of these late-day pushes this week, each causing temps to crash in the late afternoon -- but in each case the west wind was stymied and the heat resumed! Forecasts generally agreed that late-week break would arrive Saturday.. no Sunday. Now it is Saturday and it's expected late on Monday. Maybe?

Nearly every day was warmer than even the warmest forecast, and the week's slow cooling became a double peak on Tue and Fri. A couple of 90s then dropping.. well maybe 90 again Fri, or Sat. Oops, today we hit 105° - matching our high during last year's record-crushing Heat Dome, six degrees or more above the forecasts, and the new peak of the week. No push today until 7PM: too little, too late.
At least no nearby stations reached 116° like last year, thankfully.. But

Tomorrow was supposed to be a pinch cooler. So is that 97, or 103°? 
Tune in & find out.

Sunday, July 24, 2022

summer heat

Today has already overshot the forecast by several degrees. Thankfully the west continues to receive shallow west winds and should hang in the 70s all week. We're in the 90s and could be hotter through at least Tuesday, then slowly cool off through the weekend. Forecasts are a bit lower then they had been - but we'll still be feeling it, Portland especially more than us. Somehow we'll manage.

It's quite likely that a day trip west is in the cards, assuming our schedule will have a free day. 

Sure looks nice over there!

Friday, July 15, 2022

covid inflation and chaos, o my

First the Classic version, then Alpha, Delta, Omicron. And now the O-variants.

Many news stories about BA.4 and BA.5 taking over caseloads - and now stories of a throwback, BA.2.75 with massive mutations from an earlier variant! 

No more coordinated national mandates, no more direct reports of home-test results unlike tests made within the health-care system (fragmented as even that is) - so increases are mere blips on the Omicron-peak-scaled charts and unreported cases are a mere guess. Hospital visits are no longer at crisis levels at least, as so many are on 3rd and 4th injections. I just received my fourth before a gathering that caught my best buddy and his wife with three weeks of Covid lousiness (variant: unknown).

The upper graphic from shows the USA percentage of the original COVID virus and its variants over time. It does not deal with the variants within each variant, so Omicron still rules whether BA.4, BA.5 or BA.2.75

Once upon a time I had a daily record of cases and deaths for the US, and my state and county. Then small governments stopped giving daily reports so I moved to 5-day points; my chart and a 4-period moving average are at the bottom of the graphic. No doubt the 5-day spacing includes weekends now and then, leading to a pronounced zigzag; I put a 4-period average on the data (darkest line) to make trends clearer. Our current cases are around Delta-outbreak levels (fall 2021), which were frightening until Omicron 1.0 came on the scene. 

After nearly three years we've all been desensitized by the relentlessness and the scale of this pandemic, and the political spins that have made science just another variable in our rhetoric. No wonder fatigue is a symptom of the pandemic - even not catching the virus in this environment is exhausting!

In the meantime, the President and Congress have been stymied by the parity in the Senate and the bitterness of 21st-century partisanship. Add in big-time inflation that is rather independent of economics (supply issues still rule), a war in Ukraine and the impact of sanctions on Russia, various amounts of chaos elsewhere (e.g. the UK now choosing another prime minister) and the result is a bitter brew. It's a no-win situation for anyone, but blame is an irresistible sport in today's chaotic climate.

We'll deal with the topic of climate another time..




Friday, June 24, 2022

Jul-Jun 'water year' - are we done yet?

 My worksheet calculates weather on a July-June period. Most folks around these parts actually do Sep-Aug.. praps I should make a shift? In any case, I can do a 12-month report now and assume that the next week will be dry; if it isn't true it is quite close.

Our Jul-Jun total right now is 92¼ inches. That's absurdly higher than our almost-58" normal based on the new 30-year recent average, but it is not the highest - that still belongs to 2016-17 at 94 inches. The previous 30-year average (1981-2010) was 63.7 inches, so our expectations were lowered but then shattered by all the moisture. Sep-Jun featured only one month below average, and that was a 94% March. Five months were over 10.5", not bad when the wettest month should be 9.06" (November). June is at 188% of normal as of the 24th; the week could end with drizzle or some light showers, so it could creep up a bit more.

Our two wettest years, compared to the current 'normal' based on 1991-2020 amounts

p.s. Happy near-anniversary those who endured last year's Heat Dome. On June 28th our thermometer topped out at 105.6° - and that was among the lowest of the OR/WA stations I looked at that day! It reached 116° in Portland, an hour south and 750' lower. Elevation makes us snowier in the winter (April too!), and when it's hot it's better to be here than most valley locations. Today reached 101° so we're ahead of last year's 6/26 reading. Forecasts are for the marine push to begin tomorrow afternoon, so the next two records are not in jeopardy. Yay!

Thursday, June 16, 2022

A new lens contest!

My somewhat clever swap of K-mount macro lenses has put me in a curious spot. My K-s2 will be far happier in its current (sick-solenoid) state with the Sigma 50/2.8 lens - but it also plays in the μ43 kit. In fact my Olympus 30/3.5 has two new competitors: the 50/2.8 as is, and a speed-boosted 36/2! The latter does add glass though, so optically it may have an effect that makes a difference.. but either way the sigma has a speed advantage.

Another good point: the Olympus can actually work at 1.25x macro! You won't get much light on the subject at that working distance though, so that 'advantage' needs to be evaluated as well.

We will check back soon with some results! :√)

OK, some things are easily learned!

  • For one, the speed-booster does not allow for 1:1 images. Closer to 1:5 than 1:1 in fact.
  • Another obvious point: if you like any details with your macro images, you won't be shooting below f/8 and the speed contest becomes irrelevant. As a multi-purpose lens it could be helpful though.. and if you like color smears with a rim of sharpness then it's a very big deal!
  • And yet again, I learn that for me a 1:2 closeup lens is more than enough magnification..
So for 1:2 and closer shots, who's the winner? 
Well, no surprise: both are very nice. I shot wide open since the wind was swaying the test roses; I'll try again soon with iso1600 and f/8 to see if any bokeh issues sway me. I'd expect two macros from companies with long experience to be pretty similar in any case.

In most cases users prefer a longer FL to keep from spooking live targets, and the 50mm left the front element about 2" from the text I shot. The 35mm was about an inch, and below that for 1.2x shots. So for me, if compact is my top priority the μ43 kit will come and the AF 30mm wins out. If the Pentax kit with primes is in play however, and even if both kits join me, the 50 macro can play for both.

While I'm on that topic, note that I have Four 50mm lenses now: the Sigma f/2.8 1:1, Pentax smc-A f/2 & 1.4, and a Zonlai f/1.4 in native μ43 mount. 

Given my gear and my macro needs, I am likely best served by an extension tube or a diopter lens. We'll try that too! I have a short extension for μ43 so a K version should do nicely, and a few diopters should fit my current lenses.