Never turn your back on the Pacific Ocean

Yesterday my kids (Ryan 5 and Sabrina 3 years) and I had an important learning moment and a serious scare. I experienced the unpredictability of the surf in the pacific ocean at Half Moon Bay, California.

The surf and waves along the beaches here are incredibly dangerous. I now think of it as a huge monster waiting for the moment to snatch my kids away and drown them. It lulls me into complacency by methodically lapping at the beach in a semi-predictable manner and then suddenly lashing out far up the beach to grab my children and consume them.

As I walked to the beach the first thing I noticed was the whitecaps far off shore. This was my first warning that the surf would be dangerous. The next was the waves themselves which were towering as they broke, well over 10 feet high. When I got to the beach It became clear that the surf was very rough and the waves were huge.

What threw me off was that the waves were breaking about 100 yards off shore and it was clearly fairly shallow a good way out. It appeared that the waves were getting decapitated and that the rementents that were making it to shore were muted because of a shoal. My 5 year old son Ryan began playing right at the waters edge paying no attention to the incoming waves which were predictable. My 3 year old was content to play about 25 feet up in relative safety where we placed our beach supplies. I immediately began scolding Ryan and imploring him to stay further away from the waves. I was worried so I kept a constant watch for the massive wave approaching that would cause chaos. But it never came. Each time the biggest waves would hit the shoal and weaken. They would tumble in harmlessly and then retreat within a constant area. Yet I kept watch and began to feel rather silly like an overprotective parent.

Suddenly I noticed a wall of water approaching. It wasn’t from a huge wave which was threw me off. Now I realize it must have been a series of waves that came together instead of the usual one after another. The group as a whole suddenly appeared as an enormous wall that was approaching quickly. I yelled to Ryan to run, which he and I did. But the wave kept coming. As if in slow to fast motion it appeared slowly but then moved in quickly. By the time we made it to the top of the ‘safe’ area the wave swept up and knocked Ryan down. I grabbed him and looked for Sabrina who was fortunately high enough away so that she just got her legs wet. A friend’s boy was also knocked down but the Father was right there to pluck him out of the powerful flow of water. In an instant the water was gone and everyone was safe but very shaken and wet. Everything was soaked because the wave went far beyond the active (damp) surf line by about 25 feet right up to where we had dropped our stuff. This was far, far higher than I had expected.

The scary thing is that Ryan would have been swept away if he had remained where he was playing. I am now haunted by the terrifying thought of him floating away while I frantically try to move through the receding wall of water to save him. Clearly once a small child loses his footing there is nothing to stop them from getting swept back into the ocean, other than a close and attentive parent. I feel sick when I think of what could have happened.

This was the “rouge wave” or “sleeper wave” that I had read about when I have seen warnings about the beach surf. This was a child robbing monster wave that could have killed my kids. The key is that it didn’t appear abnormal until it was right upon us. It must have been a series of smaller waves that moved in phase to become one unified wall of water. The wave seemed to only hit our area, immediately to the right and left people seemed to be unaffected. Truly a terrifying moment for a parent.

In hindsight, I shouldn’t have allowed Ryan anywhere close to the water. But what happened was entirely unpredictable. I had no idea the water could come up that far, 25 feet beyond where it had been before. What would have happened if  I had stopped paying attention for the moment just before the wave hit, if my phone rang or somebody started talking to me? A truly horrifying thought.

I learned a lot and I hope my kids did as well. I hope if you are reading this and you have kids you will think about how horrible it would be if the ocean snatched your kid away. Be aware, stay back from the surf and never turn your back.

The waves and surf on the pacific ocean are like a patient monster lulling us into complacency with a yawning consistency while waiting for the moment to lash out and grab our children and pull them into the boiling surf. Will you be ready?

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Judith Curry’s testimony on obama’s Climate Action Plan

Honesty and clear explanations from a very credible source.


“Anthropogenic greenhouse warming is a theory whose basic mechanism is well understood, but whose magnitude is highly uncertain. Multiple lines of evidence presented in the recent IPCC 5thassessment report suggest that the case for anthropogenic warming is now weaker than in 2007”

“For the past 16 years, there has been no significant increase in surface temperature. There is a growing discrepancy between observations and climate model projections. Observations since 2011 have fallen below the 90% envelope of climate model projections”

“The growing evidence that climate models are too sensitive to CO2 has implications for the attribution of late 20th century warming and projections of 21st century climate change. Sensitivity of the climate to carbon dioxide, and the level of uncertainty in its value, is a key input into the economic models that drive cost-benefit analyses, including estimates of the social cost of carbon.”

“Attempts to modify the climate through reducing CO2 emissions may turn out to be futile”

“The perception that humans are causing an increase in extreme weather events is a primary motivation for the President’s Climate Change Plan.  However, in the U.S., most types of weather extremes were worse in the 1930’s and even in the 1950’”

” However, claiming an overwhelming scientific justification for the Plan based upon anthropogenic global warming does a disservice both to climate science and to the policy process.”

“Good judgment requires recognizing that climate change is characterized by conditions of deep uncertainty”

Thank You Judith Curry!

Posted in climate change | Tagged | Leave a comment

The source of electric cars power is moot

One argument against electric cars is that the power may be just as dirty or even dirtier than coal. This argument is moot for a very simple reason:

The power source for electric cars – and thus the emissions from the production of the electricity – is changeable and variable over the lifetime of the vehicle. Today it may be powered by natural gas but tomorrow the source could be hydro or solar photo-voltaic. It is easy to change the emissions of a single power plant, the power source for a given number of electric cars is far easier to control or modify in the futureConversely it is all but impossible to change the emissions of 1 million fossil fueled vehicles.

Internal combustion emissions are fixed

Place 1 million combustion vehicles on the road and in the next 10 years the emissions they produce per mile of driving is fixed and cannot change. It is clearly prohibitive to try and retrofit 1 million vehicles.

Electric cars emissions are variable and changable

Place 1 million electric cars on the road and say that all of those cars are powered by several coal fired power plants. Now place scrubbing technology on the power plants and you have instantly modified the emissions for 1 million cars. Now change to gas fired plants and again you have modified 1 million vehicle emissions. Change on third of the power produced from hydro – currently reality in northern california – and again those emissions have changed.

The point here is that you can modify the emissions of an electric vehicle after it is placed on the road. The same cannot be said for internal combustion vehicles – at least at scale.

Posted in Electric Cars | Leave a comment

The solution to the electric car problem

The Solution: Freeway high speed charging

The highway infrastructure:

On major highways in densely populated urban area we need to add 2 sets of high voltage wires to the median that will be available to each side of the highway for the left (high speed) lane. These wires will run throughout heavily used freeways.

Vehicles equipped to automatically charge at high speed

Electric cars will be modified to have automatically extending charge connectors/arms that will extend and connect to the high voltage wires at speed. This process will be automated once the vehicle arrives in the left lane. When the car is in position the sensors will detect the charging wires and connect. This is the similar technology used by electric trains and buses so it is viable and proven. Clearly there are safety and technology issues that need to be sorted out, but these are not at all insurmountable.


The power provided from the hi-voltage freeway power lines will be free. This is a must because it will attract customers to electric cars.

The left lane will now be exclusively for electric cars. Carpool lanes will be replaced with electric only lanes. Minimum and maximum speeds will now be strictly enforced in this lane to ensure it moves freely and safely.

The holy grail:

By providing high speed power and charging for electric vehicles in hi traffic urban areas, we solve the the biggest issues with electric cars:

1) High speed with no battery loss. The primary problem with electric cars is that they expend the most energy on the freeway at high speeds. Without freeway charging this is a huge loss that requires large battery sets. By providing an automated, free and immediate electric infrastructure electric cars now use no net battery power to drive huge distances. Battery sets can be smaller.

2) Charging while driving. Electric cars are now charging while they drive. Forgot to charge your electric car overnight? No problem. You now can charge while you are driving at high speed.

Posted in Electric Cars | Tagged | Leave a comment

Electric cars are the best solution

Electric cars really are the solution. That seems like a stretch of an argument due to the current failings that the electric car industry is now producing. But I have a simple solution that would be far less costly than the current subsides that are now being laughed at in the press. Electric cars are the best solution, right now and in the future.

Electric cars are more efficient

Electric cars are FAR more efficient than gas powered cars. That is easy to understand because they pull direct power from the battery, run it down wires to power the motor and drive the wheels. Electric cars have roughly 80% efficiency while gas powered cars have about 35% efficiency. Read this for more info:

The problem: battery cost

Yes the problem with electric cars are that the batteries are prohibitively expensive and weigh a lot for a long range. What if we could solve this problem now? We can easily.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

LG front load washer ‘IE’ error

UPDATE: There is another screen behind each of the screens mentioned here. Furthermore it seems the area water company is having problems with algae. After cleaning all screens again the washer is working.

I have a front loading LG TROMM WM1814CW. Recently I began getting the ‘IE’ error message on the front every time I ran the regular cycle. This was accompanied by a low electronic buzzing noise during the cycle.

I checked the front filter near the bottom and although it had a small amount of debris, that did not stop the errors.

Finally I remembered that there are 2 small filters on the hot/cold water pipe inlets on the back of the machine. This is where the hoses are screwed into the back of the washer.

I unscrewed the hoses and found the filters looking like this:



















Next I cleaned the filters. They then looked like this:















This has fixed the problem.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

yum update problems

I had huge problems running yum update. It would barf and say

Error: <somepackagename> conflicts with somepackage
You could try using –skip-broken to work around the problem

It then dumped a whole bunch of pre-existing rpmdb problems:

** Found 306 pre-existing rpmdb problem(s), ‘yum check’ output follows:

When I tried to individually remove each package, some updated fine, and others gave me this problem:

Transaction Check Error:
package yum-plugin-fastestmirror-1.1.30-14.el6.noarch is already installed

Error Summary

Already installed???

so running:

rpm -e yum-plugin-fastestmirror
error: “yum-plugin-fastestmirror” specifies multiple packages:
[root@ns2 ~]#

followed by the original yum update .

A pain because of updating each package but slowly solves the problem


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Googl map infoWindow content and jquery mobile

After several days of messing with this I am throwing in the towel. My first intention was to create a jquery mobile ‘page’ dynamically based on data, enhance it to match the rest of the site, and pass it as the content to the infowindow. I discovered huge problems doing this.

I was only able to generate and display a properly formatted jquery mobile page as the content of the infowindow if I used an actual (hidden) page made for the purpose such as <div id=”infoWindowPage” data-role=”page”>. If I created the page (unattached to the DOM) it would not work. I then ran $ and $page.trigger(‘create’). Finally, I could only inject the html() into the infoWindow, it would not take the DOM node.

At this point, the content in the infoWindow was proper – but any events I had attached were gone. So I simply tried to attache ID’s to the buttons and attach handlers after the infoWindow was displayed. There was only one way I was able to do this, using live() – which is depricated.

At this point I realized that it just isn’t worth the effort. Trying to stuff the jquery mobile enhanced content into a google map infoWindow seems far more difficult than it is worth.

Really, all I need are those shiny buttons. So I have simply printed out the HTML content that composes the buttons and use this to generate the different buttons I need when using the infoWindow.

What a hassle!


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Jquery Mobile, googlemaps and infowindows

Learned to get google maps infowindows to properly display within jquery mobile dynamic pages.

I have a dynamic form created in JS. When the user submits the form I then need to switch to a (google) map and allow the user to place the post on the map. To do this I initially tried to call changepage() and immediately load the infowindow. I tried repeatedly resizing the map to refresh, but in all cases chrome would show an incomplete/small infowindow with scrollbars and not center the map properly. IE and FF worked fine.

The solution was to bind the infowindow generator function to the pageshow() event. This way the infowindow creation takes place at the right time. I guess I am still learning my way around jquery mobile.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Using a google map InfoWindow in jquery mobile

This drove me nuts. Trying to display a google map infoWindow in jquery mobile was always broken. I stumbed accross this:

So I added for my map canvas id:

#fbMap img {
max-width: none;


That fixed it. Thanks!


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment