Via Illinois State Climatologist Jim Angel, Australia's weather service has observed a growing ENSO event that has implications for the U.S.:
It is now likely (estimated at a greater than 70% chance) that an El Niño will develop during the southern hemisphere winter. Although the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is currently neutral, surface and sub-surface ocean temperatures have warmed considerably in recent weeks, consistent with a state of rapid transition. International climate models surveyed by the Bureau indicate continued warming of the central Pacific Ocean in coming months. Most models predict sea surface temperatures will reach El Niño thresholds during the coming winter season.
Accuweather says not to worry:
While El Niño will not have an impact on this spring and summer's severe weather, it may come on early enough and strong enough to have impact on the upcoming hurricane season in the Atlantic and Eastern Pacific.
Disruptive winds, known as wind shear, often develop off the Atlantic coast of the United States and sweep over a large part of the basin during El Niño.
The greatest effects on the weather pattern in the Lower 48 states, including California, occur during the cold season.
El Niño winters are noted for wet and stormy conditions in the South and less-frequent, less-severe cold episodes in the Northern states.
There is a tendency toward dry conditions in the Northwest and North Central states during an El Niño winter.
A nice, warm, dry winter next year would be super. Here's hoping.
Via AVWeb, the FAA has announced a proposed rulemaking that would eliminate the 3rd class medical requirement for most small-plane pilots (like me):
The FAA on April 2 announced plans to go through a rulemaking process that could result in expanding the number of pilots eligible to fly without the need for a third-class medical certificate. The announcement comes two years after AOPA and the Experimental Aircraft Association jointly petitioned the FAA to expand the third-class medical exemption to cover more pilots and aircraft.
The rulemaking effort, which the FAA is calling the “Private Pilot Privileges without a Medical Certificate” project, will consider whether to allow private pilots to fly without a third-class medical certificate in certain circumstances. Instead, pilots will be able to use other criteria, including a valid driver’s license, to demonstrate their fitness to fly. The agency offered no other details of the planned rulemaking.
The FAA has announced plans to go through a rulemaking process that could result in thousands more pilots being allowed to fly without a third-class medical.Legislation to expand the medical exemption has been gaining momentum in both the House and Senate. That legislation, known as the General Aviation Pilot Protection Act, would go a step further than the AOPA-EAA petition. Under the General Aviation Pilot Protection Act, pilots who make noncommercial VFR flights in aircraft weighing up to 6,000 pounds with no more than six seats would be exempt from the third-class medical certification process. Pilots would be allowed to carry up to five passengers, fly at altitudes below 14,000 feet msl, and fly no faster than 250 knots. The FAA would be required to report on the safety consequences of the new rule after five years.
That would be great. I haven't had an aviation medical in a while, and it's one of three things keeping me from flying lately. (The other two are time and money.) The medical certification process never seemed particularly onerous, but it is expensive ($200 or so) and time consuming (find an AME, go to the AME, get the exam, go home). I hope the legislation and the rules both pass.
Yesterday I migrated this blog and four other ASP.NET websites from a Windows 2008 Microsoft Azure virtual machine (VM) to a brand-new Windows 2012 R2 VM. I did this because Microsoft has announced the end-of-life for Windows 2008 VMs on June 1st, so I thought I'd get a jump on it.
VMs usually mean never having to say "reinstall." Unfortunately, since this involved upgrading three steps at once, I decided it would be simpler just to launch a new VM and migrate the applications using FTP.
Seven hours and 25 minutes later, everything works, and I've archived the old VM's virtual hard disk (VHD). Why did it take 7:25 to complete?
Forget it. I'm not reliving those hours. I will say only that at least 90 minutes of that time was completely wasted because my AT&T Uverse FiOS line doesn't...quite...make it to my building, limiting it to 1.5 Mbps. Yes, I have a 1.5 Mbps Internet line. While waiting for things to download and upload yesterday, I spoke with them, and they assured me that I have the fastest Uverse service available to me.
Which brings up the other problem with doing so much in Microsoft Azure: you need good Internet connectivity. Which I don't have. Which meant I spent a lot of time yesterday rubbing Parker's belly and cursing AT&T.
You can't actually see it, but I've upgraded the Microsoft Azure VM that this blog runs on to a brand-spanking-new Windows Server 2012 box.
In fact, it's so transparent, the only purpose of this blog entry is to make sure I can make blog entries.
Seriously, this means absolutely nothing to anyone else. Except that, since Microsoft was going to kill the old VM automatically sometime in June, this is a good thing.
It's not a big anniversary, but it still bears mentioning. On 5 April 1614, John Rolfe married Pocahontas in Virginia Colony.
It's difficult to imagine what her life was like, what were the circumstances of her marriage beyond official records, or how she dealt with London. To me, the story has always sounded a bit non-consensual. But the world of 1614 was so alien from our own world, even in England and America, it's likely no one had even an analog to our modern notion of "consent."
Still, it's an interesting anniversary.
The Cubs lost 7-2 yesterday, and we didn't even stay to the end. It was depressing. Here's the happy scene before play commenced:
You can't quite see the 40 km/h winds blowing in from left field, nor can you see how I was in long johns, four layers, a winter coat, hat, hoodie, scarf, and gloves, because it was 3 frickin' degrees C.
Today and tomorrow should have better weather, and we should actually have spring weather by Thursday. And the Cubs, having now won only 25% of the games they've played this season, might win a game.
Then, while walking home from the game, I discovered what we in software might call a "human-factors" failure. Note to the City: you may not want to pour fresh concrete walking distance from Wrigley on opening day during high winds that might knock down the barriers. Otherwise you'll get a permanent record of (a) a barrier having fallen into fresh concrete and (b) that drunk people were nearby at the time:
Don't get me wrong; I'm not blaming the victim, who in this case would be the City of Chicago. But, come on, that concrete was practically asking for it. Maybe it shouldn't have gone out alone in Wrigleyville on opening day.
A little. Not a lot:
Today: A 20 percent chance of showers. Cloudy, with a high near 7°C*. Windy, with a south wind 24 to 32 km/h becoming west southwest 40 to 48 km/h in the afternoon. Winds could gust as high as 72 km/h.
So, high winds blowing straight out? Probably won't exactly be a pitchers' duel then.
Photos and details coming after the game.
* Did you know you can hover over these dashed lines to see the Imperial conversions? I've been doing this for years, but not everyone seems to know about the feature. Enjoy.
And sometimes, it rains. That's the forecast for tomorrow's opening day at Wrigley Field.
So far the Cubs haven't won, though. They're 0-2 for the season, starting their third game at Pittsburgh in just a few minutes.
Crains reports this morning that a local Chicago technology start-up (not mine) has just gotten a ton of money:
Bswift LLC, a healthcare-benefits software firm, has received $51 million from a private-equity fund to keep up with torrid growth.
The Chicago-based company has been growing at more than 40 percent annually for the past four years and is enjoying a surge in demand, in part because of the Affordable Care Act. Bswift's technology is used by companies to provide comparison shopping, enrollment and administration of health insurance benefits. It also operates insurance exchanges for private and public markets.
Bswift's business is exploding. Headcount at the firm, which is based in the West Loop, has soared to more than 300 from 165 a year ago. A year ago, the company had expected to hire 100 people over three years.
“We've added 45 people since the beginning of the year,” [Bswift CEO Rich] Gallun said. “We'll be over 400 by the end of the year.”
Wow. And whoa. And woe.
That's really good news for Bswift's owners and stakeholders. I'm concerned what it's like to work there, though. Managing any growth taxes the abilities of any manager or business owner. Growing staff by 5% every month—they've added 45 employees this year alone—has to be a strain.
I'm curious what it's like over there right now, and how they're managing the growth. With this infusion of cash, they're going to have a lot of pressure to grow even faster. How will they maintain their culture? How will they manage quality and delivery? What do their clients think?
It's official: the meteorological winter (December 1 to March 31) that just ended was Chicago's coldest winter in history:
The impressive cold this past winter continued during March...with a monthly average temperature of only
-0.2°C for the month. this ranks as the 19th coldest march on record in Chicago. however...of
even more interest is the fact that with the abnormally cold March across the area...this made the average temperature for the December through March period in Chicago
...which is the coldest such period on record for Chicago dating back to 1872!
On the other hand, the same period was one of the warmest winters ever globally. Both things are likely related, but we won't know for a while until more data comes in.
Meanwhile, here's the forecast for opening day at Wrigley the day after tomorrow:
A chance of rain and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 8°C. Breezy, with a south wind 25 to 30 km/h becoming southwest 35 to 40 km/h in the afternoon. Winds could gust as high as 60 km/h. Chance of precipitation is 40%.
At least our seats are under the awning.