Shadows of shadows passing...

It's raining here, pretty heavily in general though it had lightened up at lunch.  For most of the world, a rain shower isn't a big deal; to most Los Angeles natives, it is, if anything, something to be glad about.  However, most of the city is populated by transplants who came here fleeing snow and ice and rain and all manner of precipitation; to them, clouds in paradise are the end of the world.

Realistically, there's a legitimate danger from flash floods and such in various places - contrary to popular belief, LA is not a desert but a basin surrounded by hills and mountains; I have streams and a literal waterfall within walking distance of my apartment in non-drought seasons.  The canyons, though, are mostly rock and stone and, thus, become very quick to develop falls and slides with even a slight bit of moisture.

Sitting here, at work, I've actually gotten more than a handful of local-area flash flood warnings on my cell.

It's actually a random coincidence that I've lately been thinking about my next vacation and to where I'd like to go.  At the moment, I have enough frequent flyer miles to go pretty much anywhere in at least business class, round-trip; the question, though, is how much I want to spend on the rest of the adventure.  Like, I do want to go to Kauai at some point, and I've even picked out the hotel where I'd like to stay; it's just that it's $300 a night.  I also still want to go to Europe (mainly Ireland and London to start), the Caribbean, Key West (yes, it's basically the Caribbean, but still), Cairns, and French Polynesia as well.

Decisions, decisions.

I might just stay in-state (it's been ages since I've been to Yosemite or the sequoias, and I didn't get to Guerneville this last winter so I'm kind of missing trees) for my birthday and save up miles and money for something larger or grander later.  I have a couple of months before I really have to make a decision, however.

Hope everyone's doing mostly well.

Ding dong the ridge is dead

For those who don't know (which is probably most of the world), the massive dry spell California has been suffering since December was being caused by a high-pressure ridge off the coast of Alaska.  It was diverting the Jetstream north a bit, which then hooked down almost across the rockies and created the "polar vortex" effect that the Midwest and Eastern US has been enduring (and which seems to be also causing massive flooding in the UK).

This high-pressure ridge was there for so long without moving or dissipating that it became half-jokingly known as "the ridiculously resilient ridge".

Now, blue skies and 80-degree temps in January are nice to a point, but you have to realize that Central California is one of the major food production areas in the country (and in some areas in the world): less than 1% of the nation's land by area creates over 8% of the produce in the country.

This ridge, by forcing the Jetstream to skip California, has been endangering the US food supply in a massive way.

Until last weekend, when it finally broke apart.  SoCal has only gotten a few showers, but there is now flooding in parts of the state north of San Francisco, and hopefully the snow pack on the mountains will begin to build up.

The ironic part is that the driest January in California history is likely about to head into an El Nino wet season.  Bring on the rain!

I'm heading to Tampa for a conference next week.  I'm not necessarily looking forward to it - I'm spending the entire time hanging out in a hall at a booth, mostly by myself - but it'll be something different at least.

During the dry spell, I noticed a few hummingbirds coming up and poking at the little white flowers on my basil plants.  This seemed kind of desperate to me, so I bought a shepherd's hook and a hummingbird feeder and kind of nestled it in the middle of the basil.  Since then, I've had at least three hummingbirds come by regularly - including one who likes to "stand guard" and chase others away except for the one female that I think is his mate.

They're actually pretty comfortable with me.  I was out watering my plants earlier - including the planter where the feeder sits - and they'd buzz up, "zot" at me a bit (this kind actually makes noise, kind of like an electric click), and then start drinking out of the feeder.  I can even move around the patio slowly and they don't get jumpy.  I think I'll call the guard "Henry"; as I was heading outside to water, I just randomly thought, "I hope Henry doesn't get too mad at me," so I guess that's his name now.