November, 2012

Weekend Thread

November 30th, 2012 at 1:41 pm by under Bill's Blog, Weather

  The NAM (Caribou) gives G.R. a high of 58 on Saturday.  The Ionia electric light parade is this Friday evening.   Holiday/Christmas parades Saturday in Wyoming-Kentwood (10 AM), Middleville (10 AM), Ada (11 AM), Rockford (11 AM), Saugatuck (1 PM), White Lake (2 PM), Lowell (6 PM), Grand Haven (6 PM), St. Joseph (4 PM), Hastings (2 PM) (who am I missing?).  Portage has a tree lightning at 7 PM Saturday (G.R. is 5:30 PM today – Friday).  It’s the 69th year for the Santa Claus Parade in Rockford – it’s been around longer than me!  Is Coopersville doing a parade this year? (pic. from McConomy Photography in Hudsonville).   Here’s the college football schedule, including the Big Ten Championship game between Nebraska and my alma mater, Wisconsin.   I’m betting that the BCS is hoping Nebraska wins, so they don’t have a team with 5 losses in the BCS (in place of a more deserving SEC team).  I wonder if Kent State wins big if they don’t wonder why they can’t get in BCS.   Indianapolis comes to Ford Field on Sunday to take on the Lions.  ESPN says that game is on CBS, while the FOX early game is Seattle and Da Bears.

I’ll wait for the final word from the GRR NWS, but it looks like this November may be the 3rd driest ever in G.R.  I’ve got the average temperature for November in G.R. at 0.1 degree cooler than average (so essentially average).  This is the fourth month in a row with average temperatures in G.R. (August exactly average, September +0.1 degree, October -0.2 degree).  I’ve got Kalamazoo at -1.2 degrees for November and -0.5 degree for the period from August 1 to November 30.

The last 60 in December was in 2008.   The first 5 days of Dec. 1982 had high temperatures of 59, 67, 63, 50, 63.   After that we had highs of 65 on Christmas Day and 61 on the 28th.   We also had 7 consecutive record high temperatures from March 1-7, inc. a 72 on March 3.  That winter we had just 36.2″ of snow, with the heaviest snow of 8″ coming on March 20-21 (the first day of spring).


Review: “Life of Pi” is amazing

November 30th, 2012 at 8:06 am by under Entertainment

An emotional journey combined with vibrant visuals make “Life of Pi” one of the most captivating movies of 2012.

The story comes from the best-selling novel by Yann Martel – a book that was allegedly considered “unfilmable” … but thanks to director Ang Lee we get a movie that is both beautiful and captivating… a feast for the eyes and the mind.

“Life of Pi” poster Courtesy Fox 2000 Pictures

(My spoiler-free review)

This is a marvelous accomplishment, and I have not read the book… so I can’t tell you if it does the book justice… but I can tell you it is the best looking survival movie I’ve ever seen.

A movie about a story of survival – told in flashbacks – where we know the fate of the main character and spend most of the movie on a lifeboat… sounds like it could be anti-climatic and boring.

But “Life of Pi” is a journey that is immersive, intriguing, and had me wondering what would happen next.  The vibrant visuals were not a distraction from the storytelling… this story that is so amazing and unbelievable that it just might be true.  Lee’s vision is so amazing from the confines of the lifeboat that play out like a one room stage act… to the beautiful images like the colorful glow of neon algae out in the middle of the ocean – we get so much more than just a young man that is thirsty and hungry and stranded at sea.    These are wonderful images that will stay with you long after the credits have rolled.  There is life all around him… and it all looks beautiful – from the colors of his childhood home, to the animals he encounters on this strange trek, to the water that often looks like glass, reflecting the sky above.

This is more than just an incredible tale of survival… of apparently 227 days at sea (although we never get a clear count in the movie)…  “Life of Pi”  is about courage, growing up, friendship, faith, hope, perseverance, and understanding yourself.

The title character, “Pi” has to deal with the accident that leaves him stranded on a lifeboat with a Tiger… this is no “Castaway” (2000) with Tom Hanks talking to “Wilson”.  We get a confined space with our main character stuck with a fearsome tiger and other animals.  But this is no ordinary tiger, this one he’s known for most of his life… so there’s an interesting history that’s laid out for us to follow.  There is a blend of real and CG Tigers that were hard to distinguish from each other and thus, not distracting, considering the supporting character for half the movie – the 2nd most important in this story – is a ferocious Bengal tiger that has no lines of dialogue… at least not any human dialogue.

Suraj Sharma in “Life of Pi” photo Courtesy Fox 2000 Pictures

We get lots of character development for “Pi”… and Indian boy who grew up in a Zoo in French India, accepted Hindu, Catholic, and Muslim religions, and moved to Canada.   As we see his childhood, we get the two sources for his name and meet his family – all important moments in his life.  We don’t spend the entire movie on the lifeboat, we get background on important life shaping moments that impact his time lost at sea.

The biggest relationship in this movie is not with his uncle, his parents, or his brother… its with his fellow castaway.  Just as an adopted pet has to get used to its new owner… Pi and the tiger need  to form a bond for the sake of survival.

While “Pi” is telling the man that is going to write about his story (clever plot device) that his journey will “make me believe in God”… I think the movie is a better showcase for film making, than a promoter of religion.  Even though some of the visuals seem to get a little far fetched and existential … its hard to argue that spending more than 200 days at sea wouldn’t have anyone seeing some things.

THE BOTTOM LINE: (more…)


Video from inside a Tornado

November 30th, 2012 at 12:45 am by under Bill's Blog, Weather

  You may have seen this video (it’s been on the Weather Channel and elsewhere) of a tornado in the town of Silves, on the south shore of Portugal on Nov. 16th.  The tornado has been estimated to be a weak EF3 at its strongest point.  Thirteen people treated for injuries at a local hospital.  Most of the injured where in vehicles that were overturned by the twister.   The tornado ripped the roof off a school and left hundreds temporarily homeless.   The storm was accompanied by heavy rain and strong winds.   Here’s more video and pictures.  A second tornado (a much weaker EF0 hit 10 kilometers away at Alvor.   On Nov. 6, 1954, a tornado hit Castelo Branco, Portugal.  There were four fatalities and approximately 200 were injured in that storm.

Also, looks like the entire Lower 48 states will have above average temperatures to December, with the cold locked into NW Canada and Alaska.


Blizzard in Japan (and China and Russia and Canada and…)

November 29th, 2012 at 11:40 pm by under Bill's Blog, Weather

    Check out the video of a blizzard on the island of Hokkaido in northern Japan.  Up to 26″ of snow was reported, along with severe drifting.  Wind gusts on the higher mountains were as fast as 94 mph.  Fifty-six thousand customers lost electric power.   Trees, power lines and a ten-meter tower were toppled by the fierce winds.  Roads and train tracks were blocked by fallen trees.  Seventy-three schools were closed.  Thundersnow was reported with the storm and there were several minor injuries.  More video here.

And…Moscow has had its heaviest November snowfall in 50 years.   Look at this, China’s biggest snowstorm in 52 years…and temperatures as cold as -14!  See the 8 pictures at the link.  Thousands of trees were toppled and many livestock perished.  90% of Canada now has a snow coverRegina, Saskatchewan has had their snowiest month ever…in November!  They’ve already had more snow than they had all last winter!  Closer to home, a foot of snow on the ground at Twin Lakes in the U.P.  and they’ve had a little snow at Mt. Baker in Washington State.    The Antarctic icecap remains much bigger than average (and still bigger than one year ago).  Note that the ocean surface water temperatures are colder than average pretty much all around Antarctica (and in the SE U.S. and around Alaska).   The Arctic icecap had it’s biggest monthly areal growth ever in October after reaching a historic minimum in September.  The icecap is now significantly bigger than it was on this date five years ago.    The European model long-range output predicts a return to near normal temperatures and snowfall during the week before Christmas.   One last note:  They pulled the south Lake Michigan buoy out yesterday.  If you know someone responsible for that…thank them for leaving it in this late into the season.  It’s nice to have the water temperatures and wave heights in October and November.


Review: “Skyfall” is one of the best Bond’s ever

November 29th, 2012 at 11:38 pm by under Entertainment

How do you improve on “Casino Royale” (2006) - one of the best Bond movies in more than a decade?

Give Bond a better villain to deal with.  Put your heroes in peril.  Get a great script with a intriguing storyline and really good performances from a solid cast… then shake up those ingredients (don’t stir them)… and you get “Skyfall”.

“Skyfall” poster Courtesy MGM-SONY

(My spoiler-free review)

Daniel Craig is the new generation Bond.  His 2006 portrayal in the series reboot may have bothered some, but he brought new life, and a harder edge to a character that, with a few exceptions to the 20 previous movies, had become campy and over-the-top.

We still get some humor and the occasional double entendre, but this Bond is tough, bold, and the world around him is darker.  Where “Quantum of Solace” (2008) faltered, “Skyfall” delivers…and even surpasses “Casino Royale”.

The action, the villain, the story, the script, the chases, the opening sequence, all the action sequences, the twists… plus the production values are better: cinematography, editing, costumes, sets, effects, etc… its looks better and feels better.  The entire style of storytelling from director Sam Mendes and writers Neal Purvis and John Logan is more polished than the last two outings.

Craig is great in his third outing as Bond, this time dealing with deeper, darker issues than before, facing his own fears and battling his own demons, all while trying to save the world and her Majesty’s Secret Service.  Judi Dench reprises her roles as “M” for the 3rd time with Craig and her 7th time overall, she gets a lot more screen time as a character just as important as Bond this time around.  She commands the screen in every scene she’s in and is the good balancing out Javier Bardem’s bad.

And boy is Bardem’s “Silva” bad.  Remember his Oscar winning performance in 2007′s “No Country for Old Men”?  His on screen menace is similiar, but this baddie is more diabolical and scheming than outright in your face bad.  That role was a different kind of crazy, both are scary, but this bad guy is the best Bond nemesis since Christopher Walken in “A View to a Kill” (1985).

Ralph Fiennes and Albert Finney add credibility and strength to the cast, while Naomie Harris, Bérénice Marlohe, and  Ben Whishaw bring young energy and class to round out this solid ensemble.

Daniel Craig and Javier Bardem in “Skyfall” photo Courtesy MGM-SONY

If you’ve heard me talk (or write) before about the difference between a movie being good or great… or a movie being good or terrible… I have often pointed out character development.  For me, you can have the best action sequences, best camera work, stunts, plot, and so on… but if I don’t care about the characters – none of it matters.  If there’s no chemistry between the characters or connection between the audience and the characters… they won’t care what happens to them.  In a romance, the audience has to have a connection, or you won’t care if the couple ends up together in the end.  In a mystery/thriller/suspense/horror movie – you won’t care if the main character solves the puzzle and/or survives – if the audience isn’t connected.  Same thing in a action/sci-fi/fantasy/war/western – you can put the main characters through all kinds of great action, but if you don’t get the audience to care, they won’t be as emotionally impacted by the cliffhangers of the story… or the potential loss of a main character.

“Skyfall”gives me character development… some characters are fleshed out so quickly, that it feels like we’ve known them for more than just a few scenes, and the ones that we’ve known for several movies get all new depth and reach new levels of emotional connectivity with the audience.  This is all thanks to a plot device that works almost everytime – put your main characters in peril… when they face adversity and come out the other side we have more respect and understanding for them (even if they lose a hand, lose friends, almost die, or face the power of the Ark).

THE BOTTOM LINE: (more…)


Full Moon

November 28th, 2012 at 10:22 pm by under Bill's Blog, Weather

   The full moon is shining through some high clouds.  The “star” near the moon is the planet Jupiter.  The pic. on the right is the moon and Jupiter to the upper left (from Jack Martin).  I managed to get to Allegan between the 6 PM and 10 PM newscasts to speak to the AWANA kids at First Baptist Church.  On the way back on route 222 you could see a couple of jet contrails on either side of the moon.  Temperatures this evening have fallen into the 20s in inland areas, while beach temperatures are in the low-mid 40s.

Check out the new app for www.woodtv.com.


New apps for woodtv.com

November 28th, 2012 at 1:35 pm by under Inside WOOD TV8

WOODTV.com has provided news, weather and information to you through mobile apps since 2009. Over the years, we’ve released several upgrades to our mobile apps to help support new devices and their new features.

As part of a continuous drive to provide our viewers with the most innovative news coverage across all devices, we’ve significantly upgraded our apps in the last few days to take advantage of exciting new features of mobile devices.

This also means we’re asking you to install a new app on your iPad, iPhone or Android device. To install the new WOODTV.com app, you can click through to get the iOS version or the Android version. You’ll also want to delete this current app to prevent confusion and to continue to receive the same level of coverage you’ve counted on from WOODTV.com.

Some Frequently Asked Questions
Where are the school closings? These will appear when closings are in effect. When that happens a big red alert symbol will appear at the top of ever page. You can tap the alert symbol to see the closings. Additionally, you can find the alerts by going to the Weather section in the Menu.

Where are the weather alerts? Just like school closings, the weather alerts appear when in effect. The big red alert symbol will appear at the top of every page when this happens.

Where is the back button? In the upper-right corner of every story page is a grey triangle that can be tapped to go back. In future releases, a back button will be added to the bottom of the page.

Why is the Menu button so small? It appears to be smaller than it is. You can tap the WOOD logo to activate the menu.

Why are we changing?
The app you are currently using is being discontinued in favor of a new app from WOODTV.com. To continue receiving all the news, information, weather alerts, closings and more delivered right to your device, we are requiring users of our older apps to install a new one. This means users of our tablet, smartphone and mobile apps will now receive the same features simultaneously with each new release.

Why can’t I continue to use the current app?
WOODTV.com strives to provide the latest technologies and take advantage of the latest features of cell phones, smartphones, tablets and eReaders—all in a single app that works across all devices. Unfortunately, the app you are using is incompatible with this goal. It is being disabled and will no longer receive new updates and news from WOODTV.

What do I need to do?
You’ll need to install our new app on your device. To install the new WOODTV.com app, you can click through to get the iOS version or the Android version. You’ll also want to make sure you delete this current app from your phone or tablet to prevent confusion so that you can continue to receive the same level of coverage you’ve counted on from WOODTV.com.

What’s new about this app?
We’ve listened to our viewers, and added the features that prepare you for your day—by providing up to the minute weather alerts, closings, and news alerts—all in the palm of your hand. Some features and improvements include:
Easier to use: We’ve improved every aspect of the new app—from the navigation to the display of stories. Larger images and headlines, one-click video, succinct and easier navigation and easier-to-find related stories.
An improved weather experience: Our new and improved interactive radar provides FutureCast, animated radars, tons of additional overlays (including snow totals, rain totals and temperature forecasts); an improved forecast page and nearly instant severe weather alerts to keep you and your family safe.
A more robust app: We’ve introduced lots of new features, such as live streaming, breaking news alerts and an improved weather experience. Not only have we introduced new features, we’ve upgraded our app to allow us to add new features without having to upgrade your app.
ReportIt! integration: Now you can submit photos, videos and news tips directly through the app. Now, when you snap a photo of a weather or news event, it’s even easier to send in your news directly to our staff.


Tornado in Italy

November 28th, 2012 at 1:16 pm by under Bill's Blog, News, Weather

   Check out the video of the tornado in Taranto, Italy.  The twister injured at least 20 (some reports now say 1 missing and 40 injured.  The tornado hit at 11:30 AM Weds. – local time (5:30 AM EST) – and damage appears to be at least EF2.  Here’s a link to more video and picturesTaranto is in southern Italy on the Mediterranean Sea.  Here’s video of a tornado that hit the city in Oct. 2010.

Note:  The north mid-lake Michigan buoy was retrieved either yesterday or this morning.  The south buoy (40 miles west of Holland) was still there at Noon today showing a water temp. of 47.8, 3.3 foot waves and an air temperature of 35.2.  The satellite loop shows mostly sunny skies across our area.


A Little Sunshine

November 28th, 2012 at 2:07 am by under Bill's Blog, Weather

   Check out the snowman here at Krupp’s Resort at Twin Lakes in the U.P.  That’s over a foot of snow, an afternoon temperature Tuesday of 20 degrees and you can see the lake is freezing over.  After a few overnight snow showers and flurries (looks like an inch of new snow in many areas north of I-96), we should see a little sunshine today (Weds.) and Thurs.  There was a nice halo around the moon for a few hours last night, before the clouds thickened up.  We’ll be in the mid-upper 30s during the day today.  The overnight NAM (Caribou) model gives G.R. a high of 39 today, 47 tomorrow and 44 on Friday with generally dry conditions.   The GFS gives G.R. 0.05″ of what could be a mix of precipitation Friday AM with temperatures of 32-35 (which means main roads would just be wet, even if we got snow).   For high temperatures starting with Weds., the GFS has 38,43,38,47,54,56, with the cold front coming thru about early afternoon Tues.   The model gives us 0.2″ of rain mainly Sat. night then more rain with the front on Tuesday and a windy, cold day with snow showers next Weds.  The European gives G.R. 0.07″ of precipitation Friday AM (light rain or a mix) with temps. also of 32-36 (wet roads).  It has quite (relatively) warm air over us with temperatures in the low-mid 50s from Sat. PM until the front comes thru Tues. around noon.  The European has our temperature reaching 60 on Monday.  The last time we reached 60 in December was in 2008.  The warmest day ever in Dec. was 12/5/2001 with a high of 69.  In Dec. 1982 we had five days with highs from 61 to 67.  The warmest Dec. in G.R. was 1889, followed by 1923, 1982 and 1931.


Holland Parade Was Tonight

November 27th, 2012 at 2:49 am by under Bill's Blog, Weather

  Click the pic. to enlarge.  Tonight is the Parade of Lights in Holland at 6:30 PM.   The weather should be cool and it should be a great parade.  If by chance you get a break in the clouds this Tues.  AM, look for Venus and Saturn snuggled real close together.  Here’s a picture.  There is a weak, penumbral lunar eclipse that you can glimpse if we get a break in the clouds Weds. early AM as the moon sets in the west.  The moon will be right next to Jupiter on the evening of the 28thThe full moon on the 28th is called the “Beaver Moon”.  Here’s when you can see the International Space Station fly overhead.

The afternoon weather data:  The NAM (Caribou) gives G.R. highs of 39 Weds, 48 Thurs., and 53 on Friday (it could only get that warm on Fri. if the warm front gets thru and that’s pretty iffy).  G.R. stays dry with an inch of snow tonight up toward Cadillac and points north tonight…guess there could be a trace north of G.R. The GFS is similar…dry until early Friday AM with highs of 37 on Weds. and 42 on Thursday, with a big warm-up and temperatures in the 50s early next week (the GFS takes G.R. t0 57 Monday evening/night).  The GFS gives G.R. 0.14″ of probably cold rain on Friday.  The European gives G.R. just 0.01″ Friday, then half an inch of rain mainly Sat. night…with showers thru Monday and temperatures in the upper 50s Monday night.   There’s no sign of any significant snow in the next week.   The GFS model for early December has much warmer than average temperatures over much of the Lower 48 states and the Arctic with colder than average temperatures across Western Canada, Alaska and Siberia.  CFS says colder and snowier as we approach Christmas.

Snowcover Tues. AM:  1″ Scottville…3″ Houghton Lake, Traverse City…5″ Newberry…6″ Gaylord, Kalkaska, Marquette…7″ Ironwood…9″ Munising…10″ Sault Ste. Marie…13″ Grand Marais and Twin Lakes.  Here’s radar of the East Coast storm.  This is the 2nd snowstorm of the month (plus Sandy) for much of this area.  Today’s storm is not a big one…the most snow in Pennsylvania as of 1 PM was 4.3″.