What I’m Reading This Week (to 1/28)

(A catchup to a series I started late last year.  It’s been an extraordinarily busy few weeks, as you might imagine, but here are some links you might like.  There are others I’ve found, but will mention them in some posts this week.)

1. Lord Grantham barks, “Be ashamed!”

My colleague Paul Balcerak posted an article from Salon.com which delves into the seedy underworld of purveyors and traffickers of illegally distributed episodes of…

“Downton Abbey”.

The article explains the international dilemma as “Downton” runs on British broadcaster ITV many weeks before it airs on PBS.

Some of those who just can’t wait are taking to the Internet, apparently easily finding the most recent episodes and getting way ahead of their fellow Americans.

The downloaders are completely in the wrong.  Legally and morally.

Though, as a fan of the series, I understand the temptation.  It’s a great work, and I’m glad I don’t work Mondays as I work on Sunday nights when it airs here.

It’s waiting for me on my DVR when I get home.  And Hugh Bonneville — aka Lord Grantham — says that’s exactly where it should be.

Now, those of you who are getting your “torrent” of “Downton” ahead of the rest of us, I ask you:

As a kid, did you also sneak a peek under the wrapping paper on your Christmas presents?

All right, maybe that’s an unfair question.  I did once or twice too.

Read: “Is it OK to steal ‘Downton Abbey”?’ on Salon.com

2. How to cheat on your just-for-fun-and-absolutely-legal Super Bowl squares game

If your co-workers see this article printed out on your desk, you probably aren’t going to weasel your way out of their death-ray stares.

But perhaps by then, you’ll already have locked down your squares!

The Saturday Wall Street Journal did some number-crunching and came up with something that’s pretty obvious to any football fan:

Zero and zero is a really good choice in a squares game (also interestingly called a “box pool.”)

Threes and sevens are also good.  But if those are taken, you have some more obscure choices that are better than others.

And the WSJ admonishes you: “Stay away from the fives”.

Read “How to cheat in the Super Bowl office pool*” on WSJ.com

Mr. Brady looks like he approves.

3. I’ll take an aisle seat, please.

A spot between two 18,000 foot mountains in the Himalayas sounds like an incredible place to visit.

However, I suggest the travel agent not use the saying: “Getting there is half the fun.”

Business Insider mentions the Paro Airport in Bhutan has such a challenging approach that it’s one of the “most dangerous airports in the world.”

Read: “There are only 8 pilots in the world that are qualified to fly to this airport” on Business Insider

And the YouTube video of the approach:

What I’m Reading (12/25-1/1) and My New Projects for the New Year

Happy New Year!  It was great to share the Midnight hour with some of my new KIRO 7 colleagues and take in the fireworks show at the Space Needle (which is conveniently located just outside the station’s front door).

I have a few pictures I snapped of the fireworks, and this shot is the first in my year-long project “See My Sky” or “SMS,” which will be a photograph I will take each day of my sky, wherever I happen to be.  They’ll be geo-tagged too, which will be an interesting (at least to me) journal of sorts of what I’m doing or where I am.

And of course, just about every photo I take, be it Instagram or with my good old Nikon SLR will be on my Flickr photostream.  (By the way, I’m “morganpalmerweather” on Instagram if you want to follow me there.)

Here is a rundown of the many catches this week on my blog roll of 215 blogs (a list of which I will publish soon):

1. New Year’s Eve before Dick Clark

Was there such a thing?  Hard to believe, but there were celebrations in New York and elsewhere on the east coast before the venerable eternal teenager began ringing in the New Year on ABC Television.

Radio covered the celebrations, and while I am unsure of the year, this Seattle Times article reprinted on SeaTacRadio.com showed one New Year’s Eve celebration when Seattle area radio went silent so listeners could pick up radio coverage of celebrations from points east when they celebrated the clock striking Midnight.

Just how many people could clearly hear those signals isn’t known.  AM radio signals have a difficult time propagating west over the Rocky Mountains and most home radio sets were likely not equipped with antenna systems sufficiently large and complex to pick up those distant stations clearly.

Still, this old-time radio nut thinks the scheme was pretty cool.

2. Things we didn’t know in 2011, from the BBC

This is a neat article chock full of sourced tidbits of information about random interesting facts.

I covered #94 (the wasps) in a previous post.

I’m also a big fan of #70.

3. Famous last tweets

The New York Times Magazine collected the last tweets of some of those who departed this world in 2011.

Some are mundane. Others are haunting.

There’s the link through Mashable.

4. Who would admit to this in a newspaper story?

Turns out that with the advent of online shopping, plenty of people are winding up with the FedEx or UPS delivery truck showing up often… after getting a little snookered and firing up their computers.

After reading the New York Times story, I then wonder why there aren’t more wine bars and beer kiosks in shopping malls.

I suppose that while it might boost sales, it might also boost shoplifting and general mayhem.

5. I get Pinterest, but just don’t know what I’ll get out of it

There’s a Mashable article on this hot new social network.

I don’t know, I’ll keep poking around on it, but it doesn’t fit what I do online at this point.  That’s just me.

(Update: My friend Evonne suggested I Pinterest my See My Sky pics.  I shall!  And we’ll see where it goes!)

Have a great week. -MP

What I’m Reading This Week (Dec. 19-25)

Very short list this holiday week as the news world is slow and it’s been busy in the weather department.

More to come through New Year’s Day!  Merry Christmas.

Some interesting articles this week:

1. Do you really need to “turn off all electronic devices” in an aircraft?

Interesting test results in the Bits digital blog of the New York Times.

2. How to use Twitter the right way.

From LockerGnome.  I especially agree with the auto-direct message admonition.  Amen.


What I’m Reading (Dec. 12-18)

I was going to start with Santa Claus, but with news of the past two days, the big guy’s now batting fifth.

1. All eyes turn toward Pyongyang

Sitting in the Eyewitness News studio, I’m watching news of the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il.

A blog I’ve followed for quite some time is North Korean Leadership Watch, with posts by Michael Madden of Boston.  It’s quite fascinating, and he clearly has a finger on the pulse of goings-on in that regime.   Posts are sporadic, but when he does write, it’s usually with fascinating news.

I have always been interested about life in “imprisoned” nations, to borrow the term from President Kennedy’s Cuban Missile Crisis address (one of my favorite speeches).

Perhaps its being a child of the cold war and growing up next to an nuclear-equipped Air Force Base which has made me most interested about life inside highly-controlled nations of present and those in the former Soviet bloc..

North Korea is arguably the most mysterious country on Earth, and that fascinates me to no end.

2. The start of a remarkable journey in China

Staying in Asia, just this evening, a Facebook post from my friend and former co-worker Kathy Vitale caught my eye.

Kathy worked as a producer at KLTV in Tyler, Texas when I did news and weather at that station.  She then moved on to KUSA in Denver.

Leaving that position a few weeks ago, she moved all the way to Shanghai, China.  Kathy’s a really great person and a wonderful writer.  I’m glad she’s sharing her stories.

Check out her blog, “Sharing my world with 23 million people.”

That’s the population of Shanghai!

Be sure to read her post “No Words, Just Clamps.”  It’s about the required initial medical check-up. YOWCH!

3. You really should subscribe to Nicholas Kristof on Facebook and Twitter

Kristof is a columnist for The New York Times and is very social media-savvy.   He’s most recently in Bahrain where the Arab Spring continues to ripple into winter.

He’s been able to post real-time accounts of events there.  Some of the news is hard to watch, but fortunately, we have people like him to watch for us.

You’ll get great accounts like this:

One hint: When you’re detained by riot police for shooting video of them cracking down on protesters, leave the camera running when they haul you into the police car. That’s what the Times video journalist with me in Bahrain, Adam Ellick, did. And this is the video we came up with of our detention — and all Bahrain’s: nyti.ms/tKZhL9

That column is here.

Follow Kristof on Facebook
and on Twitter

4. A snapshot that could not be more unique

The great reporter and NBC’s Chief Foreign Correspondent Richard Engel filed this shot (click to enlarge) from the Iraq-Kuwait border.

He tweeted,

“The gate to #iraq is closed. Soldier just told me, ‘that’s it, the war is over’ “

Engel is standing in front of the closed gate leading to the Iraqi desert.

That photograph brought back recollections of folks having their picture taken standing on the Berlin Wall during German reunification.

5. Santa won’t really work up a sweat for a few hours

Using data from Yahoo! Answers and the CIA (yes, the folks with the dark sunglasses), The Atlantic’s Philip Bump did some fancy math and came up with the approximate workload for Santa on Christmas Eve.

Basically, he looked at the population of Christian children as best as could be ascertained by CIA facts and broke it down by time zone.

Flying the sleigh in the night around the globe means he’s moving from east to west, beginning with the International Date Line in the Pacific.  (Daylight Saving Time ongoing in parts of the Southern Hemisphere means New Zealand is among some of the spots up first.)

Interesting findings are that Santa doesn’t really have a huge workload to slog through in an hour’s time until hour number five, when he hits the time zone that includes the Phillippines.

And the reindeer probably won’t lather up until hour ten arrives, which starts his move west through time zones that include Europe and Africa.

Well done analysis.

6. Seattle’s “Polar Bear Plunge” coming up on New Year’s Day.  Water temperature: cold.

Even with a wetsuit, I just don’t think I have the internal fortitude to do this in Seattle on New Year’s Day.

But you can bet I’ll be tracking the water temperature in Lake Washington!

On Sunday night, it’s a prune (and pain)-inducing 48 degrees.

What I’ve Been Reading (Dec. 5-Dec. 11)

Football once again tops my list with an incredibly useful website for folks who get mad at US (television stations) for the “choice” of NFL game every Sunday.

(Hint: It’s not OUR choice.)

Started last week, this is the second installment of some of my “best reads” for the week gone by, as seen through my blogroll.

(I’ll try to get the blogroll up on this site soon, so you can see what I’m reading.  It’s not an easy task as my blog count right now stands at 205.) -MP

1. “So why isn’t my football game on your channel?”

Ask anyone who has ever worked a newsroom assignment desk on a Sunday (at least a network affiliate carrying NFL) and you’ll have a person who’s taken angry calls about football.

Understandably, it’s frustrating when you can’t see the game you want or you’re switched to another contest before the one you were watching concluded.

Those choices are all dictated by the individual networks (CBS and Fox) in concert with the NFL.

Individual stations don’t have control over game schedules.

While not an official NFL or network site, this is fantastic information by someone who clearly knows what they’re talking about.  You’ll see a nationwide mapping-out of which games are going to each market.

If you really want to see how complicated this all is, check out the “NFL TV Rules at a Glance.” from The 506.

2. That silo is a real “fixer-upper”

Surviving nuclear war will set you back only $1.75 million.  Deep within Adirondack State Park is a fairly modest-looking house (from the outside, considering the house has its own runway and airplane parking) built above a defunct missile silo.

Take a photo tour of the property and the “amenities” via Buzzfeed.

My thought is that if a “honey-do” list doesn’t get finished, there’s always something slightly more menacing than a doghouse to be sent down to.

Way, way down.

3. Another Hitchcock New Year’s in Beebe, Arkansas?

If that wasn’t ominous enough, the birds are back.

You may recall at the stroke of midnight (or around that time) last year, hundreds of blackbirds fell from the sky.  The theories ranged from some radio death-ray to being startled to death by fireworks.

The birds are back in incredible number, as this video spot from Accuweather demonstrates.

We’ll see if there’s another bird debacle on Jan. 1.

4. Incredible images of 2011, and an equally incredible video of the Japan tsunami

Buzzfeed has put together some of the most powerful images of the year and ITN has never-before seen video from inside a car as the great tsunami rolled in along the Japanese coast.

5. A weather geek’s Christmas carol

The great folks at NOAA used the voice of NOAA Weather Radio to produce an electronic “Deck the Halls.”   It’s clever, and the voice’s “Fa la la la la” (video)….

sounds strangely to me like the Count’s “A ha ha ha ha ha.”  

Have a good week.

What I’ve Been Reading This Week (Nov. 27-Dec. 3)

This is the first edition in a weekly series based on what I’ve been reading on the internets. 

You see, I read a ton of blogs (205 on my Feedly reader at present), websites and other items through the week.  

It’s part of my rather-disturbing addiction to news and information that has developed only in the past couple of years, largely thanks to Twitter.   And I do pass along many links there.

Picking up and reading the blog of my KIRO 7 colleague and friend Paul Balcerak, I’ve gotten turned onto Instapaper.  That’s a website that is self-described as a “simple tool for saving web pages for reading later.”  

(Apparently Pinterest is good too, but I’ve been waiting on an invite for what seems like an eternity.)

So with this brand-new personal website and blog thing I’m slowly working on, I thought it’d be a good place to list the best-of-the-best of what I’ve come across in my week.   There is a lot of great material from talented people and organizations out there. 

It won’t be a long list from me… maybe five, perhaps as many as ten.   The articles won’t be that long either (however my descriptions probably will).  

The plan is to send along every Sunday and clear out the Instapaper queue for more.  Send me your best in return!-MP

At long last, here’s installment numero uno (topics from wide receivers to wasps):

1.  Positively the easiest way to spot 12 men on the field

If you thought you were getting every conceivable television angle of Sunday’s games, think again!

There is one camera shot the NFL absolutely does not want you to see, says The Wall Street Journal.

Is it just me, or does that sound like a magician who would just prefer you kindly not videotape the performance!

2.  Facebook is not a blog!

Kelly Clay (via Lockergnome) implores you: Don’t be a Facebook blogger!

Now, I love Twitter (and to a much-lesser extent, Facebook), but we agree: please use it as a really, really”TinyURL” for all your thoughts and emotions.

As Clay also points out, for serious bloggers and especially brands, putting your blog on a site you don’t run might, just might, become a bit sticky later on.

3.  “When death feels like a good option”

In the TV weather world, we lost another wonderful talent this week: Don Harman of Fox 4 in Kansas City.   Struggling with depression, according to his family, he took his own life on Tuesday.

Watch “Don’s Family Shares His Fight with Depression” from WDAF Fox 4  

They say television is a small world, where no one is more than two degrees separated from everyone else.  The TV weather business is even much smaller than that.

Harman’s suicide reverberated around our very small world, as did the 2007 death of John Winter of WFLA in Tampa who was also struggling with depression.

Well-known Seattle entrepreneur Ben Huh of the Cheezburger network recounts his darkest days in an early-week article from the Seattle P-I.com.

4.  Stunning St. Helens

Ben’s words are encouraging, so please take a moment and a deep breath to reflect on his words and nature’s beauty.  

The incredibly stunning photograph was taken of lightning near Mount St. Helens earlier this year.

5.  Lots I didn’t know about campaigns

With the “suspension” of Herman Cain’s candidacy Saturday, I heard some cable news chatter about the chance he could get back in the race at some point.  I thought, “Not if he’s going to endorse someone, he can’t!”

NBC/MSNBC’s Domenico Montanaro explains it has a lot to do with debt, among some other things.

And, did you know that Hillary Clinton is still technically a candidate for president?

6.  “John, I’ll take the wasp in the center square for the block.”

I’ve killed my share of wasps and yellowjackets over time, and it’s not something I’m proud of.  In my old-er age, I realize they are beneficial, and will probably just leave me alone.

Still, the paper wasp’s sting ranks as a 3.0 on the Schmidt Sting Pain Index, which places it between the red harvester ant and tarantula hawk.  A 3.0 is described as “like spilling a beaker of hydrochloric acid on a paper cut.”

Now in even better news: THESE WASPS KNOW WHO YOU ARE.   Or at least, they can recognize the faces of other wasps.

I would assume they could then probably figure us out.

Look at those faces.

Now, by all means, you have very pleasant dreams tonight.

Those nine wasps playing Hollywood Squares know exactly what you did with that can of Hot Shot at the house next door.

As for me, I really don’t want to meet the nice-looking wasp in the top center square.  You know, the one next to Jim J. Bullock.