Monthly Archives: November 2006

Satellite of Love

The other day I was browsing around the InterWeb.. and I came across this interesting satellite photo. (Opens in a new window)

It’s doctored, of course, since there is no cloud cover .. do you remember a day without clouds all across the earth? But it’s still a great picture and fascinating in what it shows.

First off, it’s clearly winter in the northern hemisphere, since the snow completely covers Canada and even dips down into the United States a bit in the west and near the Great Lakes.

What’s also interesting to me is how most of Europe is completely spared the snow cover. I grew up firmly in the depths of the white, where snow would first fall in October. It might melt, but a “permanent” snow would eventually fall, maybe around late November or December, after which we knew the ground would be white uninterrupted until March or so. I thought this was normal, and it never occurred to me that it wasn’t, even in parts of Europe that were just as far north.

Another thing you see is that besides Canada and Russia, there are only bits of the world that actually have to deal with snow, and a lot of it is due to mountains. The snow in California is only because of mountains. Same with China, northern India. For some reason, Turkey has a lot of snow. That’s kind of a surprise to me.

Another thing I find fascinating is the water color. Look off the coast of Florida, in the Caribbean. For some reason, the water turns a beautiful blue when shallow, just like the beautiful blue you expect on beautiful beaches. I don’t know why it does that, but it’s pretty spectacular to note that this blue is visible even from space.

You can see a lot of macro geographic features. For example, you can see how British Columbia (the westernmost part of Canada) is incredibly rough and mountainous. I always thought that you always saw mountains no matter how far you drove. It turns out there aren’t many places on earth quite so rugged. Maybe that’s why I’m not as impressed by mountains as people who grew up elsewhere .. I thought it was normal.

You can also really see areas lacking vegetation .. deserts. There’s a big desert in China (is it the Gobi?). You can see the absolute vastness of the Sahara in northern Africa; it looks like it’s been scraped clean of green with a rough steel brush, all the way through to Saudi Arabia. Compare it to how green and lush Africa is just a few hundred miles south.

Looking at South America, it’s pretty obvious where the Amazon rain forest is, and where the mountains of Chili are on the west coast.

And you can see how little is actually green in the United States during the winter time… just bits of the southeast and parts of California.

Indonesia is incredibly green and lush. Most of Australia is desert, although the green parts are pretty apparent. New Zealand clearly is more fertile than Australia.

I love maps.

You Light Up My Idea Bulb

As I often do on Sunday night, I went to the Sonoma Chicken Coop in Campbell (which is many miles from actual Sonoma) and did a quick set before heading over to Katie Bloom’s down the street for some Sunday night karaoke with my friend Sean.

The stench of garlic fries hit me hard as soon as we went through the doors. There was a huge crowd at the table in the middle, and Sean immediately recognized them as the cast of the play “The King and I”; the same gang that was there a few weeks back.

Cast members did a lot of songs, and they did them with a confidence and professionalism that was almost unfair to us amateurs. One song they did was “You Light Up My Life”, where the entire cast sang to an older blonde woman who sat on a chair nearby, directing them.

Afterwards, I asked a guy, “Is she the musical director?” He explained to me that she was Debby Boone, who originally recorded the song they sung to her. It suddenly made a lot more sense.

I lived in Los Angeles for three years and never once saw a famous person outside of places you might expect them (like at venues that they were scheduled to appear at). Yet here I was, in downtown Campbell on a Sunday night, singing karaoke in a bar with a real live honest-to-goodness recording artist. Pretty neat.

There were a bunch of other folks around, including some regulars that I recognized. Sean had left at this point, so I was by myself. There was one other dude by himself, and Kathy (who cleverly calls herself “Kathy-oke”) called his name and, reading from the karaoke slip, said “Pete will be singing with Debby Boone.” Debby looked up, alternating between confused and scared, but made her way up. And they sang! I forget what the song was, but it was a pretty classic duet.

At this point, I realized the guy was a genius, and marveled at his chuztpah (which I think is Yiddish for “balls”). I had my camera, so I took a bunch of photos, and afterward, got his email address because I figured he would want a copy.

I know it was genius because I was jealous: I wish I had thought of it!

By the way, I talked to Debby for a few minutes and found her to be very pleasant. I don’t know why I feel the need to point this out, but there it is. See the Flickr Photos