Saturday, December 20, 2014

Picture of the Day - Atmospheric Atmosphere

I captured this scene late this afternoon while working a wedding at Robert Hall on the east side of Paso Robles. This image was captured through my telephoto lens looking to my southwest as a line of storm clouds trained by northwest to southeast.
Photo by Kim Patrick Noyes (all rights reserved).

Thursday, December 18, 2014

I'm Afraid of Franco and Rogan Naked

This is quite definitely the funniest thing I have seen in longer than I can remember. For those of you who are not hip to pop culture this is James Franco and Seth Rogan in a tongue-in-cheek episode of the television show Naked and Afraid.

Thought of the Day - Horseshoe Theory

Several years ago I encountered a rather remarkable observation and associated name on a Yahoo Group for historical reenactors. In a conversation thread about something political which I immediately forgot there was mention of an explanation for a universal truth which I never forgot. The Horseshoe Theory explains everything I have seen of the arcs of variation of opinion on any subject. It's basic premise is that in any ideological arc the two extreme ends have more in common with each other than they do with the center or even more moderate elements of their own side. When I looked up this theory on Google perhaps as recently as a few years ago I could not find any mention of it. In recent days I felt the desire to finally share it with you here based upon my own interpretation and memory of how it was used in that original context. However, to my surprise and delight, tonight I noticed that there are actually now several pages devoted to it not the least of which are Wikipedia and RationalWiki. Apparently, this theory was first set forth by French philosopher Jean-Pierre Faye in 2008. However, Josef Joffe gives an excellent explanation of it in an essay:
"Left and right together illustrated once more the "horseshoe" theory of modern politics: As the iron is bent backward, the two extremes almost touch."

Come Home

Since I recently purchased my first ever speakers with a separate woofer unit (yeah, I know, pretty pathetic, ain't it?) I have been going back through and listening to a great many tracks and sets to see how they sound now with a better sound system. Some songs have suddenly vaulted into a higher level with me now that I can hear their full range of aural beauty, power and complexity. Tonight I rediscovered "Come Home" by Alpha 9 (a.k.a. Arty) and was blown away by how great it sounds on even merely decent speakers (my new set-up cost me a mere $25 at K-Mart). Crank this up and enjoy!
 *Note: my boycott of all things Russian does not extend to trance music.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Random Musings of a Ramblin' Fool L

Almost half a year (5-1/2 months) has transpired since I last posted one of these columns. For those of you who don't know it, the L in the title above is the Roman numeral for the number 50. This blog has picked up over 70,000 more visits and added 209 additional posts since last June 30th's Random Musings. During that time my monthly productivity never dropped below 30 posts per month whereas there were four months in the first half of this year which saw monthly post totals in the teens. July to August saw individual visits to this blog exceed 13,000 each month. This edition of Random Musings will be more Kim-centric than I'd like but I must get you all caught up on things with me since last I opined upon such things here.

Fall 2014 Cal Poly Quarter Synopsis

Last week was finals week at Cal Poly. This is my first week of Christmas vacation which I am thoroughly enjoying. So what happened this just-ended quarter at Cal Poly? I took 15 units which is considered a bit heavy a course load for the first quarter of a transfer from a community college. What courses did I take?

I took a 2-unit History 100 (Introduction to the Study (and Practice) of History) with Dr. Kathleen Murphy. This class is a prerequisite for taking any additional history classes at Cal Poly as it teaches one the basics of how to study history.  In this class I started my research on the Cal Poly Plane Crash which I intend to pursue further in my senior project and Master's thesis. In this class I earned an A-.

I took a 4-unit Spanish 103 (Elementary Spanish III) with Dr. Anthony Rector. I could have taken this course at Cuesta College but it would have required I go to the SLO campus four or five days a week which was a non-starter for me. Consequently, I had to take it at Cal Poly. It is a prerequisite for taking Spanish 201 which I am signed up for next quarter and is a terminal level Spanish class for me (meaning it is as high as I have to go to get a bachelor's degree). I struggled in this class as I do not have an aptitude for learning new languages and my 44 year-old mind is not at the stage of life where it is most apt to learn a new language. Also, I did not work as hard in this class as I could have or should have in hind-sight. In this class I earned a C.

I took a 5-unit History 303 (Research and Writing Seminar in History) with Dr. Christina Firpo. There were two versions of this course offered this past quarter. I took the one which sounded less interesting, to wit, "Race, Sex, and Orientalism in Colonial Southeast Asia." It was the one with available openings although the other version of the class with Dr. Trice sounded more interesting subject matter-wise, but was full. Dr. Firpo's class was the hardest class I have ever experienced and any grade in it (I feel) is equivalent to the next letter grade up if all other factors are considered equal. I also learned more in that class than in any other class I have ever experienced. Dr. Firpo forced me to become a better writer and added multiple additional facets to my writing ability for which I am forever indebted to her. That is true despite the fact I was miserable at times during the class as I was forced out of my comfort zone which was what I needed in order to get better. She also taught me some neat-o research tricks which will be useful to me. In this class I earned a B which feels like an A and I am proud of that B.

I took a 4-unit Geography 308 (Global Geography) with Dr. Peter Osterroth initially and down the stretch with Dr. Meg Streiff. This class started out slow and a bit weird as an over-the-hill and long-in-the-tooth German language instructor who happened to be a geography PhD from way back when filled in for the instructor who usually taught the class as she went on sabbatical. He also taught some sociology classes. As the quarter progressed he got more erratic and began to conflate the curriculae of his geography and sociology classes. Enough complaints filtered in that they shit-canned him mid-quarter and brought back the instructor who went on sabbatical. She rocked and geography clicked so much with me I have decided to make it my minor instead of political science. In this class I earned an easy A.

I ended the Fall 2014 quarter with a 3.093 GPA.

Things I Didn't Do At Cal Poly

I had planned on joining the team of volunteers for the Rose Bowl Float this fall, but due to my time constraints with school and with work for Vino Vice, Inc. I could not make it work. I hope that next fall it will work out for me to volunteer for that project. I also did not make it to a single meeting of the on-campus Christian club this past quarter which met on the Dexter Lawn each Thursday morning at 11 a.m. I fully intend to start making these meetings when my schedule allows sometime next year. Winter 2015 quarter does not look promising, unfortunately, given my schedule. I did not date a Poly Dolly. Perhaps I'm too old for that sort of thing and given I am limiting myself to Christian ladies that may thoroughly eliminate any such possibility... which is fine with me if that is God's will.... but there's nothing wrong with wishing.

I SOARed But Didn't WOW

Last August I attended SOAR (Student Orientation And Registration) voluntarily, but did not attend WOW (Week of Welcome) last September. However, I just discovered via Twitter that starting next fall it will be mandatory for all incoming students to attend both. SOAR is an absolute must for any incoming student which makes this pronouncement a wise thing. However, I'm less certain about WOW. As a 44 year-old single guy I felt that my presence there might have held a creepy factor. I am old enough to be these nascent Polly Dolly's daddy and hanging out with new students and their parents didn't seem appetizing to a guy already slightly self-conscious of his age going back to school and for whom being a multi-decadal local made orientation less useful.

What's Next For Me At Cal Poly

I have signed up for four classes worth 16 units in Winter 2015 quarter. I am enrolled in a 4-unit Spanish 201 (Intermediate Spanish I). I am on the waiting list for a 4-unit History 214 (Political Economy of Latin America and the Middle East). I am enrolled in a 4-unit History 304 (Historiography) which is the next and final history prerequisite for me. It will study historical writing including historical theory such as those of Marx and Foucualt. I am also enrolled in a 4-unit History 322 (History of Modern America). If I don't get into History 214 I will still be doing 12 units in three challenging classes and a slight break might not be a bad thing for me.

Big Changes at Vino Vice

Vino Vice changed hands as the founding owner Jim Davis sold it to my friend Geoff Auslen. This change will allow for continued growth of the business as is already being manifested. Before the change I seemed on track to become a supervisor and that seems to still be the case. Work for this company has been a convenient and invaluable augmentation to my student loans and grants and has offset the loss of my job with Rocks & Relics early last year.

El Niño Or Not, It's Raining Bunches

Climatologists still haven't officially declared an El Niño as the atmosphere does not seem to yet agree with what the Pacific Ocean itself is suggesting about current state of ENSO. However, we are in a wet pattern the likes we have not seen since at least 2005, the last time we got a good El Niño soaking... although that was a weak El Niño like the current one if it even officially becomes one. Just to confuse things it is worth noting that 2009-2010 was a moderate El Niño rainy season, the last previous season for El Niño. No memorable rain patterns or singular storms occurred then such as we have been experiencing in recent weeks in California. Cleary, if we get a lot of rain or not is much more complex a dynamic than merely to El Niño, or not to El Niño.

*Note: I have many more things to discuss in this space but not the time to do it tonight. Hopefully I will post another Random Musings before the New Year.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Half Of You Are In Blue

Using census data, Business Insider has determined that half of the population of these United States live in the blue-shaded counties on the map above. They are shaded blue not by coincidence but because they are counties which vote Democrat and lean Left politically and culturally. Only 15 of California's 58 counties vote Dem and lean Left. Geographically-speaking, California is a Red State while culturally and thus politically it is a Blue State.

A Real Traffic-Stopper

Last night this boulder came tumbling down a hillside near the bottom of the Cuesta Grade just north of Reservoir Canyon Road and onto Highway 101 during yet another Pacific storm. It caused the freeway to be shut down in both directions for awhile as a semi truck stuck it and overturned shutting down the freeway. A small automobile was also involved trapping and injuring the driver. Photo by CAL FIRE (all rights reserved).