Happenings of the Past Few Weeks

It has been awhile since I last pounded out a BLOG entry, somewhat inexplicably given that so much has happened. It’s time to catch up. In summary…

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After declaring bankruptcy and being sold earlier this season, the Rangers somehow are 27 outs from their first World Series as of this writing! Because of this, Satan is shivering hard as icicles form on the evil little hairs protruding from his diabolical nostrils. One more win, and the glaciers start pushing into the dungeons of fire and brimstone. If the Rangers then can triumph in the World Series, hell finally does freeze over! But the utterly bizarre history of this team tells us to take nothing for granted.

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The Cowboys have shot themselves in the foot so much with egregiously stupid play and an avalanche of preventable errors that they’re now 1-4, facing playoff elimination before the season’s halfway point, and before the toughest part of the schedule commences. Forget 1989’s 1-15…that team was devoid of depth and bereft of experienced talent. It was obvious how bad they were, and expectations weren’t underperformed. By contrast, this is the most disappointing season I have experienced as a fan. What a waste. The Boys should be 5-0 now and we all know it. Instead they’ll miss the playoffs and watch others dance for victory on their home turf in February. I’ll have more to say on this soon, in this very space.

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The Stars got off to a 4-0 start and are now 4-1, behind only the champion Blackhawks in the conference. I don’t expect this pace to continue through the entire season; but this is a good omen for the future of Joe Nieuwendyk’s youth movement. I was sad to see Marty Turco go, even sadder to see all-time NHL great and sure-fire Hall-of-Famer Mike Modano (who played with Joe on the 1999 Stanley Cup championship team) go…but it was time to turn the page. Kari Lehtonen’s only going to improve in the net; and the first two lines are pretty solid. Some depth and experience, and the Stars could be back in the meat of the playoffs in just a year or two.

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I had a great time Saturday night with my daughter at the OU football homecoming game, a 52-0 bug-mashing of Iowa State. The Sooners are undefeated, if by the width of a butt hair in a few of those games, and find themselves (for now) #1 in the BCS standings pending a game with revenge-minded and undefeated Missouri team Saturday night in Columbia MO. That won’t be easy. Neither will beating the Aggies in College Station, or the Okie Pokies in Stoolwater, or anyone in the Big-12 championship game if they pass the prior gauntlet. If OU wins out, they will have earned a title berth by virtue of strength of schedule! Alas, I still see OU as a 2-loss team this year…still too much inexperience, especially at QB, OL and most of the defense. OU doesn’t need this bull’s-eye. Realistically, I see both TCU and BSU as decidedly better now, maybe Oregon too. This ranking is way too premature. At this juncture I would go: Boise State 1, TCU 2, Oregon 3, Auburn 4, OU 5, Alabama 6, Michigan State 7, Mizzou 8…but of course if OU is #1 in the final standings, I’ll take that!

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My favorite quote discovery of late: “If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in 5 years there’d be a shortage of sand.”
— Milton Friedman

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The 25th Conference on Severe Local Storms (full program) swept through Denver last week. This was a good conference, well worthwhile. It’s all a great time in helping to advance severe storms science in small ways. After all, in severe storms research and forecasting, good science is good service! Most importantly, the conference was and is a robust learning and interpersonal interaction experience, of the sort that never should go the way of “tele-meetings” or other impersonal, “distance learning” type garbage glowing out of a rectangular screen.

For the conference, I lead-authored four papers (also given in the form of one oral talk and 3 posters) — two on the EF Scale and two on tropical cyclone tornadoes. These were both privileges and fun to do, and I have to thank the co-authors on three of them for all their help. Here are the titles and direct links to PDF files of those papers, if you desire to peruse them:

    The Enhanced Fujita Scale: Past, Present and Future with J.G. LaDue, J.T. Ferree, K. Scharfenberg, C. Maier, and W.L. Coulbourne.

    Possible Impacts of the Enhanced Fujita Scale on United States Tornado Data with Harold Brooks

    Tropical Cyclone Tornado Records for the Modernized NWS Era

    Objective Environmental Analyses and Convective Modes for United States Tropical Cyclone Tornadoes from 2003-2008 with A.R. Dean, R.L. Thompson and B.T. Smith

It seems like a lot, but wasn’t too hard to do. Except for the TC tornado environments paper, these all were projects I had been involved with for many months, and could get a good head-start documenting through the spring and summer. Without procrastination, anything is possible! Andy, Rich and Bryan busted their tails for a long time gathering all kinds of severe storm environment information and radar cases; all I had to do was analyze and describe that small subset of them that involved tropical tornadoes. Rich and I also contributed considerable data and a little oversight to a few other papers upon which our names appear.

For the first time, Elke was able to join me on a conference trip (at her/my expense, of course), both to see some friends and relatives in Denver and to take in a few of the proceedings. She introduced me (and Rich) to a great little hole-in-the wall Middle Eastern restaurant, Jerusalem, near the DU campus (look it up…well worth going). The slide and video night, in particular, was a good time. It’s a ball of fun presenting the best of my outdoor photography from the couple of years since the last such slide show at the last such conference. It’s even more fun seeing some others’ work for the first time — including that by fine videographers and photographers like Mike Umscheid, Jim LaDue, Dave Blanchard, Robin Tanamachi, and others. And of course, Bob Schlesinger from the University of Wisconsin made the most mundane convective events extraordinarily entertaining through his unique presentation style, as is his longstanding tradition.

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During the conference, while Elke and I were in Denver, Norman had an earthquake (magnitude 4.3-5.1 depending on measurement method and timing) that everybody here felt. This was a gnat fart compared to “real” quakes in Peru, Chile, Indonesia, Alaska and elsewhere, but quite the chatter-maker in Oklahoma. [See news video and some dude’s video sports BLOG entry]. A few buildings suffered cracked exterior masonry (such as Dale Hall on the OU campus…Scott Peake has a photo to show you if you know him), and some folks had toppled shelves and dressers, but damage was very minor. I always have wanted to experience a quake that I could feel, and as with the 12 June 2009 tornado, it happened while we were in Colorado. Of course…

In the last few years, my county has experienced a violent tornado, several other tornadoes, huge hail, wildfires, destructive flooding, damaging ice storm, (marginally) damaging earthquake, tropical storm, and a blizzard. Life here in central Oklahoma is absolutely, positively NOT boring!

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By 3-5 seconds, Elke and I almost didn’t make it back from Colorado alive. More on that in a near-future post as well.



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