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Forecast

Tonight: A Few Showers and Storms - Mostly Cloudy & Cool.
Low: 44     Winds: NW 5-10 mph

Tomorrow: Mostly Cloudy & Cool with a Few Isolated Showers - Mainly East.
High: 54     Winds: SW 5-10 mph

Wednesday: Partly Cloudy & a ...
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WKEF-TV ABC 22 News :: Blogs - Inside the Booth

Get behind the scenes access with Meteorologist Jeff Booth. He'll give you the inside scoop on the weather that affects the Miami Valley!

Click here to send your comments to Jeff about "Inside the Booth".

Tracking Some Chilly Weather

10/20/14

The week started out a little gloomy once we got into Monday afternoon.  Some rain arrived ahead of a cold front that's tracking across the area as I type this blog entry.  That cold front is going to have quite an effect on our temperatures.

By Tuesday afternoon we'll struggle to get into the low & mid-50s.  As an area of low pressure slowly moves east of us we'll keep the chance for rain in the forecast on Tuesday (see figure 1).  Right now it doesn't look like it'll be as heavy or widespread as it was on Monday but we'll still have the threat - especially along and east of I-75.

This low will continue moving out of here Wednesday and we'll watch sun break out through Wednesday afternoon.  By Thursday afternoon high pressure will be in control of the forecast (see figure 2).  This will bring stable, sinking air into the region which will in turn bring us more sunshine and give us a chance to warm up a bit.  We'll only hit the upper 50s on Thursday but we're back in the low 60s on Friday with more sunshine.  But both Thursday & Friday morning will see lows in the low and mid-30s which means frost will be an issue both of those mornings.

That warm up will continue through the weekend and we'll tack a few degrees onto the high each day moving forward.  By Sunday out high starts to move east of the area and the "return flow" begins to affect us.  As our winds pick up a southerly component we'll see a nice warming.  By next Monday we'll see highs near 70.

So we have a nice stretch of fall weather ahead of us.  And even though it'll be a little cool to start the week that'll be a distant memory once we start warming into the mid & upper 60s!

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Let's Look Into the Future!!!

10/16/14

It's been 25 days since the autumnal equinox which means fall is just getting started.  But as cooler temperatures have sporadically invaded the area we can't help but look ahead towards winter.  On Thursday the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released its long-term outlook for the coming winter.

I want to start off by saying that seasonal forecasts are by no means as accurate as we'd like them to be.  They look @ climatological factors and try to garner trends from them.  B/c weather and climate are such complex systems it's impossible to predict their outcomes with the precision that the public wants - and that we as meteorologists would like as well.  That doesn't mean we won't try.

NOAA's temperature forecast is hinting at warmer-than-average conditions in the west and cooler-than-average temperatures for the south and southeast (see figure 1).  In our region there are equal chances for above-, near- or below-average temperatures.  Basically there's not a strong enough climatological factor pointing one way or the other where we live.

The precipitation forecast is favors above-average precipitation in the southwest, much of the extreme south and much of the eastern seaboard.  Drier-than-average conditions are favored in the northwest and in much of the Great Lakes region (see figure 2).  That could spell good news for the far southwest but I'd like to see a better chance for rain throughout California b/c they've been hit so hard by drought.

So what do I think is going to happen?  Well, I'd like to reserve my final winter outlook until a little later just to get a little more information but that doesn't mean I won't go out on a limb tonight.  First of all, I don't think this coming winter will be as brutal as the last.  Statistically the odds just aren't there.  Last year was an anomaly and there's a reason why we call things anomalies: they don't happen that often.  Having said that I think it'll be a little cooler than normal, especially to start - our jet stream has had a tough time breaking out of its cool pattern.

A lot of this will hinge on whether or not El Nino forms.  The latest El Nino discussion is hinting at a weak El Nino forming over the coming months.  If this happens it appears it would fall under what's known as a Central Pacific or "Modoki" El Nino.  That is when the warming begins in the Central Pacific as opposed to the Eastern Pacific.  When we look @ previous winters that experience this type of El Nino the eastern United States, and especially the SE U.S., tends to see cooler winters - and sometimes very cool winters (see figure 3).

Honestly, it doesn't matter what happens b/c we can't do anything about it.  Looking into the crystal ball that's known seasonal forecasting can help us prepare but I always take the forecast with a grain of salt.  This time last year there weren't any factors leaning towards a colder or wetter winter but we all know how that turned out. 

Just in case you forgot we had one of the colder winters on record (12 days with sub-zero readings - tied for fifth as the most in any given year).  We also had the third snowiest winter on record.  One thing I know is that I'll need to do is stock up on firewood - I usually go through @ least a cord regardless of how the winter shakes out.

Click here if you want to read a paper on El Nino Modoki.

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"Bump" To Stay Healthy

10/14/14

A few years ago when I heard TV's Craig Ferguson say that Howie Mandel invented the fist bump b/c he's a germaphobe I couldn't help but laugh.  Turns out there's some truth to his statement.  No, Mandel didn't invent the iconic greeting.  But he is a germaphobe... and fist bumping can actually cut down on the spread of bacteria and infectious disease.

That's the word from the American Journal of Infection Control.  It found in a recent study that fist bumping instead of hand shaking cuts the spread of germs by 90 percent.  If you're not a fan of statistics that's overwhelming evidence against the greeting that's become commonplace in civilized society.

The study had people wearing gloves covered in a film of E. coli (non-pathogenic so it couldn't cause disease) shake hands, high five and fist bump others wearing sterile gloves.  Researchers then examined the gloves to discover how much bacteria was transferred via the different methods of greeting. Handshakes spread the most germs, the longer the shake the greater the transmission.  That means a firm handshake might be the worst thing one can do if he wants to stay healthy.  The reason a shake is worse than a bump is simple: a greater surface area is covered which means more bugs can spread.

Dave Whitworth, one of the study's co-authors, concluded, "If the general public could be encouraged to fist bump, there is a genuine potential to reduce the spread of infectious diseases."

While that would be cool I'm not bullish on the trend.  For one thing if I were a high-profile executive I can't help but wonder if people would look @ me funny if I sealed the deal w/ a bump... that just doesn't seem very professional.  Yes the president and even the Dali Lama have been known to do it but that seems like a bit of a novelty for the fist bumpee.  How cool would it be to tell your friends, "I just fist bumped the Dali Lama... ironically I feel complete."  I don't even know what I'd do if my 94-year-old great uncle fist bumped me the next time I visited him - probably b/c I know he wouldn't.

That being said I wouldn't mind if this form of salutation became more mainstream.  I fist bump a bunch of my friends whenever I see them.  For one thing I like to think of myself as cool (even if I'm not) but I'm also a bit of a germaphobe myself.  It started back in the winter of 2003/04.  We had a bad flu season that year and my wife was in her third trimester w/ our second child.  That meant she couldn't get a flu shot and b/c I was young and healthy I wasn't real high on the waiting list (I also get sick very rarely so I didn't want to deprive someone who really needed it).  As a result I was a sanitizing fiend.  I still did some reporting @ the time and when I'd be out on a story after I'd done the weather I'd shake my fair share of hands.  I'd either use sanitizer or wash my hands just about EVERY time after I met someone new.  On the rare occasions I couldn't do that I'd make sure I didn't touch my face until I after I'd cleaned my paws.  It got to the point where I'd almost "feel" the germs and I'd get a little anxious until I had a chance to rid myself of them.  B/c of that I have a sort of "residual obsessive-compulsive disorder" when it comes to shaking hands - thus adding to my love of the fist bump.

Just in case you're wondering a high-five was about half as bad as handshake but let's face it, the fist bump isn't just healthier but it's also way cooler.  So if you ever see me out & about and you say "hi" give me a fist bump instead of a hand shake.  Not only will we look hip but that way I won't offend you when I excuse myself prematurely so I can go wash my hands.




Rain & Cooler Weather Is On The Way

10/13/14

After hitting highs in the mid & upper 70s on Monday get ready for a change.  A cold front will track across the area on Tuesday (see figure 1).  That will bring a lot with it.  Expect rain to move in after midnight on Tuesday morning.  We'll continue to see rain through the morning and into the early and mid-afternoon.  Right now it looks like the heaviest rain will fall sometime in the late morning and into the early afternoon as our cold front moves across the Miami Valley from west to east.  Some thunder will be possible and even though the risk for severe weather is minimal there's a slight chance for some gusty winds but localized flooding appears to be the biggest threat.

We'll keep the threat for rain around over both Wednesday & Thursday but it'll be a lot cooler with highs in the low to mid-60s.  Some left over upper-level energy will be the mechanism behind that rain (see figure 2).  Typically when we see a pattern like this we tend to see the rain developing mainly in the afternoon.  As we get the daytime heating things destabilize a bit and afternoon showers become an issue.  So while we won't see rain all day on Wednesday & Thursday it'll be a good idea to keep an umbrella handy.

By Friday our next area of high pressure begins to take hold (see figure 3).  As this happens we'll start to see drier weather and we'll even get some sun on Friday which means it's looking good for Football Friday games.  We'll keep some sun around heading into and through the weekend.  We'll also see near average highs in the low 60s.  By Monday expect partly cloudy skies but it'll be a lot cooler.  As it stands now it looks like we won't even get out of the 50s on Monday afternoon.

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"Winging" It

10/09/14

I don't drink many energy drinks; or much coffee for that matter.  The closest thing I'll chug that's related to high octane performance would be Gatorade, Powerade or good old-fashioned water (or as I like to call it after a tough workout, H2-Oh yeah!).  I figure there's no point in drinking those caffeinated or herb-infused "pick-me-ups" sold @ my local gas station b/c I already have enough energy (not to mention a taste of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) so why throw fuel onto the fire?  Not only that but I worry that chronically drinking something that speeds me up (especially coffee - which makes me uncomfortable & jittery) could lead to health problems.

Having said that I loooooove me some Red Bull.  If I'm leaving for vacation after work & pulling an all-nighter or if I'm up early for some crazy reason I'll down a can of it to keep the sleep out of my eyes.  After all, it "gives you wings" - or @ least that's what the commercial says.

That slogan appears to be getting the beverage giant into a little trouble.  Red Bull recently agreed to a $13 million settlement closing the books on two class-action lawsuits.  Customers claimed the energy drink misled customers by making false claims about the benefits and safety of the product.  Included in the litigation was the slogan "Red Bull Gives You Wings".

As for the safety issue I'm not a doctor so I can't comment on that.  But if you drank the "sweet-tart-tasting" potable thinking it would give you actual wings I'm going to go out on a limb and call you an idiot.  I'd question your motives if you thought you'd get metaphorical wings as well.  I mean, come on!  It's a slogan.  If the company had said, "Red Bull, it makes you stronger than Arnold Schwarzenegger and will literally allow you to bend steel rods w/ your bare hands and stop trains with those same fists when you're done!" you might have something.  But again, this is a darn slogan... and a clever one @ that. 

@ no point in my drinking of Red Bull over the years have I ever thought that after polishing off a can of it I would be able to jump into the sky and do my best Superman impersonation.  Anyone who did was probably drinking something stronger than Red Bull... or worse.

If you didn't have that issue with the carbonated energy drink and were misled b/c you thought it would make you smarter then by all means look into the refund.  You can get $10 cash or $15 worth of product.  But if you're just going to apply for the windfall b/c you're happy you can get something for nothing then please just take the vouchers from the company.  B/c it's produced on such a mass scale $15 worth of Red Bull swag costs them waaaaay less than the 10 bucks.

And while Red Bull may not give me wings it has done something for me tonight... it's made me thirsty.  All of this Red Bull talk has me craving one.  Great... I won't be in bed till 5:00.




Not Looking Good

10/08/14

My last blog detailed how much I love this time of year.  Yes, I love fall weather.  Yes, I love college football.  But most of all I'm loving playoff baseball.

Having said that I'm going to steal a phrase from the game and tell you why I'm in a bit of a slump.  Literally EVERY SINGLE team I wanted to win or thought would win b/c of their talent has lost their series.  I thought the Oakland A's would advance out of the play-in Wild Card game and I wanted the Pittsburgh Pirates to do so in theirs.  Nope.

I was pulling for the Detroit Tigers to win the ALDS (and hopefully win the World Series) but sadly they got swept.  The Los Angeles Angels got swept out of their ALDS by the Kansas City Royals - thanks in part to two EXCITING extra inning games.  And I went into the playoffs figuring the Angels would win it all.

Moving on to the National League I picked the Washington Nationals but they were bested by the San Francisco giants - one of those three that the 'Nats lost was in an 18-inning marathon... again EXCITING.  And then on Sunday the St. Louis Cardinals knocked the Los Angeles Dodgers out of the running.

That means that I'm 0 for 6 when it comes to the Major League Playoffs of 2014.  That's not good.  In my defense getting every series winner right is mathematically just as hard to get every single one wrong - by picking every loser I'm actually picking all the winners in a roundabout way.

But now I'm worried.  B/c while I'd like to see the Royals win it all I really DON'T want the Cardinals to succeed.  But if my record holds true there's a good chance I'll be sad by the end of October.  Here's to hoping my luck changes!




One Of The Best Times Of Year

10/02/14

I love the month of October for a few reasons.  For one thing my birthday falls in this month.  I also like the fact that fall really starts to take hold this time of year.  But one of the greatest things about October is playoff baseball!  Sadly the Reds are not part of the picture (we'll get 'em next year!).  But that doesn't mean I can't love every minute of it.

The road to the World Series has already been exciting.  The American League play-in game for the wild card (between the Oakland A's & the Kansas City Royals) was one of the greatest baseball games I've ever watched.  The game was a high scoring slugfest that went on late into the night.  Even though the game was played on September 30th it ended @ around 12:57 A.M. which was technically October in my living room (not in K.C. where the game was played but they celebrated into October so that's good enough for me).

Truth be told I was hoping the A's would win that game.  I'm not a huge fan but when I get home @ night during the summer one of the first things I do is turn on the MLB Network.  B/c the A's are a West Coast team I get to watch portions or even all of their games on a nearly nightly basis.  They were a fun team to watch in the beginning of the season.  They could be down six runs and still come back which equals great baseball in my book.  I was certain the American League Pennant would come down to the A's & the Detroit Tigers well into July.

Now the Division League Series are being played and that also equals great baseball.  And that's just one reason I love early October.  Not only is there playoff baseball (four games on Friday and possibly on Monday no less) but college and pro football are also in full swing.  In short it's one of the most wonderful times of year - especially if you're a sports fan.  My wife isn't wild about it but my television gets a work out.

So what are my thoughts on the coming playoff season?  I'd like to see the Tigers win it all.  The first baseball game I ever attended was @ Tiger Stadium.  I don't remember if the Tigers won but I remember a foul ball landing and bouncing just past me.  My cousins gave me grief for not getting it.  I also like their team even though it hasn't been as impressive in 2014 as it has in years past.

Even though I'd like to see the Tigers win I don't think that'll happen.  As I mentioned they're not as good as they have been but they also lost the first game in the ALDS.  On a side note - EVERY team I've wanted to win so far has lost their game... AND the Reds played terribly this year (the team for which I was really rooting) so maybe I'm just bad luck.

While I'm not going to say who'll make it to the American League Championship Series I think the Los Angeles Angels will win the pennant.  As for the National League I'm thinking the Championship Series will come down to the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Washington Nationals.  Even though the Nationals have been hot the Dodgers have a heck of a starting rotation which is why I'm thinking an all Los Angeles series is looking very probable with the Dodgers winning in six (if the pitching holds).  But if that's not the case I wouldn't be disappointed if the we had a Baltimore/D.C. World Series either.  Oh, who am I kidding I'll be happy w/ whatever I get (especially if the Tigers win).  Like I said, I love this time of year!




Marriage According To Booth

10/01/14

I consider myself very lucky b/c I've been with the love of my life for nearly 17 years.  Whenever I talk with newlyweds or people about to get married I always pass on the little wisdom I've gained over that past decade-and-a-half.  I tell them the secret to a happy marriage boils down to four words: "Happy wife, happy life".  It sounds overly straightforward but then again most of the best things are just that: uncomplicated, elegant or just simple.

Full disclosure: I didn't make this up, and I didn't always follow this adage.  I think I first heard it when I was a few years into my marriage and it made great sense.  And while I can't prove it I'm sure this axiom has been around for as long as men and women have been committing themselves to each other but a recent study found that there's a lot of truth to it.

The Journal of Marriage and Family recently published the findings of two professors @ Rutgers & the University of Michigan.  They found that even if a man is unhappily married his overall happiness with his own life is higher if his wife is happy in the marriage.  The same wasn't true when the roles were reversed.  The thinking behind the findings is that if a wife is happy she's more willing to do things for her husband that enhance his quality of life.

I'm glad this study was done but when I first heard about the findings I had a "Well, duh!" moment.  I've known for years that if I keep my wife happy then she's more likely to do things that make me happy.  That's not why I do stuff for her but it's a pleasant side effect.  And I've said for a long time that guys are very simple.  Just feed us and make us feel special and we're pretty content.

I'm not going to pretend I understand women... b/c I don't.  I can't tell you why flowers put a smile on my wife's face.  I don't know why taking her out for a surprise dinner makes her happy.  And I'll never figure out the allure of The Real Housewives franchise.  What I do know is that if I buy those flowers, take her out and don't bother her when she's watching bad television she's very appreciative which makes me happy.  It also makes her life easier so it's a win-win situation.  I don't get it but it works so I won't ask questions.

That doesn't mean I won't suggest answers.  And one of the most important ones involves two other words that play a prominent role in keeping your wife happy in her marriage: "Yes, dear".




Hard To Believe That I Have A 14-Year-Old

09/30/14

Fourteen years ago today I was scared out of my mind.  I was freshly out of college, didn't have the best of jobs and had become a parent for the first time.  Gail, my baby girl was born shortly after noon on that fall day a decade-and-a-half ago.  I almost missed it.

My wife went in the night before to induce labor (she was two weeks late @ the time) and it was a long night as Gail wasn't ready to come out - maybe she finally realized what she was getting herself into.  Morning rolled around and nobody had slept well.  By late morning my brother-in-law took me to a pizza place around the corner to get something to eat.  Well, this particular restaurant was in a basement.  As a result the repeated calls to his cell phone (the technology was still in it's adolescence) went undelivered.  When we finally walked out of the restaurant he realized he'd missed a bunch of calls and learned that my wife was very close to going into labor.  I barely made it but w/in minutes of getting back to the hospital I was a dad.

The entire day was a bit of a roller coaster ride.  The gravity of the situation really didn't sink over the next day and I don't think it took hold until mom & baby were back home the following day.  Then BIG changes set in... and fast.  They weren't bad changes but I can tell you looking back that I don't know if I was entirely ready for them @ the time.  Good thing I'm a fast learner.

Truth be told the roller coaster has never stopped.  I think it's safe to say that it hasn't really slowed down either.  It seemed crazy then that I was a father.  Now I don't know what's crazier: the fact that I have a 14-year-old or the fact that 14 years can go by so quickly.  Either way - I love you, Gail!




Get Ready For Some Cooler Weather

09/29/14

We have had one heck of a stretch of beautiful weather as of late.  Monday was once again darn near perfect.  Some may complain that it's been a littler warmer than they'd like but it hasn't been muggy.  So in essence we've had a number of days with summer-like highs sans the summertime humidity.  I'm loving it!  But all good things must come to an end.

A weak front will push through on Tuesday afternoon.  This will bring more clouds and a few light showers Tuesday in the early afternoon (see figure 1).  These will be very spotty but keep in mind there's a small chance for rain.  With those added clouds and slightly cooler air we'll see near-average highs in the Miami Valley.  That will break a 7-day run of afternoons with highs above average.

We'll warm back up on Wednesday with some sun into the afternoon.  Highs will surge into the mid & upper 70s and by Thursday afternoon we'll have highs in the low 80s.  Clouds will increase through the day on Thursday and that's b/c of an approaching system.  A few showers or storms are possible by the end of the day on Thursday but it really looks like rain will arrvie Thursday night and Friday morning (see figure 2).

That rain will be coming with a stronger cold front.  Out behind the front we're going to see a big time cool down.  High pressure will begin moving in which will bring us more sunshine but as our winds take a northerly bend (see figure 3) we'll drag down some cooler air.  By Saturday we're looking @ highs in the low 60s in a lot of spots (there could even be some areas that don't even get out of the 50s).  These temperatures are more in line with late October... not early.  A few lingering showers are possible on Saturday as well.  More sun is taking hold on Sunday & Monday and highs will climb into the upper 60s which is back where we should be for this time of year.

Hopefully you've enjoyed this stretch of beautiful weather b/c changes are coming.  And while we will see cooler weather it'll be near-average to seasonally cool.  That's not bad news - especially when you take into account the fact that winter is right around the corner.

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Alex Trebek Just Got A Lot More Handsome

09/24/14

Even though it's not on our network I have to admit that I've always loved the game show, Jeopardy!. It's awesome.  Questions & answers, fast-paced action and hefty cash prizes... what's not to like?

Here's a fun fact: the maximum amount of money you could win on Jeopardy! in one game is $566,400.  That's assuming you answer every question in the first round, get the daily double as the last question of that round (worth the least possible amount) and the last two questions in the second round (again, worth the least possible amount on the board), double down every time you get a daily double and then double your money in the Final Jeopardy! round - oh yeah, and get all 61 questions correct in the process.

I grew up watching that show and now that I'm older and a little more learned (I stress little) I'm able to do fairly well @ the game.  I got a nice flashback from my childhood the other night when I tuned in for the season premiere.  There stood Alex Trebek basking in the former glory that was his 1980s/90s persona.

Yes, he walked out onstage w/ something that was synonymous w/ his image back when I was a kid: his moustache.  It was AWESOME!  Apparently he had a few weeks off between this season and last and decided to grow a lip warmer.  I remember when he shaved it back @ the beginning of the millennium.  I'm not going to lie to you... I was saddened by the decision.  Pat Sajak has Vanna White.  Bob Barker had Rod Roddy.  Alex Trebek had his moustache - it was like a sidekick; or, dare I say it, a member of the family.

Apparently Trebek originally shaved it to look younger... which he did.  As to why he's grown it back now I can't tell you for sure.  Some would argue it's a ratings ploy.  Other's would say it's an attempt to capture a younger demographic as Jeopardy! is encouraging viewers to vote on whether to keep it or shave it on the show's Facebook page.  While both of those could play a factor I think the bigger reason is b/c of  a truism that's become commonplace in our society: you can't keep a good moustache down.

I once grew a moustache (see picture below).  I was living in Hawaii and was on vacation so I decided, "What the heck!  I've always wanted one."  Seeing that I had a few weeks off it was as good a time as any to bring back a "furry friend" from the Mainland.  As you can see from the photograph it was luscious & thick; a true force of nature with which to be reckoned.  @ least that's how I saw it; nobody else did.  It took me more than 17 days to get that much growth and many though it looked like a caterpillar crawled onto my upper lip and died.  I may someday attempt to grow another one but probably not until I'm retired.  I'll need a good month to let that thing really fill in and then... watch out!

As for Trebek's nose neighbor I hope he keeps it.  According to the game show host the vote is pretty much split as to whether he should shave to keep it.  It could be a generational thing.  My wife wasn't wild about it but I think it's growing on her (sorry for the pun) - perhaps b/c it reminds here of simpler times.  I obviously love it.  But my kids hate it.  Of course they've never known anything other than a clean shorn Alex Trebek.  If I get my way that baby-faced guy will never step into my living room again.

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Tracking A Near-Perfect Week

09/22/14

After looking @ the forecast for the week all I can say is, "Wow!"  Fall officially started Monday @ 10:29 and we have a fall-like pattern taking hold.  High pressure is anchored over the region (see figure 1) which means pleasant weather & near-perfect conditions.  W/ a high in the mid-60s Monday afternoon we saw temperatures that were more in line w/ mid-October than late September.  

And it's really going to feel like autumn on Monday night.  We'll see clear skies and light winds which will set us up for that situation known as radiational cooling.  W/out anything to trap in the day's heat it'll all just float off into space.  Tuesday morning will start in the low-40s in Dayton and some outlying areas will dip into the 30s!

We'll keep more sunshine around on Tuesday afternoon.  By Wednesday evening our high will be pushing off to the northeast and that will cause our winds to shift a little (see figure 2).  As they pick up a southerly bend to them we'll start to see warmer weather taking hold.  We'll be a little above average on Wednesday afternoon.

As we continue to pick up more sun and winds out of the ESE we'll see temperatures climb to the upper 70s & low 80s by the end of the week.  Things won't change a whole lot over the weekend.  We'll see high pressure continuing to sit on top of us on Saturday (see figure 3) and we'll see more sun on Sunday.  By Monday we're looking @ partly cloudy skies and temperatures in the upper 70s.

In short, we're tracking a gorgeous week!  We'll see plenty of sunshine and temperatures will be about as perfect as they can be.  The only bad thing about this forecast is that I didn't take this week off b/c this is definitely the type of weather that I love.

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Don't Mess With My Cable!!!

09/17/14

B/c I work late I often get home to a seemingly empty house.  Yes there are people inside, but they're all sleeping - so it might as well be empty.  That wasn't always the case.  When I worked a different shift I'd walk in and my kids would be waiting by the door jumping up and down excited to see me.  Hearing them gleefully shout, "Daddy!" as I walked through the door was always nice.  Nowadays I don't see that so much anymore - I probably wouldn't get that reaction anyway... @ least not from my teenager and 10-year-old. 

Some people may not like the solace but I've grown used to it.  I walk in the door and it's "Jeff time"!  That means I get to watch whatever I want, put my feet up and just unwind.  It's pretty nice... except when it isn't.

There's only about one situation in which my relaxation time is stressful - Tuesday night was one of those times.  I was busy enjoying one of the programs on my DVR when my television started to flicker before it just went black.  The cable box followed suit and before I knew it I couldn't watch TV anymore.

I'd seen this movie before and I knew what was happening.  The cable company was updating the software on my box.  That means the whole thing has to shut down and cycle back up to working order.  That may not sound like a big deal but I HATE it.  It always happens when I'm in the middle of something interesting.

And it's not like is just shuts down and then starts right back up.  Noooo, it takes a good 15 minutes to cycle through (actually it does this whenever you power down the cable box).  Waiting a quarter hour for the TV to start working is bad enough; it's even worse when you only have a couple of hours of late night TV time.  I've actually called and complained in the past but it didn't do any good so I have to stop and just play video games on my phone b/c obviously nobody cares how I feel about the issue.

I think what bothers me most is the fact that the cable company updates their hardware @ the same time every time it decides to do so.  This means that it always happens when I'm trying to kick back and chill out @ the end of the day.  I understand why this is the case.  If I owned a cable company and needed to run some updates that required a shut down I'd rather upset a few crazy night owls than the greater population @ large... in the middle of a big sporting event no less.

The next time this happens I should just take it as a sign and hit the hay.  I didn't do that Tuesday night, though.  That probably explains why I'm so cranky about the whole ordeal in the first place.




Not So Handyman Here

09/16/14

While I love owning my own home - even though the bank "technically" owns it, I'm just paying it off slowly - I have to admit it can be a pain @ times.  I was reminded of that on Monday night.  After pre-washing all of the dishes I loaded up the dishwasher, put in the soap and started the appliance... or @ least I tried to start it.  It's idea of hard work was @ odds w/ mine.  I said a word I can't repeat in this forum in my head and decided it was time to head to the internet to try and figure out what the problem was and if I could fix it.

The display panel was lightning up when I pushed the "start" button and I quickly found what was most likely the culprit so I was encouraged.  After watching a few "how-to" videos on Youtube I was pretty confident I could pinpoint the problem (or @ the very least discover if it was what I thought was wrong w/ the thing).  Sadly I was wrong.

My "online diagnosis" had me leaning toward a blown thermal fuse.  I easily removed the door lining and got to the control panel within minutes of arriving home after work - thank you, Youtube.  But finding the thermal fuse proved to be a bit of a challenge.  Luckily I have a friend who used to be an electrician and he weighed in on the issue.  His professional opinion matched mine - he couldn't find it either.  I spent the next hour-and-a-half poking around the innards of the appliance, removing the circuit board protector and putting it back before removing it a few more times - just in case I missed something.

After pulling the darn thing out of wall and unhooking it from the power source I realized I was getting nowhere fast and it dawned on me: I was outmatched.  Oh, and by this time my "expert" friend had proven to be useless as he'd fallen asleep or as he put it when I accused him of doing so, "I'm not sleeping... I'm just resting my eyes..."  I put the thing back together, switched on the power and prayed I'd poked around enough to have solved the problem: I hadn't.

So I got up early on Tuesday morning (well, earlier than normal) and called an appliance parts store.  After giving the gentleman on the phone my dishwasher's information I learned why I couldn't find the thermal fuse: this model didn't have one - despite the numerous online searches I performed that showed me the very part (for the very model of dishwasher) for which I was looking.  I had to chuckle.

The guy told me it could be the motor and that the replacement part would be about $200.  My next trusty online search (using the same internet that assured me my dishwasher had a thermal fuse) revealed that I was probably dealing with a bad circuit board or a faulty keypad.  Each of those parts will run me about $130 which means by the time I get a technician out to assess the problem and pay for the repair I'm looking @ about $200... @ least.  Which further means that I might as well just buy a new dishwasher.  Don't you just love planned obsolescence?

When I called up the manufacturer of the piece I was informed that my dishwasher was under a recall.  I could have someone come out and fix the heating element (which wasn't broken) or get a $150/$250 rebate on a new dishwasher depending on the price.  Buy here's the rub: I have to spend @ least $500 to get the smaller rebate and $700 for the larger one.  I don't want to spend that much on a darn dishwasher.  I don't mind pre-washing all of my dishes, I don't need something too fancy. 

Not only that but all of the dishwashers I've been researching are on sale and the price comes in below the qualifying amount.  That's just stupid.  If I can find a bargain I get punished?  It makes now sense.  My temper wasn't boiling that long, though.  Upon reading the fine print I learned that any dishwasher I purchased had to be manufactured by the same company handing out the rebate checks.  Seeing that my current apparatus was under recall b/c it could catch on fire while running there's no way in Hades I'm going to buy another one.  I do appreciate the irony that a device that depends on water for it's very existence may catch on fire, though.  I also thank my lucky stars that ours never burst into flames - we've run that thing more than a few times through the middle of the night.

Long story short: I now have to buy a new dishwasher.  And I'm not happy about it.  But after hand-washing a sink full of dishes something is clear: it's worth it.  That or I need to make my kids step up their chore duties.  When I walk down the path of least resistance in my head I know the sparkling new appliance will be money well spent.




"Fall" In Love With My Forecast

09/15/14

After some rain Monday and Monday night things are about to get nice in a hurry.  A cold front brought all of the rain but out behind it high pressure will move in (see figure 1).  High pressure is our "fair weather friend".  It brings stable conditions and typically sunny skies.  We will be under the influence of this high throughout the work week.  That means you can expect nice weather with plenty of sunshine and fall-like conditions. 

Skies will gradually clear out through the afternoon on Tuesday and then we won't see much in the sky after that.  Wednesday, Thursday & Friday are all looking gorgeous.  We'll see plenty of sun in the afternoons and gradually warm into the mid-70s by the end of the week.  We'll also have clear, calm nights.  With those clear skies and quiet conditions we'll be able to cool off considerably.  Each of these days will start in the 40s so you'll probably need a jacket - or at least some longer sleeves - in the morning hours.

By Saturday our high continues to push off to the northeast (see figure 2).  As it does so we'll see our winds shift.  As they start to come out of the south and eventually southwest we'll see warmer weather working into the region.  Saturday will see highs in the upper 70s and low 80s and the sunshine will continue. 

By Sunday we're tracking our next cold front (see figure 3).  That will bring showers & storms into the Miami Valley by the end of the weekend.  After that front moves off to the east we'll see another area of high pressure taking hold.  This will again provide some fantastic weather with plenty of sunshine and slightly cool temperatures (low to mid-70s) by Monday.  Enjoy the week b/c it's looking awesome!!!

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Our House Is A Very, Very Fine House

09/12/14

I drove home late on Wednesday night (actually it was Thursday morning).  With the threat for severe weather and flooding I stayed in the weather center into the wee hours of the morning - just in case.  Thankfully we didn't see much more than high water and moderate rain but driving home was rough - only b/c I was exhausted.

On the way home I was listening to the radio - I usually do whenever I'm in the car.  But when I'm driving around and it's after midnight I get a special treat: late night radio.  If you've never listened I recommend you do sometime.  I discovered it years ago when I was on my way to the interview for my first job in television; I was headed to Oak Hill, WV.  The reason I was driving through the night was b/c I didn't want to have to get up early the next day.  I happened upon a radio program  and found a show that had one of the "foremost Bigfoot authorities in the world" as the guest.  I don't even think a minute passed before I was hooked.  As I listened I remember thinking, "This is good radio!" and part of me lamented that I hadn't found this programming when I was a kid - the path of my broadcasting career could've taken a serious tangent.  While I'm happy where I am in the world of television a small part of me would still love to have my own radio show with "out there" topics someday.

As cool as this format is I have to say that it does attract some interesting sponsors.  I love the commercials that foretell the coming end of our fiat currency and therefore the need to take a large stake in precious metals.  Another great one was the spot for "pure, unaltered" seeds - yes the ones you plant.  After all, when the end times come what will be more valuable - paper money or a tangible, sustainable source of food?

But I heard a new one Wednesday night - and it was a good one.  It was for the website DiedInHouse.com.  What's it for?  You guessed it: it provides potential home buyers and homeowners with a quick, easy way to find out if someone died in a house they're thinking of buying or in which they currently reside.

I laughed out loud when I heard this ad.  It wasn't a mocking laugh, though - I don't think this is that bad of an idea.  I just didn't realize there was such a market for this type of service.  I could totally see myself using it - kind of like CARFAX but for houses. 

If I was going to buy a house I'd totally use this - b/c if I knew someone had passed in a domicile that could mean only one thing: I get one heck of a deal.  After I closed on the property the first thing I'd do is bring in a priest to bless it, exercise any demons who may be holding out and then enjoy the great deal I'd just gotten - probably better than a foreclosure.

And now that I've looked @ the idea in the light of day I kind of want to find out if someone died in the house in which I live.  But then I don't - first off I don't want to pay the fee but more than that I don't know how I'd react if I learned there was some terrible thing that happened in the room I sleep in every night - of course that could also explain my children's poor sleeping habits.  Regardless this is still an instance where ignorance might truly be bliss.

So when my head hits the pillow tonight I'll be happy knowing that everyone who ever lived in my home led a long, happy & prosperous life.  I've often wondered what stories it would tell if "these walls could talk".  Now that I can find out I'm happy to press the "mute" button.




Here's A New "Get Out Of Work" Scam

09/09/14

Most of us have @ one time or another done something to get out of work.  In the past I've found places to "hide in plain sight" where I could still work but take it easy as I did so.  As I got older I learned something: either way you slice it you're going to have to work so you might as well buckle down and get your stuff done.  The time always goes by faster when you've got things to do and if there's anything that's harder than being busy it's looking like you're busy. 

In all of my time working I don't ever recall faking an injury in order to get out of it - that doesn't mean I haven't... I just don't remember it if I did.  One time when I was 17 I was scheduled to work about two or three days after I had my wisdom teeth pulled.  I showed up and as soon as my boss saw me he told me I had to go home.  Could I have worked?  Possibly, but I didn't want too.  I never explicitly said I couldn't clock in - I let my manager make the assumption that I couldn't.  In my defense I did look like I'd been on the losing end of a fight a day or so prior.

Some in South Korea have come up with a novel way to get out of their chores.  Chuseok is one of the most important holidays in the country.  The three-day festival gives families a chance to gather in thanksgiving.  Tuesday is the last day of the holiday in 2014 and as with any major holiday there's a lot that goes into putting it together.  That's why some people have been resorting to using fake arm casts so they can get out of having to help make the elaborate meals associated w/ the holiday.  An unidentified vendor says "sales have increased drastically starting last week" showing the trend is catching on.

I've never heard of something like this... and I love it.  I know putting together Thanksgiving Day in America can be tough, I can only imagine how hard it would be if it was a three-day affair.  I do what I can to help out (last time we had Thanksgiving @ our house I deep fried a bird) but someone always ends up doing most of the work - usually the hostess.  That's got to be stressful.

This also sounds like a great way to duck all of the chores I don't like doing.  I hate getting the leaves off my lawn and it's almost time for that; so this would be a great way to keep the rake/leaf blower out of my hands this fall.  Snow shoveling is no fun either so this "excuse" has cross-seasonal applications.  Of course my wife would probably catch on when I started showing up w/ a fresh cast whenever it came time to finish up some yard work... she's smart like that.

Admittedly I don't think I'd try this to get out of Thanksgiving chores; I don't mind frying turkey - it's awesome!  But if I do I better remember to put the brace on my left arm.  If I immobilized my eating hand getting out of cleaning the dishes would be the least of my worries.




Get Ready For A Cool Down

09/08/14

We've seen picture perfect weather over the past few days and you can thank an ridge of high pressure for this gorgeous pattern (see figure 1).  We'll see another nice day on Tuesday but it'll turn just a shade warmer as we top out in the upper 70s and low to mid-80s.  Wednesday will be a few degrees warmer but that won't last long.

A strong cold front will approach on Wednesday (see figure 2).  Right now the timing could still change but as it stands it looks like we'll see it moving through here late Wednesday if not early Thursday.  This bodes well for us.  As I mentioned this is a strong cold front and the atmosphere will destabilize through the day on Wednesday.  As a result there's a chance for some stronger storms with this next system.  The later it comes through the more the atmosphere will have a chance to stabilize ahead of the front.  Again, the timing of this could change but right now it looks like this it will move in late Wednesday if not early Thursday morning.  That would cut the threat for strong storms a bit but we'll still have to watch as we get closer to the event.  Right now damaging winds are the main threats with our next weather maker.

Out behind our front expect to see a sharp change in temperatures - we'll be in the 50s by the end of the day on Thursday!  As another area of high pressure moves in behind this next storm system (see figure 3) we'll see a change in the winds and drag in much cooler air that will stick around for awhile.  Friday will start in the 40s and will struggle to get into the upper 60s.  We'll see sunshine but cooler weather on Saturday.  Things will be in the upper 60s as we round out the weekend and start the work week next week.

This air that's on the way will be the coldest we've seen since mid to late May.  But it is September so fall is in the air.  By the end of the week that air will feel a little more like mid-fall so enjoy it!

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Per Chance To Dream

09/03/14

Sleep is a beautiful thing.  It sustains our bodies as well as our minds.  It allows that vital "recharge" necessary @ the end of a long day.  But most importantly it keeps us sane (even though that's a relative term).

I was reminded of this last fact when my five-year-old walked into my bedroom Wednesday morning @ 7:10.  That may not sound like a big deal to those reading this but I work nights.  I'm not off the air until 11:35 P.M. every night and usually don't get home until between midnight & 12:30 (and that's IF there isn't any severe weather overnight).  So when she walked in to wake me up I was feeling pretty rough.

I got my middle child out of the door and onto the school bus, let my youngest watch a show and jumped into bed to go back to sleep.  But unfortunately I had stayed up long enough that I couldn't just fall back to sleep on cue (usually I have no problem if I wake up too early).  So I lay in bed... with nothing but my thoughts.  I was exhausted so I wasn't feeling well already.  And as my mind began wandering I started feeling worse.

I couldn't help but think about some of the awful things going on in the world and then take them to their extreme.  It wasn't fun and made it that much harder to fall back to sleep.  That got me wondering why the human mind does this in the first place.  That last thing I want to do is spend my time imagining all of the terrible things out there happening now or that could happen in the future.  It stinks.  I'd much rather ruminate on happier things like flying cars, monkeys on unicycles and speedboats (right not my mind is obviously fixated on modes of transportation... and the funny things that control them).

Thankfully a gentle slumber wasn't that far off and I was back under before I knew it.  But that didn't last long.  I had to get my teenager up and to school by 8:50 so I merely just rested my eyes for a brief respite.  By this time I figured I might as well just get up and go exercise, which I did.  That woke me up a little... until I stopped to sit down, eat & then relax.

Once I put my youngest on the school bus I realized something: I was free... and it wasn't even noon yet.  I contemplated all of the things I could do before settling on an extended nap.  It was all for the best.  I crashed hard and woke up feeling AWESOME!

Now you might be wondering why I've been put in charge of everything.  After all I'm clearly not responsible enough to do this on a full-time basis.  My wife is out of town and I'm in charge as a result.  I should go right to bed when I get home but I checked out Anchorman II from the library Wednesday afternoon and I kind of want to watch it.  I've also taken the next few days off, so I can watch the kids.  It'll be tough to go to bed first thing when I get home knowing I'm about to start a long weekend.  Oh, well.  I'll have plenty of time to sleep over the weekend - let's just hope I keep my sanity in the interim.  Luckily naps are a beautiful thing as well.




The Temperature Roller Coaster Is About To Begin

09/02/14

Now that Labor Day has passed summer is unofficially over; that's also the case meteorologically speaking.  Because weather that's more in tune w/ a particular season doesn't always begin when said season starts meteorologists break large-scale changes in the weather down into three-month intervals (it also makes record keeping easier).  As a result meteorological summer begins every year on June 1 (even though astronomical summer didn't start this year until 6/21).  But that makes sense, hot weather becomes a lot more common in early June (sometimes late May) and not particularly on the Summer Solstice.

Fall-like weather really starts to become more common in early to mid-September (even though the Autumnal Equinox isn't until 9/23 this year).  That's why meteorological fall begins every year on September 1.  It'll run through November with meteorological winter starting on December 1.  But just b/c we've started meteorological fall doesn't mean the summer-like weather is finished.

It'll be warm on Wednesday and sunny as high pressure moves over us (see figure 1).  It's also going to be a bit less muggy as air w/ lower dew points are working in while I type this.  As that high sits on top of us we'll also see light winds so Wednesday is looking great.  The heat & humidity will surge on Thursday and we'll see highs in the upper 80s but it'll feel more like we're in the 90s.

By Friday we'll see even warmer & muggier weather as we flirt with 90.  A cold front will be working through late on Friday and into Saturday (see figure 2).  This isn't necessarily good for the football games b/c it'll bring showers & storms.  One thing we have working for us is the fact that right now it looks like the front will push through late in the games (if not after them) which would be a little better timing for this next system.  Rain continues through Friday night and Saturday morning getting heavy at times.  We'll see showers tapering off through Saturday afternoon and it'll be cooler.

By Sunday that next area of high pressure will have its sights set on the area (see figure 3).  This will not only bring more sunshine but cooler air will also be working in and fall-like conditions will be here by the end of the weekend.  That pattern continues on Monday and Tuesday will be a little warmer but it'll still be pretty comfortable and nice.  So hotter weather is coming but it won't be here that long and the payoff will be worth it once we're enjoying a nice, cooler pattern by Sunday.

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Back-To-School Blues

08/29/14

Anyone who has kids knows how expensive they can be.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently released it's annual report on the cost to raise a child and it came in @ just under 250K (and that's BEFORE college).  So it's not cheap.  But any parent (or @ least most... I hope) would tell you it's worth every penny.

I have three children and I don't mind paying for the food, clothing and housing that comes with them.  I think it's a good investment in the future (mine, theirs and society's as a whole).  I've told you in this forum before that I know how to stretch a dollar so I look @ that $250,000 figure as a personal challenge.  I know I can do it for as little as half the cost.  And seeing that I have all girls I can further cut corners (hand-me-downs, old make-up, etc.) and probably raise all three for the price of one.  Of course once I factor in all of the hidden costs - weddings, decreased health during their teenage years and the price of the anger therapy I'll need when guys come around hoping to date them - it'll probably end up being a wash.

Like I said, I don't mind spending the money... for most things.  One thing that's been driving me nuts as of late is all of money I've been spending since my kids have gone back to school; and I'm not talking about the normal stuff.  For the past three weeks it's been a flurry of checks for school fees, stocking up the lunch accounts, PTO initiation, etc.  It's crazy!  We've probably spent @ least a few hundred dollars on these "soft costs" as I like to call them. 

I know that I've got to cover some basic back-to-school expenses: clothes, supplies, etc.  But "soft costs" are costs that I don't actually see - other than the money that leaves my checking account.  When my kids or wife tell me we need to send in a check for this or that nine times out of ten it's for something that makes me ask, "Don't we pay taxes for this?"  And not just that but we passed our levy last year which means I'm already paying more on that front.  I thought the whole point of paying my taxes was so I wouldn't get hit w/ these unforeseen costs.

I think what I dislike the most is the PTO costs.  They're not very high - probably the cheapest of all the charges.  But I have no desire whatsoever to join that thing.  Maybe the $30 I paid covers the fact that I don have too.  If that's the case it's money well spent.

We're now three weeks into the school year and the money keeps on flowing out of the family's pocketbook.  My wife tells me that we should be done now which is good.  Of course my face doesn't hold that smile very long b/c I'm not stupid (despite what the critics say).  The realist in me knows that when my wife says we're "done" we're really just done... for now.




My Daily Snack Is A Little Duller These Days

08/27/14

I'm a creature of habit.  I go to sleep and get out of bad @ roughly the same times each day.  My workout routine doesn't vary that much (which I've heard isn't good if one wants to avoid plateauing).  I even clean myself @ the same time every day.  My wife says I'm OCD (or obsessive compulsive), I call it CDO which is OCD in alphabetical order.

One habit that is tough for me to break pertains to my eating schedule.  I eat pretty much the same breakfast every day and pack the same work lunch for the most part.  That snack typically consists of @ least two fruits or vegetables (usually an apple and a banana or blueberries this time of year), a mini Slim Jim, a Fiber One bar, a Baby Bell low-fat mini cheese wheel and eight Pretzel Crisps that I spread Laughing Cow Garlic & Herb cheese onto.  Sometimes I may miss one or two of these if I haven't made it to the store but the eight Pretzel Crisps, cheese & Fiber One bar make it into the mix just about every time (especially the pretzel crisps - I love those).

Well, you can only imagine my dismay when I went to Sam's Club the other day only to find that my beloved Pretzel Crisps were discontinued.  No, they didn't stop making them the store just decided to stop carrying them.  I'm devastated... okay maybe that's too strong a word but I'm pretty upset.  Those things are awesome and I've literally eaten them just about every day for the past four years.

My question is why would the store do such a thing?  It's terrible, unjustified and downright cruel.  What are those of us who have a salt tooth to do when hunger strikes and we crave a low-fat, low-calorie alternative to the typical sodium-infused fare?  Yes, I could eat Fritos (which are awesome) but they're a little greasier than I like which makes them a bit of an indulgence on my part.  I'm sorry but I want that healthy, sensible, "fresh out of the oven" flavor that Pretzel Crisps have been delivering throughout their lifetime.

Now you're probably wondering, "Why don't you just start buying them @ the grocery store?" which is a good point.  My answer: b/c Sam's Club offered the "party size".  The only bags I see in the grocery store are like half the size for only about 50 cents cheaper; not only am I a creature of habit but I'm also frugal.  One has to be with three kids... all daughters!  That's a lot of weddings for which I need to save.  I can't, in good conscience, justify spending nearly twice as much on a product when I know I'm missing out on such a good deal.

I registered a complaint with the store via the suggestion box but honestly, I fear I may not have much recourse in this matter.  I'll tell you one thing, I'm going to find out if the other big box store coming to the area carries my favorite snack and if it does I'll switch allegiances in a heartbeat.  If not I'll probably have to break down and start buying the smaller/more expensive bags - that or order the larger ones by the case online - b/c I've been switching out the crisps with a few different popular snacks over the past few days and it hasn't been pretty.  The alternatives just aren't cutting the mustard - which, not surprisingly, tastes awesome on Pretzel Crisps.




The Heat is On!!!

08/25/14

If you've been complaining about the lack of summertime heat chances are you've been pretty happy as of late (I don't mind it so much, it's nice to have some pool weather).  The reason we've see this warm up is b/c of what the jet stream is doing.  I've talked about this thing a lot this summer but that's because it's been so active. 

The jet stream is a river of fast moving air high in the atmosphere that separates colder air to the north from warmer air to the south.  It steers storm systems around the country and when it retreats to the north as it's done recently (see figure 1) that warmer air is allowed to make its way to the north as well.  Think back to one of the many "tastes of fall" we've had this summer.  We saw those cooler temperatures b/c of a dip in the jet.  Now that it's moved to the north of us we're looking at the opposite of the cool, pleasant air masses we've been enjoying over the past few months.

We won't stay scorching hot for long, though.  By Wednesday a weak cold front will work into the area (see figure 2).  That will bring us some rain in the morning and early afternoon on Wednesday.  But as it drifts to the south we'll see some slightly cooler and drier, less humid air taking hold.  By Thursday temperatures will be back near the seasonal average and the air mass will be a little more comfortable.  Friday will warm up to slightly above average but it shouldn't be too muggy.  Saturday will start to turn a bit warmer & muggier.

By Sunday we're tracking the next cold front (see figure 3).  This will bring us scattered showers & storms throughout the day.  Right now (and there's still time for this to change) it looks like that front will be moving out of the area through Sunday afternoon and evening.  That should make for a pretty nice Labor Day as some slightly cooler air (seasonal highs) and lower humidity levels take hold once again in the region... just in time for your cookout!

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Take That, Planned Obsolescence!

08/22/14

I've often heard people say "they don't build 'em like they used to".  I don't know if it's true but if it is it kind of upsets me b/c that means I'm forced buying newer, cheaper stuff.  Don't get me wrong, living in this modern world is nice b/c of all of the technological advances we have @ our fingertips but if we can put a computer on a phone that's infinitely more advanced than the one I used to have in my dorm room @ school why can't we build a sturdy couch & sell it for a reasonable price?

One modern luxury who's longevity didn't disappoint me recently is my little key fob clicker for the car.  You know, the little thing that attaches to your keychain that can be used to lock/unlock the doors, pop the trunk or set off the "panic" button - which is something I've never used intentionally (I've pressed it by accident).  One time I was worried that the ice cream in my car would melt b/c it was a hot day and I had to leave it while I did some errands but I hardly thought that warranted pressing the little red button.  Anyway that little electronic wonder has served me well... until now.

It's been having issues performing basic functions over the past few weeks.  The lock button has been giving me trouble and sometimes the unlock button doesn't work as well as it should.  But I've had it for almost nine years.  For a tiny, cheap contraption that's pretty good.  What's more impressive is the fact that the trunk pop and panic button still work so it's not a battery issue, it's just wear & tear on the parts I use most.  I kind of wish it was a battery issue b/c now I'm a little upset that they can't make the batteries my kids use to power their toys last this long; I wouldn't have to worry about saving for college - I could just use the "battery money" to fund it.

I have to admit that I'm also a little surprised the thing has made it this long.  I have a Dodge Neon and let's not kid ourselves - it's far from the best automobile on the road.  Yes, it's kind of a piece of junk but it's my piece of junk... and it's paid off.  That means I'll continue to drive it until one of two things happens: it's dies or I run into a deal that's so good I can't pass it up (like 75% off).  I feel like I'm getting away w/ something every time I drive it b/c I figured by now "planned obsolescence" would've set in and both the key fob and the car would no longer be working.

Thankfully I was wrong on this one.  And luckily for me my car came w/ two sets of keys - even better is the fact that I haven't lost the other one by now.  That means I just have to swap out my old set and I'm back in business.  As much as I've grown attached to that old key I'm loving my new one.  Both it and the fob haven't been worn down by time and feel nice and new when I hold them - that may not sound like a big deal but it makes me happy.  I'm even more excited that I'll get to use this set for the next nine years.  In theory if they gave me two sets and they each last nine years then my car should stay on the road for 18 years.  Oh wait, I drive a Dodge Neon - you and I both know that won't happen... even though it only has 95,000 miles (I'll keep my fingers crossed, but I'm not holding my breath).




Life Is Funny Sometimes

08/19/14

Why did the chicken cross the road?  It's an age old question that often results in an inappropriate to a mundane answer.  Honestly, the first time I heard the joke I didn't think it was very funny and just figured that humor wasn't as advanced "back then" when it was originally written.

Police in Portland, Oregon found themselves asking that very question recently when the were sent to a scene along a busy stretch of road.  Turns out a chicken was trying to cross a highway during the middle of rush-hour traffic was causing a potentially dangerous situation.  In the end the bird got away but authorities want to underscore the fact that "animals in the roadway [are] no laughing matter".  While I agree w/ that statement I have to amend it to say that animals in the roadway are no laughing matter... unless nobody gets hurt and we're referring to this story in particular - b/c it's pretty funny.

I know I'd laugh out loud if I was driving 55 mph and saw a barnyard animal - a chicken no less - weaving in and out of traffic.  Part of me wouldn't believe what I'd just seen.  Apparently the police had some trouble accepting is as well.  In an audio clip that was released to the public the dispatcher can be heard telling them that "this is actually not a prank call."

I think what I find most humorous is that a chicken would be the LAST animal I'd expect to see running across the road.  A squirell, yes.  Someone's pet, sadly yes.  Heck I'd expect to see a cow before I'd see a chicken.  My only regret is that no one got video - or even a still photograph - of the incident.  You'd think that with all of the cameras out there today someone would have gotten something.  Of course maybe that's why no one was hurt - they were paying attention to the road and not playing w/ their phones.

Even better is the fact that in a release to the public, "officers [were] Unable to determine [the] chicken's intent".  It's a bird!  It probably didn't have any other intent than being hungry and thinking food was @ the other end of the highway.  But since the police couldn't figure this one out sadly we'll likely never figure out why this chicken crossed the road.  I'm going to go out on a limb and say it was probably to get to the other side.




Summer Is Back!!!

08/18/14

I can't even begin to recall how many times I've talked about another fall-like pattern setting up over summer 2014 in this forum on a Monday night.  That's not the case with this entry.  The reason behind the seemingly never-ending barrage of pleasant air masses this year is b/c the jet stream has had a number of buckles in it over the past few months.

The jet stream is a river of fast moving air that sits high in the atmosphere.  It steers storm systems around the country and separates warm air to the south from cooler air in the north.  As it has made a number of dips to the south over our region we've seen cooler than average weather over the summer months.  Well, the jet stream has finally done what it normally does this time of year: it's retreated to the north (see figure 1).

As a result the warmer, muggier air that we associate with summer has made a big time comeback in the Miami Valley.  Not only has the heat returned to the area but it'll be sticking around... for awhile.  We'll see temperatures in the mid & upper 80s through the week, weekend and even into next week.  But with that warmer & muggier weather we'll also see the return to the typical afternoon showers and storms that a common during the long, hot summer months (see figure 2).

By the time we hit the weekend the pattern will be changing ever so slightly.  As alluded to before the heat isn't going anywhere.  But as a ridge of high pressure moves over the area it'll stretch through the upper levels of the atmosphere (see figure 3).  This will kick the heat up a notch and we'll be flirting with 90 by the end of the weekend.  As this stable air extends high into the atmosphere it'll shut off the pop-up thunderstorm machine that will play a role in the coming afternoons.  This will mean hotter and drier weather heading through the weekend and into the next week.

I'm kind of liking this weather pattern.  Yes, I've enjoyed this comfortable, mild summer but I don't mind a little scorching heat - just not too much.  Now I'll be able to take advantage of the pool membership we bought @ the beginning of the season.  Not only that but according to my wife as it heats up a little our tomatoes will start to ripen.  Our cherry tomatoes have been doing well so far this season but I think I saw a few of our heirlooms turning orange earlier today - I can taste them already.

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Funny Things Happen When You're Not Paying Attention

08/13/14

We all encounter certain milestones as we travel through life.  Each phase of it seems to have its own subset of landmarks.  Our childhoods are filled w/ important birthdays, we get our driver's license, eventually graduate high school and then travel off into the world.  From there we get our first job, make important moves in our career and some of us eventually get married. 

If you're lucky enough to be a parent you encounter your own set of turning points: your kids are born,  grow up, move out and eventually make you grandparents (hopefully).  Wednesday morning I experienced one of those monumental parental events.  More on that in just a second.

It's late summer which means it's time for the kids to head back to school and that's just what my children were doing early Wednesday morning.  But that didn't come w/out problems.  If you were like me when you were younger you likely stayed up too late during the summer months and never got "back on schedule" in time for the first day of school.  As a result the first day or two back were usually spent in a dazed fog of confusion fueled by a lack of sleep.  While I don't know what it was like for my children I know it couldn't have been good.

That's because when I walked through the door on Tuesday night after a long day of work I thought I heard a child talking.  "No way!" I told myself.  "It's about midnight, they've got to be asleep."  Then I heard more talking and went to figure out its source.  To my surprise (and annoyance) my oldest was still awake.  I told her it was time for bed and she replied that she knew but couldn't sleep b/c her younger sister was being too loud.  Upon investigation I learned that my middle child was still awake as well and had geared herself up so much that she was now over-tired... and wired.

She wasn't nervous about actually going to school - she was really excited for it.  The problem was that she was so enthusiastic that she couldn't sleep.  That then got her nervous about being too tired for the next day.  She'd gotten so worried that that was all she could think about which made it nearly impossible to go to sleep.  I was mad.  I told her to suck it up and she said she understood.

After that I asked her if she wanted a lay down time.  She said yes so I reluctantly obliged - mind you, it was about 1:00 A.M. by this point... and she had to be @ the bus stop by 7:30.  It wasn't looking good.  As she fidgeted in bed I kept telling her to just breathe slowly, relax and see how high she could count (that's always helps me when I can't sleep).  I don't think it worked b/c I ended up dozing off and when I awoke @ 2:30 she was still twitching.  @ this point I told her I was going to put on one of her "story CDs" and left to sleep in my own bed - still mad.  Whatever it was it must have worked b/c we didn't hear anything for the rest of the night and she seemed to have gotten enough sleep by the time morning rolled around.  As I type this I haven't heard anything from my wife about a repeat so I'm assuming she's sound asleep right now... or @ least hoping.

So what's the milestone I encountered earlier?  I sent my youngest off to kindergarten Wednesday morning.  Well, I didn't... after all, sleep was hard to come by the previous night.  But I was there to welcome her off the bus.  It was a little bittersweet.  On the one hand I'm glad she's growing up and very happy that she's so excited to go learn all of the fun stuff she'll eventually be taught (I think education is one of the most important things we can get in this life).  But on the flip side of that coin my baby is growing up - which makes me a little sad.  Luckily I'll still be able to see her before I head into work every afternoon.  It's just hard to believe the part of my life that entails having a toddler around all day is over.  Hopefully everyone is sleeping when I get home, that way I won't be forced to stay awake thinking about it any longer than I already have too.




Back From Vacation

08/12/14

If you watched @ all last week you probably noticed that I was absent.  There's good reason for that: I was on vacation.  I made my yearly trek up to Northern Lower Michigan.  My uncle has a place up near Glen Lake (see picture 1) and we go up as a family about this time every year.

It's always gorgeous and 2014 was no different.  In fact, this was the best the weather has been in my opinion.  Every single day was a good beach day and North Bar Lake is just one of the great places to spend a lazy day in the sand (see picture 2).  There were a few afternoons that had almost no clouds in the sky.  That made for some gorgeous sunsets (see picture 3).

It was a good break and when it came time to drive home on Saturday I'm not going to lie to you, I wanted to stay another day.  But when I slept in my bed that night I realized we made the right call.

I don't want to say a funny thing happened to me when I got home b/c it's not comical for all of the parties involved.  Let's just say something interesting occurred shortly after we walked through the door.  Sadly for my youngest her fish died while we were away.  My wife didn't say anything to her and told the girl watching our house to empty the fish bowl and put it outside.  BTW, since something died when she was in charge do we have to pay her? - But I digress.

My wife figured if we didn't say anything it would take a few days for our youngest to realize the fish was missing.  I guess she figured it's a goldfish and wouldn't really be missed all that much.  Well, she was wrong.  W/in 10 minutes of getting home my five-year-old asked, "Mommy, where's my fish?" her voice wavering.

My significant other was getting ready for bed; she was tired so I told her I'd take care of the kids and the unpacking.  Upon being asked this question my dear (while flossing her teeth) looked @ my daughter, then @ me, then back @ my daughter and said, "I don't know.  Ask your father, I'm going to bed."  Yep, she threw me under the bus.  I didn't know what to say.  I told her I didn't know, then contemplated blaming its absence on the cat before finally telling her the truth a half second later.  Of course she was sad but when I explained to her that all things die - including everyone she loves and eventually she herself - that didn't seem to help.  Actually I didn't say any of that but I've had to have a variation of that discussion w/ another one of my kids when she inquired about death in the past and it's never fun.

No, I just hugged her and told her the fish had gone to Fish Heaven and was in a much better place.  She got over it pretty quickly but I still felt bad for her.  While my wife thanked me for handling the situation each of my friends who've heard the story thinks my wife's original reaction was priceless - it's amazing how much one's perspective can change when they're not the one in the hot seat.

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More Fall-Like Weather This Week

08/11/14

It's felt a little like summer as of late but that trend won't hold.  A storm system will drag another cold front across the area on Tuesday (see figure 1).  This will bring us the chance for another round of showers & storms.  Right now the best chance for that action will be in the late morning through the mid-afternoon.  There's not a big threat for severe weather but some storms could have hail and gusty winds - especially for folks who are east of I-75.

By Wednesday afternoon high pressure - our fair weather friend - will be taking hold (see figure 2).  This will bring us another round of sunshine and gorgeous weather.  That high pressure isn't going to move much through the second half of the week which means the nice weather will be slow to depart.  Not only will this bring sunshine during the day but we'll also see some cool conditions @ night.  Expect highs to be in the mid-70s to right around 80 on Wednesday, Thursday & Friday and each of those days will start in the mid and upper 50s (great sleeping weather).

By Saturday our high will be drifting east which means we'll start warming up a little.  We'll see highs in the low to mid-80s which is right in line with the long-term seasonal average.  That high will continue to shift to the east through the day and by Sunday it'll be far enough to the east that we'll be under the influence of the return flow. 

That return flow will usher in a change in the winds which will shift to the southwest (see figure 3).  This will begin pumping up warmer and muggier air.  It won't feel much like August this week but by the second half of the weekend summer will really take hold.  And with that added heat & humidity we'll see the chance for a few showers and storms heading through the afternoon.  So enjoy yet another fall-like pattern this week and get ready to blast that air conditioning over the weekend when the heat & humidity take hold once again.

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Yet Another Taste Of Fall

07/28/14

After seeing a confirmed tornado touchdown on Sunday we've watched our spring like pattern turn into a taste of fall in a matter of hours.  Monday only saw a high of 77 and we had very low humidity which means Monday felt a lot more like autumn than mid-summer.

The reason it's so cool is b/c of what's happening with the jet stream (see figure 1).  That's the river of fast moving air high in the atmosphere.  It separates warm air to the south from cooler air to the north.  Typically in late July it's retreated well to the north and we see hot and muggy conditions.  This July it's dipped over us a few times and we're now looking @ our fourth bout of temps that are well below average this month - which is ironically the hottest month of the year; statistically speaking.

The jet will be firmly planted over us through the week and with those cool temperatures over us through the atmosphere we won't see see much changing.  Expect each day this week to see plenty of sun to start with clouds building through the afternoon.  Both Tuesday and Wednesday will see the chance for an isolated shower in the afternoon.  There's a slightly better chance for rain and maybe even a rumble of thunder on Wednesday afternoon (see figure 2).

Temperatures will slowly warm into the mid-70s by Wednesday and then make their way into the upper 70s and low 80s by the end of the week.  By Saturday we're back near average and on Sunday another area of high pressure is moving over the area (see figure 3) which means more sun will take hold.  Highs on Sunday & Monday will top out near 80.

All-in-all it's looking like another pleasant weather pattern is on the way.  If you love this weather that's good news for you.  If you want to make the most of the pool membership you shelled out for @ the beginning of the season, not so much.  I'm enjoying this weather but I can't help but wonder if we'll end up paying for it with a mid-September heat wave; just like the one in 2013.  BTW that heat came after all the pools had closed or the season.

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Home Alone!

07/23/14

Last week my two oldest were @ camp this week my wife and kids are down in Tennessee on Norris Lake.  I went down for the weekend and had a great time but now I'm back here... and they're down there.  If you can't tell I'm a little melancholy as a result.

Time away from the family always sounds like a great thing in theory.  I get to eat what I want, stay up late watching movies (loudly), sleep in as late as I want, etc.  But Wednesday was day three of my "bachelor reprieve" and to be honest I'm getting a little bored.

I don't know what it is but it always seems like this happens whenever the wife & kids leave town.  I plan on having a good time & "raging" but after a day or so it hits me: I'm old and staying up till 4:00 in the morning means my body & mind will be shot the following day.  Then I just end up going home after work and getting in bed @ a reasonable hour which doesn't sound like fun @ all.

I think what I miss most is the noise that comes w/ a busy house.  The only being I have to talk too is the dog when I get home.  Yes, I could converse w/ the cat but she's a little snooty and only chooses to spend time w/ me when she wants something (ie. food or to be pet).  And @ the end of the day I really can't get into that in depth of a conversation w/ my animals.  I'm no expert but it's probably not healthy to get into a deep discussion w/ them on a regular (or even semi-regular) basis.  Ironically the quiet is always the thing I most enjoy during the first day or so of my new found freedom.  Now it's almost like a prison.

I guess I should look @ the bright side: they'll be back this weekend.  I should also finish up some projects around the house b/c I don't have any kids around to impede my progress.  I also have the room to get some work done b/c my house has been immaculate (by a guy's standard) over the past few days.  That's one thing I don't miss when my kids are gone: the mess that comes w/ them.  So I should also relish the fact that I can see all of my floors right now... if only for a short while.




I Know What I Want In My Next Car

07/22/14

Are your kids loud & unruly on long car trips?  Do they constantly ask, "Are we there yet"?  I guess in a nutshell I'm asking if they're ever a handful when you're driving to your vacation destination.  Awhile back my in-laws got us some plug-in car jack DVD players and they've been a life saver.  If that's not an option Toyota's 2015 Sienna minivan may have the answer.

The new model will offer a first time "Driver Easy Speak".  It's a microphone built into the vehicle that's tied to speakers in the back seats.  This amplifies a parent's voice basically making it easier to yell @ your kids.  I, for one, love this idea and am a little sad our Odyssey has only 100,000 miles on it - I'm going to have to wait awhile before I need a new van and by the time I do two of my kids will likely be in college which means we won't need a minivan anymore.

But this got me wondering, just how loud are these kids in vans that mom or dad needs a microphone to speak over them?  I mean my kids can be loud but I can be waaaay louder - don't even get me started on the pipes my wife possesses.  I don't ever see myself needing a microphone to be heard while driving - even if I had laryngitis.

But just b/c I don't need one doesn't mean I don't want a microphone.  I have to admit that I'd use this feature for evil and not for good, though.  This feature gives the driver's voice near God-like qualities... able to halt/interrupt any conversation for any reason, or lack thereof, whatsoever.  That's pretty sweet, even if it can lead to an abuse of that power.

I'd use it for all sorts of things.  I'd tell my kids they need to remember to flush the toilet when they're friends were on board.  I'd act like a tour bus driver making up fake historical facts as I drove through the various cities across this great country.  I'd even sing bad karaoke whenever Katy Perry popped up on the radio.  And when my daughters are old enough to go to the junior high dance I'd make sure to utilize it to remind their dates not to try any funny business b/c I'll find out... after all, I'm everywhere - evidenced by my omnipresent voice emanating from every speaker in the vehicle.  Ah, the possibilities are endless.

But perhaps the best thing about this new feature is the fact that it only works one way meaning your kids can't talk back using their own amplified voices.  Oh, they can - and probably will - try.  But that's when you just turn up the volume comforted by the fact that no matter what they do you can always be louder.




The Heat Is On... But Not For Long

07/21/14

We're now in the final days of July and Monday finally started feeling a bit like summer.  We climbed to the mid-80s and it was a little humid so it felt a little warmer than that.  All-in-all it wasn't too bad of a day and that's b/c we had high pressure sitting on top of us (see figure 1).  That brought us our light winds along w/ plenty of sunshine.

That high will sit on top of us and even push off to the east which will shift our winds to the south and eventually southwest.  This will pump up even more heat and humidity.  By Tuesday afternoon we're talking about highs on either side of 90 across the area.  That will mark only the fourth time we've hit 90 so far this year and it'll be the first time we've done that in the month of July (which is statistically the hottest month of the year).

These hot temperatures won't last long, though.  A cold front will push through here on Wednesday (see figure 2).  This won't just knock down the temperatures but it'll also bring us the chance for showers & storms.  Right now the timing of this front looks to come sometime in the late morning/early afternoon.  This will limit the amount of instability that we see out ahead of our next system.  Widespread severe weather isn't expected in our area (there's a better chance south of us) but a few storms could produce gusty winds.

After a few early showers on Thursday things will begin clearing through the afternoon and the next batch of gorgeous weather will take hold.  We'll see lower humidity levels and highs in the upper 70s and low 80s as another area of high pressure brings us some pleasant weather to round out the work week (see figure 3).

Sunday looks to be a little wetter with showers and storms developing in the afternoon.  Some showers will linger into Monday and highs by the end of the weekend will be in the low 80s.

So get out and enjoy the pool while you can because the furnace won't be on that long.  Of course if you can't make it to the pool on Tuesday you'll always be able to go Friday and Saturday - sunshine and low 80s sounds like pretty good pool weather if you ask me.

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Yet Another Reminder That I'm Getting Old

07/18/14

In the past I've used this forum to lament my slow march into old age.  Sadly that fact of life reared its ugly head once again on Friday.

I was getting my exercise on (I think that's how the kids put it) and all was going well.  Just so you know I don't really exercise b/c I like it.  I don't do it b/c I know it can help me live longer.  And I sure as heck don't do it b/c I know I should.  I'm sure that all of these factors into the decision but truth be told I'm almost middle aged and I don't want to give up eating what I want.  Now I don't go out and eat tons of terrible, fatty foods but b/c I exercise daily (or @ least weekdaily) I don't feel bad whenever I want to indulge myself.  I still overeat more often than not but I'm 6'4" tall so I need to keep this "machine" fueled (exercising is akin to the "tune up").  And @ least it's healthy food that I'm eating.  If I'm going to overindulge I guess it's better that I stuff myself w/ salad instead of cheeseburgers - or @ least that's my theory.

Well, after my workout I was feeling pretty good.  I'd finished reading the paper and my Time magazine and the endorphins were rushing through my body.  @ least I felt great... for a few minutes.  By the time I got home my left foot was killing me.  But it wasn't a constant pain it seemed to come & go every five minutes or so always peaking when I put my weight on it.

I couldn't understand it.  I'd never had this happen before and it made mowing my lawn (a chore I despise) that much less enjoyable.  I figured it couldn't be a break b/c the pain wasn't constant and it wasn't bruised.  So my only guess was that it was a foot cramp. 

That got me wondering, "How the heck do I get a foot cramp after spending a half hour on the elliptical?"  I wasn't exercising any more vigorously than I normally do.  I'm not breaking in a new pair of shoes.  And lets face it: the elliptical is the easiest machine in the gym - it's like the blow-off class we all take in school to pad our grade point average (a.k.a. bowling... which I aced in college).  Nope, I'm just getting old.  That means that from time to time new aches and pains pop up out of nowhere only to remind me that I'm in the midst of undergoing the inevitable.  And honestly, it's no fun and I'm really not all that wild about my newest reminder.  My wife had to rub arnica and that menthol-smelling stuff on it to remedy the situation.  On the bright side my left foot smelled a lot like a spearmint gum factory; which is pretty refreshing and a lot better than it normally smells.

I think the most frustrating part about all of it is the fact that day-by-day I see the warranties on different parts of my body expiring.  Sadly I can't opt for the extended version... which ironically I thought I was doing by exercising in the first place.




Partially Empty Nest

07/16/14

It's been a fairly uneventful week in the Booth household.  My two oldest are off @ camp - hopefully having fun.  They left on Sunday and even though I miss them I have to say that I'm digging the fact that my house is - and more importantly, has stayed - clean.  My wife & I still have our youngest running around the house but it's a lot harder for a four-year-old to trash the place than it is for three kids under the age of 14 to do so (in theory).

Not only has it been uneventful it's also been very quiet.  I think that's been the hardest adjustment.  There's no one around to play the same song over-and-over... loudly I might add.  Nobody has been sneaking into the junk food (I can put it out of the reach of my youngest).  And there's also a lot fewer neighborhood kids stopping by.  Two of those are good for my afternoon nap and one is bad for my waistline - you do the math.

As much as I'm enjoying the peace and the cleanliness I can't help but feel a little unfulfilled.  Truth be told it's kind of boring w/out two of my three kids in the house.  It's also kind of saddening.  This will be the norm in eight short years and by that time my youngest will be a teenager and want to have virtually nothing to do w/ my wife & I. 

I always thought Cliff Huxtable (Bill Cosby) on the Cosby show was crazy to keep letting his kids move back into the house after they'd grown up but now I sort of understand it.  Yes, it was a bit of a ratings ploy to keep the original cast around for each new season.  But it's been so dull as of late that I can kind of "get" the reasoning behind keeping the kids around for longer than planned.  Of course I'm not allowed to turn either of my children's rooms into a man cave/media room this week (after all, they're coming back) so maybe I'll feel a lot differently when they go off to college - I already know where I'm putting the pool table.

And for all of the changes I've seen this week I still can't explain one thing: why, w/ two fewer kids in the house, I'm still struggling to get the remote so I can watch Jeopardy! on my dinner break.  Oh, well.  @ least I have Tivo - now I've got something to watch when I get home @ night.




Time To Step Back & Reflect

07/15/14

It's been over two months since my last post regarding the Cincinnati Redlegs and as I sit in the studio late on a Tuesday night waiting for the All Star Game to end I figure this is as good a time as any to step back & take stock of the 2014 season as it has unfolded so far.

In my previous post I lamented about many of the things that happened to be going wrong with the organization.  I wasn't losing faith... but I was venting frustration.  Now that we're @ the break I have to say I'm pleasantly surprised w/ the team's performance as of late.  And I think the term "team" is very fitting b/c that's how the boys in red have been playing.

They've won or tied 10 of their last 11 series; including a four-game sweep of the Giants... in San Francisco!  The team has been on a tear in the division.  But more than that they've been finding ways to win: two-out rallies, big time comebacks, good pitching, you name it!  It's been fun to watch.

I think what I find most exciting is how everyone has come together when they needed to.  There have been some big injuries on this squad.  From the start of the season up to this point guys have had trouble staying healthy.  And I'm not talking about "joe schmo off-the-bench" I'm talking about major pieces of this puzzle; some of the biggest play makers on the team.  But it has weathered the storm so far as the lesser known names have stepped up to the task.  I think the best surprise of the season has been Alfredo Simon.  He stepped into the rotation when Latos went down w/ injury and he hasn't looked back since; posting one of the best first halves of the season thus far.  As of now w/ 12 he's tied for the most wins in both leagues... sharing the honor w/ Adam Wainwright, Rick Porcello & Mashahiro Tanaka - that's good company to be in.

All of this has led the Reds going into the All Star Break a mere 1.5 games back to the division leading Milwaukee Brewers.  And honestly they could easily be in the lead by a few games if they'd done just a few things differently.  But that's "coulda, shoulda, woulda" and nobody knows for sure how any of the games they lost would've turned out if one little thing had gone differently.  For now I'm just happy that they've been able to turn it on and reach back to grab a little something extra when they've needed it.  I hope the second half of the season is as exciting as the first - I could use a little less frustration from time to time, though.




Mother Nature Has Mixed Up Her Seasons

07/14/14

Get ready for some big changes in the weather pattern this week.  It's been warm & muggy as of late but that's changing as I type.  In fact it won't feel much like mid-Summer; it'll feel a lot more like Autumn this week.

A cold front is going to come through Monday night and out behind it the cooler air will take hold.  It'll also be a lot drier as high pressure moves in Tuesday afternoon shifting winds to the northwest (see figure 1).  This will bring us sunshine Tuesday afternoon and it will last into Wednesday.

But as that high drifts over us (see figure 2) our winds will die off and that will lead to clear skies and light winds @ night.  That sets up for the situation known as radiational cooling.  Without any clouds around to trap in the day's heat (and there won't be much to begin w/) and w/out winds around to mix warmer air down to the surface we'll watch any leftover heat just float off into space.  This is why we're tracking near-record lows on both Wednesday and Thursday mornings.  We'll see lows around the upper 40s/low 50s to start both of those days.  Wednesday could also see a record for the coolest daytime high broken.  So no matter how you slice it we're looking @ the potential for record-setting cold this week.

The temperature will slowly warm to the mid and upper 70s by Thursday & Friday and we'll climb back into the 80s over the weekend.  With that added heat we'll also see some added humidity but it shouldn't be too bad until Monday (see figure 3).  As a result Monday has the best chance for rain and storms later in the day.

Enjoy the coming weather this week b/c it's going to feel fantastic!  We'll get plenty of sun but it won't be relentlessly hot & muggy like it normally is this time of year.  If you're going to miss the heat don't worry; it'll be back before you know it.  For now I'm going to enjoy this chance to dry out and relax in sun whilst I lie on my hammock!

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Minivan Men Of The World... Unite!

07/11/14

The past few mornings my wife has been driving around my car.  Part of me feels sorry for her b/c it's a 10-year-old Dodge Neon (pronounced Do-jay Nay-on' on the racing circuit).  The car wasn't that great to begin w/... now add a decade to it & I think you can see from where I'm coming.  The reason she's using it is b/c she's had to make a few long drives and it gets a lot better gas mileage than her car.

But that means I'm stuck in her car and she drives a maroon Honda Odyssey.  If you're unfamiliar w/ the vehicle it's a minivan.  While I haven't quite hit mid-life (or so I hope) I can't help but feel that a Neon to an Odyssey is the wrong direction in which I should be stepping.  If anything I should be looking @ a Mustang or some sort of convertible that would help me recapture my lost youth (or so I hope).  But no, the past few mornings I've been a man in his late-30s zipping around (as much as one can in an Odyssey) in a minivan.

Not that the vehicle isn't cool - even though many would argue it isn't - it's just that I feel a little weird sitting in the captain's chair with my hands firmly placed @ 10:00 & 2:00 on the over-sized steering wheel.  Or @ least I felt a little weird in this scenario. 

I change the tense b/c during my last jaunt in the "Maroon Belle" - as I like to call her - I realized something: I was in the midst of a little bit of all right.  The thing is sweet!  It's got a comfortable chair.  It sits high up so I can fully scan the horizon in front of me warding off potential danger before it even becomes a factor in my daily driving.  And don't even get me started on the roominess... it's like a banquet hall in that thing (especially compared to my sub-compact).  I could fit a multiple sheets of plywood a bunch of two-by-fours and a band saw in there - not that I have any need too but it makes the minivan a bit more manly knowing I could do that if I wanted to.  It's also really safe - a feature that's often overlooked when car shopping... by me @ least.

 Toss on the wrap-around shades, blast the stereo (take it off NPR first) and roll down the windows.  Dig the scene - w/ the gangsta lean - and do what I did: declare yourself minivan proud!  Sure, some people may look @ you funny but the world is full of haters - pay them no mind, they're just jealous (or mocking me).  And if you see me around town in a 2008 maroon Honda Odyssey don't feel bad for me.  Know that I'm Jeff Booth, 37-year-old man... rockin' the mom van!  (Which rhymes and if today's youth culture has taught me anything it's that if something rhymes it's automatically cool).




Potato, Po-tah-toe, Tomato, To-mah-toe... Let's All Get Rich!!!

07/10/14

I've never been a big fan of potato salad - I don't dislike it, I'm just not in a hurry to eat it.  My feeling is that if I'm grilling out and I have room for potato salad I've got room for more steak.  Even though I don't love the dish I am a huge fan of Zach Danger Brown.  He's the man who launched a Kickstarter campaign to make potato salad.  Not the best potato salad ever, not the "new-fangled super-hip foodie's dream" potato salad... just a run-of-the-mill batch of the backyard barbecue staple.

That in and of itself is impressive.  But the fact that he's raised over $45,000 to fund his endeavor (as of Thursday night) makes him a genius in my book.  The Columbus man originally hoped to raise 10 bucks but apparently the idea has caught on.

After giving the guy kudos when I first heard about his venture I then wanted to kick myself.  A few years back I thought it would be a good idea to use Kickstarter to fund my campaign to make the perfect India Pale Ale.  I brew beer and figured it would be a great way to get a few batches paid for and also give me an excuse to publish some of my recipes on-line.  I also planned on buying a really cool computer if I raised enough money.  One could argue that that wouldn't be honest but I would've used it for research, purchase of ingredients and posting of recipes which is legit in my book.  Granted, my old computer would have done this just as well but a newer, faster one could do it that much cooler and therefore that much better.

Knowing what I'd do w/ that $45,000 of "strings free" I can't help but wonder if all of that money will be used solely for potato salad improvement.  Because honestly when you think about it putting the money raised towards the advertised cause leaves a lot of room for "creative overhead".  I'm not going to lie to you, I do some of my best thinking in a new pair of comfortable shoes; which means I might need a new pair of comfortable shoes to accomplish to any Kickstarter goal I may set for myself in the future.  It's easy to guess where the money would come from.

Knowing the little I do about the entrepreneurial Mr. Brown it sounds like he might be a little more responsible with his new found windfall than I would be were I in his shoes (which would be a lot more comfortable if I was - see previous paragraph).  He's said that he wants to do good with the money that been bestowed upon him.  He's even talking about taking excess money and throwing a party - complete with potato salad - in order to raise more money which is pretty cool.  If he does I might have to show up because even though I'm not a huge a fan of potato salad a free batch of it - for a good cause no less - sounds pretty tasty.

The only question I have left is whether or not Brown originally wanted to go w/ egg salad but thought twice after realizing Woody Allen already immortalized the dish in the 1960s w/ his classic What's Up, Tiger Lily?




Past The Halfway Point... And Not Much To Show For It

07/08/14

It happened last week.  Honestly, I've been so busy I forgot to make note of it: we marked the halfway point of the year.  Whether you want to admit it or not it's kind of a milestone when you think about it.  And every time I sit and ponder how fast the time has gone by it still boggles my mind and I always say, "I can't believe it's already ---".  And this time is no different.  I can't believe it's already halfway through the year... crazy!

If I want to be a pessimist - or realist, you make the call - I can lament about all the stuff I haven't accomplished.  And it's a lot!  @ least I've got some good excuses.  I've been busy on a few vacations.  I've been busy almost finishing a book.  (Flash Boys - and it's pretty good - I just haven't had time to get through the last 100 or so pages).  I've also killed time catching up on all of the back-logged shows on my DVR.  Those are my excuses for not doing more.  But that's how a pessimist might see it.

As an optimist I can't help but be impressed w/ all that I've accomplished.  I've left the great state of Ohio three times going on some awesome vacations!  I've almost finished a book; one that's non-fiction... about the financial world no less.  I've also cleared out a lot of the clutter sitting in the cloud from which my cable box can draw.  Those are three impressive things if you ask me.

But that's not all I've "accomplished".  I've checked a few things off the "honey-do" list, installed a hammock & a shade sail in the back yard and even finished a few paintings (see figures 1 & 2).  I'm about halfway done w/ another two so I guess when I think about it I've had a pretty good year so far.

It's still hard to believe that it's halfway over, though.  And admittedly I haven't gotten to one of my bigger goals: I wanted to re-teach myself algebra and trigonometry.  I haven't taken math in almost two decades and my oldest is in advanced 8th grade math next year.  I've already had to help her w/ algebra which hasn't been too bad - after spending about 15-30 minutes reviewing and "re-figuring" it out.  But she's on track to take calculus by the time she's in high school.  I can't just "jump" back into that so I need to work my way up to it.  As a result I need to re-learn algebra & trig.

In my defense I didn't plan on having this goal finished by July 1.  It was more of a summertime/early fall goal, so I've still got time.  And even it I don't quite get there on schedule I can be happy about one thing: I've still got 176 days to accomplish everything I set out to do.  That's one of the beautiful things about this time of year: there's still six months to make it count.

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More Storms This Week

07/07/14

After a gorgeous weekend the work week started off stormy.  We had a number of severe thunderstorm warnings throughout the area Monday afternoon.  I haven't seen many wind reports but severe hail was reported and these storms had lots of lightning and plenty of heavy rain.  We're not done with the stormy pattern just yet either.

Showers & storms will redevelop as a front passes through the area on Tuesday.  These will be capable of bringing heavy rain and lots of lightning once again.  A widespread severe weather threat isn't in the forecast right now but some of these storms could reach severe limits with gusty winds, hail and flooding being the main threats.  Right now IF we get anything it looks like it'll be in the east if not southeastern Miami Valley (mainly east of I-75).  Right now it looks like the heaviest rain will fall in the late morning/early afternoon which would cut down on the severe weather threat (wind & hail... not flooding) in the area.  That front will be clearing the area through the afternoon (see figure 1) which is why I think Eastern Ohio has the best chance for severe weather on Tuesday.

By Wednesday high pressure begins to take hold in the area.  There's still a chance for a spotty shower on Wednesday but that looks to be very isolated... @ best.  Thursday that high will be sitting on top of the area (see figure 2).  That will bring plenty of sunshine and near perfect weather for this time of year.  The nice weather will hold on through Friday and highs will top out right around the long-term seasonal average.

Saturday our high will be drifting off to the east and our winds will shift to the south & SW (see figure 3).  This will lead to warmer & muggier conditions.  And this time of year when it gets warmer and muggier that leads to the threat for more storms.  That's just what we'll see by the end of the day on Saturday: scattered showers & storms.  There's a better chance for rain on Sunday and Monday and with highs in the low to mid-80s and muggy conditions heavy rain will again play a factor in our forecast.

So the beat rolls on for our wet and stormy summer.  While I like the fact my wife doesn't need to water our garden (and I don't need to water my hops) I have to admit that I'm getting a little tired of mowing my lawn - every week, no less - right about now.

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Have A Safe, Happy Holiday!!!

07/03/14

One of my favorite holidays of the year is upon us - Independence Day.  I don't know why I love this one so much but I do.  It probably goes back to when I was a kid.  We'd usually spend some time at the pool, eat some great food and then cap the day off with fireworks.  What's not to like - especially when your 10?

Hopefully you have something fun planned.  I have to work but that's okay - if I can't enjoy the weather @ least I get to tell people about it.  And it looks like it'll be enjoyable.  We'll see highs in the mid and upper 70s along with plenty of sunshine.  This gorgeous forecast is brought to you by the letter "h" or high pressure.  It'll be sitting on top of us Friday (see figure 1).  This will bring us plenty of sun and comfortable conditions.

I did some digging and found that we haven't had a Fourth of July this nice in a long time.  The last time we had a Fourth of July with NO rain and temperatures in the 70s was back in 1997.  Yes, we had temperatures in the 70s on 7/4/2009 but there was a little rain that day (I can't tell you when b/c the National Weather Service records don't specify and my personal ones don't go back that far).  So by this measure one could call this the best Independence Day in 17 years.  The year before we had a similar day in 1996.  That's even more amazing if you ask me - TWO Fourths in a row w/ gorgeous weather; that's almost unheard of in these parts.

I hope you have a great holiday that's fun, memorable and most of all safe.  Hopefully the kids you're spending it w/ will someday have the same feeling about this holiday that this 30+ year old man does b/c it's one of my favorite holidays of the year.  Happy Independence Day!

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Lesson Learned, Popular 1980s TV Show... Lesson Learned

07/02/14

It's Wednesday which means it's time for this meteorologist to head to the butcher shop.  That may sound weird but if I'm going to go in a given week I to go in the middle of it.  I have a few reasons for this.  For one thing the meat there isn't all doctored up with preservatives which means I have to freeze or eat it within about five days; breakfast meats are typically finished by Saturday morning but why risk it? 

The main driver behind my "Wednesday meat runs" is the fact that my butcher (Zink's in Centerville) offers a loyalty program.  For every dollar I spend 5 cents goes into an account - that's not bad, 5% towards a future purchase.  But wait, it's gets better.  On Wednesday's that number doubles to 10 cents on the dollar or 10%!  It makes bacon taste that much sweeter... or saltier?

As I walked out of the shop I reached into my pocket and couldn't find my keys.  So I checked my other pocket... no luck.  Then I looked into my car only to see them hanging out of the ignition.  @ first I was happy I drive a Dodge Neon and not a GM vehicle (they've had some problems w/ the ignition).  Then my heart sank.  I knew my wife was on her way down to Cincinnati to visit family and I let my AAA membership expire a loooong time ago.  (I should keep it updated but I haven't used it or needed it w/ all that much regularity in years).

Luckily the warm weather had forced me to crack my windows a bit.  @ this point I went into "MacGyver mode".  I tried reaching in but the window wasn't open wide enough (and besides that solution wouldn't have been very cool).  So I performed an "ocular pat down" of the surrounding area searching for any sort of device or instrument that could be used to break my keys from their four-doored prison. 

A nearby bush had some stray branches and I thought maybe I could get enough leverage on the auto-lock... nothing.  But I wasn't deterred and channeled my inner Richard Dean Anderson (I could even hear the theme music from the program in my head).  I went back into the butcher shop and asked if they had a hanger.  The proprietor went into the back and returned after a minute with one and I was back to the mission.

I dropped the twisted metal into the driver's side door but got nowhere.  So I turned it around and on the second try grabbed the "unlock latch", unlocked the door, heard the MacGyver music crescendo in my head and gave myself a mental high five - I didn't even need to unravel the hanger.  I was proud of myself and couldn't help but feel that somewhere good 'ol "Pete" Thornton was beaming w/ pride as well.

In short, it was a good day.  Now we just need to figure out time travel so I can have a cool Quantum Leap story.




The Heat Rolls On!!!

06/30/14

It definitely feels like summer in the Miami Valley.  We had a high in the mid-80s on Monday but saw heat index values in the 90s throughout the latter part of the afternoon.  Tuesday will be another hot day with highs in the mid to upper 80s and heat index values climbing into the mid-90s so the thermometer will say it's hot and it'll feel even hotter to your skin. 

One thing that could cool you off would be rain and we have the threat for that Tuesday afternoon (see figure 1).  Showers and storms will be possible from the mid-afternoon into the early evening.  Right now there's a slight chance for stronger storms sometime between about 3:00 - 7:00 P.M.; especially east of I-75.  It doesn't look like it'll be a widespread threat but there will definitely be the chance.  The one thing that we have going for us is that even though all of the ingredients needed for strong storms will come together over the Buckeye State it looks like the timing will be a bit more favorable in Central and Eastern Ohio.  That doesn't mean we won't see anything @ all but I just think we'll see the most active weather just outside of our viewing area.

There's a slight chance for a pop-up afternoon storm on Wednesday but this activity will be very isolated.  By the end of the day Wednesday we'll see high pressure moving into the area and our winds will begin to take on a more northwesterly bend (see figure 2).  This will usher in a more stable air mass and humidity levels will drop through the evening.  Thursday is looking fantastic and we'll climb into the 70s after starting out in the 50s.

Cool nights and pleasant days will continue on Independence Day as high pressure sits nearly on top of us (see figure 3).  This will bring the best Fourth of July we've seen in a long time (since @ least 2009 which was just after I'd moved back from the islands).  It'll be great and I can't wait - even though I'm working.

No need to worry because that high will slowly depart the area and pleasant conditions are expected through the weekend with highs inching into the low and mid-80s and low humidity levels by Sunday afternoon.  Monday will be warmer and muggier and as that added heat and moisture moves into the area we'll see the chance for more showers & storms.

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A Month In... And Nothing To Show For It

06/27/14

Back @ the end of May I talked about how I was prematurely upset w/ my children and today that premonition came to pass - to be honest I think I'm really just mad @ my two oldest.  They haven't really done anything, I think it's more or less what they haven't done.  So what haven't they done?  Anything.

I can't tell you how many times I've woken up this summer only to see them watching television or on the Ipad.  I'll go exercise and when I get back they're doing the exact same thing.  Sadly before I go to work there isn't a whole lot that has changed.  I force them to do something else but they somehow always find their way back to wasting away their time off.  I don't understand how they do it but it's a little disheartening.

I ask them, "Why don't you go outside?"  "It's too hot" they whine.  I don't know what to say but it's beginning to drive me a little nuts.  If you're going to sit inside all day @ least do something productive.  But what's worse than that is that I don't know what I'd give to have my room & board paid for and nothing to do for two-and-a-half months.  That would be AWESOME!  I could take some fun college courses learning things I've always wanted too, read some of the classics or even paint a masterpiece (in my case I'd just try).

And even if I was going to complain that it was too hot to go outdoors I'd remedy the situation by going to the pool or @ least setting up a slip n' slide.  I'd find a way to get my tan on and have a rich, bronzed sheen in the matter of a few weeks.  What I wouldn't do is waste my time glued to the TV or playing video games - in their defense I was doing pretty much the same thing when I was there age... but I didn't like it and strove to achieve something greater.

Admittedly I might be exaggerating a little and when the kids are on the Ipad about 3/4 of the time they're either reading something or watching "How-to Rainbow Loom" videos.  I can't be too mad about that b/c @ least they're reading or learning something... no matter how "boring" I think it is.  I still wish they made a little more of the all of the free time they're "enjoying".

Maybe I'm just jealous and "the shadow of greed, that is".  That's a Yoda quote.  I think I memorized it one summer when I was younger and watched Star Wars every day... good times.




Back To Work, Jeff

06/26/14

If you've been watching the past few evenings you may have noticed I wasn't here; I was on vacation.  I headed "up north" to visit some family in Michigan.  My uncle has a place up there and this time of year Leelanau (lee-lan-aw) county is one darn find place to visit.  While there's wasn't quite as much sun as I'm used to whenever I visit in summer (I went three times last year) there was enough.

My uncle's place is in Glen Arbor and that's home to the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.  Just a few years back it was voted the most beautiful place in America... and for good reason.  The dune climb is one heck of a workout but the view is more than worth it (see pic 1).  That's a view from the top of the dune looking first @ Little Glen Lake with Big Glen in the background.  And not only did I get a great view but I also got to run down the dune when I was finished.  It was @ least a one (if not two) minute sprint and b/c it was downhill I wasn't that tired when I finished.

I also hiked the Sleeping Bear Point trail.  I didn't actually go to the point but I did walk through the Ghost Forest (see pic 2) and had a great time listening to the sounds of nature and enjoying the beauty that surrounded me.  After that I went swimming @ Glen Haven beach.  That was, in a word, stupid.  The water was only about 53 degrees so it was COLD.  I went under once, started back and then went under one more time for good measure.  Again, it was dumb but it sure was fun.

And no trip to Sleeping Bear would be complete w/out a hike to Pyramid Point.  It's just over a half mile up the dune but the view is spectacular (see pic 3).  It's a nice, peaceful place to catch a sunset, stare @ the water and watch day turn to night.

Even though it went to fast (which is the norm) it was a good time as always.  And normally I'm happy to get back home and into my routine after a vacation.  Not this time... I'm not going to lie to you.  I was a little sad on my way home b/c I was leaving such a beautiful place and wished I could stay... if only for a few more months ;)  Oh, well.  I'll be back up there w/ the family in a little more than a month and I can't wait.  It's good to have something to look forward to in life.

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Another Wild Wednesday in the Weather Center

06/18/14

It's Wednesday which means it's time to talk about another wild day in the weather center.  While the storms that developed Wednesday afternoon/evening didn't bring any tornadoes or flash flooding we did see some damaging straight-line winds.

Our showers & storms began developing around 5:30 P.M. and it was very hot & muggy so there was plenty of fuel for the storms as they pushed through the Miami Valley.  We got some great photos from viewers one coming from Robert Herrera (see pic 1).  This is a photo of a shelf cloud as it approached Dayton.  Shelf clouds are associated w/ strong, gusty winds and that's primarily what we've seen when looking @ the damage reports around the area.  Rhonda Buehler sent us a photograph of trees that knocked down power lines (see pic 2) and Anna Furderer sent us one of a basketball hoop knocked onto a car (see pic 3).  Again, this damage is consistent w/ straight-line winds.

We've seen these storms break out ahead of a front that is drifting through the area.  There's not a whole lot of upper level support w/ these storms (the winds aloft aren't real strong) so widespread severe weather hasn't been a big issue.  We've mainly seen spotty damage and isolated strong storms. 

We're not done w/ the rain just yet either.  Showers and storms will be possible through the overnight into Thursday w/ the threat for more Thursday afternoon - especially south of I-70.  We'll have more storms possible on Friday evening but then things will dry out through Saturday afternoon and I can't wait.  After a busy severe weather season - and a lot of rain (I'm tired of mowing my lawn) - I'm ready for some calmer weather.

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A Frame... My Kingdom For A Frame!

06/17/14

I woke up early on Tuesday b/c I knew I had a lot of errands to finish.  After getting my exercise in I headed down to Ikea.  I've never been to the place and I have to admit it's a little confusing.

I was looking for a picture frame.  As I mentioned this was my first trip to the superstore but my wife has been there and she's gotten some great ones in the past so I figured I'd give it a whirl.  The reason need one is b/c I'm visiting my aunt & uncle on my next vacation and want to get them a silk screen print (see figure 1) as a gift.  But I didn't just want to hand it to him all rolled up, I wanted to frame it.  Sounds easy enough, right?

I wish I could say "yes".  For one thing the store was farther from me than I thought (whenever we drive to visit relatives in Cincinnati my wife is behind-the-wheel so I thought it was closer).  But once I got there I couldn't find out how to even enter the darn place.  After consulting the map I knew I didn't want to go upstairs... but I couldn't find the entrance to the showroom on the first floor - some map.  Determined to press on I just walked through the check-out area and entered what appeared to be a giant warehouse.  After asking for help I was directed to the proper section.

The frames weren't hard to find.  The one I needed was.  I wasn't looking for a tough size - the standard poster, or 20" x 30" which are the dimensions of the print I plan on getting.  For some reason I couldn't find it.  After looking around for a few minutes I decided to find some more help.  Unfortunately no one was around to assist me.  After wandering for a couple of minutes I finally found someone but that wasn't much help.

When I told her what I was looking for I was told their standard poster size wasn't 20" x 30".  They used something like 19 1/4" X 27 3/4".  I didn't say anything but I wanted to ask the lady if the company had any concept of what "standard" meant.  They way I interpret it is the word is that it's a measure of what's normal.  If the standard poster size here is 20" x 30" then it should be everywhere b/c that's why it's called the standard.  You can't just change it willy nilly, that's not how it works.

For example: the standard unit of measurement for length is a meter.  I can't just change it to yards (even though they're similar in length) b/c I feel like it or have a personal aversion to English units.  Again, that's not how it works.  And if I did and I wanted to do a math problem then the answer would come out wrong if it was to be in the International System of Units.  That's the whole purpose behind a standard.

My wife suggested that maybe Ikea "sets the standard" but I disagree.  If everybody else uses something different than I do then I'm wrong in calling mine the standard.  It might be my standard but it's not the accepted one that greater society has adopted.  If anything I could be a trend-setter but not if you're driving 30 minutes to come shop @ my hypothetical business only to realize I don't have what you want.

I stopped by a few other stores only to find that the frames they were offering - while the right dimensions - were kind of cheap looking.  I was mad.  It didn't help that I had to keep getting in and out of my car during the hottest day of the year.  By the time I had gotten home I realized I'd wasted about two hours of my time and that I wasn't going to finish all of the chores I had to finish before work.  Worst of all I didn't have enough time to take my afternoon nap; it was not good.  And to top it all off, now - after this whole ordeal - I still don't have a frame... I need a vacation.

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Feeling A LOT Like Summer This Week

06/16/14

If you've been wondering where the warm & muggy weather is you needn't look further than out your front door.  It's officially feels awful outside during the heat of the day if you ask me - there's no other way to put it.  High pressure has officially taken hold to the southeast of us.  That means we're looking @ a southwesterly flow of air.  As those winds move in from the SW they're not only bringing up warmer air but they're also dragging up added moisture that we're feeling as added humidity.

Those winds will strengthen on Tuesday (see figure 1).  That means that it'll turn even warmer.  We should get into the low 90s and that'll mark the warmest temperature since September 11th of last year (278 days ago as of this writing).  That day we climbed all the way to 94.  By Wednesday we're still looking @ highs in the 90s but as of now that looks like the last day we'll get there meaning we won't officially be in a heat wave (as defined in this area we need to have three days in a row w/ highs of 90 or greater to qualify).

The reason it won't warm up as much on Thursday is b/c we're tracking the chance for rain.  We'll actually have the threat for some afternoon/evening storms on Wednesday but the activity looks to be a bit more scattered on Thursday as a frontal boundary stalls over the area (see figure 2).  The good news is that there won't be a whole lot of upper level support for the storms that develop on Thursday.  That means that - even though things could still change - it isn't looking like we have a widespread severe weather threat right now.

We'll keep unsettled weather in the forecast on Friday, Saturday & Sunday.  Now that doesn't mean it's going to rain all day every day.  It just means that we'll be looking @ the threat for showers & storms from time to time through the latter part of the work week and into the weekend - especially in the afternoon & evenings. 

We'll dry out somewhat through Sunday and Monday is looking a lot better.  High pressure will be on the move in the region and b/c we'll be on the front side of the high our winds will have a northerly bend to them (see figure 3).  This will bring in cooler & drier air and it'll be feeling much better.

If you're reading this and thinking that you've seen a pattern like this before you wouldn't be wrong.  This isn't all that uncommon during the summer months - all of this heat & humidity can lead to these pop-up storms.  And even though summer doesn't officially start until Saturday @ 6:51 A.M. mother nature isn't all that far off in her timing of our latest weather pattern.  Stay cool!

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Ticking Away...

06/11/14

One of the great innovations of our time is the internet.  It shrinks the enormity of the world, connects us in ways we never could've imagined a mere generation ago and is just plain cool.  In fact it's safe to say it's nothing shy of revolutionary. 

Of course w/ all leaps in human advancement there are definitely drawbacks.  For one thing the internet(s) give a voice to some who'd better serve humanity if they just kept their mouth shut.  I can't believe some of the cruel, idiotic and downright awful things I've read on message boards and comment sections.  It's seems a bit like the "telephone tough guy" syndrome on steroids, if I didn't see some of the posts on the computer screen in front of me I'd swear they were written in crayon.

The world wide web also opens the door for all sorts of questionable websites that can be downright dangerous if not disgusting.  Literally whatever you want is @ your fingertips... which can be a bad thing.  That's not to say that we shouldn't allow these b/c I think if someone wants to seek out that sort of thing (or be a jerk via a webpost for that matter) they're going to do it regardless.  If someone is an adult and no crimes are being committed it's not my place to say what they should and should not do online... no matter how offensive.

But honestly, finding whatever you want online can also be a good thing and that's why I think the internet has the potential to be an even greater tool providing the knowledge and understanding that's ultimately needed to lift much of the world out of poverty.

If I had the power I would change one thing about the internet, though I'd make it way less of a time suck.  I can't tell you how many hours I've wasted on it looking @ funny websites, videos or even delving into the complex inner workings of the Star Wars universe - if you've never checked out wookiepedia.com you should... it's AWESOME!

I've spent many a night pointing-and-clicking the time away on my dinner break - time I should be spending researching a blog topic or worse... actually working.  But sometimes I see something on television which sends me to youtube or some other website to gather more information.  That leads to more surfing which leads to more wasted time.  And the worst thing about it is that it's very addicting.  There's something about watching a funny video or learning something new that must ignite the pleasure center in my brain.  Unfortunately for me and my ongoing education it's usually the former that holds my attention the longest.

As I jump from website to website the moments tick away and before I know it I've wasted a few hours of my life.  Sometimes I've bettered myself w/ useful knowledge but more often than not I've filled my brain w/ a useless stuff that will serve to do nothing more than cement my geekdom.  If I ever went on Jeopardy! it might not be a bad thing but I don't see that anytime soon - I'd be a real nerd if I spent my limited vacation time going on a game show trying to prove how smart I am only to be beaten out by someone who's better @ it b/c he's more committed to preparation and doesn't get sidetracked onto the various "wiki" sites that pertain to popular culture.

So what's man to do?  I said I'd make the web less of a time waster if I could but that would also make it a lot more boring... it's also the easy way out.  B/c honestly if I want to keep the internet from cutting into my productivity that job ultimately falls on one person... me.  Fixing that sounds like a tall order.  Maybe I can find a website that will tell me how to do it... but first I'll delve a little bit deeper into the lore of Boba Fett.  I haven't been on wookieepedia in a long time.




"Kitty Did Something Bad"

06/10/14

The other day my youngest daughter came into the living room to inform me that, "Kitty did something bad."  I was reading the newspaper before work and I'll admit my heart sank a little b/c when I hear words like that it typically means relaxation time is over; or @ least on hiatus.  I asked her what the cat did and was informed that she had killed a chipmunk... again.

I told her it was no big deal b/c that was part of her nature; she was a hunter.  I then went back to reading my paper and went about my day.  About a half-hour later my middle daughter screamed and my wife informed me that the dead chipmunk I was told about just a short while ago was inside the house.

Turns out the cat had captured the rodent, killed it and brought it into my middle child's room.  I walked in to see it on its back, put a plastic bag over my hand (much like I do when I clean up after my dog) and removed the thing from the house.

@ this point I was in a bit of a pickle.  You see my cat had taken out a chipmunk about a week earlier and we learned the hard way that it couldn't be left in the backyard (or anywhere on our property for that matter).  If I didn't remove it either my cat would try to re-animate the creature or my dog would find it irresistible and roll around all over it so she could pick up the smell.  Both of these options were less than ideal.  I didn't want to throw the animal away b/c then my trash would stink - as would my garage by proxy.  Thankfully one of my neighbors was kind enough to let me dispose of the critter in the ravine in his back yard.  Honestly, I was relieved when I got rid of it as I was a bit nervous the varmint might just be pretending - the last thing I wanted was to have it running up my arm or worse: biting me.

My wife was happy b/c she "couldn't imagine what she would've done" if I hadn't been @ home.  I told her I wish I hadn't been.  Hopefully we won't see a repeat anytime soon but I can't help but feel we have a long summer ahead of us - one that technically hasn't even started.

On a side note I couldn't help but chuckle when I learned why the cat brought the darn thing into the house in the first place.  Growing up we had cats that would do this and it always drove my mom nuts.  I'm no veterinarian but from what I was able to gather cats do this b/c it's in their instinct to feed and teach the family how to hunt this is its way of doing so.  Beyond that it's also a way for the cat to provide for what she perceives as the weaker hunters in the family.  So basically my cat was helping out but also showing that she's obviously a better hunter than the rest of us so she has to help out on that front - sort of like a subtle example of feline condescension.  While I don't know if that makes my cat a jerk or not I will point out that I was the one who had to clean up the nasty mess she left in my house so I've given up my impartiality on the matter.




Get Ready for More Rain This Week

06/09/14

Another work week is upon us and we're once again tracking rain.  Monday was gloomy w/ some sprinkles.  Tuesday a system will approach (see figure 1).  As this moves into the area we'll see rain developing.  Expect rain to pick up through the morning commute.  By the afternoon we'll be in and out of the showers w/ heavy rain @ times.

Rain continues on Wednesday and we'll see seasonal highs.  Right now there's not really a severe weather threat w/ this next system.  IF we see any the best chance looks like it'll be on Wednesday w/ gusty winds being the main threat.  But right now this threat is very marginal (@ best) and it'll all depend on how much sun we get and how much we warm up.

Thursday showers and storms are going to linger (see figure 2).  That action should calm down through the day and it looks like the heaviest rain will be over by Thursday.  Things will begin to quiet down on Friday but we'll keep some clouds in the forecast and see seasonal highs.  On Saturday high pressure will be taking over (see figure 3) and that will make for some more gorgeous weather!  It won't last long, though.  Showers and storms will move in once again on Sunday and it'll be muggy as well.  By Monday things are drying out and we're looking @ highs in the mid-80s under partly cloudy skies.

Basically it's a good idea to throw that umbrella into the back of your car b/c you'll need it from time to time this week.  I'm glad it won't be too hot and even happier that we're looking @ some sunshine over the weekend.  W/ sunshine on the way this coming Saturday we'll be looking @ the fourth Saturday in a row w/ near perfect weather.  I think that should be the highlight of this entry b/c I can't remember the last time we had this many nice weekends - in a row... especially this time year; it's almost unheard of.

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Yay, I Smell Like A Man Again!

06/05/14

W/ a title like that I've got a tall order to fill so here goes.  After a long, dry winter I finally don't smell like my wife anymore; and that's a good thing.  The reason for this ultimately falls back to the weather and more specifically the dew point.

The dew point is the temperature the air needs to be cooled to in order to become saturated.  Basically if it's 75 degrees outside and the dew point is 65 and we can cool the air down to 65 then we'll be able to "squeeze" the moisture out of it.  You may have encountered this on a hot day.  If you pour yourself a glass of iced tea and wait a few minutes you may notice little beads of "sweat" forming on the side of the glass.  This is due to the fact that the drink in the glass is cooler than the surrounding air.  B/c glass isn't a great insulator the air directly surrounding the beverage is able to cool off to it's dew point and condensation forms on the walls of the container holding your drink.  You may have also seen this on a cool morning when you walk through the grass and get your feet wet - things cooled off enough overnight and that led to the condensing of moisture onto the blades of grass; we call that moisture dew.

In essence the dew point is a great way to measure how much moisture is in the air.  The higher it is the more moisture is present.  That's why I'm not a big fan of relative humidity when talking about the moisture in the air.  If you have a temperature of 34 degrees and a dew point of 32 the relative humidity is 92% which sounds pretty bad.  If the temperature is 90 degrees and the dew point is 76 then the relative humidity is 64%; that doesn't sound as bad as 92% but it feels WAY worse - if you've spent any time in Ohio during the summer you know what I'm talking about.

So what does this have to do w/ my smelling more like a man?  Well, warmer air can hold more moisture so the higher the temperature gets the higher the dew point can be.  As we've warmed up we've watched our dew points climb which means more moisture in the air.  That means my skin doesn't get all dry and cracked like it does during the winter.  Which further means I don't need to lather myself in lotion every day.  So now instead of smelling like "Banana Smoothie", "Midnight Rain" or even "Tropical Rainforest" lotion(s) (and yes, these are actual "flavors") I now smell like a man should: sweat and Old Spice.  This may sound gross but I couldn't be happier.  I love warm weather!




Rise Of The Machines

06/04/14

Tuesday evening as I was switching a few graphics around between the 6:00 & 6:30 P.M. shows one of the worst things a meteorologist can experience happened to me: my computer crashed.  While this is never a good sign it's especially bad when you have to be on-air in about five minutes.

After watching the screen go black I uttered a few words I probably shouldn't repeat in this forum and informed the floor crew that my computer had crashed (so they could tell the control room - through which we run the news) and called engineering for help. 

If you didn't know already the weather computer is VITAL to getting forecast information to the public.  We're busy making our own forecasts (through the aid of other computers) but the actual weather computer allows us to get that information out in an efficient and understandable manner.  Basically, w/out it I'm drawing pictures of suns wearing shades as well as clouds w/ jagged lightning bolts in order to do a forecast (see figure 1 - BTW that coincides w/ my actual forecast).

When we looked @ the computer it was doing something funky.  It was trying to turn itself on, stay on for a second and then turn itself back off.  Luckily we had a back-up computer but that wasn't the most ideal situation b/c my radar program runs through the back-up and if I'm using it for my regular show then I have no radar b/c the two programs can't run simultaneously.  If this sounds like a bad design I agree (I asked about this very situation when we got the original installation).  This had happened about a week ago but we couldn't figure out what the problem was on our end or on my weather vendor's end so we chalked it up to something other than the actual problem.

After cycling on & off for a few minutes the power finally "took" and the thing was back up and running.  Thankfully this was about five minutes before my main weathercast @ 6:30 so if you were watching @ home you probably knew nothing of the horror I faced.

But that didn't change the fact that it was Tuesday and Wednesday had the threat for severe weather.  On a quiet day I'm okay w/out my radar b/c I'm not going to need it.  On an active one I need both the radar and the system that gets my graphics to air.  One & not the other doesn't do me a whole lot of good (unless I want to "draw" out my forecast - which just looks bad).

I'm told that the problem was fixed after the morning show on Wednesday.  I was able to do my shift w/out any issues so here's to hoping we're okay now and in the future.  Regardless of what happens I once again can't help but think of Skynet.  That's the fictional computer system developed in the Terminator movie franchise.  The artificial intelligence system became self-aware and we all know what happened after that: Arnold Schwarzenegger became one of the biggest movie stars on the planet.  We also learned what can happen when we give computers too much power.  Now I'm not saying my weather computer is trying to kill me but I can't help but point out that if it keeps crashing - @ the most inopportune times no less - it may very well give me a heart attack.

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Wednesday's Severe Weather Threat

06/03/14

As we headed into a warm & muggy Tuesday afternoon we saw a few storms pop-up in the far south and SE'rn portion of the Miami Valley.  One of these had the potential to produce damaging winds and large hail and as a result a severe thunderstorm warning was issued.  Wednesday looks to be a lot more active.

Tuesday's storms broke out as a cold front moved through the area.  As a warm front slides in on Wednesday an impulse of low pressure will move in with it and bring us the threat for severe weather across much of Ohio (see figure 1).

While the risk is there for the entire Miami Valley some of the computer models are suggesting that we'll see the most favorable environment along and south of US 36.  That's pretty much the dividing line of the highest threat Wednesday afternoon (see figure 2).

So what are the main threats?  Right now it's looking like damaging winds and large hail are what we need to worry about most.  But we're also expecting to see muggy weather tomorrow which means there will be plenty of moisture in play so localized flooding could also be an issue.  And with the vicinity of the front there will be enough low-level shear which could lead to a few isolated spin-ups - the one thing we have going for us on this front is the fact that the highest instability will be in place after the most favorable shear which is why this is looking like more of a wind & hail threat.

This has been a complicated forecast b/c some of the models are hinting @ some early rain.  If that happens it could act to stabilize the atmosphere somewhat but if it doesn't that could lead to some strong storms.  And even if the rain comes if there are enough breaks in the clouds in the afternoon it could still lead to some severe weather.

After looking @ all of the latest data it looks like we'll get a little rain in the late morning/early afternoon but I'm not thinking this will stabilize us enough.  As a result it looks like the wind and hail threat will definitely be a possibility.  It is looking like the worst of the weather will be just south & SW of us.  However, we'll be right on the fringe of the worst of it which is why I'm thinking the heart and southern portion of the Miami Valley has the best chance for stronger weather.  The timing of all of the worst weather appears to be between about 2:00 P.M. & 8:00 P.M. Wednesday afternoon.  Be careful and keep an umbrella handy throughout your Wednesday.

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Another Week - Another Threat For Severe Weather

06/02/14

It seems like we've had a Wednesday curse when it comes to weather as of late.  Last Wednesday wasn't too bad but on the 21st we had bad flash flooding (and a tornado warning, but no confirmation).  The week before on the May 14th an EF3 tornado struck Greene county.  It's a new week and another Wednesday will be upon us shortly and wouldn't you know it there's another chance for strong storms. 

We'll talk about that in a second first let's get to Tuesday's weather.  We'll see early showers (most of us will be sleeping when the bulk of the rain hits) and showers will taper off through Tuesday morning.  In the afternoon there's a slight chance for a pop-up shower but that'll be very isolated so I'm not thinking we'll see much in the way of impacts.  The bigger issue will be that w/ the early rain and decreasing clouds Tuesday afternoon will be hot & MUGGY!

Wednesday a wave of low pressure will travel along a stalled front (see figure 1).  As it moves in during the afternoon and evening showers and storms will be possible.  Some of those will have the potential to turn strong to severe.  Right now it looks like the biggest threats will be for damaging winds, heavy rain/flooding and large hail.  The entire area is under an elevated risk for strong storms on Wednesday (see figure 2) and just looking @ the early thinking of how this low will track leads me to believe the environment will be a little more favorable south of U.S. 36.  That doesn't mean we won't get anything in the Northern Miami Valley it just means that the atmosphere looks bo be a little more "primed" for strong storms in the south.  We'll have to keep an eye on it and let you know about any changes on-air & online.

Thursday things start to look better.  We'll see a few showers & storms while we sleep but conditions will improve throughout the day.  Not only will we see more sun but we'll also see near average highs in the upper 70s.  Throw into the mix the fact that we'll see MUCH lower humidity and you've got the makings of a heck of an afternoon on Thursday.  By Friday we'll be firmly under the influence of high pressure (see figure 3) and that's our fair weather friend so expect some fantastic weather to round out the work week.

That nice pattern will hold into the first half of the weekend but by Sunday we'll see the chance for more showers & storms later in the day.  The good news is that out behind that next bout of rain things will again turn nice which means that right now next week should start out beautifully!

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School's Out - But I still Have To Work

05/30/14

It's been a long school year (or so my kids would tell you) but Friday it officially came to an end for them.  I do my best not to envy others - it is a sin after all - but this is one time of year I'm always jealous of my children.

Growing up summer was always my favorite season.  It still is; even though fall is gaining ground on it.  I didn't hate school when I was a kid (only some subjects) but it was always nice to see it come to an end.  After 180 days of instruction it was nice to get a break. 

One of the best days of the year was that last day of school.  Once that final bell rang for the year I would inevitably be overcome by a sense of promise, feeling like just about anything was possible in life.  And in a way it was.  I had about three months of free time ahead of me and a lot can happen in that short of a time frame.

I can remember setting all of these big goals @ the beginning of the break.  Every year "this summer was going to be different".  I was going to get stuff done, I was going to make stuff happen.  Then July would start and I'd have to double down and refocus so I could accomplish all of the grand plans I had.  Before I knew it August 1st would roll around and it would hit me: summer was coming to an end... quickly.  By this time I realized that it was probably best to but those big ambitions on the back burner and enjoy what little free time I had left.  After all, I could finish what I'd set out to accomplish but it would take almost every working minute until school started and dreams shouldn't seem like work - or so I thought.  Then, in the blink of an eye, fun time was over and it was back to school.

Maybe envious is the wrong word to describe how I feel about my kids right now.  Perhaps I'm just prematurely upset w/ them.  That's b/c I know they're going to spend the next 11 weeks doing what I did when I was there age: killing time instead of savoring it.  Nowadays I can only imagine what I'd do if I had 11 weeks of time off.  Of course getting myself into trouble would probably factor into the equation in some way or another.  So maybe it's a good thing that I don't get my summers off - lofty aspirations be darned.




One For Caffeine Lovers

05/29/14

I'm not a coffee drinker.  Never have been & don't think I ever will be.  For one thing I never acquired the taste for it (and I've worked on two morning shows in my career) and if I haven't yet I don't see why I would now.  I'm also hyper already; the last thing I need is to add caffeine to the mix.  Having said that I have to admit I'd be more inclined to drink it if it tasted like it smells in the coffee shop... which is delicious.

A Texas coffee-lover recently drank his way into the record books.  Andrew Chifari walked into a Dallas Starbucks handed the barista a 128-ounce glass and asked for the most expensive, but still flavorful, frappuccino that would fit into the cup.

What resulted was the most expensive Starbucks drink ever according to Caffeine Informer, a website that tracks the coffee industry.  It also packed 60 shots of espresso and had approximately 4,500 mg of caffeine which is more than 10 times what's considered a "safe" daily allowance according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.  So how much was this monstrosity?  $54.75.  That's a pricy "eye opener".

It took Chifari five days to finish the drink and he said that as the final wave of caffeine hit him he had vivid dreams - which I find surprising.  He also had "erratic sleep" patterns - which isn't that shocking.  Like I said, this wasn't a cheap beverage but on second glance it cost him an average of $11 a day which is right in line with what some caffeine addicts spend for their daily "fix" - if not cheaper.

I still can't believe the chain would grant the man's request.  What if he had a bad heart?  That much caffeine couldn't be good for it.  I'm also stunned the man finished the thing.  Again, I don't drink coffee but how good can it be if it's five-days old?  I know that any item that's best new will only taste worse over time and coffee lovers will even tell you they'd rather have a fresh pot if "mud" that's been sitting on the burner is the alternative.  The whole thing is enough to keep me up late @ night (pun intended).

The saving grace in this whole story is the fact that Chifari didn't actually pay anything for his record-setting drink.  Apparently he had enough points on his loyalty card to get a free beverage of his choice.  That's awesome if you ask me.  Not only will his name be enshrined in history but he got to "stick it to the man" @ the same time.  Starbucks spokeswoman Maggie Jantzen says, "This particular customization was certainly excessive.  It's something that we don't encourage."  In other words they don't want to see a repeat.  Starbucks hasn't said whether it will tweak its loyalty program to discourage copycats.  But seeing that the coffee giant hopes to start serving booze @ some of its locations in the near future I think it will... and soon.




I Hate Identity Thieves

05/28/14

Sadly we've gotten to a point in our society where protecting one's credit is almost as important as protecting his belongings.  You wouldn't want someone to steal that computer you saved up for months to buy and on the flip side if you don't keep your identity safe you might be paying hundreds in extra finance charges were you to buy it in installments - it's even worse if you want to buy a home.

Because of this I go to great lengths to protect my personal information.  Whilst looking @ my recent bank transactions today I noticed an 11 & a 47 cent deposit into my account and a subsequent 58 cent withdrawal from the same organization.  Just looking @ the sheer numbers I realized it was a wash.  But that didn't explain why it was there in the first place.

So I get on the horn w/ my financial institution.  They tell me they don't know why any of this is on my statement either.  But b/c I've dealt w/ the company responsible for the transactions in the past they suggest I call them to find out what's going on and call back if they need to disassociate my account w/ it in the future.  Mind you this is all happening about 10 minutes before the 6:00 P.M. news - why I waited until the most inopportune time to log onto my account I can't tell you.

I hang up the phone and call the other party (I'm purposefully keeping this as ambiguous as possible so as not to further threaten my identity) in this financial love triangle.  I thought my social security number would be enough for them but it wasn't and b/c I couldn't fully verify my account they couldn't tell me what was happening. 

To top it off I couldn't further establish my identity b/c they had the wrong address on file!  I go to the company's website only to be told that they don't recognize my computer so they won't let me log on w/out going through strict security measures.  @ this point we're doing microphone checks, I'm running out of time and starting to freak out.  I couldn't understand why it was so hard to find out whether or not there was a reason for these mysterious credits & debit.  Not just that but I don't understand why the customer service representative is so calm.  I'm worried that my identity may have been compromised, I call to find out and they can't fully authenticate who I am.  I'd think that the lady on the other line would tell me this is a huge "red flag" which would prompt some type of a freeze until I could be fully validated.  That would've been fine b/c I know I'm not a crook and even if I was the last person's identity that I'd steal would be my own!  On a side note if you want to steal my credit you can @ least be decent about it and take over my bills as well.

I hang up the phone again, put on a good face and do the early newscasts.  All the while I'm worried that all of the money in my account (which isn't much BTW) is being pilfered by some criminal sitting @ a computer half a world away while he maniacally laughs @ my misfortune.  It was terrible.

After the early newscasts it was time to get to the bottom of all of this.  Turns out it was a bit of a misunderstanding.  I'd thought I'd changed my address when I moved back from Hawaii in 2009 but I was wrong.  As for the phantom charges/debit that was just a way of making sure my account was a valid one b/c I've made direct payments from it in the past and will in the future.

Why they couldn't have told me what was going on in the first place is beyond me.  I understand that protection is the idea here but finding out if money was deposited/deducted doesn't sound like it would give anyone the "inside knowledge" needed to decimate my financial standing.  I liken it to a time when I once called to pay my wife's credit card.  At the time she hadn't made me an authorized user and I was informed that I wasn't allowed to do anything account related.  I told them that I wasn't trying to take any money out I was just trying to pay them.  For some reason it wasn't enough.

Now I know that this is all done for the purpose of safety and that it's better to be safe than sorry.  But @ the same time it's all very frustrating and almost seems like overkill.  @ the end of the day I'm happy that this is all locked down so tightly... especially when my money is involved.  I'm also happy that this is resolved b/c to quote a 1990s rap song "I've got my mind on my money and my money on my mind."  And now my mind can rest a little easier.  Gotta go, I got a hankering for some juice.




I See A Break In The Humidity!!!

05/27/14

With a high of 88 out @ the airport Tuesday was officially the warmest day of 2014.  Not only did the mercury soar but the dew points were high - which is a fancy way of saying there was a lot of moisture in the air.  That means it was very humid as well and our heat index values - or what it felt like - climbed into the 90s.  Yes, it was a scorcher.

Wednesday will be hot & humid again but not as bad and as a cold front rolls through in the afternoon (see figure 1) we'll watch scattered showers & storms develop through the second half of the day.  While the severe weather threat is low some of these storms could produce heavy rain and b/c they'll be slow-movers localized flooding could be of some concern.  We also saw a few severe thunderstorms to our south w/ the batch that came through on Tuesday afternoon so we can't rule out a few isolated storms reaching severe limits w/ strong winds being the major threat - again, that's if any of them turn severe in the first place.  That front will slowly drift south through Wednesday night and Thursday but it could still spark a few storms on Thursday afternoon mainly south of Dayton.

By Friday high pressure begins to move into the area (see figure 2).  As we get a northeasterly wind on Thursday and Friday drier air will usher its way into the Miami Valley.  We'll also see sunshine taking over and it'll take a firm hold in the Miami Valley by Friday and that's good news for the weekend forecast.  The sunshine and comfortable conditions will last through the weekend w/ highs in the upper 70s to about 80 on Saturday and we'll top out in the low 80s on Sunday.  Again, the humidity levels won't be all that high either and that means it's looking fantastic.

By Monday things begin to change (see figure 3).  As an area of low pressure tracks across the Central Plains we'll see warmer air moving into the region.  We'll also see muggier air moving in and w/ more moisture around we'll introduce the chance for rain once again.  By Monday afternoon we could see the next round of showers and storms.  They'll persist into Tuesday and it'll also be a little muggier both of those days.  So while summer like heat has been the rule over the past few days we'll get a little break from it late in the week and over the weekend.  But don't get used to it b/c more heat & humidity are right around the corner.

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Thank You

05/26/14

With the passing of the Memorial Day weekend Summer has unofficially arrived... and it sure felt like it.  But one of the things that some may forget about is the reason we're celebrating in the first place.  Yes, it's great to get together w/ family and friends but Memorial Day is so much more than that.

I never served in the military but I have a number of friends and even some family who have.  It's impossible to imagine what they go through on a daily basis while in uniform.  Long hours, little pay, time away from families... and that's before you take into account that they may have to risk their lives in a war zone on the other side of the planet.  All of this done for one reason: in service to our country.  It's not done for thanks, for glory or adulation of any kind.  People lay their lives on the line b/c they believe in the ideals that make this country great.  They - like most, if not all Americans - believe that mankind's natural inclination is one that leans towards freedom.  They believe that humans are better off when left on their own and that if reason is allowed to play out man can govern himself.

This line of thinking has laid the foundation for the greatest country in the world.  A place where I can say what I think and think what I want w/out fear of retribution from my government.  But not just that - it's a place where if I put my mind to something the sky's the limit.  Sure there are some who will have it easier for any number of untold reasons but that's always been the case and always will be.  The bottom line is that if someone is willing to put in the time and make sacrifices achievement is w/in their grasp.  It explains how someone who didn't have a lot growing up - other than a mom who was an educator and therefore understood the value of learning - could bust his tail and end up doing something he loves on a nightly basis (if you haven't figured it out I'm talking about myself).

One of my favorite presidential quotes comes from Ronald Reagan who eloquently said, "Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free."  And that's what I'm getting @ in this blog entry: none of the freedoms we enjoy and even take for granted @ times would be possible were it not for daily sacrifices that our active military, retired and especially fallen veterans have made over the years and continue to make on a daily basis.  And for that I thank you.




Gentlemen (& Gentlewomen) Start Your Grills!

05/23/14

The unofficial start to summer is officially here and I don't know anyone who's happier about it than me.  It's been one heck of a year so far and some nice, warm weather is just what we need to lift our spirits.  Thankfully mother nature has just what the doctor ordered which is another way of saying that we've got some picture perfect weather on the way over the weekend.

For many this might be the first time you'll dust off the grill and fire it up so far in 2014.  Not me, I was grilling back in January... Polar Vortex be darned!  Just like severe weather can strike any time of year I'm ready to grill out regardless of what the calendar says... I just wear more clothes sometimes.  I plan on burning some meat over the next few days.  While I don't know the details I'm thinking that some sort of steak is on the menu.  I haven't decided the cut yet - I'll probably go w/ whatever looks good... and is on sale.

I don't know what it is about barbecuing but it's awesome!  I think there's something in our DNA that draws us to it (or @ least in a man's).  I say that b/c if you've ever been to a cookout it seems like every man needs to stop by the grill @ least once and there are some who just congregate around it the whole time (I'm one of those guys).  If it's not in our DNA it's got to be some sort of a link to our distant past when we roasted the day's hunt on sticks over the fire in caves.  And not only does the grill draw one in but food off of it tastes that much better.

Having said that here are a few things you can throw on the grill this weekend:

Steak- Take equal parts of salt, pepper & paprika and dust your steak before throwing it on the grill.  Once you take it off butter it and enjoy.

Chicken- I like to sit a can of beer (opened of course) on the grill when it's on low heat.  Then I put the chicken over top of the can (basically the can is inside the cavity) and slow cook it for about two hours, basting it periodically w/ a buffalo sauce.  Once it hits 165º it's ready to eat!

Asparagus- This one is for all the vegetarians... and me (I think a grill looks better w/ a little color on it).  I like to douse the stalks in olive oil and then throw some sea salt and a dash of pepper or two on them.  Let that sit for about 45 minutes and they're ready.

There's something for everyone in that list so enjoy.  And when you're out this weekend enjoying the beautiful weather and socializing around the grill w/ your friends & family take time to remember those who have fought and died in service to this country you and I call home.  When your food tastes that much better they're the reason why.




There's Nothing Scary About This Guy

05/22/14

Growing up I remember going to McDonald's just about every Friday.  My sister and I loved it and I'm sure my mom liked having a night off from cooking. 

One of my favorites from the McDonald's cast of characters was Mayor McCheese.  While I wasn't a big fan of his politics but he had a cool merry-go-round playground toy and if you're a kid that's about all it takes to get your vote.

Over the years I can remember a number of big marketing pushes from the restaurant chain - and I usually fell for them hook, line & sinker.  When they introduced little chunks of chicken (or parts thereof) I was on board & surfed the Chicken McNuggets wave for years - I even fell for the "Chicken McNuggets Shanghai" campaign; complete w/ chopsticks and Asian-inspired sauces.  When it introduced the McDLT it quickly became part of my fast food repertoire - I mean who wouldn't want to "keep the hot side hot and the cold side cold"?  And even though I shouldn't admit it, I still remember the first verse from that commercial w/ the "McDonald's Menu Song".

True to form the fast food giant is embarking on a new marketing drive.  It recently unveiled the new "Happy" mascot (see figure below), hoping to help kids make healthier dietary choices.  While it's no mayor McCheese I'm happy to welcome him into the McDonald's family.

Some don't feel the same way I do.  Shortly after the chain announced it's new spokesman the Twitterverse exploded w/ criticism.  Some called it "the meal that eats you".  Others called it "McScary".  @ first glance I can see from where they are coming: he's got a toothy grin and his mouth is a little strange.  But @ least he's encouraging kids to eat healthier.  Have you tried the apple slices from the restaurant?  They're not bad but french fries are waaaay better.  And even if you think the new guy is scary looking one thing you can't deny is that he has nice teeth.  I had braces for two or three years and they're nowhere near that straight.  Perhaps "Happy" will not just encourage kids to make better food choices but maybe he'll even inspire them to take better care of their teeth.  Also, w' a name like "Happy" he's already has his own theme song - whether or not Pharrell Williams will sell the rights is a different story.

In short, please stop making fun of the new guy; or @ least give him a year.  Of course maybe I'm just old fashioned.  Maybe I miss the good old days.  Maybe I wish we still lived in a time when the concept of "mascot ambiguity" didn't exist and we didn't judge them via superficial means.  In my day mascots weren't frightening and there was no evidence to suggest otherwise.  Nope.  After all there's nothing scary about a middle-aged man, dressed as a clown peddling hamburgers to children... and there never will be.  And if you suggest otherwise... well, I can't say that I want to live in your world.

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Flooding Hits the Miami Valley

05/22/14

Last Wednesday it was an EF3 tornado.  This Wednesday it was heavy rain, flooding and huge hail.  The weather got interesting in the mid-afternoon and I was tracking severe thunderstorms by 3:30 P.M.  Those storms slowly drifted southward carrying a gusty wind threat but more than that brought large hail, lots of lightning and inches of rain.  By the time all was said and done some spots had picked up more than 5 inches according to National Weather Service spotters (see figure 1).

One inch hail (quarter-sized) was reported in Mercer county.  By the time the storm made its way into Shelby county 1.5" hail (ping-pong ball sized) was the issue.  As the storm tore into NW Champaign county it was dropping golf ball sized hail (1.75") and by the time it was near Urbana the hail had made it to two inches (the size of a hen's egg). 

This storm was quickly turning into something that meteorologists call a "right mover" and started to take a dip to the south or to the right of the mean flow.  W/out getting too technical when this happens the storm-relative helicity (corkscrew-like flow) increases due to storm movement.  It doesn't hurt that as storms move right they tend to move into an environment that's more favorable for intensification.  While we haven't gotten word of any touchdown the National Weather Service issued a tornado warning w/ this storm b/c of a persistent, rotating wall cloud that was spotted by a trained weather spotter (see figure 2).  The rotation was clear on the radar.

This storm continued to move off to the south before eventually moving SE and out of the area.  But after that the floodgates opened.  We saw what's known as "training" along a line from about Tipp City to Cedarville.  This is when thunderstorm after thunderstorm moves over the same area (hence "thunderstorm training") dumping copious amounts of rain and leading to flash flooding, river flooding and overall flooding of extensive areas.  It was a mess.

We got a great photo from a viewer showcasing the power of water.  A sinkhole opened up in Tipp City shortly after the rain stopped (see figure 3).  This underscores the threat flood waters can have.  Could you imagine driving through what appears to be manageable flood waters only to encounter this - submerged beneath the surface?  That's why the NWS has adopted the motto "Turn Around, Don't Drown".

Needless to say it was another busy night.  We haven't gotten any word of fatalities or major injuries which is a good thing.  We'll see the weather calm down over the next few days.  Pleasant conditions will take hold Thursday and last into - if not through - the long holiday weekend.

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Wednesday's Severe Weather Set-Up

05/20/14

Just a week after an EF3 tornado hit the Eastern Miami Valley we're tracking another threat for severe weather.  The bad news is that we have the chance for severe weather.  The good news is that it doesn't look like we have quite the set-up that was in place a week ago.  That being said we'll still see warm & moist air in the region and as a cold front passes through it'll spark off showers and storms into the afternoon.

The entire area is under an elevated risk for strong storms (see figure 1).  As it stands now the biggest threats would be damaging winds and isolated hail.  As I mentioned before a cold front will be responsible for sparking off this next round of storms.  It looks like that front will be in the vicinity by Wednesday morning but it'll be in the north.  While severe weather can strike @ any time of day it is most common in our area once we get into the peak heating of the afternoon.

With the front in the north early there won't be as much energy w/ which to play in that area.  As a result the best chance for the strongest storms will be mainly along and south of Interstate 70 in the afternoon (see figure 2).  That's b/c by the time the front reaches the southern half of the area we'll have had a chance to warm up and destabilize the atmosphere.  That doesn't mean we won't see strong storms in the north it just look like the environment will be a little more favorable in the south.

Again the main threats will be damaging winds and hail.  We'll also see dangerous lightning and any storms that form will have the potential to produce heavy rain.  The good news is that right now it looks like the front responsible for our next weather maker will be out of here by the early evening.  Out behind it weather will be much calmer and we're in for a near perfect stretch of weather to round out the work week and even into the long holiday weekend!

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Another Round of Severe Weather in the Forecast

05/19/14

The work week started out darn near perfect if you ask me.  We saw plenty of sunshine and warmed up nicely.  Our gorgeous weather was brought to you by the letter "H" or an area of high pressure.  As it drifts off to the east on Tuesday afternoon (see figure 1) our winds will shift to the SW and warmer air will arrive.  Tuesday looks to be a bit warmer with temperatures topping out on either side of 80.

But w/ that warmer weather we'll also begin transporting some moisture into the area and when a cold front comes through here Wednesday afternoon we'll see the threat for showers & storms.  Some of those have the potential to become severe w/ damaging winds and hail as the primary threat (see figure 2).  Once that area of showers & storms move out we'll see a pretty nice weather pattern taking hold.

By Thursday the next area of high pressure is moving in and it'll be firmly in place by Friday (see figure 3).  This means that another bout of pleasant weather is in the cards for us here in the Miami Valley.  Temperatures will be near average w/ plenty of sunshine by Thursday and Friday.  Thankfully that fair weather pattern will remain in place over the weekend.  Right now it looks like we have a pretty good shot @ great weather for about four days in a row starting Thursday.  By Memorial Day we'll start to see our rain chances on the rise but w/ a nice start to the weekend we can dodge a few raindrops by the end of the long holiday weekend.

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One More Reason to Look Forward to My Anniversary Every Year

05/16/14

If you read on a regular basis you may have noticed that I haven't been my regular blogging self as of late.  Normally I just do one entry a week that focuses on weather, this week I did four.  Of course in a normal week we don't see an EF3 tornado.  But now that things have calmed down a bit I can once again regale you w/ the everyday minutiae that happens to permeate my life.

A great thing happened this week: my wife and I celebrated our 14th wedding anniversary.  It's a celebratory time for more than a few reasons.  For one thing it's great that our lives have grown together the way they have since we first met.  I'm not there yet but in a couple of years I'll be @ a point in which my wife will have been in my life longer than she hasn't; pretty amazing.  Even more amazing is the fact that she's stuck w/ me for so long.  While I'm not impossible to live w/ I do have to say that she's put up w/ a lot.  From shaving off my eyebrows to almost burning down the back yard (my friend's fault, not mine) she truly is a patient woman.  The only other people to exhibit that level of perseverance share DNA w/ me so they kind of have too.  My wife does it by choice!

More than that w/ our anniversary now out of the way I'm free and clear until Christmas.  You see Valentine's Day is in February which means I have to come up w/ something special just 45 days into the year.  I don't get much relief after that as my wife's birthday is in March.  By the second Sunday in May it's time for me to come up w/ a Mother's Day surprise (even though I argue that's more of my kids' job seeing that my wife isn't my mom).  And then our anniversary rolls around so I've got to come up w/ another special outing.  As much as I love it all it can be exhausting.  I like to think of myself as a creative guy but coming up w/ something romantic - and unique - isn't easy.  Having to do it four times in five months is even tougher.

And I don't just want to come up w/ something good for my sake I truly want to do something she'll enjoy as well.  But being a guy I'm only thinking of stuff I'd want to do most of the time.  Getting glass seats @ a hockey game is awesome... but not in my wife's mind.  Fried chicken is delicious... but most women would rather go to a nice restaurant on their anniversary.  Tying a bow around my chest (implying that I'm the gift) sounds like a great idea... but most wives would laugh @ their husbands and ask where their real birthday present is if he tried this.  While these ideas may sound crazy to many I think they're perfectly viable options - especially the last one ;)

Honestly there should be a website or an app that allows guys to enter information about their significant other and then type in a idea he has (for a gift, dinner destination, or just any plain old thought that involves his other half in any way - shaving the eyebrows comes to mind).  This would then use an algorithm to determine if the proposed idea would be a good one of if it'd land him in the doghouse.  This may sound ridiculous but trust me - some of us are that stupid and even that little bit of help can mean all the difference.

The good news is that now that we've moved into mid-May I'm on easy street.  I don't have to do anything special for my wife until Christmas.  That doesn't mean I won't it's just now there's no pressure on me to do so.  Admittedly two of my daughters are having birthdays in the interim but my wife usually takes care of them.  But that's mainly b/c I feel that taking care of room and board for another year while they learn the skills to be productive adults and live on their own someday sounds like a good enough gift if you ask me.  So what will I do w/ all this free time?  Probably think of a few cool things to do for my wife next year (always good to have an ace up one's sleeve) and maybe I'll work on that app that will save me from myself.  I'll call it "Daddy's Little Helper".




Confirmed EF3 Tornado

05/15/14

After a crazy Wednesday night the National Weather Service in Wilmington confirmed what it & we already knew - a tornado hit Cedarville around dinner time (see figure 1).  But by going out & surveying the damage the NWS was also able to determine more about the tornado than we originally knew.  It touched down just east of Xenia and proceeded to track NE passing just ESE of Cedarville as it peaked in intensity (see figure 2).

@ it's strongest the tornado had maximum winds of 145 mph making it an EF3 tornado on the Enhanced Fujita scale.  The tornado reached a maximum width of 400 yards which is close to a quarter-mile wide and carved a path of nine miles across the Greene county countryside.  It was on the ground for about 20 minutes.  In short, this was a major event.

As I mentioned in this forum Wednesday night we were on the air covering the storm.  After all was said and done I was very thankful that no one was killed or even seriously injured.  After seeing the video of the farm that was hit by the twister (belonging to the Dobbins) I could tell that it was a good thing this family had a basement to which they could evacuate.  If not, all the warning in the world probably wouldn't have saved everyone involved.

As I mentioned before this was a powerful event.  The last time we had a tornado this strong in the Miami Valley was back on November 10, 2002.  This one hit Logan county and was an F3.  There was also an F4 that hit Xenia on September 20, 2000 (see figure 3). 

You might be wondering why this one was an EF3 and the other two were F3 or F4.  The F-Scale was developed by Dr. Ted Fujita.  Nicknamed "Mr. Tornado" his pioneering research revolutionized our understanding of tornadoes, thunderstorms, hurricanes & typhoons.  Fujita was able to estimate wind speed by going in after the fact and looking @ the damage left in a storm's wake.  Back in 2007 the Fujita scale was modified and became known as the "Enhanced Fujita Scale".  Essentially this change made tweaks to give us a more accurate picture of the wind speeds of a tornado.  At the time it was decided that no storms prior to the adoption of the new guidelines would be reclassified.

Again, it's great news that no fatalities were recorded during Wednesday night's severe weather.  Our goal as meteorologists is to protect life and property and after taking a step back and looking @ this in the light of a new day it's clear that things could have been a whole lot worse.

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Breaking Down the Warning Process Behind Wednesday Night's Tornado

05/14/14

Here's the understatement of the year: we had a busy Wednesday evening.  If you weren't watching we had a number of tornado warnings all stemming from a single storm that tore across the Miami Valley over about an hour-and-a-half time frame.

As the storm got its first severe thunderstorm warning our weekend meteorologist, LeeAnn Okuly and myself commented on how much rotation the storm was exhibiting.  Just a few minutes later the National Weather Service issued its first tornado warning of the afternoon.  As this tore across Warren county into Greene county the rotation continued and the tornado warnings were extended.

I remember looking @ the storm on the radar and pointing out how it was showing definite hooking on the radar.  That hook echo is indicative of rotation in the storm.  As we continued our live wall-to-wall coverage I got a piece of information that showed the particular storm I was tracking was showing a debris ball.  That was a big deal.  Usually if a storm has a radar indicated tornado there's about a 30%-40% chance a tornado is actually on the ground - that's why weather spotters are so important, they provide that essential "ground truth" and make warnings more accurate.

A debris ball is a different story.  Weather radar has come a long way over the years.  In the past when doppler radar was introduced it allowed meteorologists to see how fast a storm was moving but it also allowed them to detect the relative motion of the storm.  Doppler radar also lets us look into storms and pick up areas where rotation is occurring.  Back in August of 2012 the NWS upgraded it's doppler radar to a dual-polarization one.  Which takes me back to the debris ball.  A dual-pol radar can look @ particles on the radar in both the horizontal and the vertical while that doesn't give us an exact 3-dimensional image of the what's showing up on the radar it does allow us to probe storms better and see different shapes and sizes of the particles on which the radar is picking up.  When that debris ball is observed there's a 70%-80% chance the storm in question is producing a tornado that's on the ground (which makes sense b/c the radar is detecting the debris being picked and lifted into the air by said tornado).  When we had confirmation of that I knew we were tracking a major event.  In fact this is the first strong tornado I've tracked while it was on the ground here in the Miami Valley.  Yes, we've had other outbreaks that ended up w/ a confirmed tornado but this was the first major one that was actively spotted and confirmed by the velocity and debris ball on the radar (I did once track one in Wayne county, Indiana but that was a weak spin-up or landspout that was spotted - this is a whole different story).

Then the storm was actually confirmed by a spotter.  All of this information was used to give our warnings better lead time and more credence.  And thankfully as of now we're only getting reports of minor injuries.  I credit the partnership between the National Weather Service and our crews here @ ABC22FOX45 (along w/ other media outlets) for that success.  I hope you stayed safe and heed all of the warnings when they are sounded.

Below you'll find pictures of the storm as it passed through Cedarville and some of the damage nearby.

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Threat for Severe Weather on Wednesday

05/13/14

Wanted to drop a quick note on the threat for severe weather on Wednesday.  Right now it looks like we'll have an elevated risk across much of the area on Wednesday (see figure below).  The counties that are going to be on the cusp of this threat include Mercer, Auglaize, Northern Darke and Northern Logan counties.  But they'll be close enough to the action that they'll need to be keeping an eye on the sky.

One thing that we have working in our favor is the fact that it won't be as warm & humid but we're also going to see stronger shear (change in wind direction and/or speed with height) as a cold front marches through on Wednesday afternoon.  This will result in less instability but more dynamic lift to get our storms going.

Right now is looks like the main threat will be damaging winds, hail, heavy rain & lots of lightning.  The timing of any potential severe weather will be in the afternoon and early evening.  Once we get through tomorrow the threat for severe weather will diminish considerably.  We'll still see some rain into Thursday morning but it's not expected to be much more than that.  After that the cool down will take hold and we'll see nighttime lows in the upper 30s & low 40s along w/ highs in the 60s over the weekend.

Be careful and keep it tuned to ABC22/Fox45 throughout the day for the latest updates on Wednesday's severe weather threat.

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Tracking the Severe Threat this Week

05/12/14

Monday was by far the muggiest day of 2014 and I'm not complaining.  While I'm not a huge fan of extremely hot & humid conditions I realize they're way better than cold & frigid weather - and we've had more than our fair share of that this year.  But w/ all of this heat & humidity we're going to start seeing the threat for more showers & thunderstorms.

We didn't get much on Monday evening, just a few isolated showers.  By Tuesday a cold front will be approaching (see figure 1).  This will bring us some showers & storms through Tuesday afternoon.  B/c it'll be so warm & muggy I expect that there will be some instability in the atmosphere.  This will lead to a small threat of stronger storms later in the day.  If we see anything the primary threats would be damaging winds and hail.  But it's also very moist outside so heavy rain will also be an issue.

By Wednesday another wave of low pressure will be working in (see figure 2).  This will again bring us the chance for showers & storms.  Once again have the threat for some severe weather w/ this round.  The big question that remains focuses on how much sunshine we'll see before this rolls into our neck of the woods.  If we get enough the atmosphere will destabilize to the point that we could see a more widespread severe weather event.  Again, the biggest threats will be damaging winds, hail and heavy rain.  Right now it looks like our counties in the southeastern portion of the viewing area (mainly SE Montgomery, Greene, Warren & Clinton counties) have the best chance for this action but this could change.  We'll keep you posted on-air & online.

Thursday showers and possibly a few embedded rumbles of thunder will linger and it'll be cooler.  As this pattern finally starts to lift by Friday even cooler air will be wrapping around the backside of it (see figure 3).  We'll dry out and get some sun by the end of the day on Friday.  Saturday and Sunday are looking fantastic right now but it'll be about seven to ten degrees below the normal high for this time of year - @ least we'll see some sun, though.  We're back near 70 on Monday with another dose of sunshine. 

So really all we have to do is get through the next two days and things will be looking up.  Yes, it'll be cooler but once the sun returns it won't be all that bad.

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Thermodynamics and Child Rearing

05/08/14

Mike Kallmeyer had a great piece on Thursday night's 10:00 news highlighting dirty minivans.  He talked w/ a microbiologist and then put a few of our local viewer's minivans to the test.  What did the experts find?  You guessed it: plenty of dirt, grime, bacteria, fungus, etc.  As I watched the story I couldn't help but feel sorry for the kind people who volunteered - I even felt a little disgusted.  But one thing I didn't do was pass judgement.  I say that b/c I'm in their shoes every time I set foot into my wife's car - she has a Honda Odyssey.

More often than not it's strewn w/ candy wrappers, old dried out food, dirt and even a mystery substance that we'll just call sluck (a cross between slime & "yuck").  It's not that we're disgusting people - or @ least my wife isn't - it's our kids who are the gross ones.  And even though the vehicle gets regular cleanings it seems to be messy once again in only a matter of hours (you don't even want to know how it looks after a vacation). 

It doesn't stop @ the van either.  We have a clean house but it doesn't stay that way; don't even get me started on their rooms.  If we didn't make them to tidy up they'd still have stuff from the summer of 2009 in them - that's when we moved back from Hawaii.  Honestly I shouldn't be making fun.  After all, I don't think my children are trying to be foul, it just seems to come naturally.  I don't know if I ever just dropped a Slim Jim wrapper on the ground after finishing it when I was a young lad but I'm sure the thought crossed my mind.  For one thing I see my children do it w/out batting an eyelash but it also sounds like something I'd do.

If anything I shouldn't be blaming them I should be blaming nature.  I don't know if you're familiar w/ thermodynamics but the second law of the subject states that entropy always increases; closed systems devolve into disorder.  In essence it says that things break down.  I've seen this as I've gotten older.  As we get on in years our cells aren't as effective @ staving off entropy which is why we age.  Full disclosure: we don't have a "unified theory of aging" and some disagree w/ me b/c human beings aren't closed systems - I still think this factors in in some way, shape or form regardless.

And I've long said that there are people who don't believe in entropy... but those people don't have kids.  Having a family really drives the point home.  We could have one clean room in the house and that inevitably becomes the one to which they gravitate.  Why?  I couldn't tell you.  What I do know is that I liken that room to an organized system; introduce the kids and we introduce disorganization - it's science.

The good news is that there's hope on this front (clean homes & cars - not stopping entropy).  One of the best ways to get your offspring to stop trashing your house is to watch them get a mortgage of their own.  Once they actually start paying for things themselves they seem a lot more willing to take care of them.  That in turn leads to respect for the things that other people pay for - or @ least that's how it finally made sense to me. 

But don't worry, soon enough your kids will get their own lesson in entropy.  That's b/c there's another natural law that we haven't escaped (and hopefully never will).  That's the fact that life continues - it always finds a way.  That means your messy kids will soon have children of their own.  And for what it's worth if your brood haven't figured it out by then they'll finally realize that once again, "mom & dad were right".




My First "Reds Grumblefest" of the Year... Yay! - But Not Really

05/07/14

Right now I'm very sad.  What's worse is that what's making me sad has brought me so much joy over the years - especially recently.  The reason I'm unhappy is b/c I just got done watching the Reds get swept in a two-game series by the Boston Red Sox.  I can't tell you how maddening it is to see them w/ the bases loaded, no outs and only move one run across the plate.  Or hit a lead-off double (heck, I've even seen a lead-off triple this year) only to go down one, two, three after that.  What's worse is that I've seen this story before - it was in 2013.

I don't know what to do anymore, it's killing me!  Now that may seem like a bit of hyperbole but my blood pressure is definitely up so it's not that far off from the truth.

Let me start off by saying that the team's starting pitching has been PHENOMENAL... for a few seasons.  Yes, Homer Bailey has gotten off to a slow start but hopefully he figures it out soon - and I think he could; he's got 100 million reasons as to why he should.  But the team's offense has been a source of frustration.  What bothers me most is that they're getting hits... just not when they need them which means they're leaving too many men on base. It's all well and good to get extra base hits but when they're followed by strikeouts or a walk then double play you're not going to score.  If you think I'm overreacting then tell my why Johnny Cueto - the Reds' number one starter - didn't get a win until his fourth start of the season (and that's AFTER pitching seven full innings in his first three starts & only giving up a total of five earned runs).  Oh, and by the way that win he finally got was after pitching a complete game shutout.

I remember the Atlanta Braves in the 1990s.  They won the pennant five times and the World Series once - I was not a fan.  Not b/c they played the game well but b/c they always seemed to beat the Reds - especially when it counted.  That team proved that good defense beats a strong offense any day.  If you don't believe me just looked back to the 1995 World Series.  The Braves beat the Indians - arguably THE offensive team in baseball that year - four games to two.  Why?  B/c they had the best pitching in all of baseball.  BUT all the pitching in the world won't help you if you can't score runs and they could do that too.

Now I don't want to just blame the offense b/c the bullpen has had its ups and downs as well.  It's definitely played a part in what's been a losing season thus far.  But if you can hand it a decent lead it might not feel as much pressure, I don't know.  What I do know is that I'm getting a little tired of yelling @ my television b/c of sloppy play.  Maybe I wouldn't be as upset if the team was getting killed but it's lost 11 one-run games (they've only won seven).  I don't care what team you are, if you want to be successful you've got to win those one-run match ups.

Having said all of this I'm still optimistic - I'm a Reds fan I have to be otherwise I'll go nuts.  The team is still pretty banged up - $28 million of its payroll is on the disabled list right now.  When it's fully healthy let's hope things change.  If not the remaining five months are going to be LONG and full of words I can't repeat in this forum.




Stolen Paper

05/06/14

One of my hobbies - if you want to call it that - is exercising.  I'm not a "gym rat" and don't even do it b/c I like it.  We just happen to be members of the YMCA and if I'm paying dues I'm going to take advantage of what the organization has to offer.  I also like to eat what I want and exercising daily during the work week allows me to stay in shape.  Hopping on the elliptical also gives me the chance to read the paper, my Time magazine or even a book if I so choose.  It's a nice break from what's happening in my world to catch up on what's going on in the larger world around me.

Monday morning after running out of reasons to forego the exercise routine I decided hit up the fitness center.  On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays I always do a little lifting especially this time of year - swimsuit season is right around the corner.  After knocking out a few sets and doing my ab crunches I was ready to find an elliptical machine for 33 minutes of gut-busting bliss.  But when I went to my cubby (there's a space for people to leave their belongings like phones and keys) the newspaper I had brought w/ me was no longer there.  I looked around to see if it had been misplaced and had no luck.  It then dawned on me: someone had stolen it.

I couldn't believe it.  It's not like it sat there very long and even if that were the case that shouldn't matter.  That's why there are little cubby holes - so people can safely leave their stuff while they work out and not have to worry about someone else messing w/ it.  I understand that a paper may be something people want to read but if it's not yours don't touch it - I learned that lesson in kindergarten.  I don't just grab someone's phone out of one of those spaces and make a call - that's not cool.  Anyone would be mad if I did that w/ their phone - including the person who stole from me - and w/ good reason... it's not mine!

And this isn't the first time I've had something like this happen.  I've had my paper folded up in the little bin, stepped away and come back to find somebody reading it.  I had to tell this person that he was reading my paper but I'd be happy to let him have it when I was done w/ it.  I guess securing my own little compartment isn't a specific enough way to imply ownership of whatever property I choose to bring w/ me.

The funny thing is that I always leave the paper @ the Y when I'm done w/ it.  I actually put it out in the common area so people understand that it's there for the taking.  I don't have a problem doing this b/c I'm happy to see it get new life if I'm finished w/ it.

Now this could have been an honest mistake and I might be overreacting but maybe I'm not.  Whoever took this may have done so knowingly and just not cared.  I go back to the analogy of just grabbing someone's phone and using it to underscore that point.  If the person in question thought my paper was up for grabs then why didn't he/she take someone's keys, phone or glasses?  All of those items were sitting in their own little alcoves on the piece of furniture in question.  If my paper is up for grabs then so is all of that other property if you follow this line of logic.

I'm happy to say that I've taken steps to ensure this won't happen again... or @ least minimize the risk.  I now have a note in my car that I will bring w/ me whenever I plan on leaving anything unattended while in the gym (see figure below).  It reads, "STOP!  This is not your paper.  Please don't take/touch.  I don't take/touch your stuff & expect the same."  This will now sit on top of my possessions so would-be paper thieves will be shamed into leaving my stuff alone when I can't keep an eye on it.  My wife laughed @ me and you might be doing the same right now.  I'll admit it may sound a little extreme but plundering an innocent man's belongings when he's not looking is worse if you ask me.

Back to Monday afternoon.  I was so upset that I decided to go home and take the dog on a much longer walk than normal.  Actually I didn't make that decision b/c I was upset I really left b/c working out is super boring - unless I'm reading something.  If I'd had another item to peruse I would've stayed but a half hour of just my thoughts didn't sound like fun - that's why I don't swim much.  So I guess my dog was the big winner in all of this.  Seen in that light one might implicate her in this whole ordeal making her the mastermind of an elaborate ruse all to get me to take here on a long jaunt during a beautiful afternoon.  But I know that's not the case; she's not that smart - if she wanted to keep me from reading the paper she would've cut out the middleman and just shredded it herself.

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Tracking A Gorgeous Week!

05/05/14

After a gorgeous (but windy) weekend we had a pretty decent Monday.  I'm happy to say that we're just getting started.  High pressure has moved into the area (see figure 1) and that's going to bring us a gorgeous Tuesday.  We'll see plenty of sun through the afternoon and warm up to the upper 60s & low 70s which is just about perfect if you ask me.

By Wednesday we're even warmer.  We'll see the jet stream retreat northward (see figure 2).  The jet stream is that river of fast moving air high in the atmosphere that separates cold air to the north from warm air to the south.  When it lifts to the north we can see an upper-level ridge on top of us - and that's exactly what'll happen by midweek (I've circled it in figure 2 and marked the ridge axis as well).

So what does that mean for us?  We'll see the warmest air of the year by Wednesday - Thursday will be even warmer.  Highs in the low to mid-80s are expected and we'll get some sunshine as well.  That means you'll likely see people coming out of their homes and enjoying the weather and I don't blame them - it's going to be awesome!

Unfortunately sometimes when you see an upper-level ridge a trough isn't far behind.  That trough will be responsible for our next weather maker.  Showers will begin moving in through Friday as a system tracks off to our north (see figure 3).  That unsettled weather pattern isn't going to move out anytime soon.  We'll see some more rain on Saturday and into Sunday morning.  By Mother's Day afternoon it looks like we'll be getting a break from the rain and possibly even some sunshine.  Monday the waterworks get turned on again.  So if there was a moral to this evening's blog it's enjoy the next few days.  Not only will it be nice and warmer but rain isn't far behind.

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Kids Are Gross... Even Mine

05/01/14

I like to think of myself as a hygienic person.  I bathe regularly, I brush my teeth and put forth an effort to make myself presentable.  Part of the reason why I do this is b/c of my job, I also do it for my wife but the main reason for my cleanliness is b/c I don't want to be foul (any more so than I already am).

Now it wasn't always this way.  I used to be one of those disgusting, grubby kids whose forehead was about as slick as a lane @ a bowling alley.  Then I discovered girls.  Shortly thereafter I figured out something else: no matter how charming I was (or thought I was) if I didn't clean myself I was going to have a hard time finding a girlfriend; which still tilted the odds in my favor ever so slightly.  And thus regular grooming became more than a passing hobby of mine.

I was reminded of this point in my life on Thursday evening.  I went home for dinner and after hearing that my wife had had a long night - and seeing that my kids couldn't find their inner volume controls - I agreed to put them to bed for her so she could have a little time to herself.  I told my youngest to brush her teeth while I finished the dishes.  She came in and told me she was done and I couldn't help but think, "That was a little quick."

So I told me to let me smell her breath.  I took a whiff and surely enough it smelled a bit like an old shoe.  Turns out she'd brushed her teeth but not well; and she'd used water... not toothpaste.  So I sat her down in my lap, re-brushed her teeth and sent her off to bed.  But that got me thinking, why and how are kids able to go out of their way to be gross?  One would think they could smell themselves when they need a bath and would be @ least a little repulsed by the "sweaters" that form on their unbrushed teeth.

Again, I was a bit of a nasty kid @ times.  But I was a boy!  I always thought girls were supposed to be above all of that stuff.  I guess I should look @ the bright side and be happy that my four-year-old did brush her teeth - even if she skipped the toothpaste.  It's not perfect but it's way better than I was doing when I was her age - or even @ 11 for that matter.  When I was a kid I was on the "wait until two weeks before you see the dentist and then start brushing twice a day" plan (which inevitably became once a day during that fortnight). 

When looking @ it in that light I don't have a whole lot of room to complain.  And besides, I have three girls.  Eventually those repugnant boys are going to come knocking on my door - but I still hope to keep them from dating until they're 30.  If I can get my daughters to forgo regular sanitation that hope has a better chance of becoming reality.




All Cut & Lookin' GOOD!!!

04/30/14

I underwent a yearly right of passage Wednesday afternoon and my neighbors are happier for it I'm sure.  What did I do?  I gave my lawn its first haircut of the season.  My neighbors liked it b/c it was starting to look a little unruly.  Yes, I was "that guy" in the neighborhood.  I'd look out onto the tightly manicured lawns outside my front door and feel a tinge of embarrassment as my gaze then fell upon my yard; mottled w/ uneven grass w/ patchy areas of dead weeds mixed - it was just ugly.

The only reason it got this bad was b/c - as always - I procrastinated.  I'd been meaning to get my mower serviced but kept putting it off; honestly, I shouldn't be blaming procrastination - I was just being lazy.  I finally got my Toro in the shop last week and was happy to hear it was ready by Tuesday afternoon (they finished it about a week early).  Now it's running fine and I get to partake in one of my least favorite warm season chores over the next few months.

As I mentioned this is one of my least favorite chores but the first mowing is always awful.  The main reason is b/c I usually wait as long as I can to cut it and this year was no different.  The grass was so long in some areas that it almost shut down my mower b/c it couldn't take it all.  I even had to mow over some parts twice.  But that wasn't b/c it was too long to cut w/ one pass.  I just don't bag my grass; I think it's called mulching.  As a result I had to mow over the cut grass a few times b/c if I'd have just left it there it would've would've dried out and made my lawn look even worse after killing the live grass beneath it.

But after taking about 15 minutes longer than normal I'm happy to say my front yard is now mowed and looking good.  Yes, you read that right - I just finished the front yard.  I figured I'd take care of what people could see and worry about my back yard once the standing water dries up a little (having a few problems on that front b/c of the recent rain).  I also didn't do my back yard b/c I had to finish another one of my least favorite chores - pay my monthly bills.  I guess I should look @ the bright side and be happy I balanced my checkbook on Monday.




Tuesday Night's Severe Weather Wrap

04/29/14

It got very busy right about dinner time on Tuesday night in the weather center.  Showers and storms moved in and some of them reached severe limits (see figure below).  The worst of the weather hit the south and eastern portion of the Miami Valley.  While this wasn't a widespread event we still got some damage reports throughout parts of the area.

To the best of my knowledge this is the first severe weather event this spring season (I may be wrong b/c I was out of town in late March & early April).  We did get a confirmed tornado back in February (2/20/2014) but that was a very anomalous event.  Other than that it's been a pretty quiet year.

You might be wondering why we had strong storms on Tuesday but hardly anything on Monday - other than heavy rain.  Monday we got that rain early and then the clouds stuck around for pretty much the entire day.  This kept our temperature from rising too much which kept the atmosphere from destabilizing to the point necessary for stronger weather.

Tuesday started out w/ some rain but it quickly cleared out and we got a strong southerly flow of air.  Both of these factors allowed the temperature to rise quickly.  That warmer weather gives us a little more fuel for storms.  The one thing we had working in our favor was the fact that our dew points were low and that meant the atmosphere wasn't really "primed" for a classic severe weather event.  Had it been muggier we would've seen a much busier evening.

The dynamics in the atmosphere were really what drove this event.  Strong winds @ the surface were augmented by even stronger winds aloft.  Just about two miles up we saw winds near 75mph.  As our storms rolled through they were able to translate some of that momentum down to the surface which is why Tuesday night's event was primarily a straight-line wind one.

So far it's been a quiet season but that will change in the coming weeks.  Statistically we see our severe weather season peak in late May and early to mid-June.  As we head closer to that time keep an eye to the sky and a finger on the remote ready to change to ABC22 & Fox45 when bad weather strikes.

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Keep The Umbrella Handy This Week

04/28/14

I'll start off by telling you to look @ the image below (see figure 1).  If you're wondering what that is it's a cut-off low.  That's what's going to be the main driver behind the weather for the coming week.  So what exactly is a "cut-off low"?  It's basically a closed area of low pressure that's cut-off from the main westerly flow aloft in the atmosphere.

The next question is, "What does that mean?"  Well, b/c it's cut-off from the main flow it doesn't move very fast and can influence weather patterns for days - that's exactly what we'll see this week.  As that cold pool of air high in the atmosphere sits over us an unsettled weather pattern will be on tap for a few days.

Showers & storms will roll through on Monday night and Tuesday we'll see dry conditions for several hours during the day.  We'll actually see some sunshine which isn't a good thing.  That's b/c w/ the added sun we'll see warmer weather and the atmosphere will destabilize through the afternoon.  As a result we'll see another round of heavy rain and once again the potential for severe weather will be part of the forecast.  Right now it looks like we only have a slight risk through Tuesday but that could change if we're able to drag more moisture into the equation.  The best chance for stronger weather appears to be in play during the Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning time frame (see figure 2).  That won't coincide w/ the the most unstable conditions but we'll still have to watch out for strong gusty winds, hail, heavy rain and the slight chance for a quick spin-up (but that's going to be VERY slight).

Wednesday we'll again see some afternoon showers but the severe threat doesn't appear to be an issue.  By Thursday (see figure 3) the low pressure @ the surface will have moved a little farther north and cooler air will be dragged into the region.  Thursday, Friday & Saturday will see highs in the 50s or low 60s but w/ that cold pool of air still in the vicinity (but above our heads) we'll see showers form into each afternoon.

We start drying out a little on Sunday (but there's still a slight chance for rain).  Monday is looking a bit better as more sun takes hold and temps top out in the low & mid-60s. 

So we've got a wet week ahead of us.  While it won't rain all day every day we'll still see the chance for rain almost every day on the 7-day.  If you don't like that just look @ the bright side: April showers bring May flowers.  And May flowers bring pilgrims; or June bugs - take your pick.

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If You Can't Stand The Heat... Don't Mess With Sriracha

04/24/14

Last week (4/16) I used this forum to warn of what could be a terrible problem in the not too distant future.  I told you about the picturesque hamlet of Irwindale, California.  It's near Los Angeles and its claim to fame is that it's the home of the storied Sriracha sauce - dubbed "Ingredient of the Year" by Bon Appetit magazine in 2010.

If you'll recall the Irwindale city council was getting ready to declare the fumes emitted by the hot sauce plant a public nuisance.  That was before supporters of the spicy ambrosia turned up the heat.  Now city council is balking @ its original plan.  Mark Breceda, the mayor of the town, told a group of protesting workers, residents and lovers of the sauce (some wearing "Save Sriracha" shirts) that he "loves the chili sauce" and just wants a few "little" concessions from Huy Fong Foods - the company that manufactures the "little bottle of heaven".

City council decided on Wednesday to put off a vote on it's public nuisance declaration until mid-May.  Looks like this hot button issue is a little too much for politicians to handle.  I don't think it hurts that the company, which employs 70 full-time & 200 seasonal workers, has gotten dozens of relocation offers.

I think Huy Fong Foods owner David Tran said it best when he stated, "You say it's toxic.  I work for 32 years in this business.  I (would) die already."  I've been eating the stuff for years and I'd argue I'm waaaaay healthier than I was before I started enjoying it (which was after I graduated college).  So all I can say to Mr. Tran is well put.

While we still don't know how this story will play out I'm happy to see that things appear to be moving in the right direction.  Even if Irwindale goes w/ the declaration (which would be akin to shooting itself in the foot) some town will step in and make sure the Sriracha keeps flowing. 

I'd like to point out that my original idea was to start a "Save Our Sriracha" campaign but brevity has never been a skill of mine (which is probably why I'm not all that witty).  So I'm not ashamed to admit that "Save Sriracha" has a better ring to it.  I'd still like to see an entire town dedicated to the Sriracha lifestyle (again, my original suggestion).  I can't help but smile when I think about Srirachaville and the endless possibilities it opens up for my taste buds... and the world @ large.




Kids Say (And Write) The Darndest Things

04/23/14

Having children can be very frustrating but @ the same time immensely rewarding.  It can also be downright funny @ times.  It's been said that "kids say the darndest things"; and that's true.  It's also true that they can write the darndest things.  I say that b/c of something my wife recently discovered lying around the house.  It's a thin sliver of paper that bears an ominous prediction.  The scrap simply informs the reader that "your butt will explode" (see picture below).

If you get offended easily I apologize and recommend you stop reading and wait until tomorrow's offering.

If you haven't shut down your browser yet you're likely chuckling as I did for a good five minutes after I first read the shard of paper.  What I find just as funny is the comment my wife attached to it when she posted it on Facebook: "I love finding things like this around the house."  A number of equally hilarious comments ensued but I'll spare you the details.  My question quickly became, "Who did this?" (even though I knew the answer) and, "Why?" (even though I again knew the answer - or @ least had an idea).

Turns out my middle daughter (my hunch was right) decided to give advice that she found comical and call it a "fortune" - forget the sage wisdom that comes w/ a traditional fortune cookie.  No, my child thought it would be funnier to give someone a "misfortune" cookie - I didn't know that she was so interested in the age old practice of divination.  I think it's worth noting that my wife was glad to learn this wasn't an indictment on her cooking.

This whole ordeal has me asking why kids find toilet humor so funny.  I'll admit that as a parent it's pretty entertaining to find something like this - written by a 10-year-old - sitting on the kitchen counter.  But that doesn't mean I find what was actually written to be jocular.  I just think it's humorous that when given a chance to come up w/ a funny adage her go-to was bringing down a plague of intestinal problems onto the poor reader.  Maybe that's exactly what she was going for; I guess I should be happy that she didn't write something mean - like an insult attacking one's deepest anxieties and fears (unless of course the person who got the "misfortune" cookie suffered from a similar medical condition).

Thankfully this prediction has yet to come true in my house.  So while it's still a little early for my daughter to figure out what she wants to do w/ her life I'm happy that "phone psychic" is likely off the list.  Not that there's anything wrong w/ Miss Cleo's chosen line of work - I'm sure it's a noble profession.  I just don't see soothsayers consistently telling people they'll have stomach issues in the near future as a growth market.  A niche market, maybe - but not a growth one. 

On the plus side maybe my girl has a future in comedy.  If that's the case I may need to have a talk w/ her about putting together an appropriate set.  After all, it's a little early to go "blue" @ age 10.

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Forecast For The Week

04/22/14

After what was one heck of a weekend and start to the workweek things are changing.  Tuesday morning's rain came thanks to a cold front.  After that it turned beautiful but windy.  Those winds continue to blow pretty strong as I type this but they're actually going to be a good thing Tuesday night.  That's b/c patchy frost is on the way and moderate winds will help to keep our temperature from dropping as low as it would otherwise.  That's b/c the winds mix up the air and that mixing keeps the things from dropping as low as they normally would if the winds weren't there.

Heading through Wednesday we'll see lots of sunshine as high pressure moves in (see figure 1).  But as that high takes hold we'll see our winds shift to the north and colder air will come w/ it.  As a result highs will only climb into the mid-50s to about 60 Wednesday afternoon.  But it won't be as windy so it'll feel pretty nice in the sunshine.

Winds shift to the SE and south on Thursday and that'll bring warmer weather into the region.  Upper 60s & low 70s are expected on Thursday afternoon.  By Thursday night a weak front will move into the area (see figure 2).  That will bring another round of rain but we're not expecting a ton of it.  We'll watch sunshine take hold heading through Friday and temps will remain in the 70s.

Things cool off a bit heading into the weekend as high pressure begins to move back into the region.  Once again we'll be on the "front side" of the high which means a cool down is in the cards over the weekend.  The good news is that it won't be too cold (highs in the low & mid-60s).  By the end of the 7-day we're expecting more rain w/ some showers possible on Monday and a better chance for them (even a few rumbles of thunder) next Tuesday.

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Goodbye, Dear Friend

04/17/14

It's been a good run but it's time to bid farewell to an old friend.  I first noticed it a few wearings ago.  The placket front began to fray a bit on the edges (see figure 1).  I figured, "No big deal, it's still good."

Then a few nights ago when I was taking it off @ the end of the day I observed what appeared to be a fine tear along the sleeve crease (see figure 2).  Almost the entire fold was more than wearing thin and I couldn't tell you what was holding my trusted no-iron shirt together.  All I knew was that it was on life support.  I'd like to say that I was just so muscular that I was "busting out" of my clothes but sadly my muscles wouldn't be the things pushing my clothes to the breaking point - more like my gut.

So after much deliberation (see figure 3) and a few tears (alligator) I decided to take a cue from Idina Menzel's character in Frozen and just "let it go".  Now this may seem like much ado about nothing but I've had this shirt for a long time.  I actually got it back when I lived in Hawaii.  I think I've owned the thing for about six or seven years and I can realistically say I've worn it around 100 times possibly up to 150... that's a lot!

It's a nice Brooks Brothers garment and I've since bought shirts from other vendors (I won't name names) and haven't gotten anywhere close to the life out of them underscoring the old adage that "You get what you pay for and sometimes it's more expensive to buy cheap(ly)." 

The shirt has now been relegated to "stain protector" which means the next time my kids do an art project it will get a new lease on life.  Granted, "smock duty" won't be as glamorous as what "Old Blue" is used too but I think it's a good retirement for one of the workhorses in my stable of clothes - time to put this stallion out to stud. 

So "Old Blue", you've been a good worker and I thank you for your years of service.  And as you ride off into the autumn of your years I'm sorry to say I don't have a gold watch for you.  But I know you'll wear that first splotch of gold paint like a badge of honor.  Saturday is "craft day", you won't need to wait long.

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Feeling The Heat

04/16/14

I'm a huge fan of hot sauce.  I put it on just about everything.  While I can't say I use it @ every meal I will say it's part of about 90% of them.  Heck, sometimes I forgo the ketchup and just grab a bottle of liquid fire.

I don't have a particular brand that I just need to use every time but some of them are tastier than others.  Right now I'm a Frank's Red Hot man for a couple of reasons.  The main one is b/c I have a bunch of it.  My wife's cousin stocked up on enough for the zombie apocalypse while "extreme couponing" last year and now we have it.  It's also what's sold in a two bottle bundle @ Sam's Club.

That doesn't mean that I don't like Tabasco b/c I do... it's fantastic.  But I think of Tabasco as more of "heat in a bottle" than actual sauce.  Yes it has flavor but the spice usually overpowers it.  Having said that I think that the best hot sauce out there is Tabasco Chipotle; hands down - I loooooove it.  One of my favorite snacks is cottage cheese (small curd, w/ the excess liquid strained out of it), Tabasco Chipotle and smoked almonds.  It may sound gross but mix up a batch of that and you're smack dab in the middle of Tastytown.

When I'm feeling a little exotic I grab the bottle of Sriracha from the fridge.  This is another fantastic option.  It has heat, flavor and even a little texture.  My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

But that also gets me to the point of this post (other than extolling the virtues of hot sauce... something of which we can never get enough): I might need to start stocking up on my Sriracha.  The reason is b/c the town of Irwindale (the Southern California hamlet responsible for the delicacy) is getting ready to declare fumes from the manufacturing of the spicy staple a public nuisance.  It's all b/c a number of residents are complaining about headaches, sore throats and itchy eyes.

No one knows what will happen if Huy Fong Foods (the maker of said product) doesn't comply but my mind can't help but assume the worst... and I'm nervous.  Like I said, I have a strong love for hot sauce - and Sriracha is like another side of a complex, beautiful woman.  I've had a bottle of it in my fridge continuously for probably six years (not the same one, I always refill before I run out).  Denying me access to the product would somehow leave a little part of me feeling hollow & void - not to mention the empty spot on my refrigerator door that would tug @ my heartstrings every time I needed a snack.

While I don't think it would be fair to evict an entire town I'd argue it's unreasonable to kick out such a beloved world institution.  So I believe it's time to start the "Save Our Sriracha" campaign.  It'll raise money to move the table top mainstay to a more receptive facility.  This will boast top-of-the-line equipment along w/ a peppery fume friendly climate.  And as lovers of spicy food flock to this new culinary utopia there will only be one rule - Sriracha was there first therefore they're not moving again... unless they so choose.

Now you may be reading this and thinking that it all sounds like a pipe dream much like the perpetual motion machine or even the famed philosopher's stone that allows lead to be turned to gold.  I disagree and would be happy to spearhead such an effort.  I'd only ask for a nominal 10% of the funds raised or that same dollar amount of the famed product.  And if you think it's a bad idea to be paid in hot sauce you obviously don't understand how much I eat.




I'm Tired of Winter Wonderlands

04/15/14

It's not lost on me that the worst day of the week - weather-wise - fell on tax day but maybe I'm just grumbling about the check I had to write to the great state of Ohio (I got a small refund from the feds but after paying my state bill and the tab from my tax preparer it's pretty much a wash).  Beyond that, we all woke up to something that was an unwelcome sight for many: snow (see below).

With 1.1" of snow Dayton actually broke a record on Tuesday that's stood for 80 years.  Back on 4/15/1935 0.1" of snow fell in the gem city so we shattered the old record if you think about it.  And the last time we had snow this late in the year was in 2013 believe it or not.  On April 20th of that year we saw 0.4" hit the ground.  If this is a surprise to you don't worry you're not the only one.  I'd forgotten about this event but there's a good reason: the snow hit in the early hours of the morning and when things warmed up the bulk of it had melted and it was pretty much gone by the time I was awake (this happened on a Saturday so I was sleeping in).

A lot of people were asking me how common it is to have snow in April.  Recently it's not all that rare.  Looking @ the 15 Aprils dating back to 2000 6 of them have had events of @ least 0.1" of snow.  That's 40% of the time since the turn of the century.  What I will say is that Tuesday's snow of 1.1" is high for this time of year.

The other question I've been getting a lot is whether or not we'll see anymore snow the rest of the season.  While I can't say w/ 100% certainty I can tell you that odds are that we're finished w/ it.  If I was a betting man (which I'm not) I'd put money on it.  I've looked @ the long-term forecast models and it appears we should be done w/ snow for the next two weeks.  That's as far out as I can go (w/out having to spend lots of $$$ on private forecasting data).  Beyond that I think we should be safe.  I was looking through the National Weather Service's records and I've only found one time that we've had a measurable snowfall (@ least 0.1") in Dayton since records have been kept.  That was back on May 9, 1923 when we got 0.5".  After the winter that we've had if we were to get snow in May (which I'm very certain we won't) I think I might cry.

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Snow In April???

04/14/14

I want to start off this blog entry tooting my own horn - even though I'm not happy about why I'm doing so.  Back on March 20th (the first day of spring) I said in this very forum that "I wouldn't be surprised if this is one of those years when we get snow in April."  I actually had this sentiment sometime in February after watching a persistent pattern in the jet stream that kept bringing surges of cold air into the region.  I first relayed this feeling to some members of my church b/c I knew they couldn't curse me in the house of the Lord. 

Sadly it seems this prognostication will be coming to fruition and will be doing so as we head into the wee hours of Tuesday morning.  Thankfully we're not expecting more than a dusting to an inch or so in the north.  I'm not foreseeing major widespread problems on the roads Tuesday morning but there will be a few slick spots.  We'll mainly see accumulations on elevated surfaces (roofs, windshields, outdoor tables, etc.) and on some grassy areas.  Like I said, don't expect much but the simple fact that we're talking about snow in April is a little demoralizing.

We'll also see a big punch of cold air out behind this system.  Lows will be in the 20s & 30s Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings and temperatures will struggle to get out of the 30s Tuesday afternoon.  On Wednesday high pressure will be in control (see figure 1) and sunshine will be the word of the day.  It'll still be well below average, though.

Winds will be out of the south by Thursday (see figure 2).  This will begin pumping warmer air into the region and temperatures will moderate back into the 60s (right in line w/ the seasonal average) by the afternoon.  And even though we'll see normal highs after the cold weather on Tuesday & Wednesday it should feel VERY nice heading into the second half of the work week.

Friday the next chance for rain moves in (see figure 3).  While we're not expecting a ton of rain right now it looks like Friday evening plans could be a little wet.  Our temperatures won't drop as drastically behind Friday's rain but it'll cool off a shade heading into the weekend.  Easter isn't looking too bad but clouds will increase through the day and we'll see the slight chance for rain late in the day; so if you're planning an Easter egg hunt you'd be best to get it in early.  There's a better chance for rain on Monday so keep the umbrella handy as you head into next week.

Overall this week is looking like a typical one in spring (sans the snow).  We're expecting dramatic swings in temperature and we'll get a few rounds of April showers.  I've got to admit that I'm not looking forward to the cool down but the recent weekend warm-up is going to make it that much harder to endure.

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Just Say "No"... Please

04/10/14

Medical tests have shown that marijuana usage can lead to a number of side effects.  From lung problems, weakened immune system, dry mouth and even short-term high blood pressure there are many reasons to stay away from the drug.  One of the classic unwanted byproducts of taking the controlled substance is diminished mental function - think Tommy Chong.  While classic caricatures of the dumb stoner may be the thing of movies here's an example of life imitating art (if that's what you want to call those movies).

37-year-old Evelyn Hamilton was arrested and charged w/ a drug paraphernalia charge recently.  How did the police get her?  Simple, the Texas lady called them.  No, she didn't turn herself in but she did report to the police that her drug dealer sold here a bad bag of pot and wouldn't give her her money back when she complained to said purveyor of pot.

Apparently the bag of weed she bought didn't have the "oomph" she thought it should and when she couldn't get a refund she consulted authorities in Lufkin, TX on the matter.  Police later arrested Hamilton b/c the woman had a small amount of marijuana in her possession when she made the complaint.  The woman has since been released on $500 bail her alleged drug dealer has yet to be charged.

I'm a big fan of dumb criminals and I've gotta tell you that this is one of my all-time favorites. 

Why someone guilty of an illegal activity would think it's a good idea to call the cops b/c they think the person who facilitated the illicit conduct scammed them is beyond me.  The fact that this lady would do this tells me one of two things: either Hamilton is an idiot or the product her trafficker sold her wasn't as bad as she thought - honestly, it's probably a little bit of both.  One thing I do know is that if you have kids and you want to encourage them to stay away from drugs this is a perfect "real world example" as to why they should "just say no" in the first place.  After all, no one wants to be a dope.




More Pump Pain

04/09/14

I was reminded of a valuable lesson on my recent vacation: always read the fine print.  Honestly, when I pulled up to a gas station in Northern South Carolina the last thing I expected was to have such an important adage thrust upon me.  Allow me to explain.

We pulled off the highway so one of my children can use the restroom (yes, we'd recently stopped and she convinced us she was "fine").  My wife pointed out the fact that our fuel was getting low and that we might as well fill up since we were stopping anyway.  Gas was 3.499 a gallon.  BTW, I've never understood why I get charged 9/10 of a cent when filling up... just round it up to the nearest penny; I won't mind.  But I digress. 

I start pumping the gas and I look down only to see that I'm being charged 3.599 - 10 cents extra - per gallon (see figure 1).  So I go inside to find out what the problem is and the lady informs me I'm paying extra b/c I paid outside with a credit card.  I then asked if I'd be charged extra if I would've paid w/ a credit card inside and she told me "no".  I walked back to my car a little upset.

When I looked @ the sign on the side of the road I didn't see anything warning me of the additional rate.  When I looked @ the gas pump I didn't see anything either.  Then I looked closer and sure enough there was sticker telling me that paying w/ a credit/debit card would incur a fee of an additional 10 cents... per gallon!!! (see figure 2)  And if you look @ the gas pump this warning is EASY to miss (see figure 3).  By now I was furious.

So I grumbled and pumped my gas and when my wife got to the car I complained.  She pointed out that it was only 10 cents a gallon which isn't much.  She was right; it only cost me an extra $1.80 to fill up but that wasn't the issue.  It's the principal of the matter.  Not only was there no warning on the big gas sign outside of the station but I'm a tourist... I had no reason to expect this.  I looked @ it as a "you're not from around here" tax and felt cheated.

What bothers me more is the fact that there wasn't a lot of reason behind the hidden charge.  I understand that it costs the retailer less when someone pays in cash b/c he doesn't have to pay a swipe fee for the credit charge.  But there's no way that swipe fee equates to 10 cents a gallon; that seems like highway robbery to me.  It sounds like this "surcharge" is added by the owner b/c he knows he can get away w/ it... if that's the case it's just not right.

I'd also argue that those very funds distributed through a credit card are also safer for the owner of the store.  The reason for this is twofold: for one thing cash has more inherent pitfalls associated w/ it.  It takes up more space, it's easier to misplace and it's also more enticing to someone who may be thinking of robbing said gas station.  Cash is also something that's easier to skim off the top if a nefarious employee happens to be working the register.  One could also argue that it's also easier to hide from Uncle Sam so - if the owner wanted to do so (but I withdrawal that statement).

I think the biggest annoyance is the fact that one of the very reasons I have a credit card is so I can pay @ the pump.  It's more convenient, easier when I leave my kids in the car and turns what could be a 10 minute ordeal into a 4 minute stop.  It's also good for the purveyor of gasoline b/c automation helps his bottom line.  Again, I can't help but feel like I got taken - and that's what set my blood a boilin'.

Ultimately I should've looked closer so there's nobody to blame but myself.  Having said that I didn't think I needed to read the fine print... I was just buying gas after all.  Oh, well.  What I can say is that if learning a life lesson only costs me $1.80 I should be happy - most of the time gaining such knowledge costs a lot more than that.

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Where Have You Been?

04/08/14

The nice weather on Tuesday has made the transition back to work that much easier to digest.  If you watched @ all last week you probably noticed that I wasn't here and there's a good reason for that: I was on vacation.  So where did I go?  To the beach; Hilton Head to be more exact.

My kids were on spring break all last week so I decided to take some time off to enjoy some much needed/deserved sunshine & warmth.  The only other time I've been to South Carolina was when I went to Myrtle Beach when I was a teenager getting ready to head off to college.  I have fond memories from that trip.  I made even fonder memories on my most recent jaunt to the Palmetto State. 

It was lots of fun and the beach @ Hilton Head was really neat.  The tides there vary quite a bit and I got there the night of the new moon or during the spring tide when the high tides are higher.  As a result during low tide a HUGE swath of the beach was exposed (see figure 1).  While I can't say for certain how much beach there was I'd have to estimate it was @ least half a football field when the tide was @ its lowest - and that sand was pretty compact b/c the waves would roll over it for much of the day.  As a result you could walk/run on the beach pretty easily, bike on it if you wanted and my father-in-law told me when he was stationed there in the 60s they'd drive up and down it w/out having to worry about getting stuck.  Not only that but we had a nice area of high pressure set up just off the coast which meant we had a nice sea breeze and plenty of sunshine.  In short, it was a great time.

My wife and I also took out two oldest girls into Georgia one evening for dinner and on a "haunted Savannah" tour after the sun set.  I didn't know this but supposedly some consider Savannah to be a bit of a crossroads between the living and the spirit world.  One of the places we stopped was Colonial Park Cemetery.  It's home to a mass grave of 700 people who died during the Yellow Fever epidemic of 1820.  I snapped a photo (see figure 2) but I can't find any ghosts - maybe I'm not looking hard enough.

We also visited 432 Abercorn Street (see figure 3).  Reportedly, it's an empty house in the heart of one of the nicest areas of the beautiful city.  Why is it empty?  B/c of the paranormal activity that permeates the place.  Not only do some people swear they can feel an evil presence but others have seen a little girl in the left window and even heard a child's voice who invites them into the house.  Supposedly more than a few of those people have vanished... never to be seen again.  It was a fun tour and my kids loved it - until one of them couldn't fall asleep that night and made me lie next to her until she did.

It was definitely a good vacation and I had a blast.  I spent too much time @ the beach but that's not a bad thing if you ask me.  Lying in the sun w/ nice breeze on a lazy afternoon... it doesn't get much better than that.

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Get Ready for A Warm-Up!!!

04/07/14

We had a rainy Monday which I always find fitting - most people dread Mondays so why not have the weather mirror the mood?  As I type this blog rain continues to fall and another batch is on the way.  The good news is that we'll be getting a break from the wet weather very soon.

Tuesday will see a mix of sun & clouds through the afternoon w/ the slight chance for a spotty sprinkle in the afternoon.  What I like better is the fact that it'll be warmer on Tuesday.  That warm-up continues on Wednesday as a high pressure moves in (see figure 1).  This will bring us plenty of sunshine and seasonal temperatures by mid-week - I can't wait.

By Thursday we'll continue to see high pressure in control (see figure 2) but as the pressure gradient tightens (those black lines, or isobars, get closer together) our winds will pick up in strength.  Those stronger winds out of the southwest will pump up warmer air and we'll hit the upper 60s and low 70s - once again, I can't wait!

Thursday night showers and storms will roll in and they'll continue through the first half of Friday as a weak front sags through the area.  As a result Friday will be a little cooler but we should still get into the 60s.  Saturday isn't looking bad but a few light showers are possible - especially early.  As we head into the afternoon our temps will flirt w/ 70 and we should get there on Sunday but we'll see more clouds.

The reason we have more clouds on the way on Sunday is b/c we're looking @ another weather system that'll begin affecting us Sunday night into Monday morning.  This will bring us more rain but more importantly we'll see colder air mixing in behind this system (see figure 3).  As our winds come in out of the north cooler air will take hold and Monday is looking like the worst day on the 7-day.  Temperatures will fall through the afternoon and a brisk, northerly wind will make for a miserable end to our coming Monday.

My advice is to enjoy the warm-up while it's here and bask in the hope that it brings - hope for a new season but more importantly hope for the long warming trend that we've grown to call summer.

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You're Job Is Harder Than What???

03/28/14

Being a mom is the toughest, most rewarding job in the world.  While I can't say this through firsthand experience I see what my wife does - and know what my mom went through - and that's enough for me to categorize the above statement as factual.  To paraphrase Bill Cosby, mom's the boss and I've seen the boss's job... I don't want it.  So I had to take pause when I read a recent quote from an interview actress Gwyneth Paltrow gave to E!

"I think it's different when you have an office job, because it's routine and, you know, you can do all the stuff in the morning and then you come home in the evening. When you're shooting a movie, they're like, 'We need you to go to Wisconsin for two weeks,' and then you work 14 hours a day and that part of it is very difficult. I think to have a regular job and be a mom is not as, of course there are challenges, but it's not like being on set."  Translation: mom's who work office jobs have it easier than movie star moms.

Boo-freakin'-who!!!  Somebody call her a "Wahhhhmbulance".  If you're not picking up on the sarcastic subtext in those words let me spell it out for you: you've gotta be kidding me, Ms. Paltrow.  I've worked office jobs before.  They can be mind-numbingly boring, stressfully busy and even downright tiring.  I've also done a little acting; granted it was in various school plays.  Other than memorizing lines and figuring out where to stand it really wasn't that hard.  And even the difficult parts were waaaaay easier than the simplest job I've ever worked.

If you think about it all actors really do is play make believe.  They pretend for a living - and sometimes get paid LOTS of money to do so.  I'm not knocking the profession b/c it's good work if you can get it.  Heck, I love what I do but I'd drop everything in a heartbeat if I was guaranteed enough acting work that I could keep my current standard of living for the rest of my life.

To suggest that it's harder than a "real job" is ridiculous.  Yes, actors work long days.  But lets do the math.  Say Joe/Jane Blow actor/actress has a month-long shoot.  If a 14 hour work day is required (and let's face it that's not 14 hours of straight work) then that person will have worked 420 hours over that month-long period. 

Now let's look @ that "real" full-time job.  It requires 40 hours of work each week (@ least).  That means the job in question calls for around 2000 working hours in any given year (assuming two weeks of vacation).

So while that month of work is intensive it's really only about 20% of what a typical person puts in in a given year.  But that actor has likely made anywhere from about 25 to 250 times what a typical, well-paid ($75,000/yr. - according to employment surveys) worker brings in during a given year.  Again, acting is good work if you can get it.

Now I hope Paltrow just misspoke b/c I'm a fan of hers.  She's very taltented @ her craft and stunningly beautiful to boot.  But I do have to disagree w/ her on this one.  About the only job that I can think of that's easier than acting is the no-show job one gets as a political favor.  And trust me I know a thing or two about easy jobs... I'm a meteorologist.  Yes there are days when it's difficult but this is by far the easiest job I've ever worked.  Part of that may stem from the fact that I love what I do but I can tell you one thing: I'd rather do this than enter data, sell cars, bus tables, wait tables, bartend, bar back, wash dishes, telemarket, teach, sell magazines door-to-door, mow lawns, landscape, etc. (BTW I've done all of these things for money @ some point in my life). 

Having said that I'd be happy to play a role in one of Paltrow's next movies.  I think $2 million for a month's worth of 14-hour days sounds fair.  And seeing that she reportedly gets $16 million per movie appearance the studios would be getting a pretty good bargain.




U-D Ba-by!!!

03/27/14

Wow!  It's been a great week for Dayton Flyer fans.  Full disclosure: I'm a Buckeyes fan.  Having said that they weren't as good a team this year as they've been recently.  I actually picked them over the Flyers in my bracket but that was one of the last picks I made b/c I knew it would be close.  In the end logic was beat out by my Columbus roots. 

After that final whistle in the first game of the tournament I started rooting for the Flyers... hard; and they haven't disappointed.  The next game against Syracuse was more than a nail-biter.  I'll admit it was a good game but I'm more a fan of the comfortable victory; it's better for my blood pressure.  After the clock expired I was amazed, excited and couldn't believe the Flyers were headed to the Sweet 16.

Fast forward to Thursday night's game against Stanford.  I was a little more confident about UD in this one.  Yes, Stanford is a good team but after seeing Dayton beat Syracuse I thought the Flyers had a pretty good chance of winning.  But they didn't just win they dominated that game.  The Flyers jumped out ahead and didn't look back.  Stanford did pull w/in four in the second half, I'll give you that, but then UD took over... again.

It's crazy b/c Dayton really made Stanford look BAD... more than a few times.  In the last few minutes of the game Stanford looked unmatched - and that's baing nice.  So now it's official... the Flyers are still dancing!  It doesn't matter how you sugarcoat it: the next game is going to be a tough one.  Let's hope the slipper still fits and UD can take down their next opponent and dance all the way to the Final Four in Texas.  And while winning the NCAA Tournament sounds like monumental task when think about it UD is only three wins away from doing just that; they just need another three game winning streak.  If you put it in that light it doesn't sound all that hard.  Go Flyers!!!




The Weekly Forecast Discussion... A Little Late

03/26/14

After a COLD Wednesday - we started out @ 13!!! - I'm happy to say that warmer weather is moving back into the forecast.  But with the warmer weather we'll also see wetter conditions.  Thursday will be a gusty day as we pick up a strong southerly wind.  That moves in out ahead of a storm system that will bring us a cold front (see figure 1).  We'll get off & on showers through the afternoon w/ rain picking up by day's end - most of it coming through Thursday night and Friday morning.  It will be moderate @ times and right now about a quarter to a half-of-an-inch is expected.

By Friday afternoon we're drying out and we'll climb into the low & mid-50s and even get a little sun by the end of the day.  Unfortunately it won't last.  By Saturday another weather system is rolling through the area (see figure 2).  This will bring us some light rain but as it passes by to the southeast of the area we'll watch some cold air wrap in on the backside of it.  This will give us the chance for a wintry mix by the end of the day.  Fortunately, the ground is warm enough that we won't really see anything sticking.

By Sunday sunshine starts working back into the picture.  We'll also see warmer weather w/ highs getting into the mid-50s.  If that sounds nice just wait until Monday b/c it's looking even better.  By then another weather system will be passing by to the northwest of us and we'll see southwesterly winds out ahead of it which means that warmer air will work back into the region.  Monday looks sunny to partly cloudy and temperatures should top out around the mid-60s which will be fantastic.  If you're thinking about heading down to Opening Day in Cincinnati I'd advise you to do so b/c the weather looks great.  If you're saying, "But, Jeff I have to work and don't have a ticket" I say play hookey, talk to a scalper and watch me turn green w/ envy.

By Tuesday morning we could see a few light showers but we're back into the mid-50s and Wednesday we'll get another mild day w/ highs in the upper 50s but clouds will increase through the day out ahead of our next rainmaker.

After what's seemed like the never-ending winter I'm happy to finally see some spring like weather in the forecast and while I don't want to jinx it I hope it's here to stay.  Long term models are hinting @ another cool down late next week, though.  For now I'll just enjoy the warm-up.

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"Back" In Business

03/25/14

You may have noticed I was absent on Monday and while I'd love to say I was out having a great time unfortunately that hasn't been the case.  It's been almost a year-and-a-half but I had the first back spasm that I've had in a loooong time on Saturday night/Sunday morning.  During the height of it I could hardly walk... it was awful.

Like I said I haven't had one in awhile - not since Thanksgiving of 2012.  After that one I went and got an inversion table - one of those things you strap your feet into and flip upside down to decompress your spine; my kids call it a torture table.  I used it religiously for almost all of last year.  Five minutes of hanging each day, all in the name of health; it seemed like a good trade off.  For some reason I haven't been using it as diligently in recent months and the abdominal machine I use @ the YMCA was out of service for a few weeks.  Put these together and I think we have the culprit behind my recent issues.

If you've never had a lower back spasm consider yourself lucky - they're terrible.  I have them when I get out of alignment and pinch a nerve.  It can be debilitating and I hate it.  Needless to say I uttered some choice words on Sunday morning. 

I had the chance to get to the chiro and do some swimming on Monday; it's fantastic exercise if your back hurts.  As a result I'm feeling a lot better, even though I forgot my goggles @ the pool and wasn't allowed to use a pair from the lost & found (I didn't go to my normal Y though so maybe the lifeguard on duty thought I looked like a shady character).  I'm still not 100% but I'm better than I was on Monday and waaaay better than I was on Sunday.

While I hate it when my back goes out I have to say that since I've been going to the chiro (and now that I have an inversion table) I recover A LOT faster than I used too.  It used to take about a week before walking only provided mild discomfort and about two weeks until I was back to normal entirely.  Now it's only a few days.  But even if I'm more resilient than I was a few years ago that doesn't change the fact that getting old stinks.  I know I've said it before but the older I get the more I realize I can't say it enough.




Spring Has Sprung... Cue "Ode To Joy"

03/20/14

I'm sure I don't have to tell you but it's been a LOOOOONG winter.  Not only has it been long but it's also been pretty awful!  And don't take my word for it just look @ the numbers.

W/ 50.4" of snow from the first snowfall until now we're tied for the third snowiest season on record.  The crazy thing is that we really didn't get that one MAJOR snowstorm in Dayton.  We did have a few events with around 10" in the north but out @ Dayton International (where the climate records are kept) our worst storm dumped 6.1" of snow in the area.  That happened on 12/6/13 and while we did get some significant snowfalls after that the bulk of our 50.4" came in increments of 4" or less - only 16" of our 50.4" came from storms that dumped 4" or more.  Again, this is @ Cox International; there were some heavier totals more frequently out in other places but the bottom line is that most of our snow came in smaller increments but a little here and a little there really adds up.

We've also seen a number of days record sub-0º temperatures.  12 in 2014 ties us for number five on the list of most days that dipped below zero.  When you look @ the season as a whole we're tied for number six.

So the numbers prove what your aching bones and foul disposition already know: it's been a hard winter.  The good news is that winter officially came to an end on Thursday @ 12:57 in the afternoon. 

The bad news is that mother nature didn't get the memo.  We'll see another shot of cold air by the end of the weekend and could see some light snow or a wintry mix early next week.  And even it's too early to call I'll say in public what I said in private earlier this month: I wouldn't be surprised if this is one of those years when we get snow in April.  Again, I'm not saying this is going to happen.  I've just seen this persistent pattern in the jet stream that's brought successive cold air blasts into the region unrelentingly.  If ever we were going to get that late spring snowfall this year would be the one.




They "Let It Go" & I Got It

03/19/14

If you have a daughter of a certain age there's a good chance you've seen the movie Frozen by now.  It's not a bad flick and I wasn't surprised when it won multiple Oscars earlier this month.  My kids have seen it and my youngest LOOOOOVES it!

She went to see it four (if not five) times in the movie theater.  She has tons of Frozen merchandise including (but not limited to) all of the main characters' Barbie dolls, a few coloring books and even a Frozen diary... she can't even read much less write anything other than her name (complete w/ the backwards "S").  And I don't even want to tell you how many times I've heard her sing along w/ the hit song "Let it Go" - as well as the rest of the album for that matter.  It's gotten so bad that I'm even singing along whenever I hear it.

The movie came out on DVD/Blu-Ray on Tuesday and when we didn't have it that morning she asked why and if we could get it.  I told her I'd pick it up on my way home from work that night or I'd go buy it sometime Wednesday.  Well, when my daughter woke up on Wednesday morning she saw we hadn't gotten the film and proceeded to ask if and when we could go get it. 

After informing her that she didn't really want the movie ("Yes I do" she replied) I told her I had to work out and that if she came w/ me to the YMCA we'd go after and pick it up.  Sometimes she fights me when I try to drop her off @ child watch but not this time - it's amazing how easy it is to get your child to behave when the animated movie of 2013 is factored into the equation.

When we walked through Sam's Club and found the movie there were just a bunch of empty boxes.  I told her this must mean that they didn't have it... she wasn't buying it.  So now we're the proud owners of Disney's newest offering and my littlest couldn't be happier.  She's already watched it twice and something tells me I have many more viewings in the near future.

When I watch her bound through the house dancing and singing along w/ the songs from the movie I'm reminded of how happy the Star Wars movies made me as a child and I can't help but smile.  I'm sure my obsession bordered on the fringe of overkill if not annoyance but my family just let it slide.  When I see the joy on my daughter's face and hear it in her voice as we watch our new movie I can see why.




Caveat Emptor

03/18/14

One of my wife's favorite stores is Target.  She's been a fan for some time and looks @ a trip to the venue as somewhat of a treat b/c they have good stuff @ reasonable prices.  Yes, the stuff there is a little more expensive but not much... and it's typically a higher quality product than what you normally see in other big box stores.  So you can imagine her excitement when she got a $25 American Express gift card to the store for her birthday from my aunt (see figure 1).  I could see the wheels in her head already turning as she planned her future shopping trip.

I had to laugh when I looked closer @ the card and saw that $25 amount would quickly decline once she uses it.  That's b/c it comes w/ a "$4 Purchase Charge" (see figure 2).  Unfortunately that chuckle wasn't b/c of something funny.  It was more of a "you've got to be kidding me" guffaw.  I mean, seriously?

I don't care what anyone tells me, I think this is a scam.  While I have no proof that this is intentionally in place to cheat people out of their hard-earned dollars I will say that on the surface it seems like a rip-off.  This is a card worth $25 to start but upon the first swipe a 16% surcharge is levied.  That's rate is higher than most credit cards, the highest cost student loans and well above what the stock market returns in a "typical" year.  Long story short, if I could lend money out @ 16% (and get a guaranteed rate of return) I'd do it in a heartbeat... and many would call me a loan shark.

Not only that but after all of the problems Target has had in recent months I'm surprised they're even remotely affilliated w/ something like this.  The ironic thing is that my wife has remained a loyal customer despite the company's recent turmoil.  When I relayed this story and brought up this point it was pointed out that Target doesn't actually issue these cards and that's true.  But that doesn't let them off the hook; when a corporation puts its logo on such a product it's a defacto endorsement for it if you ask me.  Like I said, this doesn't pass the smell test.

I think what bothers me most is that my aunt is a very trusting person.  She doesn't read the fine print b/c she comes from a era when the only time it was used was when someone was trying to pull a fast one over on you.  She never would've considered this as a possibility and therefore didn't read the fine print.

Now, I don't want this to seem like I'm looking a gift horse in the mouth b/c my wife and I are very grateful for the present.  I'm just a little peeved to see one person's kindness usurped by such large-scale greed.  @ least this whole ordeal has given me an excuse to revisit my high school days when I took four years of Latin.  That's b/c the old phrase, "Caveat emptor" comes to mind: buyer beware.

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Spring Is In The Air!!!

03/17/14

After a long winter I'm happy to pass along that Spring officially begins later this week!  Thursday, March 20th the season begins @ 1257 P.M.  That's when the sun will be directly overhead @ the Equator and the vernal equinox will take place.

Even better is the fact that this week will actually feel like Spring.  We'll watch temperatures soar into the mid & upper 50s on Tuesday afternoon as our winds strengthen out of the south through the day (see figure 1).  This southerly flow coupled w/ some sunshine will make for a nice afternoon - if not a bit windy.

Wednesday morning things begin to change (see figure 2).  A system will pass through the area bringing a cold front and some light rain will develop along that front as it comes through.  Right now it looks like the best chance for the rain will be around mid-morning Wednesday and we'll keep some off & on showers around into the early afternoon.  Expect Wednesday morning's commute to be a bit wet but the evening's commute will be much drier - a bit windy, though. 

Thursday (the first day of Spring) looks drier and the sunshine will return as we climb to near average highs.  Winds will pick up through the second half of Thursday and continue to increase on Friday.  W/ stronger winds out of the southwest on Friday we'll see another warm & windy day w/ highs topping out in the upper 50s & low 60s.  Unfortunately this will only be a tease as clouds increase Friday afternoon out ahead of our next system.

That system will arrive Friday night and Saturday morning (see figure 3).  This will bring us another round of rain but more importantly a brisk northwesterly wind will move in out behind a cold front.  This will clear out skies through Saturday afternoon but it'll be much cooler w/ highs in the upper 40s.  By Sunday and Monday we'll see highs struggling to get into the upper 30s & low 40s.

So Spring is in the air this week.  Normally I might cringe @ that statement b/c that means allergy season isn't far off but after the Winter we've seen I'll take it.  My only regret is that I can't say this taste of Spring will last all that long b/c another pesky cool down is right around the corner.

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Don't Bite The Hand That Feeds You

03/13/14

If you don't know the name Rachel Canning let me fill you in.  She's the 18-year-old girl (I call here a "girl" b/c of how she's acting) who recently sued her parents for private school tuition, living expenses, college tuition and legal fees.  She says her parents kicked her out of the house and her parents say she left b/c she didn't want to follow the rules.  She also alleged that she was threatened w/ beatings by her dad and that she was subject to emotional abuse by her mother who allegedly called her "fat" and "porky".

Honestly, all that is hearsay and conjecture - nobody knows what really went on inside the Canning household.  Court documents tell us that the high school senior was suspended last year for cutting class, had her phone & car privileges taken away and that her parents told her she could no longer see her boyfriend.  After getting punished again those documents say she skipped out and ran away.  Further reports from New Jersey's Division of Child Protection and Permanency found "that allegation of emotional abuse was unfounded" after interviewing the entire Canning family (including Rachel's two younger sisters).  That's what I've been able to garner from reports on-air and on-line. 

As a parent all I can say is that's ridiculous!  This sounds like a spoiled brat of the highest degree.  I don't have any problem if she wants to leave her parent's home b/c she can't live under their rules anymore; she's 18 and she has that right.  But if she wants be an adult (and moving out is a huge step in that direction) then she needs to act like one.  To come back and sue them for money so she can continue to live the life to which she's grown accustomed is the legal equivalent of throwing a temper tantrum which in my mind negates any feelings of adulthood empowerment she may garnered over the past few months.  I have no problem w/ an adult making a bad decision so long as it doesn't harm anyone else AND I'm not asked to subsidize said decision.  More eloquently put: screw up your life all you want just don't hurt someone else in the process and pay for your own bad decisions.

Some have argued that she should have her college paid for by her parents.  To that I ask where in the world it says mom and dad have to cover your tuition?  As far as I know they're legally obligated to cover living expenses until that child is an adult under the eyes of the law... or they turn 18.  After that they can choose to let their child live in the house but that priviledge might come w/ pre-conditions i.e. the kid in question has to live by the rules - the old adage, "If you want to live under my roof you need to live by my rules" comes to mind. 

I can think of more than a few times when my kids have tried to tell me we should vote on big decisions.  To that I've said, "Yeah, right!  Democracy exists everywhere in the United States... except in my house.  Here you're mom and I are benevolent dictators."  It may sound harsh but that's the way I see it.

But let me get back to the question as to who's responsibility it is to pay for school.  If mom & dad can but don't want to pay for college that's their right.  Anyone who finds themself in this prediciment needs to understand that there are options.  Take out student loans (I did and I'm still paying).  Get a job and go to school part time or find a job that pays tuition.  If that doesn't work there are military scholarships that may require service but also pay for school.  If none of that seems appealing then maybe the best idea is to be nice to mommy & daddy b/c they're helping you attain the skills needed for self-sufficiency.

I'm happy to say that Canning has returned home but I'm sad that this had to happen in the first place.  And I can't believe that there were actully lawyers around to take up this case in the first place (but that's a blog for another day).  I do hope that the Canning family can move past all of this and I hope that this girl does well in school and eventually life despite the harm this whole ordeal has caused.  I also want to say that I too have three daughters and if they're reading this, don't get any ideas.  For one thing you can't get blood from a turnip.  More than that I'm also the last person who's going to subsidize your insolence.  Thankfully my kids have a pretty good idea as to who I am and therefore know me well enough to understand this.




A Brewing Crisis

03/12/14

As the world deals w/ what's being called an international crisis in Ukraine another one could be brewing closer to home.  And brewing is the perfect word to describe it.

The other day Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper was a guest on a radio show in Toronto.  He joked w/ interviewers that President Obama had yet to settle a bet w/ him.  Turns out the two bet each other a case of beer that their respective country's hockey team would beat the other in the Olympics held last month.  If you don't know the men's team lost to Canada in the semi-finals and the woman's hockey team suffered a heartbreaker, thus losing the gold, in the finals.

By my count that means we owe our neighbors to the north two cases of beer.  Harper jokingly brought this story to the forefront late last week pointing out that the president doesn't welch on his bets; he lost a similar wager in the past and paid up.  He actually signed the case in that instance.  As a result Harper felt he couldn't drink it and shipped it to the Hockey Hall of Fame instead.

A White House spokesman assured reporters that the president "makes good on his bets" and that the Prime Minister "will soon be enjoying some delicious White House beer" implying that Harper will get some of the original White House ale brewed straight from 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.  I've looked @ the recipes and while I don't think they look all that great (I brew my own beer so I have a little idea on what they should taste like) I have to say they look like they'll beat out Labatts any day of the week - even if they're not all grain.  So if you ask me losing a case of home brew as opposed to winning a case of Labatts doesn't sound like that bad of a deal.

On a totally unrelated note if you're reading this, Morning Meteorologist Chris Mulcahey I seem to recall making a similar bet w/ you a few months ago.  You were convinced I couldn't solve your Rubik's picture cube (it's a Rubik's Cube w/ a picture instead of a color on each side).  You made the gamble on a Friday night and I made good by Sunday evening.  I'm still waiting for the payoff.




Tracking More Winter Weather

03/11/14

After the best day of 2014 we're now tracking big changes in the forecast.  Snow is on the way but not before heavy rain, thunder and even some sleet works into the Miami Valley.  Our next system is already approaching us and we'll see heavy rain move in after midnight on Wednesday morning.  This will continue into the morning commute which means wet weather will affect drivers as they head into work (see figure 1).

Right now it looks like the bulk of the area will see the rain change over to sleet and snow from around 9AM to 1PM.  By lunchtime there's still a little sleet in the SE (see figure 2).  While some models hint we'll see a mix in Dayton by noon I'm thinking it'll be mainly snow for the Gem City @ that time.

We're all dealing w/ snow as we head into the afternoon and it looks like this will be a heavy, thick snow to start tapering off to light, fluffy flurries by the end of this event.  Things should be calming down by dinner time.  B/c of the timing of the snow it looks like we'll see a slick commute home. 

So here's how your commutes are looking on Wednesday:  In the morning it'll be wet and we'll have issues b/c of heavy rain and in the evening we'll see the leftover snow which will lead to more problems as you drive home.

By the time all is said and done we'll see anywhere from a dusting to up to 5" in a few spots (although most of us will top out @ 2-4").  The heaviest snow will be in the Northern Miami Valley - mainly north of U.S. 36.  This includes, Greenville, Piqua, Bellefontaine, Sidney, Wapakoneta, & Celina.

The heart of the Miami Valley (Dayton, Springfield, Xenia, Eaton, Springboro, etc.) will get about 1-3" but I wouldn't be surprised if Dayton and south sees closer to 1-2".

The far south (Lebanon, Wilmington, etc.) will get a dusting to an inch or so.  I've included Tuesday night's snowfall forecast graphic in this entry (see figure 3).

And our problems won't stop there.  We'll also see windy conditions and blowing/drifting snow will be a problem through the afternoon.  It'll also turn frigid and by Thursday morning we'll see single digit lows w/ sub-0 wind chill values.  Thursday afternoon won't warm up much but @ least we're back into the 50s by Friday.  I know I've said it before but I'll say it again: I'm sick of winter.

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Hope You Enjoyed The Nice Weather - A Cool Down Is Coming!!!

03/10/14

Wow!  I can't say it enough, wow!  Talk about some fantastic weather as of late.  Friday was near perfect.  Saturday and Sunday weren't too bad and Monday was awesome as well!  You can thank a southwesterly flow for the warm-up (see figure 1).  When winds come out of SW warmer air is transported into the region.  We'll continue that trend on Tuesday and it could end up warmer than Monday afternoon - no complaints here.

Unfortunately this won't (and can't) last.  Things will be changing as we head into Wednesday.  Figure 2 is a graphical forecast for Wednesday morning.  A weather system will approach and bring us a mixed bag of precipitation as it moves through the area.  I've highlighted a good approximation of where the rain/snow line will be on the map.  As you can see it will once again straddle the Miami Valley.

We'll start off w/ rain and possibly a few rumbles of thunder on Wednesday morning.  Rain will be heavy at times and I think Wednesday morning's commute will be affected as a result.  As that rain changes over to sleet and eventually snow road conditions will continue to deteriorate.  It looks like the transition will happen sometime in the late morning and we'll see light snow mainly into the afternoon.  Right now it looks like 1-3" of snow are possible w/ this event but it won't stick @ first as the ground will be too warm.  Regardless I think that Wednesday evening's commute will be a little slick as this snow will move in just before it gets underway.

The other side of this weather story is the fact that it'll get COLD out behind this system.  In the official record books Wednesday will have a high in the 50s but that'll be early.  Temps will fall QUICKLY and it'll get windy out behind a cold front and afternoon highs will climb into the low and mid-30s.  By day's end we should be in upper teens and low 20s.

Thursday will be sunny but frigid as another area of high pressure works in (see figure 3).  We'll see that colder air b/c we're going to be on the "front side" of the high.  This will drag colder air in from the north and northwest.  After waking up around 10 Thursday morning (wind chill factor near, if not below 0) we'll only make it into the upper 20s by Thursday afternoon.

Luckily temps rebound a little (into the upper 40s/low 50s) on Friday but clouds will increase through the afternoon ahead of the next system that has the potential to bring us some light rain or a mix Friday night and Saturday morning.  Saturday some sun will break out by day's end and we'll climb to the upper 40s.  Sunday will be cooler and some rain, if not a wintry mix, will be possible on Sunday night.  Another punch of cold air will work in out behind this and by Monday we'll struggle to get into the mid-30s.

So after some gorgeous and warm weather things are about to change... in a hurry.  And as is typical for this time of year there's nothing we can do other than grin and bear the ride that lies ahead for us on what I like to call the temperature roller coaster.  Keep your arms and hands inside the vehicle @ all times... line-jumping is not a sport.

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Apple Took A Bite Out Of Me

03/06/14

A lot of people love Apple products - myself included.  Honestly I'd be happy w/ just about anything that actually works and Apple just happens to fall into that category.  They also seem to last... a long time; which is what I think is the real reason behind my being a fan of the products.  Yes, they may be a little more expensive but if they last twice as long then I'm not wasting my money.

As much as I love the company I want to point out that I'm not part of what I like to call the "Cult of Apple" as I like to call it.  If you don't know what I mean think of that person you know who's love for the tech giant is almost annoying - he's part of it.  My wife has a friend who used to work in public relations and one time she was a party celebrating whatever Apple's gizmo du jour happened to be @ the time.  When workers were asked a question the mantra she kept hearing from person after person was, "The product is king."  She tells me the common theme of monotone and repetition was boarderline creepy.  Wednesday night I learned that the product can be anything but king.

I own an IPad and I've been playing Temple Run II for @ least a couple of years now.  It's a lot of fun and while I'm not going to say I'm addicted to it the daily challenges have had me playing almost every single day for a little more than half a year.  Wednesday night I sat down and played my typical game and met the daily objective.  I was pretty excited b/c it marked a streak of 100 days straight of completed tasks (If I hadn't missed a day in September and one around the Thanksgiving holiday I'd be closer to 200 days).  Not only that but I also finally completed the last goal the game had originally set for me - I ran my 10,000,000th meter.  That may not sound like a big deal but since the daily challenge started I've covered a lot of ground - probably @ least 4,000,000 meters. 

I shouldn't say it but I'm kind of proud of this accomplishment.  It used to seem like an impossible task.  But over time a slow trickle of play was able to wear this challenge down and I finally achieved it... to very little fanfare I might add.  After I'd completed it I noticed I had an update to install.  I guess I had to upgrade to IOS7.  So I downloaded the thing and tried to restart my IPad. 

I did and got a screen I've never seen before (see pic below).  I didn't know what it meant but I knew it probably wasn't good - sadly I was right.  I guess I had to do what's known as a factory restore.  So I did and it totally reset my device.  I backed things up in the Cloud... or so I thought.  When I went to download the backed up data I found nothing... @ all.

All of my photos - gone.  Every single video I've saved - gone.  All of the progress on my games - well, that's gone too.  In short, I'm not happy.  This may sound bad but I think the thing I'm most upset about is the loss of my Temple Run II triumphs.  I had some pictures of my kids but they weren't very good.  No, my children aren't funny looking and they weren't picking their noses in the photos either.  The camera on the IPad II is terrible so I didn't take many photos w/ it.  But my Temple Run... well, I guess those accomplishments are lost to history.  I should look @ the bright side and just be happy that I actually set a goal for myself and achieved it.

But this all takes attention away from a bigger problem: this is a TERRIBLE way to design company products.  If updating my device totally wipes the memory then the softward platform is way past questionable in my mind.  Admittedly I'm not a programmer so that statement may be factually inaccurate. 

What I am is a consumer.  And like most consumers I'm not an expert.  In fact, my knowledge of this stuff is barely passable and I consider myself a smart person (many would argue but that's up for debate).  But if I have this problem then I'm probably not alone.  I'd go as far as saying that if I had this problem it's safe to say a large portion - if not a majority - of those who use the products have had it as well.  And I actually found a number people complaining about the same issue - that's not good.

And why is your software so bad that I have to do a complete tear down before I build things back up?  That makes even less sense.  If I want to rebuild an engine I don't melt down every single part, reshape said parts and then remake it.  I find what's wrong, fix it and then move on.  I'm sorry but the fact that I could lose everything is just stupid. 

Now I know I was warned that this might happen but this was AFTER I'd already downloaded the darn update.  @ least give me the chance to uninstall so I can then do a proper back up.  Not only that but if your software is that intuitive then why not make it clearer that a proper back up hasn't been done?  @ the very least make me sync up w/ my computer before proceeding.  Again, it's just stupid.

I hope to hit up the Geek Squad in the next couple of days to see if I can figure this out but truthfully I'm not all that optimistic.  Seeing that I have Apple products across the board I'm kind of stuck b/c I'm not buying all new stuff.  Even if I can't retrieve my data I'm going to figure out how to make sure this NEVER happens again.  B/c if have to start over after I hit another 10,000,000 meters in Temple Run II I'm going to be more than upset.

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The Unfriendly Skies

03/05/14

It's been awhile since I've been on a plane.  I think the last time I flew was in the Summer of 2013.  I usually fly once a year or as little as possible.  While I'm not a huge fan of flying that hasn't always been the case.  The first time I ever flew was when I was in fourth grade... it was pretty cool. 

Nowadays it seems like a chore - I have to arrive early, wait in line and then fight to get an armrest.  The only saving grace is that Dayton International is a small airport so the magnitude of these problems isn't as great as it would be were I using one in a more populated area.  Having said that it can still be a pain. 

To top it all off I'm now paying to get my luggage onto the darn aircraft.  This is ridiculous if you ask me.  I don't mind paying for the service but just charge me more for my ticket.  I hate arriving @ the airport only to have to shell out $25-$35 just to get my clothes to wherever my destination happens to be.  That's why I pack as much as I can into my carry-on. 

Luckily I travel light but others might not be so lucky.  United Airlines is now going to start charging passengers a $25 fee if they bring what's known as an "over-sized" carry-on bag onto the plane.  Apparently they have dimensions bags must adhere too in order to be allowed on-board.  While this could have some pros - we've all seen the overhead bin filled to the brim - but I also see some definite cons (primarily the "are you kidding me?" factor).  Someone who tries to board w/ an "over-sized" carry-on will apparently have to turn around, go back to the ticket counter, check their bag and then re-board.

The airline says it's doing this to "speed up the boarding process".  To this I say, yeah right!  While I have no proof my gut tells me this is all about money.  IF someone has to go back & check their bag then the flight could be late in leaving the terminal.  If the airline chooses not to wait then that same passenger could be charged another fee (i.e. a change fee) b/c he was forced to miss the flight in the first place.

Let's look @ the facts:  In 2012 - the most recent year w/ available data - airlines collected a record $3.5 billion in bag fees.  According to an analysis by USA Today the profits generated by airlines in 2012 could be attributed to what was collected in bag and change fees.  That suggests that the only way to make the aviation industry profitable is to nickel & dime - and thus annoy - its customers to the point of exhaustion.  That also suggests that if carriers can find ways to squeeze more money out of their customers they'll be that much more profitable.  Again, while I can't say that the motives behind the hike aren't altruistic my gut tells me otherwise.  So much for the "friendly skies".

One could argue that taking a bag makes the plane heavier hence the fee.  To that I say, "Then why don't you charge my 35 lb. daughter less b/c she's cheaper to transport?"  If you really wanted to keep people from unduly weighing down the plane then maybe you could give me money for not bringing a bag.  While that may not make much business sense the logic works out in my head - of course I rarely check a bag in the first place. 

All of this makes me want to drive.  And if you factor in travel to and from the airport, the hour-and-a-half early you need to show up, the actual flight itself and the time it takes you to get out of the airport to which you're travelling it may end up taking just as long.  Driving just as time-consuming as flying?  Wow, my fourth grade self would be amazed by how much the world has changed.




"Plowing" Through This Winter

03/04/14

I think the thing I've hated most about this winter is the snow shoveling I've had to endure.  The bitter cold is a close second but the shoveling has been just awful.  It probably wouldn't be so bad if I weren't so fastidious about it.  I like to have as much as I can removed from the driveway.  There are a few reasons for this.  For one thing if I drive over the snow it squeezes most of the water out of it and then just freezes.  Once that happens it's tough to get rid of and a sheet of ice sits on my driveway for the duration of the cold snap.  Also, if I keep it clean it has a better chance of staying that way b/c the blacktop heats up during the day and keeps all of the little piddly snowfalls from sticking.

I guess the one saving grace is the fact that what I've had to remove hasn't been too heavy.  What I mean is that most of the snow I've moved off my driveway has had a low moisture content.  That means it's the finer, fluffier snow - bad for snowmen but easier to get rid of.  When you see that snow w/ lots of moisture it's real heavy and kills your back when you shovel it - my kids love it for snowballs, though.

I remember one such snow earlier this season (I think it was the one in early February).  I got home after the late newscast and knew I wouldn't be able to make it up the driveway unless it was cleared.  So I changed and got to work.  It was horrible!  I swear it took me an hour-and-a-half to fully clear my driveway; and it was still snowing as I did it which means I was extra busy.  I have this great shovel.  It's kind of like a giant plow that's attached to a long stick.  It works great but when the snow is that heavy and a couple of inches accumulate it doesn't work all that well.  In the past I have put it in the snow, pushed it four feet and it just stopped.  That's not good - and that was the case that night.  I've actually gotten a workout from snow like this.  Normally I wouldn't mind that part but when I get home late @ night the last thing I want to do is spend time justifying doing a chore that I hate by calling it "exercise".

Worse than that, I had to deal w/ the snow plows.  I'm not complaining about them in a general sense... they do a  very good job in my neighborhood.  What I hate is how I take the time to shovel myself out only to watch the salt trucks plow my driveway back in; it's terrible.  That night as I was only about halfway through the clean up efforts when I heard a plow driving around my neighborhood... my heart sank.  It cleared my street and sure enough it dumped a 8" wall of snow @ the base of my driveway.  I was hot.  No literally... I was hot.  I'd drenched the inside of my jacket by this point and knew I now had that much more work to do.  And b/c it was such a heavy snow I knew it would take me that much longer.

Which gets me to the point of the story.  This last snow that came through meant I had another chore to finish.  Thankfully this one wasn't as bad b/c it was so cold - which meant it had a lower moisture content so I could easily clear the driveway.  I finished the chore in about 15 minutes - which is the way I like it - and took the time to clear off the snow in front of my driveway about eight feet deep into the street.  I know that sounds like a little much but I wanted to make sure I was prepared. 

Later that day I learned I was.  When I heard the plow driving down my street I looked out my front window.  Yes, it did throw some snow back into the shoveled area... but not much @ all b/c of my "pre-treating".  I let out an almost maniacal laugh and thrusted my fist into the air in triumph.  Jeff Booth: 1 - Kettering City Snow Removal: Nuthin'!  Actually, they're probably up about 10 or 15 on me... but not today :)  Below you'll find a photo of the paltry attempt to "snow me in".

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A Late Week Warm-Up Is Sounding Fantastic!!!

03/03/14

Another winter storm has come and gone but now we're left w/ bitterly cold temperatures in its wake.  As that storm departed to the east we've watched it drag in colder air behind it.  As I type an area of high pressure is drifting over the Miami Valley (see figure 1).  This will lighten up the winds and allow for mainly clear skies to start Monday evening.  By Tuesday morning we're tracking the coldest temperatures on the 7-day.  And w/ an overnight low of 2 we'll be flirting w/ the record low for March 4th - set back in 2002 when temperatures dipped to 1 degree.

Most of the workweek will be spent below average and Tuesday afternoon will struggle to get into the mid and upper-20s.  Like I said, below average... but better than the teens.

Our warm up will continue through the work week.  Wednesday we're back above freezing which is all right w/ me and on Thursday we're even warmer as we flirt w/ 40.  Friday looks like the best day of the week as our winds shift to the southwest and pump up warmer air (see figure 2).  This will bring us highs in the mid & upper 40s and a few of us have the potential to get to 50... it's going to be awesome!!!

On Saturday things change a little bit.  That SW'ly flow will usher in warmer weather and more moisture.  That will bring us some off & on showers and possibly a wintry mix by the end of Saturday (see figure 3).  While you might not like hearing that let me highlight the good so we don't focus on the bad: we're talking about rain and a wintry mix... not plain old snow.  That's a good thing in my book.

But if you take a closer look @ figure 3 you'll notice high pressure will be building out behind that next batch of precipitation.  Notice we'll be on the front side of the high.  If you read on a regular basis I apologize for repeating myself.  When you're east of high pressure winds are coming in out of the north or northwest more often than not.  This drags in cooler air.  And that's exactly what we'll see.  Luckily it won't last all that long - just through Sunday.  By Monday more clouds are in the forecast but a SW'ly wind will push temperatures back above average and we'll be back "tickling 50" before you know it.

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Yet Another Winter Storm

02/28/14

Wow, this has been a crazy forecast!!!  Let me start off by saying that we're tracking what's expected to be a significant winter storm over the weekend.  It will begin affecting us early in the day on Sunday and it looks like the worst of it will roll through the heart of the Miami Valley Sunday afternoon and early Monday morning.  Impacts from this storm include heavy snow, sleet, the threat for a little freezing rain and possibly even some ice pellets.  Basically we're expecting a mixed bag of precipitation w/ this coming system.  While we still don't have a great hold on exactly how much of anything we'll see things are starting to come into focus a little better then they were a few days ago. 

Having said that let me point out that this has been yet another TOUGH forecast!  We use computer models of the atmosphere to help us forecast what the coming weather will be over the forecast period.  In short they've been ALL OVER THE PLACE!!!  A couple of days ago models were hinting @ up to 14" in some parts of the Miami Valley.  Earlier on Friday one of them was still calling for up to about 12".  Normally that wouldn't be bad except that other models are calling for next to nothing w/ this coming storm. 

If one model is calling for 12", another is forecasting 8" and yet a third is hinting @ 9" they may not in total agreement but @ least they're close so it's a little easier to start to form a picture as to what to expect.  When one is calling for a foot and others are calling for no snow just sleet, freezing rain or ice pellets and yet a third model is calling for 6" there's a lot of model-to-model variability.  When those same models are coming up w/ different solutions each successive run then you have run-to-run variability.  Neither of those are good when you have both... well, lets just say that's what gives a meteorologist heartburn.  Unfortunately for me we've had both model-to-model and run-to-run variability.  So basically it's been a little stressful recently.

Let me show you what I mean.  In figure 1 I've posted what one of the weather models is forecasting for Sunday evening.  The green is where we will have precipitation.  The thick black line highlights an estimate of where the rain/snow line will be.  North of it has the best chance for snow, south will see a mix and the farther south you go eventually rain.  This would suggest that we'll see mainly snow in the north of I-70 and a wintry mix south of it before turning back to snow. 

Figure 2 is representative of the same time frame and if you notice that estimation of the rain/snow line is south of the viewing area.  This would suggest we see all snow throughout the event - and hence the higher totals.

And these are just two scenarios.  There are other models that are out of agreement as well - all of them fighting over where the rain/snow line will fall.  What I will say is that the heavy snow solution seems to be the outlier in all of the different scenarios.  Right now I still think the heaviest snow in the Miami Valley will be north of I-70 throughout Sunday.  In the south a little more sleet will mix in and in the far south there will be the threat for a little ice and they'll see lower totals.  I think there will also be another area of heavy snow in Kentucky and Southern Ohio (outside of the Miami Valley) into Monday morning.  Below I've posted what the snow totals look like as of this posting.  Keep in mind there's a good chance this could change as we get more data but right now that's how things are looking.

On a side note I have to say this has been one heck of a Winter.  This is the fourth of fifth system that we've tracked where the rain/snow line basically straddles the area.  That makes forecasting very tough and I hope this is the last storm of the season for a few reasons.  For one thing I'm tired of shoveling my driveway but more than that I don't know how many of these nail-biters I can handle.  I think it's safe to say this Winter has given me more than a few new gray hairs.

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I'm Lost

02/27/14

When I tell people I'm a meteorologist they get an idea in their heads as to what I do for a living.  For most their experience w/ meteorologists involves watching him/her on television telling viewers what to expect from mother nature in the coming days.  Aside from making a forecast, building graphics and delivering my prognostication on-air one thing you might not envision us doing is spending time out in the public meeting viewers.  Believe it or not it's part of the job description.

It's actually something I enjoy doing when it fits into my schedule.  It's always nice to talk w/ people and get feedback from them - as long as they don't tell you you have a big nose or throw some other insult your way.  It's also a lot of fun to get out and talk to kids @ schools - they're always so excited & fascinated by weather and ask great questions.  Thursday night I sought to fulfill some of the "community service" part of my job description.

Our station was hosting a Scandal viewing party for some of our clients and I agreed to drop by for a visit in between the early and late newscasts.  I'd never been to the location of the soiree in question but didn't think that would be a problem - after all, I have a new smart phone (see last Friday's blog).  I typed in the name of the night spot in question and followed the directions to get there.

When I arrived I pulled into the empty parking lot of a hair salon in Oakwood.  I drove around to the rear of the building hoping to find I was just a little early or that everyone decided to park in the back... no luck.  Turns out both of these places had the same name but only one was showing up on the map.  And yes, it was the wrong one. 

I was hot!  Honestly, I was upset for a few reasons.  For one thing I'd told a couple of the guys in sales that I'd be there.  I was also looking forward to a free meal; who doesn't love one of those?  But more than that I couldn't believe I got lost after using an app that's designed to help me find the easiest way to get somewhere.  I felt like an idiot... and hungry.

So if my boss and anyone from sales is reading this I'm sorry I didn't make it.  By the time I realized I went to the wrong place it was too late and I had to head back to the station.  Oh, well.  Maybe next time.  And if you happen to be upset by the fact that I didn't make just remember that the fast food I was forced to get Thursday night was no where near as good as what I would have gotten had I not trusted my phone and did a little on-line research.  It may not make up for my absence but my dissatisfied taste buds can act as a small consolation prize.




Baseball Is Back - And I Couldn't Be Happier

02/26/14

Spring seems like light years away right now but Wednesday afternoon I was treated w/ a sliver of hope.  No, it wasn't the sunshine, it wasn't the temperature and it sure as heck wasn't the wind chill.  It felt a little like Spring b/c of a broadcast to which I had the pleasure to listen.

I meant to tune in @ 3:00 P.M. but I was busy.  When I had a chance to settle in here @ work (about 3:15) I turned on my trusty work station radio - something I haven't used since October of 2013.  Guess what I heard: that's right Marty and "The Cowboy" calling plays for the best baseball team this side of history... the Cincinnati Reds.

Preseason games began Wednesday and if you ask me they couldn't come fast enough.  The Super Bowl is long gone (still can't believe the Broncos lost), the Olympics are over and I don't follow much hockey or basketball.  Now the Reds are back on-air and I couldn't be happier.  My wife?  Well, that's a different story (something to be reserved for another day).

Full disclosure: it's only preseason.  Yes it's still baseball but other than giving a fan bragging rights it doesn't really count.  Still, when I turned on the radio and heard the drawl of Jeff Brantley dripping like fresh honey out of the speaker it was as if I was hanging out w/ an old friend... one w/ whom I was happy to catch up.  Even better than that the team didn't sound too bad.  Votto & Ludwick each got RBIs in the third putting the Reds on top.  Heisey joined the party w/ a two-run shot and Donald Lutz had a two-run triple.  It was awesome!  The Reds ended up winning the game 8-3 and the pitching more than did its part. 

Like I said, I know it's only the preseason and we still have about a month to go until Opening Day.  (As of this writing it's 31 days 20 hours and about 59 minutes from that first pitch... but who's counting?)  And even though we're still a ways off Spring Training offers me a little hope.  Hope that the Reds will make it an historical season.  Hope that everyone stays healthy.  But more than that these first games bring the hope that brighter days and warmer weather will soon be here (which seems like nothing more than a pipe dream right about now).

And when Marty uttered seven of the most beautiful words in the English language - "And this one belongs to the Reds" - I couldn't help but smile.  He said it @ the end of the team's first game.  Here's to hoping he'll be saying it @ the end of the last game of the 2014 season.




Text Madness!!!

02/25/14

I've met more than a few people who say they can't live w/out their phones.  That technological wonder seems to have become nothing more than an extension of their arm and I don't see things getting any better anytime soon.  Just look to the newest medical condition now making its way through the ranks.  It's called sleep texting.

I'm sure it's not hard to figure out what this disorder entails but if you're having problems it's texting while sleeping.  People have reportedly gone as far as shopping on-line while catching some z's.  Doctors say it's a growing problem that's even more prevalent in those who already have trouble sleeping.

I can't believe it.  Yes, I actually believe it happens I just can't believe we've gotten to this point as a society.  It's kind of sad.  Does your phone really mean that much to you that you can't live w/out it... even when you sleep?  How connected does one have to be?  I look forward to hitting the pillow every night for the simple reason that I get the chance to unwind and leave the waking world - including all of it's troubles and triumphs - behind.  It's sort of like a way to hit the "reset" button; if I'm really tired it's almost as if I let out a pent up "mental sneeze" when I open my eyes the morning - feeling much better and ready to take on the day.

Another thing that I find interesting is the fact that people actually sleep w/ their phones.  I just got a new one (see Friday's blog) but I don't ever see myself sleeping w/ on the nightstand.  I usually leave it w/ my keys whenever I walk in the door.  I'll admit, it's pretty cool but it also gives people a chance to get ahold of me whenever they want... that's not necessarily a good thing.  If I were to sleep w/ the darn thing then I'd be accessible 24/7 and that's not cool... papa needs his down time.

I think what I find most fascinating about this is that people actually text or surf the web.  There are reports of sleep texters holding their phone up in the air and typing real words all with their eyes closed.  It fascinates me that they can actually type out words, or even log onto an online shopping site, w/out the help of their eyesight.  That means that they've been on that keyboard so much they've memorized it and can subconsciously tap into that knowledge if necessary.

All I can say is that it's sad and I hope I never get to that point.  If you start getting late-night, cryptic messages from warning of "Purple dogs jumping over green rocks before eating red dragons" then you'll know I've gone to the dark side though.




Back Into The Icebox

02/24/14

After a fantastic Saturday mother nature is playing a cruel joke on us.  I don't know if you had a chance to enjoy the sun & warm weather over the weekend but if you didn't it's going to be awhile before you get another chance.  It's already very cold in the area and w/ highs in the low 30s on Monday we were well below average.  What's worse is the fact that those are the warmest temperatures that we'll see all week.

 

After some snow Monday night and Tuesday morning we'll see clouds decrease through Tuesday afternoon and only climb up to about 30.  By Wednesday a sharp trough in the jet stream (see figure 1) will push south of the Buckeye State.  I've said it before but I can't say it enough: the jet stream is the river of fast moving air high in the atmosphere that separates cold air to the north from warm air to the south.  When we see a bend in the jet stream in our neck of the woods it means cold air is here; in fact Wednesday will only hit the upper teens.  And that air is going to anchor itself across the region for longer than I'd like to say.

 

By Thursday we'll see a surface area of high pressure in control (see figure 2) which means that even though it'll be cold @ least it'll be sunny.  Temps on Thursday will moderate back into the low 20s and we'll get into the mid & upper 20s by Friday.  Even though it'll be a little warmer we're still looking @ highs that will be around 15 degrees below the average for this time of year... yuck!

 

Saturday doesn't look much better and by Sunday night we'll be talking about the next winter system (see figure 3).  There's still a lot of time for the forecast to change (and it likely will) but right now accumulating snow isn't out of the question on Sunday night through Monday morning.  Keep in mind that any change in the storm's path will dramatically change what type of precipitation we see so we'll have to keep tweaking that part of the forecast.  No matter what happens w/ it one thing we do know is that a warm-up like the one we saw on Saturday is not in the cards anytime soon.  I said it before and I'll say it again: yuck!!!

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Ahhhh... The Wonders of Modern Technology

02/21/14

I'm happy to say I've finally jumped into the 21st century.  @ the beginning of the week I was still using a flip phone; now I've been upgraded to a smartphone.  And it's not just any smartphone, it's an Iphone 5s.  I've posted "before" & "after" photos below.  It's awesome! For one thing when I text I don't have to go to a number and press it multiple times to get the letter I need - I still hate the fact that "s" (one of the most common letters in the alphabet) required my pushing the number "7" four times but I digress.  I can also check my e-mail, update our website and even play games on it.  It's also super fast and takes cool pictures.  I can also "face time" w/ people which basically means the phones I'd see in science fiction movies (i.e. video phones) have officially arrived - now I just need to find someone else w/ "face time"... there aren't many.

But for quite some time I've lampooned my old-school flip phone both on and off-the-air.  And while part of me will miss the laughs the rest of me loves my new toy.  But I still think I owe the old clunker a proper send off which is why I'm writing about it tonight. 

@ one point in its life it was top-of-the-line, the envy of all other phones (mainly the giant "brick" cell phones of the time).  It took pictures, in color, and had a number of different ringtones... I was particularly fond of the "samba".  It also texted which was pretty cool... when I got it; even if I had to press "7" four times just to get the letter "s".  It also brought me countless hours of happiness when I used it to catch up w/ friends on long car rides.

One thing I won't miss about it is the look I'd get from people when I'd pull out my phone in public.  Usually when a stranger would see me w/ it he'd kind of shoot me a look of equal parts pity & shame.  If it was someone I knew he'd usually say something along the lines of, "They still make those."  Then I'd be reminded that I work in the news and there's no reason for me to have such a cruddy phone.  Other than that "old reliable" and I had some good times.

But now it's time to move on.  I have yet to download all of the cool new apps on my current phone but I think I'll find some time to get that done over the weekend.  The first one I need to get is the "track my phone" app.  That way if anyone tries to steal my new technological wonder I can track him down.  Ironically that's something I never had to worry about w/ my old phone.

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Tracking Severe Weather

02/19/14

We don't even have two full months in the books yet and we're already talking about what could be our first severe weather event of 2014.

You've probably noticed that it's been very warm as of late.  I think it's been rather wonderful.  We've seen some sun, gotten a chance to thaw out and even had a chance to enjoy the outdoors.  Well it's going to be even warmer on Thursday... but that's not necessarily a good thing.  With the warmer weather we'll see off & on showers and eventually storms by day's end.

 

The entire Miami Valley is under an elevated risk for strong storms Thursday evening (see figure one).  W/ breezy conditions through the afternoon temperatures will soar to the upper 50s and right around 60.  We'll also see lots of moisture being advected into the region which will destabilize the atmosphere.  As a strong cold front pushes in (see figure two) we'll have a lifting mechanism and the winds a little higher in the atmosphere will be fairly strong.  Some of this has the potential to be transported down to the surface.  That means that gusty, damaging winds could be an issue by the end of the day.

 

Right now is looks like the worst of the weather will arrive sometime between 8:00 PM & midnight (see figure 3).  Again, gusty winds are the primary threat w/ this event.  But the ground is also VERY saturated and we'll also see the threat for heavy rain.  That means that any rain that falls won't infiltrate into the soil and will run off giving us the threat for flooding heading through Thursday night and into Friday.

 

Right now it looks like the best chance for stronger storms and heavy rain will be in the southern portion of the Miami Valley.  That's b/c there's a little more snow pack in the Northern Miami Valley.  As a result folks up that way won't warm up quite as much so their severe threat is somewhat diminished.  That doesn't mean they won't see anything I just think the Southern Miami Valley (south of I-70) has the best chance for stronger weather.

 

Be careful and keep it tuned to ABC22/Fox45 b/c we'll be tracking the threat all day long.  And just in case you're wondering... there's another cool down by the beginning of next week when we see daytime highs in the 20s.  Compared to where we've been the past few days I have to admit that I don't like that part of the forecast one bit.

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Let's Put Winter 2013-14 Into Perspective

02/14/14

I think I can sum it up w/ one sentence: "Wow, it's been one heck of a Winter." Not only have we been getting brutally cold weather but Mother Nature seems intent on throwing storm after storm @ us which means the snow has been piling up... and it's been piling up quickly.

So how bad has it been? Well, let's start out talking about Meteorological Winter. That's the period of time from December through February. It's not the actual Winter but those are the months that winter weather is most common so for record keeping purposes we look @ those three months as Winter.

Snowiest Winters (December through February)

1. 52.3" 1977-78

2. 50.3" 1909-10

3. 42.4" 2013-14

4. 40.8" 2002-03

5. 39.7" 1963-64

With 42.4" so far we have the third snowiest Meteorological Winter on record. We're still pretty far off from number two so let's hope we don't get there.

Snowiest Seasons (First Snowfall to the Last)

1. 62.7" 1977-78

2. 54.8" 1950-51

3. 50.4" 1909-10

4. 44.8" 1963-63

5. 44.6" 2013-14

When we take into account the snowiest seasons on record - that includes the snow we get in October, November, March and (let's hope not) April - we're looking @ 44.6" on the season. That means we're in the midst of the fifth snowiest season on record but if you look closely @ the data we're knocking on the door of number four. With snow in the forecast Saturday night & Sunday morning I think we'll get there by the end of the weekend.

But the snow is only half the story. It's also been a very COLD winter. So far this winter season (2013-2014) we've dropped below zero 12 times. That puts us @ 6th on the list as winters w/ the most days w/ sub-0 temperatures.

Number of Days Below 0 Degrees (In a Given Year)

1. 21 1977

2. 20 1963

3. 15 1979

4. 14 1985

5. 12 (T) 2014

In a given year we're tied @ fifth for the most days with sub-0 readings on record (we share that dubious distinction w/ 1917).

So what does all of this mean? I guess it depends on how you look @ it. If you ask me it shows that this Winter has been awful - and we have the numbers to prove it. From a scientific perspective it shows that this has definitely been a Winter for the record books. Again, we have the numbers to prove it.




At Least Someone is Seeing a Warm Winter

02/13/14

When I got home Wednesday night I started watching the Olympics - I'm sure I wasn't alone (just change it back to us for our news).  Downhill slalom and woman's snowboarding were the events on tap.  I don't have a large emotional attachment to either but I can watch a sport I don't really care about if an American is competing b/c @ least I have a team for which to root.

As I watched the slalom skiers tear down the mountains I couldn't help but notice the "chattering" of the skis.  The quick off & on contact of the ski w/ the snow on the hill reminded me of what I (a fairly inexperienced skier) probably look like when I take on the bunny hill - or if I'm feeling particularly brave venture down the green circle trails.  What I'm trying to say is that those on the course didn't look like they were in total control.  I noticed similar problems w/ the half pipers.  While they looked great boarding in and out of the course there were times they weren't sticking the landing which of course affected the tricks the athletes were attempting. 

That's when it hit me: the snow there must be pretty sloppy.  It's clearly not the fresh powder to which these competitors have become accustomed.  Then another thing hit me: maybe Sochi isn't the best venue to host the Winter Games.  Let me explain - for that I will go waaaay back in time to my Climatology classes in this blog.

You see there's something known as the Koppen Climate Classification system.  It looks @ regions by vegetation, average annual and monthly temperatures/precipitation and the seasonality of that precipitation and comes up w/ a template to describe the different climate regimes throughout the world. 

Sochi, Russia has what's known as a Cfa or humid sub-tropical climate.  They have humid, wet summers and dry winters.  More than that they can be temperate @ times - even during the winter... which is exactly what we're seeing.  Highs have been in the upper 50s & low 60s the past few days and they're forecast to stay in the 60s until next week when they'll drop back into the 50s.  And the low to mid-50s are the average high temperatures in Sochi this time of year.  Knowing that (which we did long before the site was named for the Games) should cause just about anyone w/ a very basic level of meteorology to realize problems could arise if a winter sporting event were hosted in that locale.  I understand that it's colder on the mountains but those spots have been lucky to drop into the mid-40s the past few days.  Again, I can't help but question the decision.

Now I get that officials had A LOT of snow put into storage in the event of unseasonably warm weather but that doesn't change the fact that it might not be the best idea to host the Winter Olympics in a place that has palm trees.  No, they're not native to the area but they're still growing there... that should tell you something.  I don't think it's an accident that the Summer Games have never been hosted in Santiago, Chile - the average high there in July & August is in the mid-50s to low-60s (lows are typically in the mid 30s).

Having said all of that I want to add that right about now I wouldn't be complaining if I were in Sochi enjoying the games... and more importantly the warmth.  Lately it's felt a lot more like Siberia here in the Miami Valley.  Which ironically would've been a great place to host this year's Olympics.




Valentine's Day Do's & Don'ts

02/12/14

A lot of people complain that this Friday (Valentine's Day) is nothing more than a made up holiday.  Something put together by big flower and big retail so as to separate you from your hard-earned dollar.  While that may be true it doesn't change the fact that it's still a bad idea to show up empty handed.  @ the very least try to plan something to show that special someone just how special you find them.

If you are planning buying a gift maybe you need help on what to purchase.  Alas, I'm not very good @ that stuff - I usually just buy my wife some nice flowers - but I can tell you what not to get.

1.  Edible beef jerky underwear - yes it's out there.  Let's face it lingerie is really a gift that a guy gives himself.  But if delivered properly it can come off as a thoughtful present.  Beef jerky underwear has no such sentiment.

2.  Snow tires.  Yes, we've had a rough winter but this is more a "Sweetest Day" than a Valentine's Day gift.

3.  A 48-pack of toilet paper.  I've discussed this in the past in this forum but I actually know someone who got this as a Valentine's Day present.  Now that's romance - even if it wasn't the ultra-soft.

4.  A pre-arranged funeral.  This is another one I'm not making up - do a Google Image search.  Don't know if this is a gift that comes w/ subtext or not but I know I'd need to pre-arrange my own funeral if I got this for my wife.

5.  A framed picture of you and your ex.  I'm sure there's someone out there who's dumb enough to give this one.  If it's you and you're feeling brave send me a video of your significant other opening it.  Should be a good laugh.

6.  Dinner for two @ Hooter's.  I guess the restaurant chain has 20 wings for $14 all day on Valentine's Day.  It's a great promotional campaign but I just don't see couples lining up out the door for this one.

7.  Name a roach after her.  I can't say if they still do it but in the past the Bronx Zoo has given people the chance to name a Madagascar hissing cockroach after their sweetheart for $10.  As the zoo says, "Flowers wilt.  Chocolates melt.  Roaches are forever."  I don't know about you but I'd rather someone name a star after me even if it is a ripoff; stars don't get named the same way comets do... they're usually named via their coordinates which makes them easier to find - much easier than locating "Jeff Booth" in the night sky.

8.  Flatulence by Mail - I paraphrased this one b/c this is a family forum.  For $8.99 you can send "The True Symbol of Intimacy".  While I'm chuckling as I type this (somewhat out of disbelief) please DON'T EVER GIVE THIS TO ANYONE for Valentine's Day.  That's just gross.  Funny, but gross.  On a side note I think I have Christmas presents for my childhood friends taken care of this year.

9.  Deodorant.  Perfume isn't a bad gift but underarm deodorant is.  Perfume says, "I want to accentuate your natural aroma".  Deodorant says, "Your pits stink!  It smells like you just left the gym.  BTW, I love you!"

10.  Any self-help book.  101 Ways to Lose Weight, How to Be a Better Wife/Husband and Break-Ups for Dummies all come to mind.

Sorry I haven't been able to help you find the perfect gift for your loved one this year but @ least I've narrowed down the field a bit.  And keep in mind some of the above items are perfectly good for birthdays or the holidays.




"Eye" Feel For The Guy

02/11/14

While I hope you keep the channel locked to ABC22/Fox45 24-7 (that's a lot of numbers) I understand if you've been watching the XXII Winter Olympics.  It's good television (just make sure you change it back to us during the local news).

But one thing struck me when I was watching on Sunday night - Bob Costas' left eye.  It freaked me out.  My wife asked what it was and I had no clue.  I just called it "zombie eye" b/c it looked like something out of The Walking Dead which was ironically back on-air Sunday night.

Turns out Costas has a bad case of conjunctivitis or "pink eye".  It's an inflammation of the outer layer of the eye usually caused by infection or an allergic reaction.  I've never had it (knock on wood) but after watching the Olympics on Sunday night all I can say is that it's not pretty.  Although rare if left untreated it can cause vision problems.  It's highly contagious so when a college roommate of mine got it I was petrified.  I was very fastidious about cleaning my hands, keeping from touching my face and actually washing my eyes and luckily I didn't catch it. 

From what I understand it's pretty painful so my heart goes out to Costas.  And it couldn't have come @ a worse time - arguably on the biggest sports stage in the world.  It's so bad that he's missing his first Olympic prime time broadcast since 1988 and ending a streak of 157 consecutive nights of hosting the Olympic show that dates back to the 2000 Summer Olympics.  I find it interesting how the network continues to call the condition by it's scientific name (conjunctivitis) and not it's common name (pink eye).  It makes sense, though.  Knowing how easy it is to catch I'd probably be less inclined to do an interview if someone had pink eye as opposed to conjunctivitis were I an Olympic athlete.

While this may or may not have anything to do w/ this story from what I've heard journalists in Sochi are staying in less than stellar accommodations.  I've heard stories of stray dogs & construction workers wandering in and out of hotel rooms and seen pictures & video of disgusting water coming from the taps.  I can't help but wonder if Costas splashed some of it onto his face only to get sick.

We'll probably never know where or how Costas caught the bug but I do hope he has a speedy recovery.  I'm sure he's ready to get back to work but more than that I'll bet he just wants to "get the red out" so his life can resume as normal.




Frigid To Start But Warming Up Soon

02/10/14

I'm not going to lie to you: I'm tired of Winter.  I've never been a huge fan of the cold but I could handle it.  This is just ridiculous, though.  The last time we were above freezing was way back on February 2nd when we hit 38.  That's eight days in a row spent below 32 and we're going to stretch this streak for another two days (@ least).

I guess I can look @ the bright side and be happy w/ the sun we saw on Monday.

A ridge of high pressure has nudged it's way into the Midwest and we're seeing sunshine as a result.  Of course we're on the front side of the high which means our winds have a northerly bend to them and that equals another blast of arctic air.  We're looking @ more frigid weather and sub-0 lows Tuesday and Wednesday.  As that high drifts east we'll see our winds bend back around from the south and we're back near (if not above) freezing by Thursday.  I can't believe I'm this excited about 34 degrees but I have to admit that I am.

By Friday another system will work in and bring us the chance for more snow.  Right now it doesn't look like we'll see much more than a light dusting to an inch or so but it's still pretty early so there's time for that part of the forecast to change but this system that's moving in doesn't look all that potent and there won't be much moisture to play w/ so I'm not thinking we'll get much.  Saturday will be cold and cloudy and another system will push through here on Saturday night and Sunday morning.  This one has the chance to bring us some light snow but again it's not all that potent so I'm not thinking we'll get much.

By the end of the weekend we're going to see a little change in the weather pattern (and it's a good one).  As our winds shift to the south and SW things are going to warm up.  We're expecting highs in the mid 30s on Sunday and we'll be flirting w/ 40 by Monday - some of us should get there.  Now this isn't a major warm up by any means; in fact we'll really just be near the average high of 39.  But after the weather we've seen as of late I'll take what I can get.




Lost In Time

02/06/14

The hit 80s band Loverboy once observed that "Everybody's Working for the Weekend"!  It's a great song.  Full disclosure - whenever I think of it the Saturday Night Live sketch w/ Chris Farley & Patrick Swayze trying out to be Chippendale's dancers pops into my head and I smile.  Regardless of what it reminds me of I have to say that I don't really feel that way about my own life.  I'm not saying that I'm sad when Friday rolls around but I rarely feel myself counting down the days until that magical time we've grown to call the weekend.  Usually the only time I do so is when I have a vacation planned. 

This week has been one of those anomalous stretches, though.  It's just been a long one.  I think it stems back to the fact that I worked on Superbowl Sunday.  Yes that added an extra day but it was also an emotional game.  I wanted Denver to win and after watching the team's performance I just felt spent. 

Then we had Tuesday night's snow and ice storm which meant I lived and breathed weather (except for the hour I spend exercising) from Monday through Wednesday afternoon.  The cumulative result of all this is me feeling exhausted.  It's more a mental exhaustion (even though I'm a little sore from shoveling for 1.5 hours so I could get up my driveway on Tuesday night).  It got to the point that by Wednesday afternoon as I was getting ready to record some stuff for work I was convinced it was actually Thursday.  After about 15 seconds of retracing the week in my head I realized that I was off by a day... in the wrong direction.  I really wasn't that upset but it was a bit of a gut check.  That's when it hit me: it's been a long week.

We've all had them and the hope is that you're lucky enough to seem them few and far between.  Honestly, it's not really all that bad... until the end of the work day - that's when I start to feel it. 

I don't want it to seem like I'm using this forum as a place to solicit sympathy b/c I'm not.  I'm just making a casual observation.  What I can say is that I'm glad it's Thursday b/c that means it's almost Friday.  And being the ever-optimist that I am I'm happy to say that I can find a silver lining in this whole ordeal: if time goes by faster and faster the older you get it's nice to see it slow down every once in awhile.  I guess I should take advantage of this time and "stop and smell the roses"; okay that's a bad metaphor.  Maybe a better one would be "stop and throw a snowball".




Winter Storm Recap

02/05/14

It's mid-Winter which means an ice storm is probably in the cards.  We've had one every Winter since I moved back from Hawaii in the Summer of 2009.  Most of those years actually saw an ice storm in the month of February as a matter of fact; 2012 is the exception - that year we had one in late January, then it got WARM.  If you're not shoveling out of a half a foot of snow chances are you bore some of the brunt of our latest ice storm. 

The event that hit Tuesday night into Wednesday was definitely the worst storm we've seen so far this season.  Admittedly maybe you've gotten more snow in previous storms this Winter but this one had the biggest impact if you ask me.  Everyone in the area saw something from it but more than that everybody got walloped by it.  Some got significant snow and if you didn't see a half foot or more you got that dangerous ice.  Either way this had huge implications on all of us.

So what did we see?  Well, areas north of I-70 got anywhere from 6-10" of snow.  Greenville had 10", Coldwater got 9", Wapakoneta clocked in w/ 8.5" and Bellefontaine saw 8".  On the flip side of that coin we only saw about 3"-3.5" in some parts of the far Southern Miami Valley.  But those areas saw more sleet and freezing rain mixing in so they had a whole different set of issues w/ which to deal.

All in all I'm pretty happy w/ the forecast as it verified in just about every area.  I was a little low w/ my snow totals in the far SE where more ice mixed in as some of the spots that I thought would get 3" ended up getting about a half to an inch more.  Everything else verified so I'll take it.  The ice forecast was spot on - but I'm not necessarily jumping for joy on that one (ice is waaaaaay worse than snow if you ask me).

So after a busy start to February I'm ready for a break; and it looks like we'll get it... for a couple of days.  By this weekend another system will approach bringing us the potential for another inch of so of snow.  I don't want to think about it b/c I'm tired of Winter.  And whilst we're in the midst of such a brutal winter I find my mind wandering back to my happy place - the beach.  Right now the beach that was 0.8 miles from my house in Hawaii comes to mind - Kailua I miss your sun-drenched days and trade wind breeze right about now.




Breaking Down Our Latest Storm

02/04/14

Snow has arrived in the Miami Valley and we're just getting started.  It looks like snow will continue into the overnight hours and towards daybreak for the northern portion of the Miami Valley.  It gets a little trickier along and south of I-70 when it comes to tracking this latest event.

Heading through the overnight hours the rain/snow line is going to shift northward.  By 3:00 A.M. it will eventually make it as far north as I-70 which means we'll see a bit of a wintry mix, sleet & ice in the south & SE.  This will cut down on snow totals in these areas and that's why we're expecting to see the highest totals in the far north... they'll see snow throughout the entire time frame.

If you're getting less snow b/c of the mix don't think you're getting off easy b/c that means you'll see a better chance for freezing rain and sleet which means a sheet of ice will be a threat on some of those roads (throw some fresh snow on top of that and you're definitely going to have problems).

By the time all is said and done we'll see a huge range in snowfall totals anywhere from 1" to 10" depending on how much mixing you see where you live.

As I mentioned ice will also be an issue - especially in the far SE.  Areas near Wilmington could pick up about a quarter of an inch or more by the time all is said and done.

The bottom line w/ this forecast is don't travel if you don't have too b/c it's going to be a mess on the roads.  If you can wait it out until the roads are clear and then do what I've been doing since the snow event in mid-January (now three systems ago)... look forward to March 20th, the first day of Spring.




Tracking the Next Winter Storm

02/03/14

I'm sure you've heard about the impending winter storm and that means I've got some weather blogging to do!!!  A Winter Storm Warning goes into effect for the entire Miami Valley beginning @ 4:00 P.M. on Tuesday.

The storm we're tracking is still hundreds of miles away but it'll be picking up steam and making a run @ us through Tuesday evening, pass over the area in the overnight hours before finally pulling out of here sometime around daybreak Wednesday.  This system is expected to bring us a little bit of everything.

Tuesday evening snow will begin around Sunset (6:00 P.M.) and will be moderate to heavy @ times.  By the time we hit midnight some warmer air is expected to wrap into the system a little higher in the atmosphere.  It's known as an Elevated Warm Layer (EWL) and will lead to sleet, a wintry mix and even the potential for freezing rain - especially in the SE Miami Valley.  We'll keep this mix around in the SE until sometime around 12:00 - 4:00 A.M. Wednesday before we just see light snow on the back edge of the system.

This has been a tough storm to forecast b/c the computer models that guide us have been all over the place.  They have had trouble pinpointing the rain/snow line.  That might not sound like a big deal but move that line 30 miles one way or another and it can have HUGE implications in the outcome of the forecast.  As of 11:00 P.M. Monday different computer models have snow totals all over the map.

One thing that makes me happy is that I'm starting to see a little consensus in the data - which is a good thing as it gives us a little more confidence in what will eventually happen.

So I'm thinking areas along and north of U.S. 36 - maybe even I-70 - (I'm talking about Greenville, Piqua, Bellefontaine, Sidney, Wapakoneta, Celina, etc.) will deal w/ snow throughout this entire event.  Areas like Dayton, Springfield, Eaton, Xenia, etc. will get some snow, then a mix, sleet and even a little freezing rain before this turns back over to all snow.  Folks in the far south & SE (Springboro, Lebanon, Wilmington, etc.) will get more of that sleet and freezing rain before getting snow on the back edge of this storm.  As a result this is what the forecast looks like right now:

6-9" in the far north.

4-7" in the heart of the Miami Valley

2-4" in the far SE

There's still time for this part of the forecast to change so I'll be looking @ each model run and provide tweaks as necessary.  Be careful out in this and watch out on the roads Wednesday morning.




Groundhog Day... Again

02/02/14

If you feel like you're in a Bill Murray movie it might be b/c Sunday was Groundhog Day.  While I never put a whole lot of stock in marmot meteorology it's still a fun way to ruminate on how wonderful it'll be once Winter ends... especially this one.

There's a long tradition of different cultures using animals to predict the weather.  Some believe a frog's croak precedes inclement weather.  Others look to the wooly worm to forecast the coming winter.  I've even watched squirrels thinking I could get a leg up on the long-term forecast.  As crazy as it sounds there could be some meteorological sense behind the groundhog's prognostication.  Typically when you have lots of sun in February (or anytime in mid-Winter for that matter) there's an arctic high sitting on top of you; that means cold temperatures - but that typically means plenty of sunshine.  So the thinking is that maybe the animal isn't afraid of its shadow, it's just afraid of the cold temperatures.

So what are our furry forecasters foretelling for the rest of the winter?  Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow so he's calling for six more weeks of winter.  But Buckeye Chuck and our very own Rosie out @ the Boonshoft Museum

did not see their shadows.  That means they're calling for an early Spring.  Let's hope they're right - for what it's worth Punxsutawney Phil thought Winter would come to a quick demise in 2013 and we all know how that turned out (two snowstorms in March, one of which hit in late in the month).

For what it's worth there are no climatological factors leaning towards an early/late end to Winter so one could argue it's understandable that the groundhogs couldn't agree. 

I think we'll continue to see swings in the jet stream that lead to large fluctuations in temperature (like what we've seen so far this Winter).  But I think as the storm track begins to retreat northward these swings won't be as severe - i.e. the cold snaps won't be as cold.  That doesn't mean that we've seen our last blast of arctic weather I just think that when we see them they won't be as bad as they have been so far this year.  I hope I'm right - both professionally and personally.




Balancing Act

01/30/14

Does anyone balance their checkbook anymore?  I only ask b/c I hate doing it and whenever I complain about the task to my colleagues more often than not they'll say, "You still do that?"  Call me old fashioned but... yes. 

I'm always reminded that, "You can just do that through online banking".  While that may be true I can't help but think that it's kind of my responsibility to keep an eye on my money.  It's not that I don't trust my bank (otherwise why would I give them custodial privileges of my hard earned dollars) but I just trust myself a little more.  It's also a good way to find bookkeeping mistakes, forgotten debits and credits.

The only problem is that it's such a pain in the rear end.  It takes too long - @ least an hour.  It's boring.  And it's NEVER right on my first try (I like to balance it to the penny).  That means I have to go back through the entire month's expenses to find out where something was incorrectly entered, a decimal was misplaced or bad handwriting led to an error.  I hate it.  On the rare occasion that it comes out exactly right on the first shot I have a "mini-celebration", happy checkbook dance around my house.  Forgetting the fact that I still just wasted an hour of my time.

Maybe it's a small price to pay if I want to make sure I don't "bounce" a check - which we've done before.  A long time ago my wife would keep the books but she wasn't as exact as I am and we overdrew our account.  It was embarrassing and @ the time we had like no money so the overdraft fee was particularly painful.

Maybe I wouldn't have as much a problem if this wasn't such an "on-going chore".  I do it every month and it seems like the time that passes from the previous balancing act gets shorter w/ each consecutive outing.  I know it doesn't but it just seems that way.  While I hate getting all of my tax stuff together I only have to do that once a year.  By the time tax time rolls around the following year I've forgotten how much it stinks.

I ran out of things about which to complain a few paragraphs ago but now it's time to stop my procrastinating and get to work.  The end of the month is upon us and I still have to pay my bills but I want to be "in balance" before I tackle that chore (another one I hate).  To borrow a line from Snoop Doggy Dogg "I've got my mind on my money and my money on my mind."  Hopefully there's a "mini-celebration", happy checkbook dance in my immediate future.




I Had A Great Vacation

01/29/14

If you watch on a regular basis you probably know that I was out all last week.  I worked all of the holidays and a couple of weekends in December so I had some time to burn.  I figured what better way to do that then by taking a mid-Winter vacation.

I didn't go skiing and I'd love to say I went somewhere tropical but that just wouldn't be true.  No, I went somewhere even colder and windier than here.  I guess I'm a glutton for punishment - I had a blast, though.

Whether you call it the Windy City, Chi-town or even the Second City Chicago is my kind of town.  I haven't been since 2007 when I stopped in for a night on a layover and I'd forgotten how much fun it is.  I think the thing I find so cool about it is the fact that it's almost "alive".  There's always something going on or somebody's doing something.  And it's got a great view of the water.

We went b/c we took the girls on a "mystery weekend".  We hyped up the trip but didn't tell them where we were going... until the day before when my two oldest somehow tricked my wife into spilling the beans. 

It was lots of fun playing "tourist".  We went to the Chicago Art Institute which my kids enjoyed... but not as much as me.  I hadn't been since the Monet exhibit in 1995 and the collection is better than I remember.  They had works from a lot of my favorite artists and more than a few magnum opuses of some very popular artists.  Seurat's "La Grande Jatte", Wood's "American Gothic" & Hopper's "Nighthawks" all come to mind - and that doesn't even scratch the surface.

We also caught a show @ the Adler Planetarium that explored the reaches of deep space.  I've studied astronomy so I had an idea of the shear massiveness of the universe but the feature we saw really drove the point home.  Not only was it cool but it sure made the everyday problems in life seem small if not insignificant - it made me feel that way as well but that can happen when you contemplate such things.

We also hit up the Museum of Science & Industry which is great for kids (big & small) and even visited the Willis Tower.  Formally known as the Sears Tower it was @ one time the tallest building in the world.  I went once when I was in grade school and this time back liked the addition of the skyboxes.  Those are basically plexiglass boxes that jut out from the side of the building.  If you step into one you get the chance to look 103 floors down.  And even though logic tells you that you're safe a small part of you can't help but pray that this feat of engineering doesn't fail... @ least not while you standing on it.  I freaked out my kids when I told them that every 1000th person is subject to a secret "trap door".  I don't think the people standing in the skybox @ the time liked my joke either.

And what would a trip to Chicago be w/out the style of pizza that bears the town's name?  We went to Gino's East and got a pie - and that's not an exaggeration.  The crust was flaky like a pie crust.  Fantastic.

Yes, we had a lot of fun.  If you haven't been I suggest you go.  But if you do be prepared to pay for parking... and it's expensive.  While there we were able to stay w/ my uncle but we did get a hotel room one night and as we drove around looking for a lot we just decided to valet park; big mistake.  I'm embarrassed to tell you how much it cost to park... but I will: $58. 

No, that's not a typo it was almost 60 bucks... for one night!!!  I couldn't believe it.  We don't dine out much but when we do I can spend less... to feed a family of five!  Luckily we got a good deal on the hotel so it was a wash but I can't help but wish that the price of parking would've been factored in b/c my life would be better off if I didn't know how much I spent to leave my car somewhere overnight.

Oh well, @ least I got a good story out of it.  I also took a page from the lesson I learned @ the planetarium.  In the big scheme, expensive parking doesn't really matter all that much.  And even though it still stings a week later it doesn't bother me quite as much as it did @ the time.

Click here to visit my Facebook page if you want to see some photos.




State Of The Weather/Station

01/28/14

In honor of the State of the Union address it's now time for the "State of the Weather/Station" address.

As far as the "State of the Weather" goes:

Simply put, it's cold.  It's awful outside right now and not only is the temperature on the wrong side of zero (and history in my opinion) the wind chill is even worse.  Such evil forces pose a threat to the freedom that makes living in the Miami Valley so great.  No, w/ temps like these we find ourselves locked in the prison that's simply known as "cabin fever".  These are the things that threaten the very outdoor enjoyment we all crave during the long, cold winter.

But that's the beauty of weather.  When all seems lost and the depressing darkness of Winter takes hold we only need remind ourselves that brighter days are ahead.  That's right, in a few short days we'll be back into the upper 30s.  Sure those temps will be accompanied by a nasty, wintry mix but upper 30s and mixed precipitation are better than the cold, dry awfulness that leads to readings of 13 below 0. 

And better than that Spring is right around the corner so brighter days are truly on the horizon.  March 20th may seem like an eternity from now but 51 days will have passed before you know it and Spring will arrive faster than the winning pig of a greased hog race @ the county fair.

And now for the "State of the Station":

In 2014 I promise to make a forecast five times a week on average.  I promise to track severe weather as often as I can when it's in the Miami Valley (sometimes I may be on vacation or out of town so I can't guarantee I'll cover it every time it's here).  I promise to track good weather and I promise to track bad weather.  2014 will see me predicting cold air, hot air and that oh so enjoyable middle ground of which we never seem to get enough.

I'll be here chronicling four distinct seasons in 2014.  From the depths of Winter to the near-perfect Fall conditions I'll be around to tell you when things will change and what you'll need to wear.  I'd love to say that I'll get it right 100% of the time but from to time the chaotic nature of weather will win out.  Thankfully we'll get it right way more often than not (sadly, no one remembers when you get it right, though).

So to summarize it feels awful right now but the good new is that it'll warm up before you know it.  No, we're not done w/ the cold weather yet... but we will be.  And we'll also see thunderstorms and heat in the coming months as well as some picture perfect weather every so often.  And through it all, we'll be here to cover it.  God bless you & God bless America.




Go Home Old Man Winter!!!

01/27/14

I'm just getting back from vacation and WOW! it's cold.  Scratch that, it's hatefully cold.  Another arctic blast has taken hold in the Miami Valley and while it doesn't look like we'll remain below 0 for as long as we did w/ the blast in early January it's still going to be bad.

A sharp trough in the jet stream has allowed this most recent blast of arctic air and thankfully this event won't last too long (but longer than most of us would like).

Lows will drop to around -10 on Tuesday morning (just shy of the record of -13).  But the bigger story will be the brutal wind chill values.  It'll feel closer to -25 to -35 on Tuesday morning with the lower values in the North (along & N of U.S. 36) where the winds will be a little stronger.  Highs will "soar" to about 4 on Tuesday and our wind chill values will struggle to reach -10 during the afternoon hours.  There's only one word for this type of weather: awful.  Let me rephrase that, there's only one word that I can repeat when talking about this type of weather ;)

By Wednesday morning we'll see lows near -8 but w/ the winds it'll feel closer to about -20 to -30 across the area.  Again, the lower wind chill values will be in the north.  By Wednesday afternoon we're looking @ highs in the mid-teens.  That's not great but we're moving in the right direction if you ask me.

On Thursday the arctic high responsible for this awful weather will be pushing off to the east which means we'll see the "return flow" and winds will begin to push in from the southwest.  Expect warmer weather as a result.  We'll only hit about 30 on Thursday but considering what we'll see in the interim I'll take it.

By Friday our next weather maker begins to make a run @ the Buckeye State.  We'll see the chance for snow as we head towards the end of the week.  There's still time for this part of the forecast to change as we're still a few days out but right now I think we'll see the chance for an accumulating snow and possibly a wintry mix @ times on Friday.  Saturday we'll see a better chance for a wintry mix as we climb into the mid-30s.

Sunday & Monday are looking to be a little more quiet but still cooler than average with highs in the upper 20s & low 30s.  I can't remember the last time I looked forward to 30 degrees.  Scratch that, it was back in early January.  March 20th (the first day of Spring) can't get here soon enough.




Ob-La-Di

01/16/14

I usually wait until sometime near the end of my work day to blog.  While my job doesn't require 100% from me all the time (unless that's only on severe weather days) I still have certain things I need to finish before I can play "syndicated columnist".  Seeing that I get paid to talk about the weather I figure it's probably best to finish my actual job before moving onto another love of mine: incessantly complaining about the mundane stuff that bothers me on a near daily basis.

The only time I ever get to writing early in the day is when I have a really good idea and I don't want to forget it.  Unfortunately this doesn't happen all that often (the good idea part, I've forgotten plenty of stinkers) so I find myself pushing my deadline back whilst I come up w/ something witty & clever.

This got me thinking, though.  When I was younger I could come up w/ something inane yet amusing to talk about on a whim.  Now that I'm older that's not so much the case anymore.  I could write this off as proof that I'm "growing", yet another example of the my ongoing maturation.  But sadly that would be a lie.  No, it's something different; and I think I just figured it out.

It's not that I'm getting older (even though I am) I'm just getting progressively more boring.  When I was younger something interesting seemed to happen to me multiple times a day.  More than once I ended up in a strange city miles away from Athens, Oh - not b/c I had to be there but just because.  Or maybe I'd end up meeting some strangers from a different country and stay up half the night talking w/ them.  And then there were the times I had to help raise bail money b/c one of my friends got a little too crazy uptown. 

Yep, there was a point in my life that was rarely, if ever, punctuated by a dull moment.  Now that I'm creeping up on 40 things like this no longer happen to me.  Nope, my days are typically spent closer to home.  Usually I only leave the house to go to the gym, pick up something @ the store or head to work.  Regrettably these are not the ingredients that flavor an "epic" moment.

This may sound depressing but I have to say my slow slide to boredom does have some upsides.  For one thing I'm a lot more clear-headed... due to lack of distraction.  I also deliberate more than I used too and weigh the consequences of my actions - sometimes to a fault.  But more than that I don't think I could keep up w/ my younger self if given the chance... that guy was crazy!

So I guess I'll continue to quietly log the days, put money away for retirement and think about things like yield curves and the high cost of long-term care.  I'll still get headaches but this time for different reasons (like trying to understand yield curves and contemplating how much long-term care will actually cost).  But one of these days something truly exciting will happen to me.  It's got too, the law of averages dictates it.  Ironically when it finally does I probably won't be able to write about it - @ least not in this forum.




Dark Your Autofocus!!!

01/15/14

People have long lamented that technological advances, no matter how helpful, ultimately erode our skills in certain areas.  Some have gone as far as to say technology actually makes us stupid.  After all if you have spell check what's the point of learning to spell?  If you can just look up random facts on your smart phone do you really need to master the rote memorization that plagued you in school as a child?

While I see the logic in these arguments I can't help but think some of the fears are a little unfounded.  I've been using spell check for longer than I'd like to admit and I'm still a pretty good speller.  Admittedly when I misspell something in my blog there's a little squiggly red line under the word in question but I don't need it all that often.  Full disclosure: it showed up twice in the previous sentence (the first & fourth words) but that's the first time I've needed it tonight.  I've also been using the internet for ages and I still do a great job recalling worthless facts/trivia (maybe it's b/c I watch Jeopardy! every night).  No matter what's behind this success the bottom line is that the technology I've been using hasn't made me any dumber than I would be if left to my own devices.

There's one development that @ the very least makes me look less intelligent.  It's called "auto-correct".  It's supposed to save time but ironically it ends up wasting more of mine.

  I can't stand it.  It's one thing to have to update something on my tablet - I've got to "hunt & peck" w/ my thumbs.  But when every other word has an option to "auto-correct" it's only a matter of time before I'm deleting status updates or texts b/c nobody really needs to know that "I'm tipping one my i padlock".  Sorry, typing on my Ipad.

I want to know what's the point of having it in the first place?  Sure, I can see some of the benefits but if the automation isn't perfected - and it's obviously not - there's no point in releasing it to the public (BTW, if you're not paying attention that last word could end up w/ out the "l" - I've seen it so be careful).

Not just that but it seems like a sad commentary on society that we suffer so severely from attention deficit disorder that we can't even take the time to finish typing a full a word.  It's bad enough that texting is full of grammatically incorrect shorthand (ex: "I H8 2 b bord") but now we can't even finish the words we're typing w/out help.  I don't even want to know what this will look like when we finally master "thought-based" computing.

And so I have this to say: "I hate auto-correct it makes me unhappy".  Unfortunately when I went to send this message out to the world all I could muster was: "I hate autofocus it am es me in happy"

WKEF-TV ABC 22 News :: Blogs - Inside the Booth - Dark Your Autofocus!!!


That's Cheesy!!!

01/14/14

I've said it before and I'm not embarrassed to repeat it: I've never met a cheese I didn't like.  That includes Velveeta which some argue isn't even cheese in the first place.  Technically it's processed cheese so that's good enough for me!  I like it so much I once ate 46 slices of it on public access television in college.  It was gross and if I recall I got sick but I was back eating it w/in a couple of hours - I didn't want to spoil my love for it so I "got back on the horse"

But that soft, smooth velvety goodness has gotten harder to come by in recent months.  I know I shouldn't but I'm going to go ahead and editorialize in this matter.  This is terrible!!!  W/out Velveeta where will our grilled cheese sandwiches be?  What will we use as a base for our chili con queso dips?  And how bland will the new stunts of today's public access TV stars be?  I shudder to think.

Turns out the laws of economics are leading to the scarcity.  It's a simple lesson in supply and demand.  This is a popular time of year for football parties.  Guess what pairs perfectly w/ the sport.  That's right... nacho cheese!  Apparently I'm not the only one who feels this way which is why stores are working overtime to keep their shelves stocked w/ the rectangular yellow block that never seems to spoil - no matter how long it's been in your refrigerator.

What I don't understand is how Kraft couldn't have foreseen this.  I'm sure they get a spike in sales this time every year.  Were I the CEO of the the company I'd make darn sure there was more than enough to get through the cold months of peak cheese-buying season.

Some believe this is a marketing ploy but the company denies it.  While I'm usually one who gives credence to conspiracy theories (except the moon landing, two people can keep a secret much less the thousands it'd take to pull off a fake lunar expedition) this is one that I'm just not buying.  That's b/c the company would be stupid to leave money on the table when demand is @ it's greatest.  Sure this will boost the profile of the product but I argue the price is too great.

So I'll be on the lookout for the stuff next time I'm @ the grocery store.  I might even stock up so as to create a "yellow market" that will allow me to sell it @ an inflated price.  If that doesn't work I guess I'll have to make dip out of old-fashioned block cheese if necessary this February.  It's not ideal but it sounds better than the vegan nut cheese my wife tries to get me to eat every so often.  That's scarier than a Superbowl w/ no nachos!




Your Weekly Forecast Discussion

01/13/14

We started out the workweek a little gloomy but it was mild; of course w/ the winds it didn't feel all that warm.  But still, anytime we get into the low 50s in January I'm not complaining.  That's about to change, though.  Two cold fronts are coming through in teh next 24 hours.  The first one arrives Monday night the next pushes through Tuesday evening.

That first cold front brought us the rain on Monday evening and the second one will bring us some rain on Tuesday.  As cooler air filters in throughout Tuesday night and Wednesday morning we'll see some of that change over to light snow.  Don't go planning your snow day just yet, though.  We won't see much.  We'll be lucky to get a dusting or so.

It'll cool off on Wednesday and we'll only top out in the upper 20s & low 30s.  By Thursday we'll hit the mid-30s which is right around average for this time of year.  Of course it'll be windy so it won't feel like we're in the mid-30s.  It'll feel like were closer to the mid and upper-20s.

A dip in the jet stream will be the story as we head into the weekend.  The jet is the river of fast-moving air high above our heads.  It separates cold to the north from warm air to the south.  As it dips over us colder air will take hold.  By Friday we'll see off & on snow and only hit the upper 20s.  It'll be even colder on Saturday w/ highs in the low to mid-20s.  By the end of the weekend we're back @ or near freezing and we're right around 40 by the beginning of next week!




If You Love Something Set It Free

01/10/14

While I don't like it for extended periods of time - the jury is still out on what that means - I have to admit that sometimes there's nothing better than coming home to an empty house.  I was greeted with one when I went on my dinner break.  My wife had taken the kids down to Cincinnati to visit their grandparents so I enjoyed leftovers and watched television uninterrupted.

What's better than that is the fact that my wife & I have a hall pass from child-rearing this weekend.  That's right, the kids didn't just visit the Queen City Friday evening but they're staying there for the next few days.  It's great!  I feel a little like a teenage boy on the last day of school just after the final bell has rung.  That's right, I feel free! 

Does that make me a bad parent?  Who cares now my wife and I have a chance to relax, talk and maybe go out on a date.  I can also sleep in until noon if I so choose.  It's going to be awesome!

It's kind of funny.  I've heard people talk about how great it would be to be young again.  I don't really feel that way, I enjoy life and feel truly blessed.  Having said that I wouldn't mind revisiting my youth for a few days but I think what I really miss is the utter lack of responsibility that came w/ that time in my life.  That sense of apathy towards the future was definitely one of the best parts about being young.  I think that's what made college so much fun: all of the privileges of being an adult but none of the responsibility that comes w/ it.  I also went to Ohio University where it's hard not to have fun.

So in short this should be a great weekend.  Maybe not as much fun as a weekend @ OU (or a Tuesday night for that matter) but I'm in my late 30s.  I don't think I have much time for that nonsense anymore.

Of course now I'm starting to feel a little guilty that I'm so excited about a couple of childless days.  After all they are good kids; I should cherish my time w/ them b/c soon enough they'll leave the nest to spread their wings as they fly off into the world.  Nah.  They just got finished w/ winter break (extended by two calamity days).  That's a looooong time to be cooped up in the house w/ three kids.




The Ball Is In Your Court

01/09/14

I'll admit that I jumped on the Chicago Bulls bandwagon back in the 80s and 90s during the Michael Jordan era.  I've never been a huge fan of basketball but that was fun to watch that team.  I still remember Game 5 against the Jazz in 1997 when Jordan had the flu and came out playing one heck of a game - scoring close to 40 points & propelling his team to a win.  Good times.

One player I liked on that team was Dennis Rodman.  My cousin was a huge Detroit Pistons fan so I followed the Hall of Famer a little then but as he got older I paid more attention.  He was a bit of a media darling as I was growing up which probably influenced my being a fan of his.  But what I think what really sealed the deal was the fact that he dated or married Madonna, Vivica A. Fox & Carmen Electra; three of the most beautiful women in the world... all whilst I was in my late teens/early twenties.  Regardless of what he did on the court that was something to which a young, impressionable man could aspire.

Having said that some of the "Rebound King's" recent actions have left me scratching my head.  He's been over in North Korea hanging out w/ Kim Jong Un.  Most recently he flew to the Hermit Kingdom celebrate his BFF's birthday w/ an exhibition game.  While I'm not going to get into politics of all this (i.e. the country's history of human rights violations) this whole ordeal is beyond strange.

First off he sang "Happy Birthday" the despot.  That's all well and good... if you sing it w/ a group of people and not as the center of attention in front of 10,000+ people.  Click here to see that performance.  You watch it?  Yeah, it's weird.  It might not be so bad but the performance has shades of Marilyn Monroe's rendition for JFK's 45th birthday in 1962.  I have to say it's all a little creepy.

And worse than that Rodman's team reportedly lost the exhibition game they played.  I'm sorry but I have a hard time believing this.  Sure his team was a little older but @ the same time it was also comprised of former NBA players.  These were some of the best athletes in the world @ one point.  They're also fierce competitors - that's an instinct that's hard, if not impossible, to turn off.  This sounds a little like the Generals beating the Globetrotters.  I have a hard time believing they lost... unless it was on purpose.

Of course seeing that Kim Jong Un recently had his uncle killed for "half-heartedly clapping" & being "worse than a dog" maybe it was good that the team lost.  And if the team did indeed throw the game... well that just adds insult to injury.




My Tie to the Huxtables

01/08/14

I don't know why this popped into my head but for some reason when I was driving back to work after my dinner break a memory I hadn't thought of in ages flooded back into my mind.  It was about 11 years ago and I was working my first full-time gig in broadcasting @ WOAY in West Virginia. 

I had a day off and my wife and I took our young daughter (now our oldest child) to one of the parks in the area.  If you've never been it's a beautiful state and there are tons of natural attractions to enjoy if you have the time.  I don't remember the park but I do remember the beautiful view.

As we were getting ready to leave we started talking to an older gentleman who lived around the corner and had made the drive to his nearby park to sit in his car and enjoy what nature had to offer.  He was also enjoying an adult beverage, clearly breaking state law, but I digress.

Sitting on his lap was a small, well-groomed dog; a schnauzer I think.  I don't know how it came about but he informed us that we were in the company of not just any old dog.  No, this dog had a brush w/ fame - comedy royalty, if you will.  Turns out this little purebred just happened to be the great-granddog of Bill Cosby.  I don't know how he knew this but apparently Bill Cosby's dog sired a litter and one of those pups was the parent of this particular canine.

Admittedly part of me was a little skeptical.  I mean seriously, what are the odds?  But then I realized that this was an oddly specific claim to fame.  Not only that but by this point Bill Cosby hadn't been in the spotlight for roughly a decade and if I was going to make up a fake back story on a pet I'd probably pick (like most others) a celebrity who was a little more topical - like Nicholas Cage or Tom Hanks.

Not just that but what would this stranger have to gain by spinning such a yarn?  I'd already engaged him in conversation for a few minutes.  Even if our chat was dying (I don't think it was) this would've been a weird way to revive it.  Perhaps the person who originally sold the dog made up the whopper but again I'd have to argue that there are other celebrities one could tie the puppy to in order to make it more marketable. 

I guess I'll never know but as far as I'm concerned I'm on close & personal speaking terms w/ Bill Cosby's great-granddog.  I hope someday I can meet Rudy & Theo.




Colder Than A...

01/07/14

I've been off for a few days and all I can say is WOW!  It's cold!  You don't really need a meteorologist to tell you this but I'm happy to validate any hunches you may have concerning the matter.

By now just about everyone has heard of the "Polar Vortex".  It's also known as the "Polar Low" and it's basically a large, persistent weather system that forms @ the top and bottom of the Earth due to the Coriolis effect.  It's strongest in the winter but when the circulation weakens its flow becomes less zonal and more meridional.  In essence that means it moves from a relatively flat pattern to a more elongated one which allows the jet stream to dive farther south and therefore lead to arctic outbreaks.

So you can thank that breakdown in the Polar Vortex for our recent deep freeze.  W/ a low of -10 on Monday, Dayton saw the coldest temperatures it's seen since 1/16/2009 (we hit -14).  But when we factor in the winds it's the coldest air we've seen in two decades; since January of 1994.  Wind chill values of -30 to -40 were common but some spots felt like they were well below -40.  Just to the ESE of Lewisburg in Preble county a wind chill value of -49 was registered.

Dayton also saw 28 straight hours of temperatures that didn't even get above 0.  That's the longest stretch of sub-0 weather that we've seen since January 1994.  From the 17 to the 20th of that year we didn't get above 0 for 60 hours straight!  I remember that blast of cold air.  I was in Columbus @ the time and it was awful!

So yes, it's been pretty frigid lately.  The good news is that things are warming up as I type - in fact we're already back in the double digits.  This warm-up will continue into the weekend w/ highs eventually getting into the mid-40s.  I can't wait... I don't remember the last time I was so excited about 45 degrees.  I just hope the next deep freeze waits another two decades before it takes hold.  Heck, it can wait longer if it wants too.




Winter Storm Haiku Poems

01/02/14

It's been a busy day in the weather center and @ ABC22/Fox45 as a whole.  Snow fell throughout the day and now it's turning bitterly cold.  As a result of this crazy day I've decided to dedicate Thursday night's blog to the ancient art of haiku poetry.  I feel that after a wild day this is just what I need to unwind.  So here goes:

The snow has fallen
And now the winds are whipping
So grab your mittens.

It's slick on the roads.
So drive carefully as you
Finesse sheets of ice.

The winds and the cold
Have gotten me wondering
Where are my long johns?

Spring is seventy
Seven days away. My heart
Longs for March twenty.

It's cold and hateful.
My driveway's covered in white.
I'll stay by the fire.

My kids asked me to
Sled.  I agreed if they gave
Me some hot chocolate.

The sky has turned gray.
But the ground is white.  Which means
At least it's pretty.

Blowing snow and ice
Are big problems out across
The roads and sidewalks.

The latest storm hit
During Winter break.  Sadly
That means no snow day.

January's young,
Spring's far away.  I'm thinking
It's vacation time.

So there you have it.  Some haiku poems to help soothe any frayed nerves you may have after driving in this mess.




The Latest On Our Winter System

01/01/14

Well we're just a day into 2014 and we're already talking about our first snow storm of the year.  It won't dump a ton of snow on us but enough that we'll have some issues.  Couple that w/ the fact that colder air is working in and we've got the makings for what could be quite a mess.

Light snow is already beginning to work into the Miami Valley and it'll be picking up through the overnight hours.  Forecast model and observational data suggests we'll have anywhere from about 1-3" across the area by daybreak with the highest totals in the north.  Snow will continue to fall through the morning and early afternoon finally tapering off to flurries sometime in the mid-afternoon. 

As this happens we'll watch the temperatures plummet and winds will begin to howl.  This will lead to blowing and drifting snow and as temperatures drop below 20 by the commute home we'll have to watch out for any moisture that's still on the road b/c it'll have the potential to re-freeze.  So in essence you'll have to watch out during both commutes on Thursday b/c slippery spots will be out there - especially along bridges/overpasses and along secondary and untreated roads.

By the time this event moves out of here I think the heart of the Miami Valley (Dayton, Kettering, Springfield, Eaton, Xenia, etc.) will see around 1.5" to 3.5".  Areas near/along and north of U.S. 36 (Greenville, Piqua, Urbana, Sidney, Celina, Wapakoneta, Bellefontaine, etc.) will get about 3" to 5".

The tough part of this forecast is the fact that very cold air will be mixing in through the event.  The colder it is the lighter/fluffier the snow - which means it piles up faster (it also means it's easier to shovel which makes my back happy).  This skews the forecast snow totals upwards a bit.  But when I see a pattern like this it's not uncommon for some drier air to mix into the mid-levels of the system which in turn cuts back a little on the snow totals.

So brace for snow, blowing snow and bitter cold by the end of the day on Thursday.  We should see temperatures in the low teens by the Thursday evening and with the winds it'll feel more like we're below zero.  By Friday morning we're near 5 which means that once again we'll have to watch for icy spots.  Luckily we'll see more sun on Friday which should help to clear the roads but w/ highs in the teens untreated roads will once again turn very dangerous once the sun sets on Friday night.

If you think Friday sounds cold wait until next week.  Our highs will struggle to get out of the single digits to start, won't even do that by Tuesday afternoon and see sub-0 temperatures (lows, NOT wind chill values) Tuesday & Wednesday mornings.  Bundle up, it's about to get nasty!




Goodbye 2013, Hello 2014!!!

12/31/13

It's New Year's Eve which means 2014 is almost here and for some what I've called the "holiday hangover" is about to set in.  No I'm not suggesting that you stayed up to late and imbibed a little too much on December 31st.  I'm pointing to the fact that the coming weeks are sometimes accompanied by a bout of the post-holiday blues.

Once summer comes to an end it seems like the year just goes into overdrive.  The months accelerate to warp speed and before you know it's all over.  The holidays have come and gone and the bitter cold of January looms like a shadow as the cold, dark months of early year take hold.  It's not a big deal during the holidays but once they're over we're left w/ the harsh reality of mid-winter.  That quick crescendo and eventual passing of the holidays can sometimes lead to the sadness that seems to arrive every January for some.

While I don't feel this way I have in the past.  It always seemed like the big end-of-the-year celebration ended before it even seemed to start.  Like the build-up was way more than the actual event.  After what's seemingly an endless month-and-a-half of get togethers and parties it was January 2nd before I knew it.  I'm sure part of that was related to the fact that I'd be back in school w/in a few days of the New Year - now I go to work everyday so I'm used to having somewhere to go.

But the more I think about it the period after the holidays should be anything but depressing.  It's more or less a time to hit the "reset" button, re-assess yourlife and make positive changes.  It's kind of like the writer's blank page or the artist's bare canvas.  However you want to fill the coming year is pretty much up to you.  And just like the page or the canvas the possibilities in front you are limitless.  You can write a classic or paint a masterpiece... if you're willing to put in the time necessary to do so.

So here's to hoping 2014 is the best year ever!  I hope you've had a great 2013, a wonderful holiday season and wish 2014 is even better.  I'd love to stay and chat but I've got a book to start ;)




This Is "Bowl"

12/27/13

While I love to play games I've never been much of a gambler.  I've only left the country once.  I was in college and my roommate and I drove up to Windsor to go to the casino.  I lost $80 and learned why I hate games of chance.  Now that I'm older I joke that I already have enough vices and don't need another... especially one that has the potential to be so expensive.

Having said that I am involved in a pool that's tied to the college bowl games.  I only threw in five bucks - and right now I'm happy about that.  That's b/c out of the 10 games that have been played so far I haven't picked one winner.  That's right... not a one.  That means that with 29% of the games played I have yet to record one point in my column.  That's not good.

And to add insult to injury the team I picked in the game that's going on right now is losing... by a touchdown.  It's ridiculous.

I'm usually pretty good @ picking college football games.  I entered a weekly Big 10 pool a few years ago, won it a couple of times and was in the top three just about every week.  In my defense I didn't watch as much college football this season as I normally do but I still caught quite a few games.  I even went w/ the Vegas picks if I didn't know anything about the match up - which is pretty much par for the course this early in the bowl season.

I'm not going to blame this on bad luck or even on my lack of knowledge in the subject (even though I should).  No, I think this is the fault of having so many bowl games.  It seems like just about any product you can think of is represented.  There's even one named after a website and another that got its title in the name of social justice. 

Don't get me wrong, I love the fact that there's this much college football in the postseason.  I'm not of the belief that this waters down the action either.  If anything it gives more exposure to the sport and helps some teams get national attention when they otherwise wouldn't.  It also makes it very tough correctly peer into crystal ball of collegiate sports and @ this point I kind of wish I would've just burned that five bucks I put into the pool; @ least then I'd have a good story backing what I did w/ it (even though I might be breaking a law).

We talked about giving whoever got last in the pool their money back.  Put that's not an accolade I really want.  It's sort of like a consolation prize of shame.  Having said that I'd take it if I missed all 35 games.  I'd argue that's harder than getting all of them right.  For that I would deserve an award - no matter how dubious.




Hope You Had A Great Holiday

12/26/13

Once again Christmas has come and gone and once again it seems to have slipped through our fingers in the matter of just a few days.  It always takes its time getting here until about a week out.  Then all bets are off, it's Christmas Eve and I'm rushing to finish my shopping.  This year was no different.

I hope you had a great Christmas holiday.  Mine was fun.  I had to work but I also got to spend time w/ my family.  My mom & aunt came into town and we had a nice morning opening presents and eating a delicious breakfast.  Then I got my post-meal Christmas nap - that's always a splendid part of the day.

But Now it's Boxing Day.  Soon it'll be New Year's Day and then it's time for something I like to call the "holiday hangover".  I'll get to that in just a second but first a little about "Boxing Day".  I used to think it was called that b/c we would take all of the boxes our toys came in out to the garbage the day after Christmas (or @ least we usually would).  Turns out I was wrong.  As I understand it workers for the aristocracy in Britain would give their servants a "Christmas box" the day after the holiday - sort of like a holiday bonus.

As for the "holiday hangover",  I don't call it that b/c everybody goes out and parties too hard on New Year's Eve.  I call it that b/c there's always such a big build up to the end-of-the-year holidays that it can be a little sad when things are all finished.  After getting a few days off @ Thanksgiving then more @ Christmas and New Year's Day it's time to get back to work... in the cold of January.  And most of us have no holidays in sight until Memorial Day.

That's why I try to take a little time off in late January every year.  For one thing it's right around the statistically coldest temperatures of they year (and I can go somewhere warm if I want) but it also gives me something for which to look forward.  But I'm not going to let the end of the holidays bum me out b/c so far they've been quite nice.  Hopefully things so far this season have gone well w/ you and your family as well.  Merry Christmas!!!  (A day late - don't "box me out" for that, though).




A Christmas Poem - Part Deux

12/24/13

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the station
Our wandering minds thought of vacation.
I sat in the studio and broke down the weather
To my desk & computer I found myself tethered.
I looked @ maps, models & q-vectors galore
So you'd know what you'd see when you stepped out the door.
When before my eyes popped a glorious sight
Santa was here... he was out for the night.
He said he'd stopped by, for his annual visit
With wonderful news.  I asked him, "What is it?"
He spoke of a warm-up - here by the weekend
When I'd run into family... along w/ a few friends.
I said, "That's great!  B/c right now it's cold."
He then talked of something worth much more than gold.
Those close to me, my girls that I love
Were truly a gift from the creator above.
The ones close to me, they make life worth while
And more often than not make my lip curl in smile.
I'll admit I was hooked as I processed his pitch.
For I knew was right; family & friends make me rich.
It's honestly not what's in my bank account.
And that's a good thing... as bills continue to mount.
That should be our focus, and no I'm not rusing
Or this time of year's meaning we'll find ourselves losing.
It sort of reminds me of a great Christmas flick
One of the best movies ever a bonafide classic.
It's A Wonderful Life - I watch every year.
And by the last scene I'm shedding a tear.
George Bailey's the lead, it tells the man's tale.
His life in Bedford Falls had seemed to grow stale.
But fate intervened, in the form of an angel.
He gave the protagonist quite the hard sell.
He showed George just how great life can be
When it has a purpose and you can touch many.
And @ the film's climax we learn as it ends
That "no man is a failure who has friends."
I knew Santa's meaning; found life's cherry topping.
Then gave him a hug and thanked him for stopping.
So from Santa and I, hold the one's you love tight.
"Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!"




Your Christmas Week Forecast

12/23/13

After getting a brief hiatus from the frigid weather Old Man Winter is making a comeback.  Another arctic air mass is taking over as I type these words.

That air mass will be dragging down colder air as we're on the front side of an arctic high.  W/ winds out of the NW we'll see frigid air through Tuesday.  Not only will we struggle to get into the low 20s but wind chill values will be near if not below zero to start the day on Tuesday and remain in the single digits and then the low teens into the afternoon.

A clipper system will be moving by to the north on Christmas.  Winds will shift a little southerly and bring us a little warm-up and we'll get back to freezing.  We'll also see the chance for a little light snow as it passes by Christmas afternoon.  Right now it looks like the best chance for that action will be in the north and even though we're not expecting an inch (the threshold needed for a White Christmas) it'll still be nice to see a little snow on the holiday.

Friday will be partly cloudy and we'll climb to near freezing before a warm-up starts to take hold.

As an area of high pressure moves to the east we'll watch our winds take a more southerly bend which will usher in "mild" air.  By Saturday afternoon we're in the upper 30s if not flirting w/ 40.  This won't last long b/c another system is sliding in by Sunday afternoon/evening.  That will bring us the chance for more snow late Sunday and much colder weather by Monday as we top out in the low to mid-20s.

I'll admit that a large part of me would love to see a White Christmas.  An even larger part of me is upset that we've had one of the top 10 snowiest Decembers and after the weekend warm-up and torrential rain we now have no snow on the ground - figures.  But being the optimist that I am I can say that if you're driving on Tuesday you shouldn't see weather-related issues on the roads.  The other bright side in all of this is the fact that I'll get to spend some time w/ my family on Christmas and that's what the holidays are all about.




Expect A WET Weekend

12/20/13

The rain is already falling in parts of the Miami Valley and it's going to get worse before it gets any better.

A boundary will set up over the region this weekend.  That will act as a moisture transport through Saturday and into Sunday morning.  Rain will be moderate and then heavy and right now it looks like the heaviest rain will fall in the Miami Valley from about 6:00 or 7:00 P.M. Saturday to about 6:00 or 7:00 A.M. Sunday.

I think the bulk of the Miami Valley will see about 1.5"-3" of rain through Sunday.  Dayton, Xenia, Springfield & Piqua will see about 2"-3" while the far southeast will see a little less.  In the far northwest (Greenville, Celina, Wapakoneta, Anna, etc.) we'll have the potential to pick up a little more than three inches of rain by the time this event rolls out of here Sunday morning.  This is why we have a flood threat.

It looks like this will start out with flooding in low-lying areas and flood-prone basements.  Then as the water has a chance to runoff into the rivers and streams we'll have to watch for problems in those areas.  Minor flooding is expected along much of the Great Miami from Sidney to Dayton. 

It looks like that threat will be in place in Troy and Sidney beginning @ 6:00 P.M. Saturday with flood waters cresting around or shortly after 6:00 P.M. Sunday.  We'll see flood waters crest in the Dayton area (especially near Huber Heights) Monday morning around 6:00 or 7:00 A.M.

The Great Miami River near Miamisburg will reach moderate flood stage around dinner time on Sunday and crest Monday morning just before daybreak.

Remember, flooding is a major killer in the United States so don't discount the threat over the weekend.  Two feet of water will float most cars and six inches of moving water will knock you off your feet.  If you see water of unknown depth avoid it and adopt the National Weather Service's motto: "Turn around, don't drown."

Temps will fall through Sunday afternoon and it'll be cold by day's end with another blast of frigid weather next week.  That means this rain and warmth has come just in time to melt our snow and then it'll turn cold in time for a Christmas that won't be white.




Am I The Only One Left Who Understands What "Right-Of-Way" Means?

12/19/13

I've said it before and I can't say it enough: I hate paying too much for gas.  It's expensive, I need it to get around and the price always seems to spike when I need it most. 

You can only imagine my frustration when I was driving around Thursday morning only to see that a gallon of gas had jumped to $3.29/gallon overnight.  Honestly, it could always be worse seeing that we have a major holiday next week.  But when I saw it for $2.89/gallon on Wednesday I got mad... especially b/c we have a major holiday next week.  I know gas is a commodity whose price is determined by the laws of supply and demand but I hate the fact that gas goes up every major holiday.  Again, I know that economics is @ play here but I still feel like I'm being gouged.

I was thrilled when I drove into work and saw gas was still $2.93/gallon @ a station right around the corner from ABC22/Fox45.  I didn't need it just yet but when it's 36 cents more across the street you've got to take advantage of that deal.  And that gets me to the true point of this... piece (I was going to call it a "rant" but it isn't one... yet).

I left the station on a break to fill up and was pleased that the price hadn't gone up.  But there was also a huge line and a full parking lot - the exact opposite of what was going on across the street.  I even questioned why there were any cars @ all filling up @ that station.  It was selling petroleum for $3.29/gallon.

I sat and waited and was just about to pull into the parking lot when I noticed someone was turning left to get to the same place I was headed.  She was draped across the two lanes of traffic going in my direction and was trying to weasel her way in front of me.  She didn't have the "right-of-way" and people who assume they have it and act on that false assumption are one of my major pet peeves.

So I didn't let her in but that didn't stop her.  She continued w/ her pursuit and finally let up @ the last second but not before showing me a choice finger (it wasn't her index).  I was flabbergasted.  Here this lady was mad @ me (and probably cursing me) b/c I wouldn't let her in in front of me when I'd been waiting longer than she had.  And even if that wasn't the case I still had the right-of-way and wasn't in the wrong.

I never told this lady to pull across two lanes of traffic while the people she was blocking sat backed up @ a light.  And I certainly didn't ask her to show me that offensive finger.  I just wanted to get to the open pump for which I'd been waiting.

I think what upsets me the most is the fact that the lady in question doesn't feel like she did anything wrong.  As far as she's concerned I'm just "that jerk meteorologist" who didn't let her break the law.  I'm also upset b/c part of me feels like I should've just let her go seeing that it's the Christmas season and that's probably what the almighty would want.  But @ the same time I'd waited for my turn and was just following the rules which I think is a pious endeavor in and of itself.

Of course now that I think about it I realize that what I should really be doing is letting this go, forgive and forget about the event entirely.  So that's what I'll do. 

I can tell you one thing, though.  I now understand why people were more than happy to pay the inflated price across the street.  The stress-filled afternoon through which I just lived (set off by the above incident) was definitely not worth the $2.59 I saved by going to the station w/ the better price.




Solving A "Stone Cold" Crime

12/18/13

Remember The Flintstones?  I used to "meet" them everyday after school in syndication on one of the local television stations in my hometown of Columbus.  Looking back on the cartoon I see that it was a total ripoff of The Honeymooners but I still thought it was pretty good and think it's stood the test of time pretty well.

Because they were "the modern Stone Age family" I think it's safe to say that police in Sacramento are now hoping to solve a modern Stone Age mystery.  Dave Downey, owner of World's Best Comics, recently had his replica of the "Flintmobile" stolen by some stone-hearted crooks.  The car sat out in front of his comic book store and was beloved by his customers, especially kids.

I don't know how somebody steals such an item.  An open-topped four seater rolling down the main drag in California's capital is sure to turn a few heads.  And if it wasn't the getaway car it's still a life-sized copy of a vehicle that's immortalized in the catchy song from a classic TV program; loading that onto the back of a truck would have to raise a few red flags.

And what do you do w/ such an item?  It weighs 200 pounds and it's pretty bulky.  It's not like you can get it into your basement and turn it the highlight of your man cave.  Even if you could this is the type of "one-of-a-kind" item that's kind of hard to explain.  What are the odds that two people have giant prehistoric cartoon cars... one of which showed up just days after another highly publicized one disappeared?  I can't answer that question beyond saying that they're not good.

I guess the good news is that it shouldn't be hard to catch the crooks.  For one thing this item is pretty hot and will be tough to unload.  Not only that but once a few suspects show up all police have to do is look @ their feet to figure out who did it.  Seeing that the famous car was powered by a running Fred Flintstone I'd have to think that the crooks would have some major callouses on the bottoms of their feet.

All kidding aside I do hope someone returns Downey's car.  He's even offering a reward: "a six-pack of Cactus Cooler", Fred Flintstone's favorite drink on the famed show.  If you ask me that's not bad - of course I'd rather have the giant steak that causes the Flintmobile to tip over in the opening credits.




What Could Have Been The "Mistake Of The Year"

12/17/13

Time's "Person of the Year" has been decided and if you don't know who it is it's Pope Francis.  I read the article about him Tuesday afternoon and it was very good.  I don't know why but it seems like there's always controversy whenever this award is given out.  I'm not going to get into a debate as to who should have gotten the honor but I will sound off on who should not have gotten it.

Miley Cyrus.  Apparently she was in the running.  Let me repeat that: Miley Cyrus was in the running.  Yeah, it's just as unbelievable when you read it a second time.  Reports say the singer was leading Time Magazine's Online Reader Poll as late as Thanksgiving.

I'm sorry but that's pretty sad.  I understand that she's influential in the entertainment world but I have a hard time believing that she carries much clout in the actual world.  Had she gotten the title that would in essence affirm the notion that the pop star was more prominent than Edward Snowden, the President and even the Pope in 2013.  Sorry, she wasn't.  This would further suggest that had either of those three "twerked" their importance would have skyrocketed through the roof.  I don't see any of them doing that anytime soon; maybe break dancing... but not twerking.

Not to sound like an old person but this a sad indictment as to where we are culturally as a people.  I saw the Video Music Awards performance and was appalled.  That lasted for a few seconds.  Then I felt a little sorry for the former teen idol; it looked like she was trying too hard.  Almost as if she was doing everything she could to hang onto whatever fame she still had.  She reminded me of the child who's grown out of the "adorable" phase and was acting out in classic "hey look @ me!" fashion... and she's still a kid herself !  (Only 20 @ the time of that infamous performance).

And I shudder to think about what her winning the prize would've said to the youth of the world.  Probably something along the lines of, "If you act like a skank you'll get on the cover of a magazine that you don't need to be 18 to buy!"  I'm glad that wasn't the moral of the story.

I guess @ the end of the day if Cyrus had won then it probably would've goosed sales for the issue.  Of course I can't help but wonder if it would've also hit the magazine's subscription numbers like a "Wrecking Ball".  I know I would've dropped mine if she'd graced the cover of my latest Time.




Your Forecast For The Week

12/16/13

Our workweek started out pretty slippery as about an inch or so of snow coated the area just in time for the morning commute.  Not only that but it was below 20 which is when salt isn't as effective @ keeping the roads clear.  As a result we saw a thin layer of ice in some spots and a little light snow on top of it.  That's always a recipe for disaster in the Miami Valley.

As we head into the next few days we'll see more light snow on Tuesday afternoon.

A disturbance known as a shortwave trough will swing through the area providing just enough lift to provide some snow just in time for Tuesday evening's commute.  We'll also see windy conditions @ the surface which means blowing snow will be an issue and that could lead to some problems as you drive home Tuesday evening.

Wednesday a ridge of high pressure is moving through and that will bring more sunshine to the area.  We'll also see highs in the mid-30s and with the sun it should feel A LOT better than it has as of late.

By Thursday our high is drifting east and we'll bask in the "return flow" which means our winds will take a more southerly bend.  As they blow in from the SW we'll see warmer weather and should touch the mid-40s Thursday afternoon.  We'll also watch clouds increase through the day and could see a shower or two by day's end.

There's a better chance for rain on Friday and those rain chances continue into the weekend as a boundary stalls out over us.  That will act as a moisture transport that will dump rain on us Saturday and Sunday before changing over to a wintry mix Sunday night.  The sun returns Monday but it'll be cold.

I'm not really wild about this forecast.  I like the snow - not wild about the cold, but love the snow.  More than that I love snow on Christmas.  We've had a snowy December thus far (right now the 7th snowiest on record).  One would think that would give us a decent shot @ 1" of snow on the ground on December 25 (the definition of a White Christmas).  Right now the chances of that aren't looking that great.  The warm-up will melt some of the snow and whatever is sticking around late in the week will melt once the rain hits - we could also see some minor flooding issues this weekend.

The good news is that when we talk about extended forecasts there's a lot of uncertainty that's factored into the equation... especially in the winter when things can change pretty rapidly.  That's what I'm hoping for right about now b/c I want a White Christmas - and I'm not talking about Bing Crosby's holiday classic, even though I'll settle for it.  Fingers crossed.




Tracking Our Next Winter Storm

12/13/13

We've already gotten almost 8" of snow in the month of December and our next winter system is already here.  As I type this flakes are flying across the Miami Valley and it's tough to see the Dayton city skyline.

Snow will fall through the overnight hours and a couple of inches are possible by daybreak.  Snow will continue through the day but @ times we'll see a little bit of a wintry mix.  And that's what's made this a tough forecast.  Right now it looks like the rain/snow line will be somewhere around I-70 and US 35 which means it'll straddle the heart of the Miami Valley.

Having said that here's my forecast for the upcoming event:

Snow will fall through the night and we'll see a wintry mix starting to work in sometime around 10:00 or 11:00 A.M. in Butler, Warren & Clinton counties.  By about 2:00 to 6:00 P.M. we'll have a wintry mix around and south of I-70 w/ all snow north of it and a little rain mixing in throughout the southern halves of Butler, Warren & Clinton counties.  After that things will turn over to all snow and taper off through Saturday evening.

My snowfall forecast reflects the different types of wintry precipitation.

Obviously where we see a little more of a wintry mix or even rain (south of I-70) our snow totals will be a little lighter.  Areas in the north will see snow throughout the event so that's why 4-6" (w/ a few isolated higher totals) are expected up in that area.

This is going to be a heavy, wet snow.  That means it'll have a higher moisture content.  This is good news for the kids and their snow forts, snowball fights, snowmen, etc.  It's bad news for your back if you have to shovel, though so be careful.

As I mentioned earlier we've already gotten almost 8" of snow this month - @ the airport, where the climate records are kept.  In a typical December we see 4.5".  That means we'll be close to tripling our average December by the end of this event.  Have fun and again be careful!




How Cold Is It?

12/12/13

The big chill has taken hold in the Miami Valley.  If you've been lucky enough to stay indoors and avoid it just take my word for it.  And even though it sounds like something the audience would yell to a comedian in the middle of his show to set up a punchline I'm happy to answer the question: "How Cold Is It?"

Thursday's high in Dayton only climbed up to the 20 degree mark.  So to answer the above question in two words, it's freezing.  Actually it's well below freezing but you get the picture.  Let me put this cold into perspective.

Thursday's high of 20 in Dayton means it was warmer in Denver, Colorado; Casper, Wyoming; Billings, Montana; Sioux Falls, South Dakota; and even Juneau, Alaska.  Pretty crazy.  So what the heck is happening?

To answer that question we need to look high into the atmosphere @ the jet stream.  That's the river of fast moving air that separates cold air to the north from warm air to the south.  The "dip" in the jet stream over the Eastern United States is known as a trough.  When a trough works over your area colder air is allowed to spill into the region.  That's what's behind our latest cool down.

But that's only the half of it.  It has also been a little windy.  As a result our wind chill values (what it feels like outside) have dipped below zero @ times and we spent most of our waking hours w/ single digit wind chills.  And when temperatures get this cold it doesn't take much of a wind to really drive down that wind chill.

And that gets me to this graphic: Thursday's lows.  You're reading correctly.  Most of us woke up near (if not below) zero.  But w/ the wind chill if felt closer to -5 to -12.  W/ a low of 1 in Dayton (where the climate records are kept) we didn't set a record.  But we did see the lowest temperature in the area in nearly three years.  Way back on 2/10/2011 we started out @ -3.  Our low of 1 was the coldest reading since that frigid day (1036 days ago).

The best way to describe this weather is w/ the word "awful" b/c that's how it feels.  The good news is that it'll be "warmer" on Friday as we climb back to the freezing mark.  The bad news is that we're tracking another winter system that will bring snow Friday night through Saturday evening.  Out behind that we'll see another blast of frigid air. 

Friday night I'll break down the coming winter storm in this forum.  Until then I'm going to enjoy the indoors and cuddle up next to the fire when I'm lucky enough to spend some time @ my house.




Tied Up With Savings

12/11/13

I can't say that shopping has ever been a high priority in my life.  As a kid I can remember being physically sick when I'd go w/ my mom or someone else in my family to the department store.  I would actually feel hot and uncomfortable if forced to stay in the clothes section for too long.  Looking back it was probably anxiety - a byproduct of ADHD.  It also explains why I was allowed to go to the toy section once I reached a certain age; if shopping was going to be an unpleasant experience for whatever grownup I was with it's better that it be bad after we left the store (when I didn't get some toy I wanted) than during the actual deal-hunting. 

As an adult I've learned to be efficient whenever I go to the mall.  I typically walk in w/ an idea of what I want, find it, pay and leave.  Maybe it's due to bad shopping memories as a kid or perhaps it's the result of being a man - i.e. hunter/gatherer who can't multi-task.  All I know is that I enjoy the practice much more now than I did as a child.  And that's a good thing b/c one of the unwritten rules of my job is that I have to dress up for work.  I'm sure I could look like a slob but something tells me that my bosses wouldn't tolerate it and if I consistently showed up wearing a T-shirt w/ a mustard stain, cut-off shorts and a pair of Birkenstocks I'm pretty sure I'd get in trouble.

So recently I went down to the outlet mall in Monroe and picked up some new ties as I was in need of them.  It might not seem like a big deal but it was.  I walked into a store and saw ties were only like 10 bucks apiece - and these were nice ties.  So I went down the line and picked out a bunch.  As a result I've been enjoying "New Tie Week" for the past two weeks and it's been great!

I never really fancied myself as much of a person who derives pleasure from material things but I've got to admit the cache of ties I bought a few weekends ago has put quite the smile on my face.  I don't know what it is but I'll admit that right now I understand the giddiness that comes w/ my wife's purchase of a new pair of shoes a little better.  So yes, I've gotten to the point where a piece of neck wear has the ability to make me happy.  I never thought I'd get here but who knew?

I could joke that if God gives you a Rembrandt it's your responsibility to give it a nice frame.  Or cite the old adage that clothes make the man.  But I think it's much simpler than that.  Sure I like the new ties but I think what I like more than that is the fact that I got such a good deal.  Honestly, that's usually the only thing that makes shopping fun. 

I'm a bit of a wheeler-dealer and hate paying retail... for anything.  I'm the guy who goes to a garage sale/flea market/etc., barters w/ the vendors and then feels good knowing he's walked away w/ a 40% discount - even if he doesn't need what he just bought.  Luckily I don't have expensive tastes or this could be a dangerous thrill.  I've even tried to talk the price down @ major retail outlets where the prices are pretty much set in stone.  I figure the worst anyone can do is say no so it's worth a shot.  I know this habit has embarrassed my wife in the past - that is until I score us a killer deal - but she's really come around.  Now clips coupons and finds the hot deals whenever she goes to the store.

But as I type this "New Tie (Two) Week(s)" is coming to an end.  I'm not sad but after writing this blog I have learned something about myself: I'm cheap, maybe frugal is a better word.  No matter how you put it I guess I just like to save money.  But hey, when you've got three daughters - and three weddings for which to pay - you've got to save every penny you can.

WKEF-TV ABC 22 News :: Blogs - Inside the Booth - Tied Up With Savings


This Bugs Me

12/10/13

I just got wind of quite possibly the worst news I've heard in a long time.  A new cockroach has made its way to the United States.  I know it sounds gross but it's waaaaaay worse than that.  The species, native to Asia, is quite resilient.

According to a study it can live through the cold winter months and was recently seen crawling around an outdoor tourist attraction in New York City.  The metropolis is notorious for brutal winters and experts say they'll be no problem for this bug.  The roach, Periplaneta japonica, was actually spotted last year but wasn't confirmed in the city until recently.  No one knows how it got here they just know it's arrived.

I don't know about you but I think this is terrible.  I hate roaches.  Honestly, I'm not a big fan of bugs in general but roaches are particularly nasty if you ask me.  They're dirty, tough to kill and perhaps worst of all numerous. 

They were all over the place in Hawaii and even though I never really accepted them I chalked up their existence (in my condo, no less) to the "cost of paradise".  One thing that always drove me nuts was the fact that I'd do all I could to kill the pests only deal w/ a new wave of them every so often whenever a neighbor bombed his apartment.  I hate seeing them in Ohio but I've always taken solace in the fact that they'll be gone once winter arrives.  Now I'm reminded of the old joke about how if there was a nuclear war all that would be left was Twinkies and cockroaches.  How true that is.

The only bright spot in this story is the fact that scientists say this roach can't breed w/ the local varieties to which you and I are accustomed.  Luckily mismatched genitalia will keep the species from spawning a new, "super-roach".  Seeing that we've now got one that can weather the brutal winters that would otherwise keep it in check I can't help but ask, "But for how long?"

Sweet dreams.




If You're Having Trouble "Chilling Out" Mother Nature Will Help This Week

12/09/13

After heavy snow on Friday we're now in the middle of an arctic plunge.

Out behind the system that brought us some light snow and freezing rain on Sunday an area of arctic high pressure has moved in and if you don't feel it just wait.

A little light snow will be possible on Monday night and Tuesday morning.  After that the aforementioned high will start clearing things out and by Wednesday morning we'll see temperatures on either side of 10.

Later in the week high pressure will cause our winds to shift and pick up a more northerly bend.  That's when it'll get REALLY cold.  The low on Thursday morning will be near 5; that will be the coldest temperature since 2/1/2013.  Of course we'll have to take the winds into account b/c chill values (or the "real feel" temperature) will dip below 0 Thursday morning.  Thursday afternoon we'll struggle to get to 20 and some of us won't even get there!  That should make Friday feel like a bit of a tropical paradise as we climb back into the 30s (right now it looks like we might not even make it to the freezing mark, though).

By Saturday afternoon another system will be heading north along the east coast of the United States.  This will bring us a wintry mess.  We'll see a bit of a rain/snow mix - possibly a little freezing rain - before this changes over to all snow.  It's still early to say exactly how much but measurable snowfall is definitely a possibility.  This means that you can expect to see a bit of a mess on the roads Saturday afternoon through Sunday morning.

We'll see another blast of cold air out behind this system.  Highs will only climb to near 30 on Sunday; and that's early - temps will actually fall through the afternoon.  Monday the sun returns but we'll also be in the throes of another arctic chill with highs only into the low & mid-20s.  Winter doesn't officially start until December 21st but mother nature is a tad early this week.  In fact it'll feel more like mid-winter... not late fall.




Highlights From Our Winter Storm

12/06/13

Well, it's been a busy day in the Miami Valley.  Thank goodness the snow is tapering down so now it's time to enjoy our winter wonderland.  Here's a map of the general snow totals in the area through the day.

While it's not an exact replica of Thursday nights forecast it's pretty close.  This was a tough system to track b/c the transition zone of freezing rain & sleet to snow was passing through the area.  A little bit of warmer air aloft nosed it's way in early Friday morning.  This means we got a little more sleet & freezing rain than originally expected.  Regardless, our actual totals were pretty close to what we were calling for on Thursday night.  (See below for that forecast).

The worst of the snow hit in the late morning through the early evening so our timing was pretty spot on.  All in all, I'm happy w/ the forecast and I hope everyone in the area stayed safe and will continue to say safe as moisture will re-freeze onto the roads over the weekend which means that treated roads will be slick and untreated roads could turn into sheets of ice.

Here's a look actual snowfall totals as reported by the National Weather Service:

...BUTLER COUNTY...   
OXFORD 7.0
ESE BECKETT RIDGE 6.8
MONROE 6.0
2 N ROSS 6.0
OKEANA 6.0
WETHERINGTON 5.5
2 WSW MAUSTOWN 5.3
HAMILTON 4.9

...CLARK COUNTY...
NEW CARLISLE 6.0
2 WNW SPRINGFIELD 4.0

...CLINTON COUNTY...
1 NE OGDEN 4.8
1 ENE OGDEN 4.5
BLANCHESTER 4.0
2 N WILMINGTON 4.0
2 SSE WILMINGTON 2.9

...DARKE COUNTY...
2 W GREENVILLE 5.0
1 E GREENVILLE 4.0

...GREENE COUNTY...
XENIA 4.9

...LOGAN COUNTY...
2 N BELLEFONTAINE 4.5

...MIAMI COUNTY...
1 NE TROY 4.0
2 SW TROY 3.0

...MONTGOMERY COUNTY...
SHILOH 5.7
HUBER HEIGHTS 5.5
2 SW CENTERVILLE 5.5
3 S MIAMISBURG 5.0
UNION 4.1
CENTERVILLE 4.0

...WARREN COUNTY...
HARVEYSBURG 7.0
1 NW LEBANON 6.5
1 S LEBANON 6.2
SPRINGBORO 5.3
MASON 5.2
2 WNW CLARKSVILLE 4.9
3 SSE GENNTOWN 4.0




Anatomy of Our Winter Storm

12/05/13

By now I'm sure you've heard that a snow storm is on the way.  As I type this all of the Miami Valley EXCEPT Mercer & Auglaize counties is under a Winter Storm Warning.  Mercer & Auglaize are under a Winter Weather Advisory.  A strong cold front sits draped across the Eastern United States right now.

Ample moisture will travel along that front and interact w/ air that's MUCH cooler than it's been over the past few days (Thursday's high was 62 @ 2:57 A.M.).

Heavy snow will develop as that cold air interacts w/ the aforementioned moisture.  Right now it looks like the heaviest snow will fall from about 10:00 A.M. until 5:00 P.M. on Friday.  Snowfall rates could reach about 1" an hour during that time frame.  My latest forecast calls for the heaviest snow potential in the heart of the Miami Valley.

Areas in the far SE along and around I-71 (Wilmington, Blanchester, Waynesville, Mason, Lebanon, etc.) may only have 2-4" in the forecast but they also have the potential to pick up around a quarter to a half inch of ice.  Whenever we throw snow on top of ice we always have problems so even if you're in the SE and it looks like you won't see as much the roads have the potential to be a lot more dangerous.

This has been a tough storm to forecast; the computer forecast models aren't in exact agreement as to the handling of this system.  Further complicating things is the fact that the rain/snow line is so close to us that just one little wobble in the transition zone can result in more (less) glazing which would lead to less (more) snow.  But I've made my forecast and now I've got to live w/ it.  Observational data is suggesting that things should fall in line so I can go to bed knowing I've done all I can do.  What a way to come back from vacation.




So Close

11/28/13

I know on Wednesday night I claimed I wouldn't blog on Thanksgiving - yet here we are.

I just wanted to take a moment to tell you how happy I am that I'm almost done w/ my homework for the month.  No, I'm not in school but as an adult I think of my chores as homework; stuff I don't want to do but know I have to anyway.

There are some tasks that seem to emerge out of nowhere.  These are like pop quizzes of adult life.  They come w/out warning, are a pain in the rear but usually get taken care of pretty quickly - hopefully you're prepared.

About once or twice a year I'll take on a home improvement project.  These are like the big reports, science fair projects or 10-page papers that I'd encounter when I was an academic.  I didn't like to do them but once I finally got started I'd plow through it so I could relax.

And then I have the recurring errands that I complete on a monthly basis.  I equate these to the day-to-day homework I used to get.  This is almost like the "busy work" I hate doing and not surprisingly I put off as long as I can.

This month I had a few things to finish: get the tub fixed (see previous blog), balance my checkbook, pay my bills and go through open enrollment.  The last three chores are ones I've been dreading. 

Tonight I'm happy to say I'm almost done.  The bathroom leak was taken care of on Monday, I got the checkbook balanced on Wednesday, enrolled in my company's insurance plan on Thanksgiving which means paying bills is all I have left to do.  That shouldn't take too long and I might even knock that out when I get home from work tonight.  Seeing that I'm taking Friday off it doesn't sound like a bad idea.

Either way I'm almost there and then I get to experience one of the greatest feelings in the world: the sense of accomplishment.  Until next month that is.




For What Are You Thankful?

11/27/13

Thanksgiving is almost here and I'll be working on the holiday but I plan on taking a break from my writing job - if that's what you can call this.  As a result I'm going to use Wednesday night as the time to talk about that for which I am thankful.

I'm thankful for my wife and my beautiful kids along w/ my extended family.  I'm thankful that I have a roof over my head, food in the pantry and a job I love.  But most of all I think I'm thankful for the countless blessings - both big and small - that the good Lord has bestowed on me and the rest of the world.

The other night I was watching a story on the news and it got me thinking how lucky I am and how I need to learn to appreciate what I have.  That story I watched dealt with some of the littlest angels who were about to see their lives cut short b/c of some horrible illness that they were unlucky enough to get.  I watched it, shed a tear and couldn't help but feel guilty.  There have been times in the past when I was upset w/ this, that or the other and I've lost sight of what makes a life truly blessed: one's health and love - both love that I give out and love that comes back to me.

When I see some of the horrible things out there and then look @ my three wonderful kids, my beautiful wife and a healthy prognosis the material things and petty annoyances that get in the way of day-to-day life don't really seem that bad.  Instead of focusing on the bad I should learn to accept those setbacks and realize they help me appreciate the good times that much more. 

I hope your Thanksgiving is a happy one and I hope you have a blessed year to come.




"Pardon" Me

11/26/13

It's Thanksgiving week which means that you should start seeing more and more stories detailing how various politicians are "pardoning" turkeys in their localities.  It's a cute way to ring in the holiday but I can't help but be a little cynical about it.

One thing I wonder is whether or not that pardon lasts for just one year or if it's a lifetime absolution.  If it's just a year then what's the point?  That turkey just has some extra time to fatten up; which may not be a bad thing.  But if that turkey is safe for the rest of it's life then who shelters the burden of caring for it?  I certainly hope the taxpayer isn't on the hook for years b/c of what was originally nothing more than a glorified photo op.  While I'm sure it's not expensive to pay for this I can't help but point out that in these times of shrinking budgets every dollar saved is one that doesn't go towards growing the deficit.

But what has me more worried is the prospect of a truly foul fowl walking free.  We have no way of looking into any bird's past much less one who's receiving a pardon from an elected representative.  Who's to say the turkey getting a reprieve wasn't a really a bad animal?  That bird could have done some truly shady stuff over it's lifetime.  By issuing a pardon all we're doing is giving a veritable "thumbs up" to its prior transgressions.  Maybe eating it would be a boon to both man and turkeykind.

Now I'm not trying to imply that all gobblers misbehave - I don't believe that.  In fact I'd go as far as to say that most of them are decent, honest hard-working birds just trying to make their way in the world.  But w/ the sheer number of turkeys being pardoned this time every year @ least one or two of them are bound to fall through the cracks.  That's what worries me.

And just imagine what could happen if a bunch of these "free birds" all ended up on the same farm together after getting their walking papers.  These evil beasts may just end up destroying each other but if they were able to get past their differences and unite on the common ground of seizing power the consequences could reverberate around the planet.  I can already see a gang of marauding turkeys Raising Cain in the heartland before turning their sights to the cities and eventually testing the waters of global conquest.  If you're having trouble getting there trust me... it's not a pretty sight.

So while I do have, obviously well-founded, concerns I guess this is just a case where I'll have to trust my leaders.  I just hope they're good judges of character - not only for my sake but for the sake of the world.  Bon appetit!




Messy Travel Possible This Week

11/25/13

As we prepare for this shortened workweek we're staring @ some cold weather heading into the Thanksgiving holiday.  We're also looking @ a strong storm system that's expected to strengthen as it heads east.  The good news is that we're not going to bear the brunt of it.  The bad news is that a lot of people are going to be traveling and depending on the direction you're headed you may encounter some issues.

Light snow Monday night will lead to some more snow Tuesday afternoon.  While we won't see a lot of it - some of us won't even get an inch - we'll see enough that slick spots could be an issue Tuesday morning.  By Tuesday afternoon a system will be passing by to the SE of us and some of our eastern counties will have the threat for more light snow.  Generally, areas west of I-75 will see around a half inch through the entire event.  Areas along and east of I-75 will see an inch or so while the far eastern portions of the Miami Valley could get up to 2+ inches through Tuesday.

By Wednesday morning that storm system is moving up the Eastern Seaboard and there will be some travel issues - especially if you're headed east.

As you can see my traveler's forecast is calling for snow to the east.  In the above graphic that yellow line is the 300 mile radius around the Dayton Metro area.  That's about a 4.5 to 5 hour drive.  Keep in mind this is for anyone leaving on Wednesday morning.

If you're leaving Wednesday evening you'll still need to watch out for snow to the east but things will be tapering off so hopefully crews will have a chance to get out and treat the roads.

Thanksgiving is looking cold and windy (as is Wednesday).  We'll see some sun on Thanksgiving, though.  By Friday we're still cold but @ least we're back into the upper 30s.

Over the weekend we'll see quiet conditions and temperatures will "soar" back into the low to mid-40s during the afternoon which is a lot closer to where we should be for this time of year.  There's a chance for rain on Monday but w/ our high and low temperatures that day expected to be above freezing traveling back over the river and through the woods from grandmother's house won't be as treacherous as the trip there.

Hopefully you can find a way to stay warm this week and hopefully you'll get a delicious meal on Thanksgiving.  If you're reading this and you don't have anywhere to go Thursday then head on over to the Dayton Convention Center.  I, along with the rest of the crew here @ ABC22/Fox45 will be there with a free meal for thousands.  If I don't see you have a Happy Thanksgiving and don't forget the sweat pants - there's nothing worse than having a full belly that's constricted by a pair of tight fitting pants after a Thanksgiving feast.




Doggone Funny!!!

11/22/13

A few years ago when my wife told me she wanted me to go to the pound to look @ a few dogs I told her, "We're not getting a dog."  What I didn't know was that she'd stealthily taken my kids there the day before so I was basically walking into a hornet's nest.  As a result... we ended up getting a dog.  I wasn't very happy.

It's not that I don't like dogs; I do.  But a dog is just a big responsibility and I was afraid that it would end up falling upon me.  Not just that but there are a lot of "unforeseen" things that can come w/ a pooch.  For example, if we want to leave town getting the pup boarded is one more thing to do.  If we're out visiting someone and want to stay the night we can't if the dog is home.

Now that it's been a few years I have to say that Nikita was a great addition to the family.  I do shoulder a lot of the responsibility that comes w/ a dog but I don't mind taking her for walks; it's good to get the exercise.  I don't like cleaning up after her but I guess the "fleas come w/ the dog" - pun intended.

Friday night the dog made me laugh out loud.  One of my kids got one of those laser pointers and was playing around w/ it.  Whilst doing so it was discovered that Nikki didn't trust it.  So now if we shoot it @ the ground and move it across the floor she chases it very aggressively.  When my kids showed me this I laughed out loud I thought it was so funny.

I began to think it was a little mean until I saw the look in Nikki's eye.  It was the look she gets when a squirrel runs across the lawn or a deer has the audacity to take a step into our neighborhood.  In short, she loves chasing the laser around the house.  Now I need to make sure none of my kids fire it @ the couch b/c she'll bite @ it and I don't want any torn cushions.

I will admit that I thought my dog was smarter than this.  Nikki has always been good @ learning tricks and she's a lab/shepherd mix - which means she's smart enough to be crazy.  When I saw her chasing around that little red dot on my floor the idealized image of "genius dog" that I'd painted in my head took a bit of a hit.  What's next, chasing a flashlight beam around the room?  I mean this is the type behavior my cat would exhibit... and she's an idiot - I won't delve into the evidence but I have plenty of it to back that statement.  Regardless, we still love her.

For now I'll just tell myself that Nikita sees that little beam as a threat.  More than anything she's loyal & protective.  By chasing the imaginary enemy on the floor, wall, etc. she's just doing what, in her mind, needs to be done to keep her family safe.  I hope that she eventually learns that this is not a big deal so my faith in her intellectual prowess will be restored.  But it is pretty funny... so admittedly there's a small part of me that hopes she never figures it out.


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Jeff Booth

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