Archive for April, 2007

Big Week
April 30, 2007

We are now into Derby Week and there are all sorts of things going on. The Derby has been going on for well over a hundred years, but its only in the last few decades that other events have been added leading up to the big day. Actually, I should say two big days because Oaks Day has been around for quite some time. But now there is so much more than just horse racing. Each year they seem to add something else. I have yet to figure out the significant difference between a balloon glow and balloon glimmer. The weather this year will be great as it appears a cold front coming through Tuesday night will behave and stay south after it moves through. I do see one potential wrinkle but, in general, its looking great. But I wonder this: how many people are real horse racing fans and how many are just Derby Week fans?

On This Date In History Lots of things happened on this date: Washington’s first inaugural address in 1789, Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” debuted in 1983 and then in 1997, Ellen “came out.” The last two go in the “who cares?” category as far as I’m concerned. I like the one in 1925. Dodge Brothers, Inc. was sold to an investment group for $146 million and then they tossed in another $50 million for charitable purposes. Nearly $200 million in 1925! As Fred Cowgill might say, that was HUGE! I like this one because it first shows us the derivation of the Dodge Boys. The commercials for Dodge used to say “come and see your local Dodge Boys.” I think modern PC sensativities snuffed that and I always thought that the saying was just from some sexist ad man in the ’50’s. Now I think differently as I suspect the term came from the fact that there were two brothers…the Dodge boys. Now, the Dodge boys died in the early 1920’s and they had never let any of their family members in on the business. In 1921 there had been a slight recession in the stock market. So, since they had no clue what they were doing and the 20’s were roaring again and they were afraid of another market dip, the kids decided to sell in the biggest corporarte sale to that time. I suspect that if you take inflation into account, it would still list as one of the biggest. It was a good move for the kids too because just 4 years later, the stock market tanked and there is little doubt it took decades for the stock price to recover.

I won’t talk too much about this date in 1945 when Hitler committed suicide except to point out some things that may have been missing in your history class. Just before he pulled the trigger, Hitler expelled Goering and Himmler from the Nazi party for not carrying out some of his last, insane commands. That is why he named Admiral Karl Doenitz to take his place. A book by a man named C.L. Sulzberger that I would describe as something for public consumption and not necessarily an academic work nonetheless has an interesting observation. He described Eva Braun as “plump.” Never heard of that before. At 3:15 Eva took poison. At 3:30 Hitler shot himself. Goebbels had an SS guy shoot he and his wife. Bet that was an easy order to follow. Here’s what I don’t get…they got shot after they poisoned their six kids! What did they do except get born to a moronic man? And then Hitler made sure his favorite dog was poisoned before he killed himself. I guess he thought the dog might talk. This stuff is important only in that people need to know that there was nothing redeeming about these people or their ideas and they were totally warped in every sense. Kids need to know the totality of their insanity before anyone can come and convince them that there is anything admirable or enviable to emulate.

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Try This Out Husbands
April 28, 2007

Okay guys..since the weather has calmed down I have some more time for advice. Take this as old Bob’s anniversary advice. Our second anniversary was last Monday. Well, on Monday, my wife was working and it was unclear when she was going to get done. Same thing for the following day…and she may have been busy for much of Thursday too…and then I figured I’d have a chance of having to deal with the weather some time in the middle of the week. So, here’s the dillema…if I said we were too busy for anniversary or just got a bunch of flowers, then I’m in trouble. But the truth is, we were pretty busy. What a conundrum. So, here’s what I did. I declared it anniverary week!! I made dinner and did some housework on Monday. Didn’t cost much at all. Next day, I got her something she really needed. Next day I was able to obtain her favorite flowers with the help of a very very kind local florist. Next day, we went and did one of our favorite things at a local park and then Friday, we went to great local restaurant recommended by Mike Petchenik, who is almost as good at being a restaurant critic as he is a reporter. If you need dining tips, ask Mike. But if you need anniversary tips…ask Bob. After dinner, we went to a great movie. So, we had great fun all week. She was surprised every day, I scored points with her and the friends and relatives because now she’s running around claiming I’m romantic! And all I was trying to do was be a good husband, not break the bank and not do something lame in the midst of a busy schedule. The point is this…you can’t be like Flintstone and get your Wilma a frying pan, but you don’t have to try and be like Trump and put yourself in debt all year. But you have to do something….and sometimes, the littlest things make the biggest bang. Hope it works for you….it did for me….I’m still married and the locks on the house have not been changed.

On This Date In History
The movie we saw was Amazing Grace. It was about the guy who led the struggle to abolish slavery in England. Supposedly, the man who wrote Amazing Grace was his childhood minister. I have my doubts about the history of the movie…you do know that Hollywood takes liberties with history, don’t you? Anyway, there was another story you may have heard of…Mutiny on the Bounty. It was a movie several times. In the 1930’s with Charles Laughton as Captain Bligh and Clark Gable as Fletcher Christian. Then in 1962, they did it again with Trevor Howard as Bligh and a young Marlon Brando as Christian. Then, there was the 1980’s version with Anthony Hopkins as Bligh and Mel Gibson as Christian. Now, I have no idea if Bligh was the coarse, mean guy that Hollywood made him out to be or if Christian was as dashing as the actors who portrayed him. But, on this date in 1789, there really was a Mutiny on the Bounty. The book was written by Charles Nordoff and Norman Hall in 1932. Since it is a novel and was written 150 years after the event, I’m sure there were some liberties taken by the writers. For instance, the narration is provided by a character named Roger Byam. I tried and tried to find out about Roger Byam when I was in high school. Turns out he was invented and was based on a crew member. But, I think the authors did try to stick to the story and used the fictionalized character as a tool to tell the tale. Anyway, It was actually part of a trilogy with the other two being Men Against the Sea and Pitcairn Island. In the real story…William Bligh and 17 crew members were cast off in an open 23 foot boat. In perhaps the greatest tale of seamanship, Bligh, using just a watch and sextant…no charts or maps…navigated over 3600 miles to safety. Only one of the crewman died during the 47 day journey. I think the prevailing theory is that most of the mutineers got killed by natives or accidents or disease. But, the remains of the Bounty were located in 1957 by divers off Pitcairn Island. The guy who found it then advised Brando on how to portray Christian….how some diver of wrecks could know that is beyond me and I’m not sure what was greater: his courage to dive in dangerous waters to find the Bounty or his arrogance to think he could tell Marlon Brando how to act.

So much for Bryan the Webhog’s advice on keeping these short.

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The Sun is Trying!
April 26, 2007

The sun is try to break through from time to time so we’ll see if that may loosen things up this afternoon. The SPC by midday has not issued a moderate risk for anyone. Didn’t much think they would but thought maybe to our east. The boys at SPC have the highest probabilities, not east as I speculated late last night, but instead northeast from Louisville through Cincy and either side of the Ohio River along the KY and Ohio borders. Biggest risk remain hail and high winds. A twister or two will not be out of the question, particularly to our northeast. Not a whole lot more to say as I need to go feed some ducks in case I’m needed at work later today… is my day off. But, if this situation develops and we get some storms generating warnings and such this afternoon, there are no days off. I used to get really really geared up for such times, always hoping for lots of action. BUT….now that I am married and am a property owner, thats not the story and I am more like most people and hope that nothing happens. My cats, Nit and Wit certainly hope so too…they are not amused during thunderstorms. But they are exceptional weather cats. When there is really bad weather they always go hide in an interior room, hiding in a very small place. Nit especially likes to curl up behind the commode in the bathroom.
This Date In History Seems like a lot of people died on this date. But that sounds pretty silly because you could say that on any day on the calendar. People come and go every day. Gypsy Rose Lee died in 1970, Lucielle Ball in 1989 and John Wilkes Booth in 1865. Booth was on the run after shooting President Lincoln. After shooting the President, he lept from the balcony at Ford’s theatre and broke his leg when he hit the stage after catching a spur in a curtain. That bit of buffoonery probably prevented his escape and helped him take someone else down with him. He went to a Dr. Mudd for treatment. The doctor set his leg and he went on. He got stuck in a barn. The place got surrounded and a sargeant stuck his rifle through a knot hole and shot Booth dead. This guy thought he’d be a hero for his action but instead was villified. See….the orders were to take Booth alive so that the authorities could uncover the conspiracy. Today many conspiracy buffs suggest that somehow this sargeant was part of a cover up because he did not follow orders and that he killed Booth to make sure the truth never came out! The same thing was said 100 years later about Jack Ruby. Oh yes…this Dr. Mudd….he got executed as being part of the conspiracy but to this day, the Mudd family is trying to clear his name, claiming he was just an old country doctor doing his hippocratic duty. Bet Dr. Mudd wishes the sargeant hadn’t shot through the knot hole…Booth may have been able to say he never new the good doctor. So I have a new conspiracy. The sargeant knew Dr. Mudd and was a patient who didn’t pay his bills. So he shot Booth to get out of paying his bills!

Outlook Still in Line
April 26, 2007

Bryan the Webhog says my posts need to be shorter. He says people who go on-line don’t like to read long articles. Hrmph. So, in his honor, I shall do so this time. See, nothing too much looks different. The degree of the risk for us Thursday afternoon will be largely dependent on whether or not we get any sunshine. It still remains possible that sunshine breaks out to our west and the storms move in. The biggest risk will be for gusty winds and hail and the hail may have a tough time getting overly large. The tornadic risk seems relatively low. Now, if you go east toward Ashland, then the risk for tornadic thunderstorms will increase. Indications of mathematical indices are that larger scale rotating storms may be most prevalent to our east. As of this just after midnight report, that area remains as we are and that is a slight risk. Its not completely out of the question for a moderate risk to be issued over there….but pretty unlikely here….as previously stated, there is just not enough there. The first round early Thursday morning probably will not be overly significant though gusty winds may be possible in some isolated areas.

Certainly worth watching and we shall do so. While probabilities are not all that great…I’ve seen bad weather from lesser situations.

Questioning the Next Few Days? Don’t Call Your Real-Estate Agent
April 25, 2007

The Severe Prediction Center(SPC) outlook for Thursday is above.
The SPC Severe Outlook for today is above.
This was a report from last night at Eagle Pass, TX on the Rio Grande River about 40 miles SW of Uvalde and 125 miles SW of San Antonio

Got a question regarding high risk stuff….if you folks were paying attention yesterday, then you know that the SPC suddenly put out a High Risk region in Texas. Typically, they only put those out on the day of the expected event. Also, its usually a pretty good bet you will get a lot of substanial activity. In that area, we had a strong subtropical jet coming out of Mexico and it interacted with the energy coming out of the rockies….the thing I was talking about 2 or 3 days ago. In this case, there were only 23 tornado reports and all but two were not in the high risk area. The above report from Eagle Pass though was…though its barely in the US…sportsman know about it.

Anyway…the energy coming out of the rockies will open up…or weaken. And we will also have a lot of clouds, limiting sunshine. I just looked at a whole mess of mathematical equations that give indications of what might happen. Its kinda intersting because they are different equations that will be based on different computer models….so you end up with hypothesized data based on hypothesized data and done so several different ways. Doesn’t sound real reliable.But, if you look at the general trend and then look at what is really going on, you can get a pretty good feel for the situation. In this case, there is no real indication of large scale rotation of storms. In fact, the best indication of that was Wednesday morning. Very few of the indices over the next 48 hours are really extraordinary and just about all of them are what I would call marginal. So…still….this is not a slam dunk by any stretch. I don’t think that the SPC would put us in a high risk area and I find it unlikely we would be in a moderate risk. There’s just not enough there.

Now, the best chance for strong storms I think would be on Thursday afternoon. We will have a risk Wednesday afternoon and night. Then perhaps early Thursday when another piece of energy breaks off and moves through. Then the main guy comes through Thursday afternoon, though by that time it would have tossed off a lot of its energy, it still will be pretty decent and there will still be a bit of jetstream energy aloft. The key, methinks, will be if in between the first action Thursday and the second, we get any sunshine. Its possible and that is why I think the best chance will be late Thursday…a stronger guy with the potential of better afternoon heating. Its also possible, perhaps even likely, that sunshine breaks out in west KY, the storms fire up and then move into our area.

Still think the best risk will be for hail and high winds. But, the boys at the SPC have been mentioning the potential for bow echoes or supercells…though I suspect the former is the greater of the two possibilities. Nontheless, studies brought to my attention by Angie at our own NWS office, suggest that a whole lot more tornadoes derive from bow echoes than previously thought. But, look, I’ve worked with people and seen people who try to scare everyone with every event. We don’t do that and I certainly don’t subscribe to that. Truth is, no one knows exactly, precisely what will definitely happen. For the most part last night, the SPC high risk area did not verify. Does that mean it was wrong? No….it just means that mother nature can’t read a map. So, for this event, it is possible we could get strong to severe storms over the next couple of days…we”ll have three best chances. Its not necessarily probable, however. And if we do get strong storms, the biggest risk will be from hail and strong winds. It will be possible, but not probable for tornadic activity.
We will keep you informed and watch it for you. Its something to watch but not enough to sell your house and move to Greenland.
On This Date in History In 1781, General Cornwallis got whipped by the Continental Army at Guilford Courthouse, NC. I think this led to Mel Gibson making a movie with enough correct history to make people think it was historical. I know a bunch of historians who were not amused. I don’t think anyone was amused on this date in 1988 when the rights to the sequel of Gone With the Wind were acquired. I’m guessing it came from the estate of Margaret Mitchell who no doubt was spinning in her grave from the result. Don’t remember the movie? That’s okay, I don’t think anyone else did either. Timothy Dalton, the former James Bond, was Rhett Butler. Hmmm….Clark Gable or Timothy take your pick.

Day Three
April 24, 2007

Quick update…..this is the “day three” outlook. Still blurry but you can see it better. This will change as the updates come in. Since this is Tuesday, as of this writing it is for Thursday. As I indicated on Monday, I thought perhaps this would come about. Again, its no slam dunk as I bet there will be a lot of clouds to inhibit things a bit…but other stuff is there that may support some activity. The boys at the SPC mention bow echo potential and supercells. Both would go along with my idea of a threat of hail and gusty winds…but the supercell mention always gives rise to the t word. Not a great threat though.

Worth Watching But Don’t Head For the Basement Just Yet.
April 23, 2007

Obviously, I need to work on my photo posting skills….but this is the map for Wednesday morning to Thursday morning and is from the Storm Prediction Center. Now, Sunday, they were not overly enthused about severe chances and today they have the big green area that outlines the slight risk for severe weather. Now, have things changed that much? No, 4 days out is too soon to be making proclamations and 3 days out is when they will give a general outlook. If you get a moderate risk two days out, then you know its looking pretty good. I do not believe I have ever seen a high risk for severe storms more than one day out. In any event, if you saw the newscast on Sunday, you know that what we have is a developing subtropical jetstream moving up from the southwest out of Mexico through Texas into the Lower Mississippi Valley. Then there is a big ole storm system getting itself wound up out of the Rockies. Pretty good shot of big storms Tuesday in the NE part of Texas through much of Oklahoma and into Kansas…yes…all part of tornado alley. Here’s the deal for us…that storm system will be at its peak at that time. As it exits into the Mississippi Valley and into the Ohio Valley, it will be on the down side of its lifecycle. So, it will need some help and timing will make a difference. At this point, it is dubious if enough elements would come together for anything rough and tumble Wednesday evening, but we’ll have to see how it shakes out. Right now, I’m not seeing anything from mathematical equations that would suggest anything exciting…but we have a ways to go. Now, Thursday may be of more interest. My at this time is that the biggest risk, if anything does materialize, would be in the form of hail or high winds.

On This Date In History On this date in history, Louisville recorded its highest April temperature of all time. It was 91 degrees and happened 47 years ago in 1960….hmm that doesn’t fit some of today’s headlines….perhaps for a movie maker, that may be a statistic that is not a convenient truth.

Bill Shakespeare died on this date in 1616 and it is said he was also born on this date in 1564…though its not certain because no record exists…but there was a record of his baptism on April 26, 1564 and tradition dictated that baptism occured 3 days after birth.

But thats not the big story…two years ago in Louisville Kentucky a miracle happened. It was a cold and blustery Thunder Over Louisville…and I got married to Cassandra. Truly a finer angel has never graced the earth before and never will again. I am certainly blessed to have the opportunity to be rescued from goofdom…though I am told I am a work in progress.

Thunder Tips for your Casper
April 21, 2007

Your faithful servant took it upon himself to test out the power of the sun on the day before Thunder Over Louisville. He found that the sun is quite formidable. I have been called Casper in my time…now you can call me tomato face. I saw the planes and helicopters practicing and they are sure to be great on Saturday. There will be nary a cloud in the sky with temperatures at least in the mid 70’s. Have fun and enjoy the show. Thank the pilots and military personnel for their service. As your guinea pig, I can tell you that a hat and sunscreen will be needed for everyone and especially for all of you Caspers. Now I’m off to put my head in a bucket of ice.

Fewer Hurricanes In The Future?
April 19, 2007

One of the big items that is supposed to come about because of Global Warming is an increase in the number and the intensity of hurricanes. Many media reports suggest that this type of prognostication is a certainty and is supported by science experts world wide. Below is a link from the local National Weather Service site that has a new report. It says that a study by folks at the Global Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) revealed that data supports a conclusion that global warming would actually cause a decrease in the number and intensity of hurricanes.a

Do you suppose you will see the results of this report trumpeted in the headlines of a newspaper or in the national television news?

While this report may not end up being accurate, it is an indication that perhaps it is wise to question the veracity of reports which lead one to believe this or any other conclusion is agreed upon by a “consensus” of the scientific community. Here is the story:

On This Date In History
In 1906, the city of San Francisco was hit with a very strong earthquake estimated, methinks, to be about 7.9 on the richter scale. How anyone can arrive at that conclusion is beyond me. Ask a seismologist. Anyway, the city was largely destroyed by fire after the big temblor. An interesting aspect of this event was that the Sunset Automotive Company was also destroyed by the fire. To this day, there has not been a successful automotive enterprise on the West Coast of the US.

In 1961, President Kennedy denied to the Soviets that the US was planning an invasion of Cuba to overthrow Fidel Castro. Three days prior to this denial, the President had signed an order authorizing the landing of 1200 Cuban nationals at the Bay of Pigs in the hopes of overthrowing Castro. Those 1200 who were supplied and trained by the CIA, in fact, had landed in Cuba 24 hours before Kennedy issued the denial. In 1969, President Nixon said the prospects for peace in Vietnam had “significantly improved”. This announcement came just two months after the US began its secret bombing of Cambodia. A peace treaty was signed in January of 1973. A little more than two years later, South Vietnam ceased to exist.

I wonder if this date is a good one for US presidents to make proclomations or denials. Or, better yet, maybe we should put our fingers in our ears for the day.

BY THE WAY…the weather looks quiet and really looks great for Thunder Over Louisville. Its plausible that the middle to end of next week, things could get interesting.

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What Are You Worth?
April 17, 2007

On This Date in History The ill fated Apollo 13 crew of astronauts Lovell, Swigert and Haise made it safely back to earth. It was truly a remarkable thing. I recall watching it as a kid and how they wheeled TVs into all of the classrooms and we watched it all. Mrs. Staple, my teacher who was a pretty tough woman, was quite emotional when they came back. I was young enough to not know they could possibly not come back. Failure never crossed my mind. I don’t remember if anyone blamed anyone. They looked to find out what went wrong and then moved on. I think today’s media would have been all over it.

Space is the most inhospitable environment for humans that there is. Today the shuttle is the most complicated machine ever built by man. The astronauts know the risks of flying and that it is not completely safe. However, when something goes wrong, we now have the media looking for someone to blame. It can’t possibly be that we are pushing the edge of our limitations. But, we Americans tend to expect perfection or our “can-do” attitude that came about with the dawn of the industrial age and the closing of the frontier in 1890. We couldn’t very well say “go west, young man” any more. So now we think money and technology can over come anything and if it fails, its time for the blame game. Our marketing and expectations as Americans often exceed reality. The truth is, people do sometimes die from a broken leg. But, who would accept that if their loved one went into a hospital with a broken leg and died? Someone would have their Kentucky hammer out real quick.

Below is a link to a story of how the Columbia astronauts families were awarded $26.6 million in compensation for the deaths of the astronauts in 2003. Certainly, NASA granted the award in lieu of fighting a public lawsuit. But I wonder if the astronauts themselves, who know the dangers and extreme risk, would agree with the lawyers regarding the real merits of the case. An item that did jump out at me in the article was that the families of astronauts with PhD’s received more money than the others. I have degrees in Journalism, Meteorology and Physics and History so I am certainly in the camp that believes in the value of an education.

BUT…does that value extend to the value of a human life? Was one of those brave astronauts life with a PhD really a more valuable life than those with a Master’s degree? A response might be to ask the families if they think one person’s life was more valuable. But I would want to ask those in the legal system of the difficulty they must have looking at themselves in the mirror when they determine that one person’s life is worth more than another. Do they feel worthy to make such a judgement? Who would be the arbitor of the value of their life? A family member or maybe a client who ended up on the losing end of a judgement? It would make a big difference, wouldn’t it? How does one determine the true value of a life? Perhaps Mastercard has the answer: Priceless. But, in this case, maybe King Solomon’s wisdom might be needed, though, in a famous example of his judgement, he chose an equal division.