Archive for the ‘Severe Storms Center’ Category

Some US Currency Was Once Worth Just a Fraction of a Dollar
August 21, 2010

Five Cent Postage Currency Note 1862

On This Date In History: Many people think that the economy is just terrible. I recall the one in the late 70’s and early 80’s with unemployment at about 8%, Inflation at about 11% and interest rates at about 16%…or maybe higher. Perhaps your grandparents, or maybe even Steve Burgin, can tell you tales about the stock market crash in 1929! But I bet hardly anyone knows about this date in 1862 when economic conditions got so bad that the government started printing 5, 10, 25 and 50-cent notes.

5 Jeffersons Equals 25 Cent Postage Currency in 1862

See, in 1862 the US Government had a little problem. It was called the Civil War. By August 1862 things weren’t going so well. Just like in later wars…WWI, WWII, Korea, Iraq….the good guys weren’t rolling to victory in the first year or so as Americans expected and, in fact, the news wasn’t good so the American public, being short-sighted, turned to despair. In 1862, coins were made of nearly pure metals. Pennies were copper, other coins were silver or gold. Well, with the government falling into debt to finance the war and the perception that the Union might lose, people started hoarding their coins. A building in New York collapsed from the weight of pennies stored on the second floor. The Washington Star wrote that “. . . In 1862 small change became very scarce. . .It was more than a day’s search to find a five-cent silver piece.” So, there was no money in circulation and the government had other things to do like figure out how to stop the Confederate Armies. So, it was up to the Treasury Department.

One George Was on the 10 Cent Note But Five Georges Was Worth 50 Cents

Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase proposed using postage stamps as currency.  Americans were already using them in such a manner with the shortage of coins.  But, the postal service did not like the idea and displayed its disapproval by refusing to give refunds for soiled stamps.  In spite of the non-cooperation from the post office, Congress and President Lincoln passed the Postage Currency Act on July 17, 1862 which authorized the printing of 5, 10, 25 and 50-cent notes.  The stamps were designed by US Treasurer General Francis E. Spinner who asked for someone to bring him some postage stamps and blank paper. He cut pieces of paper in equal 2.5 x 5 inch sections and affixed stamps of various denominations on the corner. Spinners cut-outs became the model for the 5 different issues of the mini-bills that continued in production until 1876. There were 23 different designs that apparently are some of the most artistic in American currency.

Front of 3 Cent Note from 3rd Issue of 1864-1869

The first issue began on August 21, 1862 and were known as Postage Stamp Currency.   Spinner had shown no creativity whatsoever in regard to the 5 and 10-cent notes because they were simply facsimiles of the corresponding 5 and 10 cent postage stamps.  The first issue of the Postage Currency was not even legal tender but could be exchanged in 5 dollar lots of United States Notes.  They also could be used for any payments due to the United States up to 5 dollars.  In the first few months of production, the sheets of stamps were perforated like regular postage stamp sheets. 

Reverse Side of 3rd Issue 3 Cent Postage Currency

 But, demand was so high that  the perforating machines couldn’t keep up so they started printing them on regular sheets which had to be cut with a pair of scissors.  Soon, it was discovered that the stamps were quite easily counterfeited and Chase ordered that a new batch be produced in 1863 that wasn’t so easy to duplicate.  The new set had printing on the reverse side (not sure how you could tell front from back) and they had additional colors.  The Currency Stamps are great finds for collectors, especially that first issue.  I got a $10 silver certificate in change some time ago and I’ve also gotten steel pennies in change, but never have I found a 5-cent bill.

Weather Bottom Line:  Saturday morning we had a line of rain and t’storms roll through the area.  This was in advance of  a shortwave trof that is associated with a cold front to the west.  We had much needed rain and this event was very predictable as it was quite prominent in the Midwest on Friday night.   Now, here’s the problem.  The front and shortwave will be approaching all day and will come through tonight.  The big question is will we have enough time to reload the atmosphere.  This morning’s activity used up all the energy.  Given that we have all day, it seems likely that we will erode the clouds by the afternoon and we will heat back up again.  So, in all probability another line will develop this afternoon.  But, a question in this regard is where does it form?  If it forms to our west, then we will be in the midst of developing strong storms and that could be interesting.  It may form right over the top of us too or, less likely to our east.  I suspect that we will get another round this evening with the front, though it may be more of a scattered nature.  Either way, we remain on the edge of the SPC risk outline for severe weather in the slight category. If we get anything the biggest threat, I should think, would be in the form of high winds.  Lightning is not a severe category but is still a risk nonetheless.

Depending on how fast this guy moves through, we may have a lingering leftover shower early Sunday but after that, we look dry and the weather looks pretty good for much of the week ahead with lots of sun, reasonable humidity and highs in the upper 80’s and lows in the upper 60’s.  I believe that we are on the downside of summer and we’re most likely about done with the excessive heat and humidity of the last several weeks.

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When a Sitting US Supreme Court Justice Was Charged With Murder
August 14, 2010

US Supreme Court Justice Had Troubles

US Supreme Court Justice Had Troubles

Sara Althea Hill

Sara Althea Hill

On This Date In History:

 US Supreme Court Justice Stephen J. Field was arrested for murder on this date in 1889 making him the only member of that body ever arrested for such a crime. The story goes back to a divorce case in which Justice Field ruled that the early 1880’s marriage between Sarah Althea Hill and wealthy mine owner and  US Senator William Sharon was invalid and she therefore was not entitled to any portion of his wealth of his estate following his death in 1885.  The court decision also declared the her new husband, David Terry, was also not entitled to the estate. David Terry was, like Justice Field, a former California Supreme Court justice. The courtroom erupted into a brawl with Terry at one point brandishing a Bowie knife.  Field ordered the couple jailed for contempt. The pair publically announced revenge on the Justice.

About a year later, Field and his bodyguard, US Marshal David Neagle, were riding on a train to San Francisco. Also on the train were Sarah and David Terry.  At a stop in Stockton, California the Terrys spotted Field in the station dining room. David approached Field while Sarah went back to the train. Dave slapped the Justice and Neagle identified himself as an officer, pulled his revolver and told Dave to stop . David Terry started fumbling with his jacket. Neagle fatally shot David Terry as his wife came running up with a satchel holding a loaded gun.  Neagle and Field were arrested on a murder charge.

Ironic End for David Terry

Ironic End for David Terry

Now, I’ve wondered why Field and Neagle would go for their guns so quickly over a slap. I mean, most men would’ve punch him out like John Wayne.  It’s because  Terry had a history of violent behaviour and this was not the first time that Terry had pulled a gun on a public official in the past and fatally used it.   Prior to the Terry pulling a Bowie knife in the 1888 courtroom incident, back in 1856 Judge Terry stabbed a city of San Francisco official (again using a Bowie knife) and then, in 1859,  Terry was arrested for  killing a United States Senator.  Terry had been the Chief Justice of the California Supreme court but  was ousted from the bench following an election loss.  Senator David C Broderick was a colleague of Terry’s in the Democratic party. But, David Terry was a Southerner by birth and was pro-slavery while Broderick was against that institution. Terry had some unkind things to say about the faction in the Democratic party whom he felt had kept him to win election as Chief Justice of the CA Supreme Court. Broderick responded by saying unkind things and the pair ended up in a duel, which the sitting US Senator being gunned down by the former state supreme court justice. Terry was arrested but later released.

Like Terry years before, California’s Governor ordered Field  released from jail but Field’s story proved more interesting. That’s because the case against Neagle ended up…in the US Supreme Court that ruled in a landmark decision that since Neagle was acting under federal authority, he could not be subject to California law. I suppose that is why no one ever asked the Texas justice system to charge the ATF agents with anything in the Waco/ Branch Davidian case several years ago. Field recused himself from the case but the court ruled 6-2 in his favor and it may be the only case in which a sitting Supreme Court Justice was actively involved in a situation that set a legal precedent.

Weather Bottom Line: I think that we may be seeing the first slight hint of the change in season approaching..but don’t shut down your air-conditioner just yet.  First,  a cold front that I expected to come through Saturday night will not do so for about 24 hours but a line of storms ahead of the front should come rumbling through here Saturday evening  or night and there may be some strong storms going on.  I believe that the SPC has us in a slight risk for Severe Thunderstorms on Saturday.  The drier, cooler air lags behind that line though so Sunday will again be hot and there will be scattered storms as the front itself comes through.  On Monday its far enough south that the rain chances abate and we knock about 10 degrees or so off the high and low temperatures.  Here’s where the hint of a season change comes…there is a secondary boundary that looks intersted in coming down our way behind the initial front.  We see that often in the winter time with a front followed closely by an arctic push. This ain’t arctic but it is drier and cooler air.

Trouble is, it’s still summer so the second push really won’t get too far through our area.  The first front will get caught up in the influence of what’s left over from Tropical Depression 5 which went in around New Orleans and will do a loop to the east then south and then along the Gulf Coast before showing up in NW Louisiana and interact with the frontal boundary.  It should help to toss up a bunch of moisture too that will over run the front.  The second push will approach our area and get hung up.  The old boundary and the remnant of TD 5 will move north and the two will merge as a stationary boundary.  What all of this means is that most of the week ahead looks like a week of highs in the upper 80s with a decent chance for scattered showers and t’storms after Monday.  At least we won’t be talking about 100 though…and  my sunflowers need the rain.

The Forgotten Eastland Disaster and the Ghosts Left Behind For Oprah
July 24, 2010

Eastland Disaster One of Nation's Worst

On This Date In History: The  Eastland was a steamboat on the Chicago River in the early 20th century that was built with known engineering flaws. But, they used it for ferrying passengers from the city to picnic sites on Lake Michigan.  It was designed to hold 650 people. On This Date In 1915, some 7000 employees of the Western Electric Company gathered on the dock along the north side of the Chicago River between LaSalle and Clark streets to board 5 steamers.  The Eastland was known as “the speed queen of the Great Lakes” and the folks from Western Electric, along with their friends and families,  were to be taken on that Saturday morning to Michigan City Indiana.   Now, in 1913, the Eastland was retrofitted to hold 2500 people, but a naval architect that very same year said that “unless structural defects are remedied to prevent listing, there may be a serious accident.” Nevertheless, the boat remained in service and it is estimated that at least 2500 boarded the vessel and perhaps more. There is suspicion that a large group of the passengers got to one side of the boat to pose for a picture. Other stories claim the passengers crowded together to watch a fist fight or look at a passing boat.  With the big weight shift, an engineer opened one of the ballast tanks but instead of stablizing the boat, it capsized right along the dock.  Over 800 bodies were eventually taken to the Second Regiment Armory, which served as the morgue. 

 The “Eastland Disaster”  has become obscured in the American conscience perhaps due to the role of the United States Congrss in the events of July 24, 1915.    The ultimate cause of the disaster was the retrofit done in 1913 which left the ship top heavy.  Ironically, the retrofit was partially done so the steamship company could be in compliance with the federal Seamen’s Act of 1915.  The Seamen’s Act (formally known as the Act to Promote the Welfare of American Seamen in the Merchant Marine of the United States) was sponsored by progressive Republican Robert La Follette and was a quick reaction to the Titanic disaster of April 1912 in which it was determined that there were not enough lifeboats on the giant luxury liner. 

Some of the Victims

So, Congress decided that they would include in a law designed to aid the plight of sailors, a provision that required all American ships to have a full complement of lifeboats and rafts to support every passenger.  The law was very short sighted though because Great Lakes ships like the Eastland, had a much shallower draft than ocean going vessels.   It is argued by Stephen Cox in The Titanic Story: Hard Choices, Dangerous Decisions that additional lifeboats on the Titanic would not have saved more lives because the crew would not have had enough time to lower them away.  In the case of the Eastland, it is certainly the case that the extra lifeboats did nothing to prevent the loss of life but instead may have been part of the cause for the loss of life.  By simply adding more lifeboats, the ship became even more top-heavy and therefore more unstable.  Without the extra lifeboats, it is possible that the Eastland would never have capsized.  And then entrepreneurs would have been prevented from issuing postcards of images from the disaster scene.

Passengers Walking Across the Doomed Ship and an Adjacent Tug

Several investigations were begun in relation to the disaster but ultimately those were taken over by Kenesaw Mountain Landis, who was known for his authoritariain rule and later for his role as commissioner of Major League Baseball.  Under the rule of Landis, grand jury testimony was never published and the findings of the grand jury have never surfaced.   Hence, the exact reason for the disaster may never be known.  Numerous lawsuits were filed to the US Circuit Court of Appeals but most were tossed by the court as it deemed the owners blameless.  It could be that the reason that the court held the owners blameless is because the catalyst of the disaster may have been the law passed by the United States Congress.  The court could have recognized that the owners were simply following the mandate set forth by the Seaman’s Act of 1915.  Perhaps Robert La Follette should have been held liable for the poorly crafted, short sighted bill.

The Eastland Disaster represents the largest loss of human life in a single event in the United States during the 20th century.  In terms of shipping disasters, the death toll was only topped by the Titanic and the Sultana.  With all of those bodies, officials in Chicago needed a large building for a makeshift morgue.  Initially, the Reid-Murdoch building adjacent to the site was utilized to house the bodies before the Second Regiment Armory building on West Washington Blvd.  was set up as the morgue.  In the late 20th century, the old armory building had been renovated and was incorporated into a production studio.  Today, that building is the home of Harpo Studios and The Oprah Winfrey Show. Some of the employees of the studio have reported encounters in the building and claim that it is haunted by the ghosts of the Eastland Disaster!   So, if you go to see Oprah you may want to consult the Ghost Busters.  No such worries for the USS Eastland.  It was raised and then later renovated and served as the USS Wilmette which was a gunboat used to patrol US waters during World War II and thereafter.  In 1946, the Wilmette was sold for scrap at the auction price of $2500.

SPC Severe Weather Outlook Saturday July 24 2010

SPC Severe Outlook Sunday July 25 2010

Weather Bottom Line:  One more day of excessive heat and humidty.   As I mentioned yesterday, it’s pretty tough to get the mercury to budge to 100 when there are dewpoints in the low 70’s.  Friday’s official high was 96 at the airport and not the forecast 99 of the weather channel.  I suspect that the highs other than the airport were probably a click or two lower for most people.  But…while high moisture content limits the maximum temperatures, it also elevates the heat index.  So, look for a high today of 96 or so but  a heat index probably close to 110.  A cold front sagging down will increse the prospects for rain and t’storms perhaps as early as Saturday night.  But, certainly by Sunday we will see an end to the latest brief heat wave but also will have an increase in the possibility of strong storms.  After that, we will be cooler but will be less stable.  Most long range forecasts have rain chances in the scattered to isolated range after Sunday but, as mentioned in the previous post, I think that at least some of the moisture from the otherwise useless remnant of Tropical Storm Bonnie makes its way around the ridge and perhaps into the Tennessee and Ohio Vallies.  We’ll see how it shakes out.

The Great Seal of the United States Came About Through Great Effort
June 20, 2010

The Great Seal of the United States of America

Americans Love to Create Committees

On This Date in History:   When an American politician isn’t sure what to do or does not want to make a decision, he tends to set up a committee.  That way, if its a good idea, he can take credit and if it doesn’t work out so well, then he can just say he was following the committee’s recommendation.   This tradition goes back to the beginning as the founders were confounded as to what kind of symbol they wanted for their new nation.   Over a period of 6 years, three separate committees studied the situation in an effort to come up with an acceptable national coat of arms that was needed for the authentification of official documents.    So, who would be the members of such a committee.  Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson had done pretty well with a Declaration of Independence so they were given the first shot.

Jefferson's Proposal For the Great Seal Does Not Fit the Paradigm Set That He Wanted No Religion Associated With the Nation

The three creators of the declaration were appointed to the new mission just hours after the formal adoption of the Declaration of Independence.  I suppose the work of a founding father is never done.  They had turned to scholarly writings of the past for inspiration and guidance for the declaration and for a symbol, they looked to the bible and classical mythology from which to take their cues.   Now, Jefferson is often called a “Deist” or non-Christian by some modern historians so it is interesting that he proposed an image of the Israelites passage through the wilderness as they were led by a Divine cloud and pillar of fire.  Adams favored Hercules choosing between a path of virtue or self-indulgence.  For his part, Franklin proposed the likeness of Moses commanding the Red Sea to swallow up pharoah.  They were stuck.

Tough To See: Du Simitière's sketch of his rejected proposal for the Great Seal

So, they called on the help of a consultant.  A Philadelphia artist who hailed from Switzerland, Pierre Eugene Du Simitiere, told them that the greatest virtue of the United States was that it was a new nation forged together by many people of differing backgrounds.  So, he suggested a giant shield that featured the emblems of the 6 most common European nations of most Americans origin.  Around that shield was 13 smaller ones to represent the 13 states, linked by a gold chain.  Holding up the shield were the goddesses of Justice and Liberty.  Above all of that was the Eye of Providence and on the bottom was the motto, E Pluribus Unum, which means “Out of Many, One.”  The committe chose Franklin’s Moses idea for the back and Du Simitiere’s idea for the front.  But, the Continental Congress must not have thought that these guys would come up with something so quickly because they were preoccupied with the Revolutionary War and tabled the issue.   A few years later, in 1780, a second committee was formed and they chose a front side of a shield with 13 stripes that was held up by a soldier and a woman holding an olive branch.  The crest featured a constellation of 13 stars.  On the back was an image of the Goddess of Liberty.  Apparently no one liked that one either because it wasn’t tabled; it was rejected out of hand.

Perhaps Charles Thomson is Ultimately Responsible For the Final Design of the Great Seal. This Engraving of Thomson Was Created by None Other than Pierre Eugene Du Simitiere

In 1782, they tried again.  This time they turned to William Barton who was an authority on heraldry.  He came up with a front side of a European eagle within a crest and for the reverse side, he proposed an incomplete 13-stepped pyramid.   By this time, the Continental Congress had all sorts of designs and so they just shoved them all over to the Secretary of Congress, Charles Thomson.  Thomson took a little bit of this and a little bit of that from each idea to synthesize them into a single entity.  He kept E Pluribus Unum from the first committee, the olive branch and shield from the second committee and the third proposal of an eagle and a pyramid.  But, he decided to substitute a rising American Bald Eagle for the European Heraldic Eagle.  He made the grand bird of America the centerpiece with a constellation of 13 stars above its head to support the motto E Pluribus Unum.  He put the shield with the stripes on its chest with the stripes on the shield arranged vertically and he raised the eagle’s wings.  He placed the olive branch in one of its talons and in the other he had the bird clutching 13 arrows.  I guess he wanted to add his own personal touch.  On the reverse side, the unfinished pyramid found a home, topped by the Eye of Providence with the  latin phrase Novus Ordo Seclorum below and the latin Annuit Coeptis above.  On this date in 1782, the Continental Congress instantly approved the design of the Great Seal of the United States.  Seven years later, the first federal Congress similarly adopted the seal and placed it in the custody of the nation’s first Secretary of State, Thomas Jefferson, who may or may not have still been seeting over his Israelites in the wilderness idea being rejected.

Conventional wisdom is that the Eye of Providence and Annuit Coeptis, which means “He has favored our undertaking”, as a symbol of the Founders’ Faith.  The  eye  was put in a radiant triangle which is an ancient symbol of humanity’s accumulation of knowledge.  The constellation of stars bunched together as one illustrates the motto (which is found just below) and the radiance that shines through is emblematic of the new nation taking its place among the others.  The eagle is a symbol of power with the 13 stripes on the shield represents the unification of the 13 original states.  The arrows in the talons shows America’s ability to make war with the olive branch and its 13 leaves and 13 fruits indicating the power to make peace.  I’ve also heard it suggested that the arrows and  olive branch symbolize the idea that the nation makes peace through strength.  The unfinished pyramid symbolizes the unfinished nation as one of strength and endurance.  The base is adorned with 1776 in roman numerals.  Novus Ordo Seclorum means “A new order of the ages” and proclaims the rise of the revolutionary concept of a nation founded on freedom.

The Ideas of the Symbols of America by Emmet Fox Are Detailed in "Alter Your Life"

Now, over time many people have tried to come up with almost conspiratorial ideas about these symbols as they suggest some sort of secrets hidden in Freemasonry.  But, I found an interesting take by an early 20th century theologian named Emmet Fox who took the position that America is part of God’s plan; that in order for people to have the freedom to know the singular God, they have to have political freedom.  Hence, the United States provided that conduit.  Fox says that the motto illustrates man’s initial idea that he is separate from the Divine but the “Light of Truth” dawns on him and he progresses from having many gods to the One God.  He suggests that there is a spiritual significance to the number 13 and also for the number 4.  After all, the Declaration of Independence was officially adoped on July 4th, which was the same day that the order was given to come up with the Great Seal.  The original inauguration day was March 4 and the President serves 4 year terms, which is not duplicated in any other country.  He points out that both Novus Ordo Seclorum and Annuit Coeptis came from Virgil and that “nothing could better describe exactly what America is doing for the world, the fact that she has a Divine mission.”   He says that the olive branch being in the right claw and the arrows in the left is significant.  He has the similar notion that it denotes peace and good-will are to be the primary consideration with defense only as a last resort but he adds that, metaphysically, the olive branch stands for affirmation and the arrows for denial.  It is important, says Fox, to first affirm the presence  of God.  An interesting observation is that most national escutcheons, such as the American shield, are supported by something.  The fact that the American Shield rests on the eagle’s breast shows that it needs not external or material reinforcement.  Fox goes on the detail many other items which may be of interest to some.  But, he does say that the eye is “striking and remarkable.”  He says that the ancient all-seeing eye is the “Single Eye” of which Jesus spoke when He said, “When the eye is single, the whole body is full of light.”  Fox concludes that when an individual or a nation puts God first, and everything else second,” then the whole body, the whole life of that person or that nation, will be healthy and prosperous.”

I'm Not Sure What the Founders Had In Mind For Certain But This Certainly Would have been the Cutest Great Seal of Any Nation

So, what is the truth of the symbols of the Great Seal?  It’s hard to say.  The founders were well steeped in scholarship of antiquity.  The ideals put forth on the Declaration of Independence were not new, but instead it was the way that Jefferson expressed them that makes the document stand out.  The symbols collected for the Great Seal also were not new.  In spite of what modern scholars may suggest, the founders were indeed greatly influenced by some form or Christianity.  As we have seen, Jefferson was in favor of a Judao-Christian related symbol to be the emblem for the nation as was Franklin.  However, the fact that ultimately, the Contiental Congress chose not to include any overt references to the Christian Faith in the Great Seal is of some importance.  Perhaps they wished to cloak their faith such as Fox suggests.  Or, maybe they were being careful to not tie their objectives for the nation to any religion in order to symbolize a desire for a secular government.  Unfortunately, I do not believe that Thomson or anyone else left notes or minutes that describe their line of thinking.  In any event, the Great Seal of the United States does seem to stand out among nations…and maybe that was the intent all along.

SPC Severe Weather Outlook Sun June 20 2010

Weather Bottom Line:  The morning storms on Saturday held us only to 90 for the first part of the weekend.  Snow White and I went for a bike ride and it really wasn’t too bad.  Today will be much hotter and more uncomfortable though.  The models advertise a decent shortwave in Iowa during the day but tend to want to just kill it by the time it gets to Illinois as it makes what seems to me a bee-line for our area.  I’m not so sure why it would just go away as they suggest.  I would think that Sunday evening we should get the left overs at least if not something decent.  I mean, we’ll certainly be hot and there will be ample moisture.  Provided there is not some sort of big cap, I would think that there is no reason for that guy to hold together in some form.  Okay..maybe not severe, but still some storms.  The SPC seems to agree as they have the slight risk area kinda nosing down toward our area.  After this, the next several days seem similar.  Unseasonably hot and humid with no real line for storms to come our way but always the possibility of some guys wandering through.

Statue of Liberty Arrived In Pieces Before Taking the Pedestal
June 19, 2010

Lady Liberty Was Put Together After Arriving From France June 19, 1885

Lady Liberty's Face Was Covered in Copper in 1880

On This Date in History:    On America’s centennial in 1876, the French promised to give to the United States a great statue in recognition of the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.  Part of the deal was that the Americans would be responsible for the base and the French would take care of the statue.  Trouble was, both sides were short of money.  The French didn’t finish constuction of the statue until 1884 and the Americans didn’t get done with the base until April 1885.  With the base complete, the French shipped that statue across the Atlantic to New York.   But it was too big to send over in tact,  so it had to be divided into 350 sections that were placed in 214 crates.  Finally,  on this date in 1885.  Lady Liberty arrived in New York City, ableit in 350 pieces.  

Busy French Construction Site for Lady Liberty 1883-Note the Big Hand in the background

Now, the statue was designed to have copper sheeting of 3/32 of an inch thick or about the same as two pennies.  With a height of 151′ 11′ feet from the base to the top of the torch, that amount of copper weighed in at about 31 tons.  That created a structurol problem in that some sort of system would need to be built to support such weight.  So, the sculptor, Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi, needed engineering help to figure out how to build such a colossus. 

The Statue had to be erected in Paris Before it was disassembled and shipped to New York

He got the help of Eugene-Emmanuel Viollet-le-Ducand Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel (Eiffel of Eiffel Tower Fame) to design and build the superstructure.  Eiffel was one of the top engineers of the day who had experience with steel superstructures and he came up with a steel skeleton that weighed about 125 tons.  It seems pretty remarkable that in the 1880’s it was technologically feasable to construct such a structure and its no wonder it took so long to build.  Well, with 156 tons of steel and copper, the base had to be an extremely solid foundation.  The site selected is now known as Liberty Island which is essentially a small chunk of granite in New York Harbor.  The island had been the site for Fort Wood which featured a star shaped outer wall.  The fort had been built in 1811 and served as a defense for the harbor during the War of 1812.  It was decided to place the statue within the confines of the fort.  The site seemed perfect though, even with such a solid footing, 27,000 tons of concrete was poured to create the base for the great statue.  From the foundation of the pedestal to the tip of the torch, the complete statue stands 305′ 6″.

LIberty's Arm and Torch Went on Display in 1876 Philadelphia

An American Minister ended his prayer at the dedication ceremony by saying in part: “God grant that it [the Statue] may stand until the end of time as an emblem of imperishable sympathy and affection between the Republics of France and the United States.”   So far, it has needed a little help to withstand the test of time.  With the statue in a harbor that is directly adjacent to the Atlantic Ocean, the copper and steel is under constant assault from the salt water.  Also, New York can be subject to great temperature extremes in a given year.  Winter time temperatures might fall below zero and afternoons in the summer may reach 100 degrees.  The copper on the statue expands and contracts with the variation in temperature to such a degree that metal stress fatigue is a debilitating factor.  Then there is the wind.  The structure can handle the wind as the flexibility of the steel and copper allow it to sway.  In a 50 mph wind the statue sways 3 inches with the torch having as much as a 6 inch flux.  But, the metal fatigue and erosion factors are not something that can be overcome through engineering.  So, in 1937 and 1984 the Statue of Liberty (more facts) was closed for two years for restoration.  Lady Liberty has been able to stand tall in all sorts of weather and she has had a couple of makeovers to insure that she keeps her posture.  But, a man made event brought her much distress.

No Much Left of the Black Tom Island Munitions Terminal 1916

Not far from Liberty Island was another Island known as Black Tom Island.  The island was between New Jersey and Liberty Island and gained its moniker from the legend that an African American named Tom once resided there.  Now, at the outset of World War I, American munition manufacturers could sell their goods to anyone but the British established a pretty effective blockade of Germany in 1915 and so England was really the only beneficiary of America’s industrial capability.  The Lehigh Valley Railroad built a causeway from the mainland to the island as a terminal for its rail line to docks.  Toward the end of the 19th century, the railroad filled in the harbor to turn the island into a peninsula.  The peninsula became utilized as a munitions depot.  Since the munitions by 1916 were mainly heading to England, it made an inviting target for German sabatuers.  On July 30, 1916 fires were set on railroad cars that resulted in a series of tremendous explosions. 

It's Not Easy Inpsecting or Cleaning Miss Liberty's Torch

The initial blast is estimated to have been such to register a 5.0 to 5.5 on the richter scale.  It was felt as far away as Philadelphia.  Window 25 miles away were broken, including thousands in Manhattan.  The Brooklyn Bridge shook, Jersey City’s city hall had its outer walls cracked and people in Maryland were awakened by the sound of what they thought was an earthquake.  Lady Liberty stood tall but took some flak.  Over a mile away, the Jersey Journal building was penetrated by flying debris and the much closer Statue of Liberty took fragments in her skirt, her outstretched arm and the torch.  Bolts were popped out of the arm and the entire statue was closed for a few weeks.  When it reopened, the torch was closed to the public and has not been accesable to the public ever since.  However,  it was still able to continue the functionality of the statue which is that of a lighthouse.    As a direct result of the Black Tom Explosion, the United States passed the Espionage Act of 1917,    After the war, the Lehigh Valley Railroad was able to secure $50 million in compensation from the German government for damages resulting from the Black Tom Explosion.  The final payment was received in 1979.

SPC Severe Weather Outlook Sunday June 20 2010

Rain Map Shows That Saturday Morning Storms Generally Sounded Worse Than They Were

Weather Bottom Line:  Saturday morning was a surprise.  Don’t blame the TV folks.  The NAM had a short in the afternoon bringing rain but nothing like the racket we had.  There was a bit of an appendage that extended down from a shortwave moving through well to our North but all of the models cut that off just south of Indianapolis and really only advertised an outside shot at some showers.  They were wrong.  It was not the cold front though.  It should stay to our North and the general storm track still should be farther north than last week when we had a similar pattern.  But, Saturday morning’s activity does illustrate the difficulty in trying to time or place these little disturbances.  I think at least one of the stations was making it sound like the world was coming to an end….it was thunderstorm activity and, in general, if we get more of that stuff, it should be similar.  However, if you do find yourself in some stuff going on in the afternoon or evening, then the prospects of some rough stuff will be elevated as late day heating should take us to the low to maybe mid 90’s on Sunday and there will be plenty of humidity.

America and Britain In Pig War Standoff
June 15, 2010

Pig War, not War Pigs

On This Date in History:  Let’s see. We have had many wars in American History: American Revolution, War of 1812, Civil War, Spanish American War, World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Gulf War, Iraq, Afghanistan and the Pig War.  The Pig War?  

Battle of New Orleans: Pointless Battle Almost NOT the final Conflict Between Britain and America

After the conclusion of the War of 1812 in late 1814 and after the Battle of New Orleans, which came about in January 1815 after the treaty concluding the war had been reached, America and Britain still had differences.  However, after a war of independence and then a second war between the former brothers, one would think that further armed conflict was not a possibility.  In 1818, both English and American citizens had settled in what was known as the Oregon Country, which includes present day Washington, Oregon, Idaho, British Columbia and parts of Wyoming and Montana.  So, the two sides simply agreed to be cohabitants of the region.  I suppose they figured that sooner or later that they’d straighten it all out.   However, by 1845, nothing had changed and the folks in the region seemed to be growing weary of each other.

Map of Pig War Dispute

Americans thought that the British presence was nothing but an obstacle to their divine “Manifest Destiny” and the Brits thought that the wild influx of American settlers were trespassers on land guaranteed to the crown through previous treaties and trading practices established by the Hudson Bay Company.  Cooler heads prevailed and in 1846, the Oregon Treaty was signed and it stipulated that the Americans had control of all territory south of the 49th parallel with the boundary extending “to the middle of the channel which separates the continent from Vancouver’s Island; and thence southerly through the middle of the said channel, and of Fuca’s straits to the Pacific Ocean.”  The wording must have been made up by eastern lawyers who had never been there because the truth was there were two channels, not one.  Dividing the two straights was San Juan Island and each side claimed the island for themselves.

Griffin, no ordinary farmer, refused to pay tax to Uncle Sam

So, citizens of both nations quickly staked claims to the island.    The old bugaboo of taxation led to the first conflict when America tried to collect taxes on British produce.  Englishman farmer Charles John Griffin refused to pay, claiming he was not subject to American taxation.   Griffin was no ordinary farmer though.  He had been appointed as the chief agent of the Hudson Bay Company.  Nevertheless, it just so happens that of all the people on the island, it was Griffin’s pig on this date in 1859 that got loose and began to stick his snout in the potato patch of Lyman A. Cutlar(Cutler).   Being a true American, Cutlar did what any well bred Yankee would do: He shot the pig dead.  Griffing marched with quite indignation straight to the office of the British magistrate and demanded compensation of $100 from Cutlar.   To me, $100 is a lot of money today and back then it was a small fortune.  Naturally, Cutlar refused to pay, claiming that he was not subject to British law.

George E. Pickett as a 1st Lieutenant

The Americans on the island called on the government for protection and so, Uncle Sam sent young Captain George E. Pickett with troops.  That would be the same Pickett who gained fame for his exploits as a Confederate General at the Battle of Gettysburg.   In response to the presence of Pickett and his 66 troops, Britain sent a bunch of warships with an eye toward routing the American command.  Pickett was reinforced by 171 more troops.  When it was apparent that the Americans were still outgunned by the British ships, more troops were called for.  Could the United States and Britain be headed back to war again over a pig rooting around in a potato patch?  For a time it looked that way until “Old Fuss and Feathers,” commanding American General Winfield Scott, arrived from Washington at the direction of President James Buchanan with a proposal.  Each side would station 100 men on the island in a contrived stand-off, or balance of power, until an agreement could be reached. 

There's Even a Book About the Pig War

Well, the slavery issue was boiling over in America around that time and Uncle Sam had bigger fish to fry.  So, the “Pig  War”, as it became known,  got put on the back burner for 12 years.  In 1871, there was an Anglo-American treaty signed called the Treaty of Washington.  That document called for the “Pig War”  matter was taken up by German Emperor Wilhelm I who promptly referred the question to a 3 member arbitration board.  The board, through the kaiser, ruled in favor of the Americans.  In November 1872, all British troops evacuated the island and two years later, all American troops left.  Thus, after the governments of both countries had kicked the sovereignty issue down the road to let someone else deal with, peace finally came to the Pacific Northwest.  Politicians had left the question of slavery to others from the Declaration of Independence  through the Missouri Compromise and the result was a war in which over 600,000 Americans died.  At least the punting of the San Juan Island issue only resulted in the death of a single pig, in what has been fondly remembered as “The Pig War.”

SPC Severe Outlook June 15 2010

SPC Severe Wind Probability June 15 2010

Weather Bottom Line:  On Monday night, Snow White and I went for a walk.  She is always quite concerned about thunderstorms and she got nervous when we saw distant lightning to our North and to our South.  I told her that I suspected that, not only would we have time for the walk, but also that we may get no rain at all as I thought that we would be in between the storms.  The lightning was cool.  This is the second time that I saw lightning shoot up from the cloud to no apparent destination.  The first time I saw this was at the Kitty Cat Castle on the Georgia Coast.  I’m guessing that what I am seeing are called sprites.  They were first discovered by astronauts on the Shuttle.  A very interesting phenomena that I don’t think anyone has quite figured out yet.  Anyway, I was right.  We got the walk in and we never had any rain.   When I came home, I looked at the radar and it appeared to me that the storms I saw to the north were almost all the way to Cincinnati and the ones to the South were in Meade county.  Quite a distance, though farther than I would have expected.  Needless to say, there was no thunder. 

SPC Tornado Probability June 15 2010

We remain in the same pattern but it seems to me that the storm track has shifted slightly north.  So, there is a shortwave out in Iowa on Tuesday afternoon and the vector appears to be taking it Northeast toward the Great Lakes.  It may swing around to a more easterly component later on but I would think that the main part of the short will be well north of our area.  Having said that, there is an appendage from that vortmax extending into Central Missouri and a new outcrop of storms ahead of the main short in Central Illinois. That too is moving Northeast.  I think our issue will be with the appendage. I see some indication of a low level convergence zone setting up with other parameters suggesting that the appendage may blossom into storms during the heat of the day as it moves into Southern Illinois.  I would think that there will be a reasonable shot of storms late in the day or the evening, very similar to what we had Monday.  Whether or not a line forms or if that line holds together by the time it gets here remains to be seen.  Also, I betcha we get some scattered guys ahead of the short wave in the heat of the day forming ahead of the shortwave, similar to what it already going on in Illinois.  That would be my greatest concern for severe weather…perhaps and errant supercell would not be totally out of the question.  As I am writing this, I see the boys at the SPC have seen the same thing because they just now changed the outlook to include a moderate risk for the region just north of Louisville, between say Charlestown and Indianapolis.  So, keep that in mind as you go into the late afternoon and evening.  If you find yourself in a thunderstorm, be sure to tune into your radio or tv to see what the story is. After today, the ridging of the storm track should continue and I think the storm chances will be decreasing for the rest of the week until Saturday when a weak cold front comes knocking at the door.

Donald Trump is Older Than Congressional Recognition of Flag Day
June 14, 2010

flag_animated

The Flag Is Commemorated in all Worlds

The Flag Is Commemorated in all Worlds

On This Date in History: Flag Day commemorates June 14, 1777 when Congress adopted officially the stars and stripes. The colonial army had the Grand Union flag, supposedly created by Betsy Ross. Now, historians have not been able to prove the legend…BUT…they have not been able to disprove it either…so who knows. I say stick with the legend until someone can prove otherwise.

Hundreds of Thousands Have Defending the Stars

Hundreds of Thousands Have Defended the Stars and Stripes

Anyway, the first day which was called Flag Day was a celebration  On This Date In 1877 to mark the 100th anniversary of Old Glory.   President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed June 14 as Flag day on May 30, 1916. So on this date in 1916, he made a big speech…the speech was more about rallying the nation behind the war effort as just two months before the US had declared War on Germany and entered WWI.   Actually, Wilson made several speeches related to the flag.  The first was on June 14, 1915.  Then he made one on May 30, 1916 explaining why he wanted to designate the date as Flag Day and then again on June 14, 1916 the day that he had designated.  But, the date still was not an officially sanctioned national annual day of recognition for the flag..  It wasn’t until August 3, 1949 that Congress  officially designated, this date,  June 14 as Flag Day as a day of national observance and President Truman signed the Act of Congress into law. So, if Flag Day was so important and had been around so long, why did Congress wait until 172 years after the fact to make it official? Well, the Democrats had re-taken control of Congress in 1948 after a brief period of Republican control. Around this time, there was Soviet communist expansion in Europe and Mao Tse Tung in mid 1949 had run Chang Kai Shek off to Taiwan and mainland China was communist. Though Congress at the time didn’t know it, the Soviets were about to explode their first nuclear weapon on Aug. 29, 1949, breaking America’s brief monopoly on nukes.

Joe McCarthy Influenced Flag Day?

There were cases of espionage involving Soviet communist spies in the American Government like the Alger Hiss case. Republicans were charging the Democrats with being soft on communism and creating an atmosphere that fostered the growth of communism in this nation. So…Congress officially adopted Flag Day as June 14. Its probably a pretty fair spot to argue that the Red Scare of the 1950’s really began on June 14, 1950.  Along the same lines, the words “Under God” were not inserted into the Pledge of Allegiance until 1954.  I guess with the fear of communism fading, so has the ideals that created the first Flag Day in 1877…but go ahead and think about the flag anyway and what it means to you. A lot of people have fought and died for the ideals that the flag represents and it at least deserves a moment’s reflection.

Fred Trump Celebrated Flag Day in 1946 Welcoming Donald into the World

Fred Trump Celebrated Flag Day in 1946 Welcoming Donald into the World

Now, Fred Trump was a successful real-estate developer in New York. On this date in 1946, three years before Congress officially recognized Flag Day. Fredintroduced the world to his son Donald, who seems to be intent on making a bigger splash than anyone in human history. After Donald Trump finished his MBA at the Wharton School of Business, he went to work for dad. He quickly developed an ability to work the business of building and development. In the 1970’s, New York was in terrible financial condition and Trump took advantage by buying up properties at good prices and gaining tax concessions for his projects.

You're Fired!

You're Fired!

In the 1980’s, he looked toward hotels, high rise condos and casinos. He claims his net worth skyrocketed into the billions. Others think that was a large over-estimate. In any event, when the 90’s came about, his fortunes turned and his empire crumbled and he even had to declare bankruptcy on some of his developments. But, by the late 90’s, he was back on his feet and amassing wealth once again. On a couple of occasions he was urged to run for President but instead he took his celebrity and turned to the tube. He had several years of The Apprentice which was a hit for a while and his trademark “you’re fired” became part of the pop culture lexicon. In 2005, Forbes magazine estimated his net worth at $2.7 billion. Trump says it was way more. Critics claim he wasn’t even a billionaire.

Martha A Sandweiss's Book Agrees to Print the Legend!

But you know what…if the legend is better than the truth, print the legend. Trump has marketed himself and his name to the point that he is one of the best known people in America if not the world. And, as Larry King indicates in the photo above, his hair may have outstripped the rest of his worldly accomplishments as the most famous part of him. But, you have to admit, he doesn’t look like a 64 year-old man. Wonder what I would look like if I had some money.

SPC Severe Outlook Mon June 14 2010

Weather Bottom Line:  Late Sunday night we had one of those little shortwaves rolling through the flow and this time the arc of the flow lines brought it right over Louisville.  They lost some of their ooomph by the time they got to Louisville as the heating of the day abated.  The strongest winds were up in Orange and Jackson counties in Indiana and by the time they got to Louisville there was a lot of lightning, brief heavy rain and some gusty but not too terribly strong winds.   I kept hearing someone on television say that they were “tremendous” thunderstorms and that’s okay I guess except when we really do have big boppers, people may not listen since they’ve heard so much hyperbole regarding some decent thunderstorms. I mean, even with a second wave coming through in the early morning hours, rain totals were not all that excessive.  The rain gauge in Mt. St. Francis in Floyd County registered just 1.09 inches of rain.  At my house, we had about an inch but the rain gauge network only ranged from about a quarter inch in PRP to .79″ near downtown Louisville. The airport only had .12″ for the two rain events.  Hardly “tremendous.”   I think I’m becoming a grumpy old man. 

SPC Severe Outlook Tue June 15, 2010

Anyway, this is the type of thing that we can expect over the next few days and the timing of the short waves and the exact track of the flow will be the key as to whether or not we get storms and an appreciable amount of rain.  There still will be abundant moisture and ample latent heat so, as I’ve said before, if we get a match to toss on this big pile of potential energy that we store up, then we may have something to talk about.  That is why I would suggest that if by chance you see some big fat billowing cumulous clouds in the late afternoon or evening, it may be wise to check your radio or tv to see what’s up.

Will Pioneer 10 Ever Phone Home or Return with Some Friends?
June 13, 2010

The Close-Up Picture Taker of Jupiter Not Only Left the Building, it left the Solar System

Pioneer 10 Says Good-Bye To Earth With Nixon in the White House

On This Date in History:  When the space probe, Pioneer 10, was launched by NASA from Cape Canaveral on March 3, 1972 its primary mission was to encounter Jupiter in December 1973.  Pioneer 10 met the challenge of its mission as earthlings stood spellbound watching the images sent back from the tiny spacecraft.  For the first time, from up close, people were able to see the “Great Red Spot” that had fascinated and perplexed earthbound observers since it was first observed.    It was during the encounter between the mosquito Pioneer 10 and the Giant Jupiter that it was confirmed that the mammoth planet consisted of liquid hydrogen without a solid surface below the thick clouds that envelop it.

Pioneer 10 Kept Going and Going

In reaching Jupiter, Pioneer 10 also proved that it was possible for a spacecraft to navigate through the asteroid belt as on July 15, 1972 it was the first man-made satellite known to do so.  Pioneer 10 also answered the question as to whether a spacecraft could handle the powerful radiation belts of Jupiter.  Pioneer 10 truly lived up to its moniker as when it got done with its Jupiter observations, it just kept on going.  It became the first spacecraft to cross the orbits of Uranus, Pluto and Neptune.  On this date in 1983,  over 11 years since it first left the earth, Pioneer 10  left the solar system using a first ever used nuclear power plant.  

NOMAD Thought that Kirk was the Creator

Now, Pioneer 10 was not alone.   Its twin, Pioneer 11 was launched about a year after Pioneer 10 shoved off from earth.  Pioneer 11 got the first close up views of Saturn and its rings, unlocking more centuries old mysteries.    The two Pioneer spacecraft paved the way for the more sophisticated Voyager probes 4 years later.  The Voyager probe became the premise for the original Star Trek movie, but that too had been more or less an expansion of a story told during the original series.  (Remember the one with “NOMAD”  the wayward 20th century probe that was looking for the creator?) 

Pioneer 10 plaque designed by Frank Drake Carl Sagan and Jon Lomberg. I'm Not Sure How Any Alien Could Make Sense of It.

When men first landed on the moon, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin left behind a plaque with a greeting from President Nixon in which he said “we came in peace for all mankind.”  I think that there were also some symbols or maps or something, just in case any aliens couldn’t read english.  Well, America felt like it had to say something in the event that their little probe might wander into the hands of someone else so on both Pioneers, there is a plaque. In fact, most human probes into space have plaques.   The two on the Pioneer spacecrafts are but 6 inches by 9 inches and each plaque is designed to show any intelligent life that may come upon them where they came from and who sent them.  There is a diagram of a man and woman along with some basic scientific symbols along with a  diagram of the solar system.  Never mind that the vast majority of the humans living on the earth could probably not recognize the solar system and certainly not the scientific symbols, any space men might think that we’re all that smart.  Scientists have noted that the plaques represent a “mark of humanity that might survive…the Solar System itself.”    One thing that they don’t say is that one of the Pioneers just might fall into the hands of someone who can decide that there is a pretty primitive civilization out there that is easily invaded and is so dumb that it provided an road map related to how to invade it.  If you look at the diagram, then you see how really far fetched it is because it seems pretty random to me, but then again, presumably, an alien would have a little more going on.  Either way anyone who finds Pioneer 10 would have a long way to come to bring it home.  The last signal received from Pioneer 10 was on January 22, 2003 or 30 years after it was launched. I think the American taxpayer got its money’s worth on a gizmo that was only supposed to last 21 months.  At last contact, Pioneer 10 was 7.6 billion miles from earth and it took over 11 hours for the faint radio signal traveling at the speed of light to reach the earthbound listeners. 

Who Knows Who May Bring Back Pioneer 10. They'd have to Be pretty advanced to figure out the schematic invented by Carl Sagan

Maybe far fetched but, how different is it really to the American Indians.  Here they were  minding their own business when from across the ocean comes some beings that look similar but different from them.  They have tools and machines that they did  not have and they just kept coming and coming from somewhere.  Would not natives of any particular region of the world look at exploring or invading Europeans much in the same way that we would view aliens from another world?  After all, even the Europeans called North America “the New World” even though it wasn’t new to the Indians.  In any event, wherever Pioneer 10 is today, 27 years after it left our Solar System, it is well beyond the imagination of those who struggled in covered wagons across the continent in the 19th century.  In fact, if you think about it, the frontier of the United States was considered closed in 1890 and  just 93 years later, man had left the Solar System.  Perhaps this is symbolic of a society whose technology is developing faster than its humanity.

NAM Called for Over 1.5" of rain from 8P to 2AM Saturday Night..It Was WRONG!!

Weather Bottom Line:  This weekend is a great example of why one should not get too married to a particular model or make grand pronouncements.  I had explained all of the caveats related to the forecast and the various solutions of the models.  I had said that there would be disturbances coming through the flow from time to time but that the timing and exact track of each would be tough.  I had guessed that late Saturday night and early Sunday morning was the best chance for heavy rain with a secondary chance early Saturday morning.  I left myself a lot of wiggle room.  Well, I saw on local TV the station that is supposedly “rated most accurate” on Friday.  The guy then had a grand pronouncement of “Local Flooding” for Saturday.   Not a percent chance or heavy rain but, “Local Flooding.”  I told Snow White that was not very wise as it was possible, but not necessarily probable and that was an awfully long limb to be on. If he was right, he’s a hero, if he’s wrong (which was the most likely scenario) then he’d look like a goat and people would definitely remember it.  In TV y0u’re usually doing well if your mistakes are not highlighted.  Even in my scenario of heavy rain on late Saturday night, the wettest models were only throwing out 1.5 to 2 inches of rain over 6 hours and I don’t think that would cause “local flooding.”  Beside that, it was possible that the main storm track would be to our North.  Some of the models did have that.  Another thing that bothered me about the forecast that I saw was the depiction of a low sitting right in the middle of a high pressure ridge.  Made no sense…but then again I had the sound turned down so maybe the error was pointed out or there was some other explanation…a supposed upper low, perhaps? I dunno.  Twas confusing to me.

SPC Severe Outllook Monday-It's obvious where the expected storm track resides

Anyway, on Friday night, the lead shortwave was mainly to our North with an appendage sticking down bringing some pretty decent rain across the area.  As I had suspected, when that guy got farther east, the sun was coming up and it got pretty rough in Eastern Kentucky and Western Virginia.  We were in the wake of that one which would provide subsidence or sinking air behind it and therefore it would  be tough for afternoon heating to overcome that resistance.  Nevertheless, Snow White was at a wedding and reported that they saw someone on in the afternoon saying that storms would be prevalent until 5 pm.  I told the brides father that if we got anything it would be well after 5 pm and to go ahead and take the photos out side. 

SPC Monday Severe Weather Probability

I believe what we have is a couple of folks looking at computers and not bothering to look and see what is really happening or not having the ability to know what is going on.  In this case, the computers were wrong.  It was not a bad forecast to call for a healthy chance for t’storms or rain Saturday evening or Saturday night.  It was wrong headed to call for “Local Flooding” 24 hours before anything ever happened.  That’s either sensationalism, ignorance or foolishness.  By Saturday afternoon, it was apparent that there was not going to be much in the way of storms in the region beyond isolated activity.  Again, its either foolish, ignorant or attempts to scare people to continue give a forecast based on what a computer said it was supposed to do instead of looking out the window and seeing what is really going on.  As it turns out, about 11pm on Saturday night…our big shortwave did come across the Ohio Valley…trouble was it was farther north, taking an Indy-Cincy route and any appendage sticking down faded out before it got to Louisville.  So, as I had feared, the models were right about the upper disturbance and even the timing, but the exact route was off by about 90 miles, which isn’t too bad given that the earth is 25000 miles around. 

Tuesday SPC Severe Outlook

So, what the hell does this have to do with anything?  We will stay in this pattern which is unsettled.  There will continue to be a trof out west that will be kicking out small pieces of energy from time to time and it will continue to be tough to know exactly where and when these guys will be tracking until they actually show themselves.  It will continue to be hot and humid.  Therefore, it will continue to be a situation in which we are just loaded with energy.  If we get a good spark in here under the right conditions, and we could see some rough weather.  But, with nothing real specific to hang your hat on, its pretty tough to give anything of reasonable certainty.  I can say that it will be unstable, hot and humid and each day there will be a risk of t’storms at least through Wednesday.  I would say that, if we do get storms in the afternoon or early evening, stay tuned to local tv or radio because there would be a fair chance of any afternoon/evening storms being trouble maker.

The LSD Psychedelic No-Hitter- No One Died
June 12, 2010

Dallas Braden Celebrated His Mother's Day No-Hitter

On this Date in History:  A pitcher throwing a no-hitter is quite an accomplishment as going through an entire Major League line-up without giving up a single hit to big league hitters is quite difficult.  Typically, it happens 2 or 3 times in any given season.  Every now and then a pitcher not only denies any hits, but he also issues no walks, does not hit a batter and his teammates to do give up an error.  That would mean that 27 men came to the plate and 27 men went back to the dugout.  Perfect games are pretty rare, though Oakland A’s pitcher Dallas Braden pulled off the feat this year against the Tampa Bay Rays and there were two others as well, which is very odd. 

Speed Makes Hitting Difficult..throw in some wildness and you can really be effective

Most of the time, a no-hitter is celebrated.  There have been some interesting ones that end up with a pitcher giving up zero hits but still losing the game.  Then there was the time that Nolan Ryan no-hit the Tigers in 1973 (box score).  Ryan was one of the hardest throwers in baseball history and racked up 5,714 strikeouts in his storied career.  He had 7 no-hitters, 12 one-hitters and 18 two-hitters.  Early in his career, he was wild and so batters had a sense of fear going against a guy who wasn’t too accurate with his pitches that often reached 100 mph.  In the 6-0 victory, Ryan struck out 17 Tigers but walked 4, which wasn’t too bad considering he walked 8 in his next no-hitter.  But, he was just wild enough to keep the Tigers on edge.  In the 9th inning, the Tigers’ Norm Cash came to the plate with a sawed off table leg as a bat.  “I wasn’t going to hit him anyway,” explained Cash.

Dock Ellis Could Be a Dominating Pitcher

Now, Ryan was naturally a little wild but he was always in control of his emotions and his focus.  The same can’t be said of the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Dock Ellis.  When the right-hander took to the hill in San Diego on this date in 1970 he sported a pedestrian  4-4 record.  In his four losses, his lack of control was a key reason for the team’s defeat.  Wildness was certainly a hall mark of this game as well except for the final 3 innings.  Observers say that Ellis’ concentration suddenly became laser like and he only allowed one baserunner over the last 3 frames.     The thing is that Ellis did not even know he was going to pitch that night.  He thought that he wasn’t going to pitch until the next day.  So, what exactly  does a big leaguer do on an off day? 

Dock Ellis was known as a "free spirit"

Well, the Pirates had finished a series in San Francisco on Wednesday June 10th and after the game, the team flew to San Diego where they were to start a weekend series on Friday June 12, 1970, hence  the team was off on Thursday.   So, after the team arrived in San Diego, Ellis decided it was a good time to take a couple of trips.  First he dropped acid and then drove to Los Angeles to spend the team’s off day with friends.  He was up until all hours of the night drinking screw drivers and smoking dope.  When he woke up around noon, he promptly took another hit of acid.  He figured that it was a good thing to do since he was not going to pitch until Friday.  What Dock Ellis didn’t know was that it was Friday.  Ellis had slept all day Thursday.     About an hour after venturing into his second inning of Purple Haze, his girlfriend informed him that he was scheduled to pitch that night.  Whoops!   So, he caught a quick flight from LA to San Diego and arrived in time for the game.  What’s a guy to do who is tripping on LSD before he starts throwing 90 mph fastballs to batters? Should you call in sick? Nope; can’t let the team down.  Dock decided it was a good idea to load up on 6 amphetimines!

Ellis Was Pretty Care-Free In His 20's but Later Gave His Time to Rehabilitate Prisoners

Ellis recalled later, “I can only remember bits and pieces of the game.  I was psyched.”   I suppose he’s lucky that he didn’t have a “bad trip” because Ellis says that he had a “feeling of euphoria” and was “zeroed in on the cather’s glove.”  Ellis admitted though that he did not hit the catcher’s mitt too much.  See, Ellis hit one batter and walked 8 others.  After 6 innings the count was one hit batter and 7 walks!   Of the 9 total baserunners, 3 successfully stole bases off him, but no one crossed  the plate…and no one registered a base hit.  But, Ellis doesn’t remember much of that either.  He recalls the bases being loaded a couple of times and he remembers hitting the batter…but that’s about it.  What he does remember is the hallucinations he had while on the mound and most observers say that its a miracle that he not only pitched a no-hitter but also did not hurt or kill anyone.    As it turns out, Ellis can thank Willie Stargell for his success as the slugger hit two solo homeruns to secure the 2-0 win.  This was truly an ugly no-hitter that has only gotten uglier 40 years later when it is now known that Dock Ellis threw the only LSD aided No-Hitter in Major League History.

SPC Severe Weather Outlook June 12 2010

Weather Bottom Line:  Saturday morning featured that little shortwave that I had mentioned yesterday.  As I had suspected it was mainly just  a rain event with perhaps some thunder.  It will continue to be warm and humid throughout the day.  The next disturbance on Saturday morning was well out to the west so it fits that we get our next best chance of rain late Saturday night into early Sunday morning.  The timing will also limit the severe potential but heavy rain in spots is possible.   After that, I suspect that this unsettled pattern will stick around for a few days so get used to the unseasonably warm and humid conditions with periods of rain and t’storms passing through from time to time.

Some of the Most Creative and Patriotic Photos of the 20th Century
June 11, 2010

June 11, 1918

American Flag Made Up of Americans

On This Date in History:  Once American committed to participating in the Great War, American patriotism rose to great levels.  A young commercial photographer by the name of Arthur Mole rode the wave of patriotic zeal with a series of creative photographs.   So popular was his work that it continued after World War I was over.  Mole was an Englishman by birth and worked with an American photographer by the name of John D. Thomas.  One must remember that, in those days there were no technical tricks to enhance a photo.  What the camera lens saw was what was recorded on the film.   Today, there is a photographer, Spencer Tunick,  that uses masses of human bodies who are naked to make some sort of artistic statement or merely to add to the shock value.  But,  Mole choreographed people to form patriotic images on a large scale. 

A Close-Up of the Wilson formation; note the people who make up the nose and glasses

Look at the photo at the top of the page of Woodrow Wilson carefully.  It’s not a drawing. It’s perhaps Moles most famous  photo taken from a 70 foot tower On This Date in 1918 by Arthur Mole.  He got some 21,000 soldiers at Camp Sherman in Chillicothe, Ohio to stand in formation such that it looked like President Wilson from his perch above.  It seems like to me these guys were supposed to be “army training” as Bill Murray said in Stripes.  But, somehow they found time to fill in a carefully detailed outline on the ground.  Mole then got a megaphone and barked instructions.  One soldier was so excited about standing around for the photo that he wrote his mother, “Hey Mom!  I was part of President Wilson’s left eyebrow today.”  I guess it was a nice diversion to the prospect of going “over there” to fight World War I.  Then again, maybe they never went overseas because the war was over by the end of the year and Mole went on to use thousands of soldiers to pose for numerous patriotic pictures.  I can hear it now, “what did  you do in the Great War, Grandpa?….I stood around and represented a dot on huge human portraits!”    It’s kinda silly but kinda cool too.  Mole inspired innovative ideas in photography in the 20th century. 

Arthur S. Mole "Human Liberty Bell" (1918) Camp Dix (sources claim anywhere from 12,500 soldiers to 27,000)

With the popularity of his photos, Mole and Thomas were commmissioned after the war to continue to use military personnel to create numerous photographs of symbols.  We often see this type of effort used in large stadiums in which people hold up cards to create a large scale image and it’s often quite impressive.  But, if you look at the detail on the images, Mole’s work is quite remarkable.  The eyeglasses on President Wilson are so clear and distinct it’s hard to believe that those eyeglasses are made up of people.  Now, aside from the popularity of the photos, the US government had an ulterior motive for commissioning the work of Mole and Thomas.  During the war, they were intended to help combat public support for isolationism.  After the war, they were used as a way to inspire a patriotic spirit and ward off the socialist movement that had been building since the early part of the 20th Century.    I’m not sure if how much these photos lived up to the political expectations but the imagery is certainly timeless.  In my mind, Mole must have had a keen imagination; not just for the entire concept but also how he had to have envisioned in his mind how a photograph would appear if he dressed certain people in a certain manner in a certain position.  He had no computers; it was all in his mind. 

Wonder Who Got to Be the Point of Uncle Sam's Beard?

There is no doubt that Mole and Thomas had tremendous creativity flowing through their brains to conceive of the project and then envision what it would look like before they started.  Beyond that, there was also a remarkable ability related to logistics.  It’s difficult to get thousands of people to stand in straight lines.  For this project, they had to get thousands of people to dress appropriately and then stand in a specific spot that was rarely in a logical place from an earthbound observer.  Only someone perched high above could see the rationale behind the placements.  It is difficult to ascertain just exactly how long each photograph took to create. 

US Marine Corps

Naturally, snapping the shutter wasn’t the issue but the time it took to get everyone in place.  Imagine if you were the first guy.  You might be standing in the same place for hours.  These photos were generally taken in the summer months so the participants had to be fed and watered and also allowed to find restroom facilities.  Everyone involved had to have great patience.  Perhaps the military was the only organization that would be able to pull such an effort off.  Their soldiers had discipline and had the sheer numbers necessary. 

There are so many photos available, that it is impossible to show each one individually.  So, I”ve added a bunch of thumbnails so that you can click on each one to see a better view of that image.  Curiously, it’s difficult to find much reliable biographical information on Arthur Mole.  Wikipedia is not really a realiable source but even that entry is relatively small.  Although Mole died in 1983, I suppose that its fitting that we don’t know much about the man because an artist tends to tell his story through his work. 

So, while there is not much text regarding Arthur Mole, the images he left behind will last forever.  One might say that his work is a living legacy to the United States, but then again, one might say that it’s a living legacy to a creative genius whose story must be quite interesting, yet, seems to take a backseat to his legacy of art.  I suppose he’d probably like it that way.

SPC Severe Outlook Saturday

Weather Bottom Line:   I fully expected Friday to be a warm and humid day.  As of this writing, it was exactly that.  However, in the middle of the day some strong storms popped up in the western part of the viewing area around Dubois county.  I wasn’t surprised by the scattered thunderstorms or that they could individually drop heavy rain and feature some strong winds.  What did surprise me was the time of the day.  What this indicates to me is that we obviosly have a very unstable environment and that there are little upper disturbances coming through flow.  These disturbances are so small that its difficult to pinpoint as to timing or location. 

SPC Severe Probability Outlook June 12 2010

One feature that does show up on both the 12Z GFS and NAM models is a fairly robust vormax that comes from the southwest almost right  over the top of Louisville on Saturday morning and that has actually been fairly consistent over the past model runs.  Given that the feature would come through in the early morning, my guess is that we get some heavy rain with gusty winds but that the liklihood of it being severe in nature is somewhat limited.  Having said that, it is possible.  I should think that if another little shortwave appears in the afternoon that there would be sufficient heating and enough time for the atmosphere to reload from any morning activity that we may have some potential for rough stuff Saturday afternoon.  I’m seeing on some models that another fairly significant disturbance shows up on Sunday morning but that goes into the “who knows” category given that it is so far out and that it is not a consistent feature on all of the models.  But, the front is not going to come through so we’ll stay warm and humid and if the boundary doesn’t lift far enough north, then Sunday may be active too.

NAM Calls for Over 1.5" of rain from 8P to 2AM Saturday Night

The GFS vertical profile derived parameters for the next few days advertises rain off and on through Monday.  There is a bunch of energy but it does not just go bananas on severe parameters.  However it does advertise the heaviest rain for Saturday evening and night.  The NAM has pretty high levels for Saturday morning but not much rain and then on Saturday afternoon and evening the severe parameters just go bonkers and it calls for well over an inch of rain Saturday night through midday Sunday.  The RUC was convinced that there would be strong stuff Friday afternoon, but that does not seem to be in the cards.  So, as you can see, its all over the place but its safe to say that at some time, we will probably be under the threat for thunderstorms; most likely Saturday morning and then Saturday evening with I would think the best chance for strong stuff late Saturday.  I would also keep in nmind that rain chances will be relatively healthy all  weekend.