Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Random Thoughts for Today

Fun Thought One: I got carded the other day. Me! That hasn't happened in quite a while, believe me. And what's more, I actually got indignant about it.

Fun Thought Two: It's Severe Weather Awareness Week where I live, and a local Poll had the question "Does your family have an emergency plan in case of a tornado warning?"

Our plan is:

Step 1: PANIC!!!
Step 2: Drop to knees and pray
Step 3: Change pants.

Isn't that right?

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Spring has Spring!!

The first full day of spring, and we've got thunderstorms!!! Severe ones at that!!!

I love this stuff. I even went out and chased for a while.

God, how I miss it when it's winter.

I just hope to get more chances to chase this year, and get some great photographs.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

The Sky at Night

Ah the beauty of the night sky.

For the first time in a long time, I went out under the stars tonight. I haven't done any observing in a long time, and I missed it. not only from a scientific viewpoint as an astronomer, but from a calming, aesthetic viewpoint as just a relief form the stresses of everyday life.

While either standing out under the canopy of the celestial sphere, or observing and becoming reacquainted with old friends through the telescope, it's a personal thrill just to be able to "unplug" from life and get back to the joys of discovery.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Spring Just Has to Come (Sometime)

(I posted this last year, but it's good information)

I'm just going to plug an item everyone should think about getting, especially those who live in bad weather areas.

It's a NOAA Weather Alert radio.

During severe weather, you can't always rely on the sirens going off - or your hearing them. That is, even if your town has warning sirens. And you can't trust the television stations either. What if they are off the air, or you don't have power?

The weather alert radios have a battery backup, so they will work without power if needed. If you don't know what they are, here's a quick overview...

It's just a small radio that is tuned to your local NWS (National Weather Service) office. When they send out watches and warnings, the first thing they do (I'm making this really simple) is trigger an alert tone to all radios set to their frequency. This tone "turns on" weather radios with an extremely loud alert siren/tone. This is followed by the actual alert which is read over the air.

I've done some timings in my area, and usually my radio "tones" up to 3-4 minutes ahead of the television stations alerting the public, and even the sirens going off (if it's a tornado warning). And those 3-4 minutes could save my life if there's something headed right at me.

(Of course, since I'm a weather chaser, I'm "out in it" anyways. icon_biggrin.gif )

There are several cities in the US near "tornado alley" where having a weather radio is "mandatory." Just like smoke detectors.

You can pick them up at local Radio Shacks or other electronic stores. They aren't that expensive, and the nice thing now is they come with SAME technology.

SAME, or Specific Area Message Encoding allows you to specify the particular area for which you wish to receive alerts. Most warnings and watches broadcast over NOAA Weather Radio are county- or independent city-based (parish-based in Louisiana), although in a few areas of the country the alerts are issued for portions of counties. Since most NWR transmitters are broadcasting for a number of counties, SAME receivers will respond only to alerts issued for the area (or areas) you have selected. This minimizes the number of “false alarms” for events which might be a few counties away from where you live.

Also, on some models, you can have it "ignore" warnings that you don't need to receive. Since I live in Michigan, I have "hurricane warning" turned off, since we rarely get hurricanes here.icon_smile.gif

Here's a link about the radios, what to look for, and where to buy...

Weather Alert Radios

We now return you to your regular programming.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Well, that was Fast

Spring's gone, and winter's back.

Stupid Michigan.

After all the fun yesterday, now we've got blowing and drifting snow, winds gusting to nearly 60 mph, and it's cold. At some points during the day - and even now - I can't see across the street. If it was colder I'd consider it a blizzard.

On top of it, in technology news: the NWS radar is down. So if you look at the regional radar plot, there's nothing going on here. But use low tech, and look out a window...

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Like a Lion

March came in like a Lion, as the saying goes.

Today we had snow, then freezing rain, then sleet, then rain, and then thundershowers. Wow.

Spring's coming in full force: can chasing season be far behind? I think not!

Best Day in a While

Okay, perhaps not. But, for an ego-stroke, it was pretty good.

See, I'm participating in a research study to see how a certain medicine - Adenezine - works to help image the heart's blood vessels. Basically it takes 4 hours out of your life, but it may save your life (like mine did last year).

So this morning I meet the nurses who are the main researchers in the test, and go through all the stuff: electrodes on, IV tap, sit around, be imaged. Then comes the "stress" part.

When a different nurse/tech comes to get me from the waiting room, she says "you're really popular today. It's standing room only in the room. Hope you don't mind." Heck, why would I mind? It's for science.

Yeah, and cute nurses and techs too.

So I walk in, and there's eight women in the room. And the head one says "take off your shirt."

This is going well. :)

But then I just get wired up to the machine, and lay down on the exam table. After some adjusting of equipment, they inject the medicine right into my arm. So for six minutes I feel really weird, as the stuff does its thing. The nurses are hovering around me, checking pulse, blood pressure, wiping my forehead, giving me soft words of encouragement. Heck, if it weren't for the wires and test, I might be having a good time!

Finally the test is over, and they do the post-stress measurements. A little while longer laying there getting poked and prodded by beautiful nurses. What we do for science .

Then I had to sit around for another 45 minutes before the next series of images. Boring it was, but heck, I've never had that much attention from women in my life.

It was a good day. :)