Thursday, February 12, 2009

I have a disease...

Yes, I have a disease, I've had it for a long time, and I will probably never get over it. If you think that's bad, well, I don't want to get over it! The disease is known as SDS - Supercell Deprivation Syndrome.

This disease has no cure, but it does have treatments. The clinic that provides these treatments is Tornado Alley. The ingredients used to make these treatments are deep layers of moist air, instability, lift and shear. These ingredients combine to create cumulus towers, anvils, flanking lines, lightning, wall clouds, and sometimes tornadoes. The side effects of these treatments are hail, heavy rain, sometimes flooding, sometimes damage, sometimes death.

No one likes the last two side effects. That's why many storm chasers and all spotters participate in the severe weather warning process by reporting what they see to the National Weather Service and/or local emergency authorities and/or local media.

I almost got a treatment Tuesday. Local TV stations first mentioned the possibility of severe weather that day. Sunday and Monday, I began looking at the Storm Prediction Center's website for Convective Outlooks. Sure enough they showed a moderate risk for most of SE OK, a good chunk of NE TX, and parts of western AR, and NW LA.

The fist significant storm of the day developed west of OKC, dropped a tornado on Edmond, tracked on up to the NNE, dropped tornadoes on Logan and Pawnee Counties, and kept on across Osage and Washington Counties into KS. It was TOR warned all the way, but at the most it produced a rotating wall cloud over portions of Osage Co. Another tornado later tracked in from TX, and hit the town of Lone Grove to the west of Ardmore. The other tornadoes did some damage, and not many injuries, but the last one killed 9 people. I am not happy to hear about that.

I listened to much of the action on ham radio. I had heard about the Edmond tornado, watched some streaming video on, and went outside to take a look to see how things were shaping up in the teeming metropolis of Kiefer, and then laid down for around an hour. By the time I got up, the Edmond storm was already moving into Payne Co. on its way to Pawnee Co. I tried to stay in my room and keep up on the action, but I started to feel chilly. The storms that were headed to Kiefer were still miles away to the south. I wound up staying in the front room close to the fire, and watched NCIS and The Mentalist with my mom. The Mentalist ought to be called The Mental Case. Sometime during those shows, the storms moved in. We got some lightning, thunder, hail (not big enough to report), and mostly heavy rain. Still have some water pooled in the ruts in the strip of dirt and gravel I call a driveway.

So, I didn't get to see anything stormwise. It was too dark out by the time things got interesting locally. I'm probably not going to do any spotting after dark, except from inside my house.

The last treatment for my SDS was on June 1, 2008. While working the Tulsa Tough rest stop at the Kiefer City Park, I heard reports of storms hitting Kellyville to the west about 8 - 9 miles. After the rest stop closed down down and the volunteers working the stop had packed up and left, the storms were close to Kiefer. I drove a mile east to the new school complex to get a better view, away from the ridgeline directly to the west. I watched a shallow wall cloud move from NNW to SSE. If it didn't pass directly over Kiefer, it passed just to the west. On the short drive home, I passed through heavy rain and hail. Despite seeing a supercell feature (wall cloud), I didn't report anything. The wall cloud was too shallow and shrinking as it moved by, so I knew the storm was diminishing.

Oh, well, storm season hasn't officially begun yet. Actually, it never really goes away. It just moves on to other parts of the country and sometimes produces snow or ice storms or hurricanes instead of severe thunderstorms.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Family again

About a month ago, my oldest nephew Dave, his wife Coreen, and their son Anakin, moved back to Tulsa after living for 2 years in Maryland.

Today, I received word that I have a new great nephew. His name is Micah, and he weighed over 9 pounds at birth.

I haven't had a chance to see him yet, and I will have to wait a few days. He was a bit jaundiced, and so he has to wear this special blanket to help him overcome that.

So, my many fans (hah!), you are warned! Cute baby pictures will appear in this space soon!


I haven't looked too closely at the bailout package, but if what I'm seeing and hearing in the headlines is true, it will amount to nothing more than a reward for people who have screwed up.

Here is how I would manage the bailout of lenders and finance companies caught in the subprime situation:

1. Not every company affected would get to take part in the bailout. They would have to qualify by agreeing to certain terms.

2. The first term they must agree to is no bonuses or raises for anyone making $100,000 or more, for 3 years.

3. No new high-risk loans for 5 years.

4. High-risk loans must account for no more than 25% of their available capital.

5. Annual audits reported to the federal government for 7 years.

6. Once the company qualifies, they do not automatically receive the amount needed to cover their losses. The amount they receive depends on their customers who have or are in danger of defaulting on loans.

7. The customers must qualify to participate in the program.

8. The customers qualify by a record of steady employment and consistent effort to make payments.

9. Customers must also agree to financial counseling and to living on a budget until their debt is paid.

10. When a qualified customer makes a payment, the program will match the amount of their payment.

This plan should bring some accountability to both the lenders and the borrowers, and it should stabilize the finance industry.

Will it happen this way? This plan has as much chance of happening as me performing a frontal lobotomy on myself.