Cyclone Road


Monday, December 26, 2005

I'm taking lunch and noticed a post on Stormtrack that has to represent the ultimate low point for that venerable masthead. In a topic called "The most important chase equipment," someone replied that a portable GOES satellite was a handy item to carry along while stormchasing. A portable satellite, presumably snatched from its geostationary orbit, maybe by a tractor beam. Or perhaps you could swipe one from a rocket waiting on the launchpad. I'm not sure how you get one of those.

Okay, that's not very generous, and it's true that most of the content on ST these days is some form of advice given by people who've never been chasing to those who will never go, so there's no real harm done.

It does, however, raise the interesting point that there is still no online space specifically for more experienced chasers. This seems odd considering the proliferation of online chasing content. I'm not criticizing any current forums, only making an observation that no sites deliver particular content for a certain segment of the chasing population.

Friday, December 23, 2005

The esteemed literary critic Harold Bloom wrote a fine essay interrogating the American impulse for self-destruction via some of our country's most prominent works of fiction and poetry, particularly Melville and Whitman. The current political atmosphere is the starting point for his inquiry, an environment where runaway deficit spending, eroding civil liberties, illegal government monitoring of private lives, and rampant "nation-building" is the order of the day, led by a right-wing ideology that was, less than 15 years ago, militantly opposed to all those enterprises. That's a characteristic of the right-wingers that shouldn't be ignored: their capacity to abandon their "beliefs" at the drop of a hat should FOXNEWS provide a graphic or Sean Hannity a polemical argument to persuade them. They will do what Rush Limbaugh tells them to do and think what Ann Coulter writes that they should think, and that is very scary.

The Fall semester ended last week and I finished my paperwork for North Texas Review, the undergrad literary magazine of which I'm the faculty sponsor. Sometimes a semester won't fit cleanly into a box and you have to wrestle it out of your life, but this one went away peaceably and I'm grateful.

My friend Jeff Doty visited for a few days this week and we tooled around Denton doing various Christmas shopping errands and eating too much. It was a fun time. Jeff and I are in similar situations regarding our careers: he's about to start his dissertation for a PhD in Literature at the University of Iowa and I'm revising the novel that served as my master's thesis at Indiana. Speaking of that novel, still titled Remedy Wheel, I started back to work on it yesterday for the first time in probably six months. Last semester I could never generate the momentum and was still absorbing the comments and critique of an editor I hired to analyze the manuscript. This coming semester I plan to have enough steam from the Christmas Break that it will be harder to stop than to continue.

The new laptop works great and the keyboard was comfortable and intuitive when I was writing. As for the chasing apps, I've installed a few but tested none. I also think the computer might be too wide for my Jotto Desk, if not the platform then certainly the wire straps. These are problems I'll deal with in March.

My good friend Tony Laubach crashed his well-known chase ride, The Storm Tracer, in the Denver metro area a few days ago. He and his girlfriend are alright but for a few bumps, bruises, and cuts, and the woman in the other vehicle is okay, too, but Tony's car is smoked. Send out some positive vibes for Tony and look for the WXNERD plates on another set of wheels in 2006. Tony is worried about next chase season, but my money is on him finding a way to the meso like he does every year.

Well, there's the quick update. Time to work.

Friday, December 09, 2005

A few exciting additions to the blog links this morning: Ed Berry's "Atmospheric Insights" promises in-depth and expert analysis on global-scale dynamics and systems. This is the sort of stuff chasers love in March or even April when we're desperately and often hopelessly trying to extrapolate the quality of the upcoming chase season. Or if we find ourselves in a pattern like mid-May 2005, hoping the entire warm season won't pass without a single favorable regime for supercells and tornadoes. Many readers remember when I quit the plains this May and returned to Indiana. I read the long-range tea leaves in this space nearly every day until it looked like things might swing our way again. Well, that's what Ed is going to do, but the difference is that he actually knows what he's talking about.

I also added a link to Brian Curran's blog, "Fiat Vox." Brian is a long-time chaser and forecaster. I was surprised to see his photos of the Trego Center tornado from the same angle as mine.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Well, I hate being right. The Dallas offensive line played atrociously yesterday and cost them the ballgame. Notable bums included Rob Pettiti and Marco Rivera. Torrin Tucker was competent and I suppose Larry Allen didn't make too many mistakes, but the o-line was in disarray all afternoon. Dallas wasted another stellar defensive performance as the unit allowed the Giants only one long sustained drive. One of New York's touchdowns, in fact, came when their nosetackle bullrushed Cowboys' center Al Guruode, apparently startling him so much that he forgot to block and allowed the rusher to fly through the line where he interrupted a handoff to Julius Jones and caused a fumble which a teamate recovered and hurried into the end zone.

Instead of being in the driver's seat for the division lead the Cowboys find themselves mired with a long list of wild-card conteders. Luckily their good conference record puts them in position to determine something of their own fate. If the season ended right now, the Cowboys would take the second wildcard spot by virtue of tiebreakers. But the season doesn't end tonight; it ends in a month. A lot can happen until then.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Only Dallas Cowboy fans will appreciate or care about this entry. To balance the nastiness of last night's political rant, I'll share my post to the best Dallas Cowboys website on the internet: Cowboys Blog. The guys who run this page are far better analysts than anybody working in the local media here, and their writing does not suffer in comparison. Dallas sports writing is notoriously bad, by the way. Witness Randy Galloway's one-sentence-per-paragraph columns in the Star-Telegram as proof of what low esteen our area sports editors hold us in. Not so with the Cowboys Blog, refreshingly.

In response to a recent preview of the HUGE Cowboys-Giants game in New York tomorrow, where the division lead and likely the eventual winner will be decided, I replied with the following:

"The Henry situation is a big concern, and if I read Parcells' moods correctly on the basis of his press conference tone, he’s very worried about this game–-not because of the significance in the standings–-but because the matchups don’t favor him. Parcells' hierarchy of importance is first matchups and then scheme. Without Henry, the matchups are skewed in favor of the Giants.

As Rafael mentioned, Anthony Henry’s contribution comes not only from matching up well on Plaxico Burress (allowing Newman to focus on Shockey, though I do think the 'pokes will play sides tomorrow and not follow Burress around) but also as a physical run-stopper who gravitates towards the ball. He reminds me of Dat Nguyen. He makes tackles by the bushel. Aaron Glenn doesn’t bring that kind of game, and until Jaques Reeves demonstrates what kind of player he is, I don’t count him as a difference maker. Seems to me that the Cowboys will be forced to keep Roy Williams back with Davis and/or Pile to help on coverage in the deep middle and this will play into Tiki Barber’s hands on play action. I also expect Burress to beat Glenn more than he beat Henry and collect more than the five receptions he made last time. In the Parcells book, I think, our schemes match up nicely when the Giants have the ball, but tomorrow we lose on matchups and matchups come first.

This imbalance could be negated by stellar play from our front four, but when is that not true? I like those guys and think they have an amazing future, but I don’t yet count on them to tip the scales in a critical game.

On the other side of the ball, the problem with our tackles against their defensive ends has been beaten to death, but it’s a worrisome point. When the Cowboys are in max-protect to assist Tucker and Pettiti, there aren’t many players running pass routes. You only get eleven guys. With only two (or three if we’re lucky) pass-catchers out there, Bledsoe often finds himself in a large, relatively secure pocket with nobody open. He holds the ball, and everybody at home yells at the TV: “THROW IT!!!” Throw it to who? Maybe Crayton this week? I hope so. It won't be Peerless Price, we now know, since Parcells cut him about two hours ago. I think Parcells was not only disappointed with Peerless in a profound way, but he couldn't pass up the chance to use Price as a motivating tool for the Dallas players who *did* board that plane this afternoon. Here's what happens if you don't like to block the run. Here's what happens if you disappoint.

If the Dallas Cowboys run out four wide receiver sets or empty backfields, as many fans believe they should do each and every down, Bledsoe would get snapped in two. Parcells will never let that happen. He knows that without Bledsoe, this whole post-season dream is over and fast.

The reality is that our offensive line, for all it’s promise and young athleticism (thinking of Tucker and Pettiti here) is a handicap in tomorrow’s ballgame. Again, our scheme is solid but these matchups favor the Giants. After eleven hard fought games which landed ten players on Injured Reserve (ten!), that’s what happens."

For the most part I've kept politics off this space since the election. My idea was that I had worked my ass off for John Kerry in Ohio, tried to convince as many people as I could that the Bush Administration was a disastrous choice for the nation, and that when it was over it was over. I didn't intend to spend four years in mournful pouting like many of my left-wing brethren.

But I found a story today, something that Tucker Carlson reported in Talk Magazine when he was a reporter there in 1999. For those who don't know, Carlson is a conservative reporter and TV talking-head. This was in Slate today:

In pondering the relationship between governors and the prisoners over whom they have power of life and death, I find myself remembering the single worst thing I ever heard about President Bush. It was something Bush, then governor of Texas, said to a reporter during his first presidential campaign. The reporter in question was Tucker Carlson, ?hardly a hostile figure ?and Carlson reported it in Talk magazine in 1999. It was about Karla Faye Tucker, a convicted murderer whose execution Bush, as governor, had refused to stay. Here is what Carlson wrote (as quoted in National Review, another source hardly known to be hostile toward Republicans):

In the week before [Karla Faye Tucker's] execution, Bush says, Bianca Jagger and a number of other protesters came to Austin to demand clemency for Tucker. "Did you meet with any of them?" I ask.

Bush whips around and stares at me. "No, I didn't meet with any of them," he snaps, as though I've just asked the dumbest, most offensive question ever posed. "I didn't meet with Larry King either when he came down for it. I watched his interview with [Tucker], though. He asked her real difficult questions, like 'What would you say to Governor Bush?' "

"What was her answer?" I wonder.

"Please," Bush whimpers, his lips pursed in mock desperation, "don't kill me."

The ugliness of a sitting governor mocking a prisoner's plea to spare her life horrified Carlson, especially after he looked up the transcript of Karla Faye Tucker's appearance on Larry King Live and discovered that nowhere did it show the prisoner asking Bush to stay the execution. It horrified a lot of other conservative journalists, too, including George Will, Richard Brookhiser, and the editorial page of the Manchester Union Leader in New Hampshire.

Now if you ever stop to wonder how it is we have a White House that supports torture when Americans have always stood against torture, which supports secret prisons when Americans have always supported fair and open proceedings, which pays for favorable stories in domestic and foreign media when Americans have traditionally respected the independence of the press, which borrows billions from China and Japan to finance a war while cutting taxes for the wealthy when Americans have never tried to pawn such a heavy burden to future generations, which consistently ignores or violates treaties argreed upon with other nations in good faith, which opposes higher taxes on oil companies that have reported increasing record profits for each and every quarter since Bush has been President, well, maybe you have your answer.

You better hope that with an administration so obviously contemptuous of our nation's core historical values that you never find yourself on the business end of their displeasure, because what any government does to human beings anywhere in the world they will easily do at home, if they haven't started already.

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