Monday, November 13, 2006


I'm not sure even I really expected the Dems to take the Senate too. The House I was sure of, but the Senate? The pendulum's momentum was greater than I expected, or most anyone else for that matter. How well we do in 2008 will depend heavily on how well the party stays focused on the issues and away from bashing and countering the Republicans. One result of such a big swing is that it made many Republicans realize they have lost focus, or focused on the wrong things. Rumsfeld was the first casualty of that realization (yeah, yeah, I've heard that it was in the works before the elections, but I can say without a doubt that if the elections had gone differently, he would still be Sec Def; and if Bush had done it beforehand, they probably would have). They will probably, at least for the time being, be willing to work in a bi-partisan manner.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Stirring the pot

Well, it looks like I'm finally getting around to writing a blog entry on one reason why I'm an agnostic. Warning: long blog entry. :) Quite a few friends / acquaintances have recently probed me on the question, and have all started with the same reason for believing (I think it's the most common way Christians approach agnostics in discussion, at least here in the Bible belt). So I've had to explain my position and opinion on that reason several times. What better way to deal with several queries than to write a blog entry!

The proposed reason for believing: Pascal's Wager (though most don't know the formal name). Pascal's Wager basically says that one should believe in God (in his arguement, the Christian God) because the end result of believing is always better than the end result of not believing. Basically there are four outcomes:
  • One believes and there is a God - heaven
  • One believes and there is no God - nothing
  • One doesn't believe and there is a God - hell
  • One doesn't believe and there is no God - nothing
Since the worst outcome from believing is nothing, and the worst outcome from not believing is hell, one should believe based on the possible outcomes.

Here are a couple of my issues with this reasoning:

1. It assumes, if there is a God and heaven, the only rewards and/or punishments are dictated by strict Christian theology. What if the following were true:
It is a common belief that only the morally good should populate heaven, and this is a reasonable belief, widely defended by theists of many varieties. Suppose there is a god who is watching us and choosing which souls of the deceased to bring to heaven, and this god really does want only the morally good to populate heaven. He will probably select from only those who made a significant and responsible effort to discover the truth. For all others are untrustworthy, being cognitively or morally inferior, or both. They will also be less likely ever to discover and commit to true beliefs about right and wrong. That is, if they have a significant and trustworthy concern for doing right and avoiding wrong, it follows necessarily that they must have a significant and trustworthy concern for knowing right and wrong. Since this knowledge requires knowledge about many fundamental facts of the universe (such as whether there is a god), it follows necessarily that such people must have a significant and trustworthy concern for always seeking out, testing, and confirming that their beliefs about such things are probably correct. Therefore, only such people can be sufficiently moral and trustworthy to deserve a place in heaven--unless god
wishes to fill heaven with the morally lazy, irresponsible, or untrustworthy. - Richard Carrier [ref]

That's just one of many, many conceived possibilities of how God could truly decide. It's entirely possible that God punishes blind or false faith.

2. How does one know that the Christian God is the one true God? If one does choose to believe in God based on Pascal's Wager, then they are rejecting other theologies that have similar outcomes for ones soul. So if one does choose the Christian God, and God turns out to be the Islamic God, they get punished anyway.

Basically what I'm getting at is that the four options presented in the wager are not the only four options, many others exist. With no proof or knowledge of what is actually true, there is no one religion (or non-religion, which is why I'm agnostic) that I can commit myself to.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Life's small changes

After working for more than 8 years for the City of Stillwater, I have accepted an offer from the City of Edmond. I found it hard to make that decision, even though I will now be living 3 miles from work instead of 50, and the pay will be better. I guess after that much time, I just got very comfortable where I was, plus I truly enjoyed my work, especially lately. However, I am excited to start my new job, as it is mainly network administration, an area of IT I haven't been able to keep up on as much as I'd like. I'll miss everyone in Stillwater, but I'm sure I'll visit from time to time. QQ
On another note, I put up a MySpace page, as it seems it's more than just a site for teenage girls. I have reconnected with some old high school alumni, and I'm sure more friends will show up as I look for fellow storm chasers, co-workers, etc. It looks like it might be a decent place for professional networking too in the future.
Here's to looking forward!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Still alive.

I thought I'd put up a little post to let everyone know I'm still alive. Looks like things haven't changed much since my last post, other than it appears right on track. Not sure if the Dems will take back both the House and Senate, but a big swing is already gaining momentum. I may write something in the near future about the Geneva Convention issues and detainees.

A little pressure...

I'm starting to feel the pressure of the fall season coming on. I have finally removed all the antennas, wiring, etc. from my wrecked probe. Now all I have left to do is install it all in my current one. I've been debating on whether or not to build a platform to mount all antennas, devices, etc. to on the roof, or just to directly mount everything. I really don't have much to mount, but my problem is adding to it in the future. I may want to add another radio, or get a Wilson antenna for my data connection, or maybe something else. Moving stuff around will create more holes than I would like, even though I will never resell it. Bah, now I'm just rambling. I think I'll just mount it them directly. I also need to buy another piece of 12" x 12" plexiglass for my laptop platform and form it.
On a side note, I've started carpooling with a couple people from Edmond to Stillwater. This means I will have to pay a little more attention to the space I take up with equipment.
Hope they aren't adverse to storm chasing... :)

Sunday, September 03, 2006

My first purchased chase video

A good chaser friend of mine, Steve Miller, recently purchased and reviewed a chase video. I highly value this friend's opinion, and being a good review, I decided to purchase my first chase video. I haven't purchased videos in the past not because I don't want to support fellow chasers, but because I have 3 kids to support, and the sparse money I spend on chasing goes for the essentials. My decision isn't based soley on his review though, as I have heard good things about the producer's past work, and I repect him as a knowledgable chaser. So as soon as I receive it, we'll see what I think of Shane Adam's Lemonade.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

A little prodding.

I guess it just takes a little prodding to get me to post again. It hasn't been a very active year, blah, blah, blah, excuses, excuses. The feature that was missing from Probe #3 is now installed, so I got my standard. After about a month and a half of busy weekends, I finished the swap. Now I just have to get motivated and install the storm chasing equipment before the fall season. I have redesigned my personal page, including a new photo gallery. I'm trying to decide whether to put up my chasing pics there or create a gallery solely for different aspects of chasing (including the storms of course). In the coming seasons, I plan on using the still camera much more, capturing more than just the beautiful storms, but also partners, landscape, interesting sights, etc.
On a side note, I think I have decided to comment more on everyday life in general to help keep this blog interesting. We'll see how that goes, 'cause the storms sure aren't this year.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Storm Probe #3

Yesterday I purchased another Probe from Kelly Baker's step-son Casey. It's seen better days, but with a little work it'll do. The only thing I didn't get as far as options I wanted is a standard transmission, but for the price I paid it was a good deal. I had to put 2 new tires on it to drive it home from Tulsa, along with figuring out a charging problem it was having. There are plenty of other little things that need to be fixed, but all in good time. I drove it up to Stillwater today, and it's been running fine. I'll post some pics and keep everyone posted on prepping it for next storm season.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

First two of the season.

After work today, I decided to go ahead and chase, since the storms were so close to Stillwater. I stayed with the large storm that moved east along the southern border of Payne county. I saw several good inflow regions, maybe a wall cloud or two, but as it went past Cushing, the base got higher. I took a quick look at data, and the cape values to it's NE weren't too impressive. I had told Becky I would try to get to our studio by 7:30, and there was a cell SW of OKC that would be moving into some great air, so I headed to OKC.
I got to the studio at about 7:15, looked at some data there, and the cell, now over El Reno, was impressive. I headed W on NW 50th, and as soon as I got on the street, I could see a backlit tornado directly to my W, which I later learned was tracking through the El Reno airport. I then jogged S 1 mile, and headed W on Route 66 towards Yukon. As I travelled, I could see a second tornado to my WSW. Just as I was entering Yukon, I just happened to meet up with Steve Bluford and Kelly Baker in Steve's CR-V. Imagine their suprise seeing me pull up next to them in a Chevy Caprice. We paired up and headed to the W of Yukon, where we set up and shot some tripoded video. We got a great wall cloud out of it, and it looked like it could drop another torn, but it didn't, and wouldn't go on to produce any more before it broke up over N OKC (good thing too, as it moved over more populated areas).
All in all, an exciting day.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Life goes on.

Well, I recovered this weekend, which was good, because it was a busy weekend. I'm already looking for another probe, and am liking a few white ones I've found. For now I am fixing my eclipse to drive, which will suck for gas, but will be fun. This kills my solo chasing for a while.
What really sucks is the fact that I had just gotten the probe to the point I wanted it for solo chasing. Last weekend I had finished moving the radios and building a laptop mount so i could put the passenger seat back in, and more easily access them. I had also just finished replacing the CV joints, so it was back to good mechanical condition. I had also just renewed the tag last week, doh. That'll teach me to do everything I need to get done.
It's all transferrable, custom mounts and all, so no huge loss there. Since I'm sticking with the probe, I can also just transfer the middle console which I had to cut on a little to get the 2M radio in. Oh well, all in good time.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Alas, storm probe #2 is no more...

I now know what a crash test dummy feels like.

I also got to test the laptop mount in a crash situation. Damn, I hurt. Everything's good w/ me though, got a clean bill o' health from a doc. Had seatbelt on and airbag did it's job. Just an abrasion from the airbag on forearm and a bruised chest. Seeing as how it was a highway accident, at 60 mph+ (driver in front was going maybe 25-30), the mount and laptop didn't stand much of a chance. The airbags didn't do them in, although the dash did. Amazingly, the laptop only lost the display, which is totally trashed, in lots o little pieces. I have the base hooked up to an external monitor, and it works. We'll see if it's salvagable (have to find a new shell, display, and keyboard). Keyboard is functional, but a few keys (f4 & enter) are kinda messed up, but work. The passenger's airbag deployed with enough force to cause the hinged flap on it to fly up and smash the windshield. There are two distinct shatter points from the corners of the flap. That's a hell of a lot of force, considering the flap weighs less than a pound. So probe #1 hit the high milage mark of 300k, #2 dies at 190k with a crash (I just fixed everything on it too...), and I will be out looking for #3. Found another 96 with 75k on it, may have to go have a look see. Tired, going to bed. Pics of damage can be found here.
P.S. No, I was not looking at the laptop, it just happened to be up there from earlier... It was determined to be my fault by the trooper, but I'll tell the story later... In my opinion, it was the lady in the minivan's fault. (She's the one with the 6-8 month old in the front seat in my photos! No the baby did not get hurt as she did not sustain a direct hit.)

Friday, March 31, 2006

Yesterdays chase

Yesterday was actually a descent chase day for me. My targets were right on, the storms just moved too damn fast. (excuses, excuses) I started out leaving Stillwater around 12:30, heading for I-35. Looking at data, I had trouble deciding whether to head north or south on 35. I didn't think I could head south and catch the beast down by Chickasha (plus I didn't like the air to its east), so I decided to head north to some storms firing west of 35 heading toward the Blackwell / Ponca City area. I then realized that I had no DV tapes (I swear I packed them!), so I stopped at Walmart in Perry (just off I-35). As I headed back to 35, I looked at some more data. There was a cell just east of Kingfisher that was looking pretty good. Not only that but the 2:00 SPC mesoscale analysis had just come out, and it was moving toward some VERY favorable air in the Lincoln Co. area. So I headed south and intercepted it just west of 35 and east of Mulhall. There I got some nice video of a wall cloud and heard over weather radio that it was tornado warned. This is where I started the chase, here's the map:

Just northeast of Stillwater, I met up with J.R. Hehnly, who was with someone new to chasing, and a group of OU met students (names added in a bit). From there we followed the cell all the way close to the Kansas border where it got away from us as we decided to fill up. We went ahead and tried to catch back up to it but never made it. So we headed west to intercept a newly forming cell. Just as we were breaking from that cell, of course there was a report of a torn on it. Oh well. We ended up just south of the new cell and chased it rapidly to the northeast. We weren't able to stay up with that cell either, even staying on highways at >60 mph. We finally called it a day and headed south, running through a severe line of storms along the way. Grabbed a few lightening shots, and stopped for some impressive video of a cloud base at sunset (it was dark where we were), with the most intense thunder I think I've ever heard. It was non stop (no CGs though). We stopped and ate at a pizza hut just north of the KS border, and shared a few stories. From there it was just the long trip home down to Tulsa and the I-44 turnpike. A few pics:

Long day

It's the end of a long chase day. Lots of reletively fast moving storms, coming close to tornado video several times... but just out of reach every time. I will post more details tomorrow. Zzzzz time.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006


The one day I figure it's safe to not check on the storms I know are out there, and viola, a tornado is missed. Oh well, I don't think I could have gotten away from everything anyway. I'm will Steve "OK" Miller in saying congrats to Rob Hedrick of KOCO out of OKC for his intercept.

Topping the hill

It seems that the right has pushed hard enough to upset the balance people like to maintain. I consider myself a fairly moderate liberal. A majority of the people in this nation consider themselves moderate. The scales have been pushed farther to the right most are comfortable with, and it very well could show up as soon as the elections for 2006.
Tying into the last post, SD's governor actually did sign that bill into law, and it will take effect this summer. Of course there are going to be challenges to it in court, and we all know it will end up being heard before the Supreme Court. I honestly think that the high court will strike it down, and keep with the previous ruling in Roe V. Wade. A considerable majority of the population is in the middle of the debate, neither believing that abortion should be unrestricted, nor believing it should be banned. This law goes to one extreme of the debate, and I don't know one person I've talked to since this law came up that agrees with it (most people get hung up on no exceptions for rape or incest). I myself am not on the extreme of the liberal end. I think partial birth abortions should be banned, with an exception for the life and health (dire health) of the mother. The backlash if this law were upheld would be considerable, pushing the country farther to the left (I think abortion ban laws would be repealed in some of the states that are considering them, as more moderate representatives would be elected).
Back to the more general balance of the scales. Bush is done for. He is finally starting to pay the price for his bad judgment in going to war in Iraq. Face it, if you convince the nation and the world you are going to war for a set of reasons, and those reasons you are pushing are questionable and even false, then you're going to pay for it later. Hmm, let's review the reasons stated previous to going to war (making the case). 1. WMDs; acquiring and stockpiling WMDs since the first world war. 2. Acquiring material for nuclear weapons; aluminum tubes used for enriching uranium, and uranium from Nigeria. 3. A direct connection between Saddam and al Qaeda. All three assertions have been proven false, and now he is dealing with that fallout with very low public support numbers.
It is getting so bad that even his own party is distancing itself from him. This means that the rest of his second term will pretty much be useless as he will have trouble passing anything through Congress. I could go on and on about other issues, wiretapping, etc, but my point is made, so we'll leave that to another day.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

I decided to go ahead and check the newly released Day 1 conv outlook. Sigh. Do I really want to drive to MO? This is really making me think about it:

This could change by morning, but I doubt it. Plus there's wording like this:
I guess this will be the first test of the season of whether the SPC is calling it like it is, or screaming the sky is falling. We'll see. Sigh.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Relatively relaxing day, it was. Seeing as how we (w/ Steve Miller (OK) and Bob Hall) stayed up till 3 forecasting and such, we woke up late this morning, having already decided we were going to chase. We started out heading for McKinney, to meet up with fellow chaser Steve Miller (TX). Seeing as how this was the first time we would meet him in person, I was somewhat worried of the consequences (we should all know what happens when matter and anti-matter collide). Seeing as how the city of McKinney is still there, I think things went well. Steve (TX) is just the character I had imagined him to be, witty as can be and good at what he does. After looking at data there, we decided to head north of the Red River, as that was our best chance for the day. Well, after shooting the, er, um, I'm tired, you know what we shot, for a couple hours, it became evident the cap was going to hold and the chance of anything going up was as wispy as the clouds. We said our goodbyes to Steve (TX), and headed back to Edmond for some BBQ.
Steve (OK) and Bob then headed back to Tulsa.
We'll see what tomorrow holds for where things start. The optimists are hoping for an I-35 corridor initiation, while the pessimists say it'll be in the land of the druids (nice reference Shane); pick your poison/model/forecaster... I'll just wait till tomorrow to decide if I'll head out.
Ever feel like you're the groom at a shotgun wedding? Steve M. is pretty much holding a gun to my head and telling me to update my blog.
I am traveling with Steve Miller (OK) and Bob Hall. Tonight was our entirely too long trip down to Dallas for the TESSA convention this weekend. It was a fun ride, with the exception of an hour delay on I-35, and all the idiot drivers included. On a bright note, we stopped about 10 miles south of Ardmore to take some lightning shots of the storms to our south and east. I did not bring my 35mm w/ remote shutter release, but that turned out to be a good thing, as I figured out how to take some great shots with my digital cam. Included below are a few shots I took along with one of the goofball next to me.
You can see Steve's perspective at his blog.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

You knew it was coming...

A law testing the new Supreme Court on upholding Roe v. Wade. Both houses of the South Dakota legislature have passed a bill that outlaws all abortions except those that save the life of the mother. A major point in this bill is that life begins at conception. There are no exceptions for the mothers health, rape, or incest.
I think you can all guess where I fall on this one. I'll post some more tomorrow on my reasonings.
Here's a shortcut to the bill.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Went to the Tulsa Skywarn program last weekend. I do enjoy the presentations they put on. One discussion in particular has me thinking; the new enhanced F-scale.
I like the idea behind it, but I think the final product is lacking. I need to look into it a little more, but some aspects of it seem way off.
One of the supposed purposes of the new scale is to allow for more accurate ratings in areas where the old common indicators (houses) were lacking, thus the new list of 28 indicators, including trees. So now we can have a rated tornado when it goes over open country (assuming trees are present). The max rating for hardwood tree damage would be F3, or around 147 mph. This is better than the old damage based rating of F0, regardless of actual wind speed.
However, if I understand it correctly, F5 damage can't be determined in a residential area, because according to the new scale, the upper threshold winds required for total destruction of a house (nothing but ruble), are just below the wind speed in an F5 tornado (now 200 mph).
Here's what I'm getting at: that while ratings will improve in open country, they will not improve on the higher end, as in the residential setting case. In order to rate a tornado a definitive F5, it would have to directly hit the likes of a shopping mall, medium or high rise building, or an institutional building. In other words, the May 3, 1999 Moore tornado with measured winds of 316 mph would have likely officially been recorded as an F4 (even if we are conservative with the measured speed and say 300 mph, something is still wrong).
Granted, the original F-scale wasn't very accurate at higher wind speeds, but I don't think this is an improvement. I think more needs to be done to accurately survey damage from large tornados that (increasingly) have measured wind speeds, to derive more accurate indicators for higher speeds.
Because of lack of time and funding, I feel the new Enhanced F-scale turned out to be experts' best guesses at more "accurate" wind speed damage indicators. I also feel that there should have been more public discussion and debate about the shortcomings of this new scale.
If, as I find out more, I discover my interpretations to be wrong, I will bring it up here.
As if I didn't have enough to keep up with, I thought I'd start a blog for keeping up with storm chasing related thoughts and discussions. (Don't roll your eyes more than 3 times Steve) Last year was a very dull year here in Oklahoma, and I'm not all that excited about what I see coming this year either, so this may not take that much time afterall. Hah. Enjoy!

Georgia and the Ten Commandments

A lawmaker in Georgia, Tommy Benton, is trying to get posters of the ten commandments displayed in all county and municipal courthouses. Lawmakers in the Georgia House of Representatives have approved a bill (see, which main purpose is "to recognize the religious heritage of America". It specifically mentions the display of 3 documents: the Mayflower Compact, the Ten Commandments, and the Declaration of Independence. In the words of the bill these three documents are "Public displays which acknowledge religious heritage".
The bill mainly does three things:
1. Directs the Secretary of State to prepare and distribute these displays to all counties and municipalities, at the Georgia taxpayer expense.
2. Authorizes these county and municipal governments to display them.
3. Directs the Attorney General to defend and bear costs of defending such actions.
Normally I wouldn't worry too much about this, but with the new U.S. Supreme Court makeup, it very well could get upheld. Talk about a waste of millions of dollars that could go to MUCH more useful purposes.
Here's why I don't think that the Ten Commandments offer any legitimate constitutional or legal historical context: Only 4 of the 10 commandments are law. Murder, stealing, adultery, and bearing false witness are all illegal, although adultery is not enforced, and bearing false witness is only illegal in court while under oath (arguably sometimes while under investigation). Those things also happen to be illegal in many other countries whose history have nothing to do with the ten commandments. These offenses are morally wrong whether any religion says so or not. In fact, doing some of the actions the commandments tell you not to do are actions that are protected by the Constitution! So the ten commandments are definitely no basis for the Constitution.
Do the commandments have historical significance in our society? Yes, definitely. But so does the bible, god, religion, and many other countless items. That doesn't mean any of them should be displayed in governmental institutions. This bill is just another way for over-zealous christians to impose their religion on others. We're back on a downhill slide here. Time will tell what direction this takes.

Let the games begin, again...

Ok, so I think I've made a decision about blogging. I can't research the hell out of every subject I post on. I have quite a few drafts of blogs I started, but never finished due to lack of time to research. So I think from now on, I'll just post my opinion, and maybe from time to time, do a detailed blog. This should allow me to post much more often, if I can just post my opinion, maybe why I have it, and move on. So let the posting resume.