Monthly Archives: February 2007

Further evidence Spring is already here

The National Weather Service has a “potentially dangerous situation” pegged for us tomorrow afternoon into Friday morning…

…Severe weather possible Thursday into Thursday night…

A strengthening low pressure system over the Central Plains in
concert with a potent upper level disturbance will work together
to create a highly dynamic and moderately unstable airmass over
the region Thursday. This airmass will remain in place through
Thursday night into Friday morning as the warm front associated
with this system moves north over the area and the respective cold
front moves across the Gulf Coast states.

As this large system shifts east…conditions will become
favorable for the development of severe weather across southeast
Georgia and southeast South Carolina Thursday afternoon and
Thursday night. Showers and thunderstorms are expected to spread
south to north across the coastal plain tomorrow with the timing
of the severe threat starting early afternoon in southeast Georgia
and mid afternoon in southeast South Carolina. The main hazards
will be damaging winds and isolated tornadoes for late Thursday
and Thursday night. A possible second round of thunderstorms may
occur Friday morning around daybreak with the actual passage of
the cold front…and this may produce gusty and damaging winds.

Sure seems very springlike to me, and we’re still a month away from the official start. Guess all those street-level modifications I made to my GRLevelX installation will begin to pay off pretty much immediately, huh?

Anyone out there like to talk about themselves?

If you like to talk about yourself, this is for you — I need someone to profile for an assignment for my media writing class, and I know there are some extremely interesting folks out there in the Charleston blogosphere.

No, this won’t be published — it’ll just be between you, me, and the instructor. However, this is a good exercise for me as I continue to hone my writing skills, and I think it would be a lot of fun to do.

If you’re interested, feel free to leave comments or e-mail me directly!

UPDATE: Many thanks to Chuck of Chuckography for being the first to respond — I’ll be profiling him for the assignment. Thanks to everyone for your interest!!

A busy weather day and a meetup!

Perhaps the only thing that could have pulled me away from my sweet-as-all-hell personal street level Doppler radar setup (more gushing on this in a second) would have been a Lowcountry Blogs meetup. It was great to meet up with everyone again — within walking distance, to boot. It was my first time ever going to Little Thai Too on King Street and the food was excellent. Great, great choice. :) It was, as always, a great time (this time devoid of a heartbreaking Charger playoff loss). As usual, our resident award-winning photo blogger Joan is first with photos. (I took the second picture on that page, by the way — and Joan has the most hardcore camera I think I’ve ever tried. I struggled to find the shutter button amongst the lot of ’em! :))

This was a good weekend, overall:

Friday was absolutely nutty with rescuing a web server and other things, so I felt as if the time was right to brush back up with some Linux server administration. To this end, I brought the rack-mount machine formerly known as briscoe (now known as sassything — don’t ask) back online (over a few glasses of Yellow Tail chardonnay). It’s only visible behind my firewall, though, and really, really needs to be hardened up a bit, if only for my own sanity.

Saturday began with ambitions of getting some school work done ahead of time. That didn’t work out too well. I did run up to my parents’ and took care of a few loose ends with my taxes, though. Then, I went to my co-worker buddy Greg’s house for his birthday (which was today). I had some badass ribs up there. Good times.

Today started in the afternoon with a text message about the threat of severe weather for today. I then proceeded to trick out my copy of GRLevel3 with all sorts of sweet stuff and basically watched thunderstorms roll through until the meetup. GRLevel3 is effing awesome. It takes Level III NEXRAD data from the National Weather Service and overlays it over a basemap, does animations, all sorts of stuff. The best part of this program is that one can take pretty much any GIS data you want and import it into the program. I was able to download a GIS shape file with roads in various counties in South Carolina, import those roads…and bam! Instant street-level Doppler, just like that. It’s freaking awesome. It costs $80 (I’m running the trial right now) and considering its power, it seems to be well worth the money. It does a great job monitoring warnings, shows a graphical view of warned areas (and whittles them away as the NWS issues warning updates), points out hail-producing and rotating thunderstorms, and gives you a bajillion different NEXRAD products for analysis. For a weather nerd like myself, this is pretty close to heaven on earth.

Mother Nature obviously wanted to make sure I got a thorough evaluation of the product today, as those storms that marched through were no slouches (though we only got a couple claps of thunder downtown). There were some tornado warnings earlier in the southern tip of SC (Jasper County, etc.), and I was able to pick up where the rotation was occurring on the radar. I highly recommend this for those with an interest in storm tracking (a lot of chasers like this software), because the ability to import GIS data makes this tool about as flexible as an Olympic gymnast.

And so Monday begins…one more wild and crazy week before Spring Break. I’ll make it.

“My world is spinning…helplessly…what’s going on…”

I think Gavin Friday sums up the state of my mind this week so far. This is turning into one of the most mentally demanding weeks I’ve had in years.

Luckily, tomorrow’s Thursday, and there is light at the end of the tunnel. (No, it’s not a freight train headed my way.)

Academically, things are clearing up a bit. I have really only one more week and a couple days before spring break kicks in. Most people complain spring break is too early; in most years, I would agree with them. This year, it’s coming at the absolute right time. I desperately need the escape. I’ve secured the time off work, so that is a major plus. For the first time since my first year of college (2003, yikes!), I’ll have a break that I can actually look forward to.

Funny anecdote: Today, I took a test in my biology class. One of the extra credit questions was, “What are your plans for spring break?” I replied that I would experience life as a member of the kingdom Plantae and spend a week as a vegetable. (I also have an itch to drive to Florida to catch some Grapefruit League baseball.) Here’s hoping I get maybe three out of the potential two points — the informed wit has to count for something.

Funny anecdote no. 2: I still had Meghann’s favorite Incubus song of all time stuck in my head as I walked into my biology lab. Today’s lab was about conduction of heat and how it affects paper butterflies (don’t ask). My TA then said “Butterflies fly better when they are exposed to heat…the warmth…” It took all of my willpower not to bust out into song right then and there.

Backing up a bit: Tuesday was the final day to drop a class without penalty. After some deliberation, I decided to let my history class go. The amount of writing I’m doing this semester probably is illegal in some states, so it’s a good thing I did. Yes, I’m still a full-time student — just not at the heavy 16-hour courseload anymore. This may permit me to breathe a bit — we shall see.

On an extremely positive note, tomorrow is expected to be effing gorgeous. I saw something about mid-70s with sunny skies. I can dig it. A look at the long-term forecast shows less in the way of bone-chilling highs and more in the way of mid 60s. Perhaps there’s something to that groundhog thing after all. Perhaps “Fair Weather” by Trammell Starks will be appropriate fare for tomorrow?

Anniversaries and more

So today marks thirty years of marriage for my mother and father. Pretty impressive, I must say. We went out to dinner tonight (I was a half hour late after passing out in my reading chair upon my arrival home — oops) and had a great time. I couldn’t be more thrilled for them — thirty years is a long time.

On a side note, there’s nothing quite like a bacon-wrapped filet from Longhorn. I rarely eat steak these days (in sharp contrast to two years ago) and so this was a real treat.

Aside from the lovely dinner, today was a very weird day. I rolled out of bed, still suffering from writer’s block on the paper, and put it on hold. The full deal isn’t due until next month — the professor just wants milestones (I don’t really blame him). I just couldn’t wrap my head around it just yet. It’ll come to me in time — and hopefully well before the March 22 due date. ;)

Work brought along its own sets of challenges — namely server hiccups that prevented me from getting a lot done for an hour and a half. There’s nothing more frustrating than the lovely Windows networking stack (and this is in Vista, too — some things seem to never change) causing system lockups because my home network drive became unavailable off and on throughout the day. Dreamweaver, which I have to do a lot of work in for the IT pages, went haywire and I was about to smash it with a ten megaton uber-brick. Here’s hoping tomorrow is a smidgen more productive.

One thing that I’ve come to really love in the last couple days is something called Outlook Anywhere — known in geeky technical terms as Exchange RPC over HTTP. This is a complex system that basically permits me to use my account on the College’s Exchange server in Outlook 2007 at home just as if I was connected in the office — WITHOUT establishing some sort of VPN connection. It works by routing the Exchange calls over HTTP via the Outlook Web Access server. It’s bloody brilliant. Typically I’d have to log into the Outlook Web Access server and have a very clumsy, limited interface to work with my Exchange calendaring and e-mail. Now I can use the full capability of Outlook 2007 (really, a dream to work with — it’s easily the best Outlook ever) at home. It even downloaded all my categories for my flagged e-mails and tasks. It’s quite awesome, and I can finally properly synchronize my phone at both home and work with the same server.

Speaking of phones…the announcement of the Motorola Q9 makes my decision over getting the Blackjack in a few weeks not so crystal-clear. The Blackjack isn’t getting Windows Mobile 6 as an upgrade (at least not as of now), and the Q9 has that. The Q9 also can do 3G data at double the speed (the Blackjack does 1.8 Mbps while the Q9 is capable of up to 3.6 Mbps) and…well…it’s Motorola. I know with the Motorola I will get good reception in most places that the Samsung is sorely lacking, and I know Motorola will have a competent Bluetooth stack (another weakness exposed in the Blackjack). These are two things that are pretty important to me. The keyboard on the Q9 appears to kick the Blackjack and original Q’s ass as well. One thing is for certain: I am in a bind here. Should I wait, or should I just go for the Blackjack now? I do like Samsung — I used an N625 for several years and thoroughly enjoyed it — but some of the things I’ve heard about the phone are starting to make me take pause.

What’s the song for the day? I’m not sure. There were a lot of songs. I do believe it will be yet another Incubus cut — “The Warmth” has been stuck in my head pretty much all day, and thus got several plays on the iPod today. It’s a great song.

Low Value Monday

Today’s been kind of a lousy day. I was slated to wake up at 4am to work on that paper some before I arose for my 8am class; this did not happen. Sure, I drifted in and out of consciousness between 4 and 7am, but I didn’t really wake up. Heck, I managed to leave late. I was walking so fast I didn’t notice it was 34 out.

My classes were alright, I suppose. I was just feeling “bleh” — annoyed and hungry. Then I got into work, read my barrage of e-mails, and then found out Norv Turner — of all people, Norv Freaking Turner — is going to be the next Charger head coach. I’ve got to tell you…this is one hell of a puzzling move. I’m hoping A.J. Smith saw something in him that he didn’t see in any of the other coaching candidates (besides an offensive background). Let’s hope the third time is the charm for Norv. And, let’s hope somehow I get a breakthrough with this paper.

Writer’s block…

With the first five to seven pages of my quantitative research paper due on Tuesday, this is the absolute worst time in the world to get writers’ block. I literally have no idea what I want to say. This is pretty bad. This isn’t it, though — I have a biology assignment AND test on Wednesday, a bunch of stuff due for my news writing course Tuesday (hey, does anyone know of any newsy speakers coming to Charleston in the next few weeks?) as well as this really terrible history paper that I have to write for Monday. Hmm…yeah. Low freakin’ value.

Perhaps watching the Daytona 500 and doing my parents’ taxes will help get some of those juices going…

Cube monkey removed from typical habitat…

The last two months have been marked with frantic development of new Web pages for CofC’s Information Technology apparatus. Apparently word got around the office that I knew a thing or two about HTML (where do they get such ideas?), so I was drafted into the jungle and started chipping away at the project; first a few pages, and then a few more, and now all of a sudden I have a decent amount of control over the whole shebang. It’s kind of nifty. (This is what has been keeping me away from The Blog off and on over the last several weeks, among other things.)

Wednesday at 4:30 brought news that I was being moved temporarily into an office across campus so that I can be closer with those working with the IT Web and have a relatively quiet workspace from where I can concentrate. I honestly enjoy the cube farm that I typically find myself in, but it does get loud in there. I mean, it’s a shop — it comes with the territory.

So, I moved my stuff all the way across campus on a seriously inadequate plastic cart that is so sensitive to every little bump in the sidewalk/road that my hand was vibrating for a good five minutes afterward, and then dragged the cart back across campus again (in the spirit of being nice, of course). The office, currently serving as a quasi-break room in the absence of a permanent person to put there, is unfortunately devoid of windows (but has a sweet set of ambient lighting that immediately took the place of the horrible fluorescent lighting). Still, for a life-long cube dweller, a two-week vacation in an office is uncharted territory. It most certainly is quite easy to concentrate there. Good times.

I’m moving back to my usual digs on March 1, which isn’t a bad thing, either. I’m sure I’m going to miss the hustle-and-bustle and relative anonymity of the shop in a week or two.

Yesterday, I went to grab lunch at (welcome to) Moe’s at the corner of King and Calhoun, for the express purpose of returning to the office with it so that I could read the Internet(s) as I was eating. Then, all of a sudden, “If Only” by Ryan Farish went off in my pocket. A good friend from high school, Heather, was on the other end — so instead of retreating to the office, I got to meet up with her and catch up on things. It had been a while, so that made what was ultimately a low value 36 hours to that point quite a bit better.

I think the song of Thursday ended up being “Dig” by Incubus, from their latest release “Light Grenades.” Because, you know, we all have someone that digs at us. I know I sure do. (And no, she’s not mentioned in this post.)

That’s pretty much Thursday, in a nutshell — we’ve made it to yet another Friday. YES. Later on today, I’ve got a followup on the passion party controversy at the College with a twist I was even shocked to see. More on that later…have a good one, folks.

Valentine’s postmortem and more…

Overall, this year’s Valentine’s Day wasn’t bad. Clad in my new favorite shirt — a brown long-sleeve T with the CNN logo in camo and “Baghdad Bureau” in darker green Helvetica Neue Medium Condensed underneath (it came straight from CNN Center) — I went out the door, starting the day off just right musically with a barrage of AC/DC (Back in Black and Shoot to Thrill, to be exact) and went on from there.

There was a bit of a tense moment where a police car was rounding Coming Street onto Calhoun at a pretty good clip, running hot (lights and sirens). At the same time, students began to cross the street. I was like “WHOA! HOLD IT!” and the officer was able to get around, despite the fact that some people didn’t pay attention and were thus halfway in the middle of the street until the officer reactivated his sirens. People just have to keep looking as they cross the streets, ESPECIALLY on Calhoun Street, the land of emergency vehicles.

All in all, today had its moments of hyper-mushiness, sure, but it wasn’t as bad as it probably could have been. After having had the opportunity to display hyper-mushiness several years ago, I no longer look at that with the scorn that I once did. Perhaps the free candy handed out in my classes today helped this situation…I’m really not sure. I also think that the post-work venting session about women with Tom in Applebee’s over beer and relatively unhealthy food was not only a great way to blow a gift card but also soften the blow of the day as well.

Tonight has been a mixture of homework and studying, complete with a Ryan Farish and Gavin Friday soundtrack. I think the song of the day is “The Big No-No” by Gavin Friday off his 1992 release “Adam & Eve” — it’s got a pretty sweet piano part in it and it’s really sung well. It’s one of the edgier Friday tracks in existence. I listened to it several times today in transit from place to place.

Funny anecdote regarding music and my habits listening to it: Two days ago, while using a public terminal waiting for class to begin in the Stern Center lobby, I was bopping along to “Together We Will Conquer” by Ryan Farish on the ol’ iPod nano, doing a little bit of air bass guitar along with it (if you haven’t heard this song, I recommend it with a giant subwoofer, the bass is that good). A girl walks up next to me and remarks, “You know, I’m trying to find mine so I can jam out like you, it looks like you’re having a good time!” Hey, what can I say — I can’t help it. I do have a good time with my music. I’ll bop along to it, tap it out, air guitar it, even sing it down the street when no one is around. I’m what they call an active listener. :)

Finally, I think it’s oddly appropriate that The Weather Channel had a small malfunction today and Trammell Starks played. After all, he is the unofficial romance music provider of JaredWSmith.com. So yeah, that was cool.

I hope everyone has a great Thursday. I’ll be back whenever I can come up for air. :)

Singles’ Awareness Day, For the Win!

For some, today is Valentine’s Day — the day where many couples of varying levels of happiness exchange chocolate, roses, expensive dinners and jewelry, and, $DEITY willing, end the evening with candlelight and Trammell Starks. (Okay, perhaps the Trammell Starks part doesn’t happen. But then again, you never really know.) For others — including myself — today is more along the lines of Singles’ Awareness Day. There’s nothing really wrong with that, either — I’m just kind of ignoring all the lovey-dovey stuff. I don’t like to talk much about it. As Tom behind me just said, today is a low value day — not just today, but in years past as well.

Brace yourself. Continue reading