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In Pictures

I finally have a real camera again

Charlie, Mid-Kiss
Our miniature dachshund Charlie, kissing Stephanie incessantly.

For the first time in several years, I finally have a camera other than my phone again. The Canon EOS Rebel T3 will go down as my first-ever DSLR; I had been considering the T3i carefully but in the end opted to save several hundred dollars and not sacrifice much image quality (12 megapixels is plenty for someone who primarily works on the Web). So far, I’m really liking it, and I’m excited to see what kind of fun, cool stuff I’ll be able to do down the road. (I might even change this site’s incredibly stale header photos, too!)

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In Pictures

End of the shuttle era

NASATweetup for landing

A Twitpic of the lucky 50 getting to watch Atlantis’s landing. Via Beth Beck.

An era in manned spaceflight — the only era I’ve known — is coming to an end early this morning as Atlantis touches down for the final time at Kennedy Space Center. I’m watching it at SpaceVidCast, which has a HD feed from NASA TV and a widely-respected chat community. It’s a shame to see the Shuttle go, but all good things, after all, must come to an end. I just feel very fortunate I was able to see this one launch; I’ll have more thoughts on this when I am more fully awake.

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In Pictures

A new use for Facebook

A more accurate use of Facebook these days.
A more accurate use of Facebook these days.

This pretty much sums up my usage of Facebook lately. Google+ is ridiculously busy now. I can’t imagine what kind of a madhouse it will be like when it opens up permanently to everybody.

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In Pictures

Good morning from the Kennedy Space Center

The Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA's Kennedy Space Center.
The Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA's Kennedy Space Center.

I am at the Kennedy Space Center for the next few days taking in the NASA Tweetup for the final Shuttle mission, STS-135. Atlantis is supposed to lift off tomorrow, but the forecast is suspect (at best). However, I’m just thrilled to be here and to meet a bunch of really, really interesting people (and make as many friends as possible, too!) Follow my tweets where the blow-by-blow account will be. More thoughts here once I can calm down. ;)

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In Pictures Weather

First solid severe event of the spring in the books

3D view of a severe thunderstorm over Beaufort, SC on March 27, 2011. Image generated by GR2Analyst.

3D view of a severe thunderstorm over Beaufort, SC on March 27, 2011. Image generated by GR2Analyst.

The first severe weather event of the spring is in the books for the Lowcountry. Hail was the primary factor, with numerous reports of large hail, with a report of baseball-size hail near Rincon, GA and tennis ball-size hail in Port Royal, SC (just south of Beaufort; check out TheDigitel Beaufort for pictures). There were a few isolated wind damage reports, but hail was definitely the story. One tool I like to use to examine the aftermath of a storm event is the IEM Cow, an unofficial tool developed by the Iowa Environmental Mesonet that groups issued warnings with storm reports (if there were any for that particular warning). Here’s what the Cow says about today’s event.

The hail core that dropped the baseball-size hail continued out of Rincon and basically followed U.S. 278 for a time, dropping golf ball-size hail on Hardeeville and Bluffton before weakening as it traversed the north end of Hilton Head and went offshore. Fortunately for our cars, the core of the storm stayed to our north (I live mid-island); we got a brief dose of heavy rain and a very chilly downdraft but not terribly much more than that.

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In Pictures Weather

Glad I’m on the sidelines for this one

Water vapor imagery of the gigantic Midwest snowstorm, via NOAA.

Water vapor imagery of the gigantic Midwest snowstorm, via NOAA.

I don’t like to sit on the sidelines of very many weather phenomena. The Midwest winter storm is a major exception. With snowfall totals in excess of 20″ in spots forecasted (looking on track if that water vapor imagery is any indication), I’ll be glad to avoid it. Its trailing front will swing through the Lowcountry, but will bring us showers and some occasionally gusty winds instead of a blizzard. Good luck to everybody who will be affected by the storm.

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In Pictures Weather

Ice, ice, baby

Map of ice accumulations prepared by the National Weather Service in Charleston.

Map of ice accumulations prepared by the National Weather Service in Charleston.

This winter just gets weirder every day, it seems. Monday brought on a fairly significant icing event in the Charleston area that, for a change, did not involve Smirnoff. Roads were closed, schools were closed and delayed even today, and black ice is still a possibility for the inland counties. (For the record, we were shut out of winter weather for the most part on Hilton Head Island, though there was a report of ice just west of here in Bluffton.) Temperatures will remain well below normal for the rest of the week before moderating this weekend in advance of another frontal system. Personally, I’ll be glad to get back to severe weather season, though this winter has given me an excellent hands-on education in winter weather.

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In Pictures

Snow over the holiday weekend

I can’t remember the last time I saw snow in December in SC; that’s what made the snow showers over the weekend that much more fun. Accumulation was very sparse (definitely not like snows we had back in February) but it was still a good time. Here are some iPhone photos I took during the snowstorm. There are a few photos of the heaviest snows still stuck on my mother’s point-and-shoot that I should extract and upload. Also, don’t forget this video of one of the snow showers.

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In Pictures

Several orders of magnitude of awesome: Air-powered ‘Star Trek’ door

I suspect I would get into massive amounts of trouble if I built one of these in my apartment. All he needs is a motion sensor and this is golden. (Via Duke Darrigo.)

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In Pictures

The best reason I’ve seen yet to buy an Xbox

Techno Kitten Adventure is possibly one of the better reasons to buy an Xbox. If you have ever seen the Helicopter Game, the mechanics are nearly identical; the eventual flashing stars and hearts in perfect synchronization with the hardcore techno beat in the background introduce quite a few wrinkles. Watch the video; it’s worth it. (Via Michael Wuori.)