Friday, April 29, 2005

Up your nose, Kala.

On Wednesday, the Dodge City Daily Globe ran a letter to the editor from one of our prize local cynics, Kala Bray. You can read it HERE if you are the type who like hearing how unimportant we are historically. In it, she observes that, (and I quote) "Dodge City is not a vacation or tourist destination".

Well, Kala, the Uvino's of Brooklyn, NY have just shoved that premise right up your nose. I had the pleasure of meeting the Uvino's the very same day your letter ran in the Dodge City Daily Globe leaving me to wonder where in the world you got your information? Certainly not from any form of reality known to the rest of us! While I agree wholeheartedly that we need to do something to revitalize and restore the Old Dodge City Historic District (You'll note that the Dodge City Trail of Fame is already working on this), our name and history is what still draws far more than a "drip" of tourists to Dodge City every year.

You really need to get out more, Kala! The Uvino family along with several of their New York friends just spent a WEEK in the Dodge City area doing the tourist thing and loving it. You can read about the great time they had, and their take on Dodge City as a vacation and tourist destination HERE! It was fun talking with these people who obviously were having a ball.

If our old west history is lost on anyone, it appears to be only you, Kala. Maybe if you went downtown into Historic Old Dodge City a little more often.... maybe if you actually talked to some of the 100,000 or so tourists who come here for western history every year.... maybe if you got out of the house a little more often... Naw. Silly me. You've already got your mind made up, haven't you?

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

I needed this....

The long awaited short motorcycle vacation is just about to commence. Of course, it's April and the weather will be somewhat contentious, but that's okay, too. I've got the rain gear. I leave right after work today and have about 900 miles to do this evening and tomorrow. Some new roads are in the works and I always like new roads. My destination is Sturgis, Mississippi and the Vintage BMW motorcycle get together at Bench Mark Works. I plan to zip down to Oklahoma City via the "Southeast Passage" and pick up I-40 at the Cherokee Strip. Then I'll head east on the super slab until I get too tired to go any farther for tonight. Hopefully, near Henryetta, OK. On Thursday I'll forego the interstate near Fort Smith and head of south and then southeast through Hot Springs, and Pine Bluff before crossing the might Mississippi near Greenville. From there it's east on US82 crossing the Natchez Trace and dipping south to the tiny berg of Sturgis.

I'm really looking forward to this for a number of reasons. First of all, is a chance to visit the Bench Mark Works shop and Museum. This is where the engine and transmission of my old 1964 R60/2 was overhauled. Vech will be doing some seminar type sessions on these old BMW motorcycles and I sure could use the experience as I finish putting mine back together. The other great thing will be the people. Of the ones I know about, I am most excited to see my old friend Ed Youngblood of AMA fame from back in the 1970's. After that, of course, Vech, himself I've only talked with via telephone. Also in attendance will be Mark Huggett from Switzerland from whom I've purchased parts for these old bikes. He will be doing some seminars too, I think. Then too, there will be a few of the folks from my Yahoo listserv "slash2" in attendance. It will be great to put a face with some of the names I see on line regularly. Finally, I just need to get away from the overload I've had lately working on Trail of Fame things. Just a short breather to get my energy back and some renewed vigor.

As I look through the weather for the trip and the event, I see we will have to deal with a cold front and most likely some thunderstorms Friday afternoon and overnight. The trip home on Sunday and Monday also appears to be doomed to some rain. The numerical weather predicition models are forecasting a lot of rain with a new cyclone moving out of the southern Rockies into the plains. Of course, a lot will depend upon the track of the low as to where the most rain is. All this won't make any difference to me, however. I wouldn't cancel this trip for rain. Like I've done many times before, I'll just enjoy the trip regardless of the weather.

In some ways, being a weather forecaster and having a good idea what to expect is a curse. That's because you know you are going to proceed in spite of the weather. Knowing what weather you are going to have to face is worse than just stumbling into it!!

Saturday, April 16, 2005

And the end approaches......

What an incredible mess the National Weather Service has created with high resolution gridded, digital forecasts! The majority of our new forecasters are dependent on the output of computer numerical models to make a forecast. Couple that dependency with the "picture" forecasts produced by the present software being used and you get an obsession with forecast details beyond the capability of the science of meteorology. It's as bad as the old "street level" radar nonsense of the early '90s. Just because you can look and reproduce graphics at that resolution, does *NOT* mean you have any skill at predictions on those scales. Most especially when you extend that prediction days into the future at that resolution!

I thought I had seen the limits of idiocy among these people, but today takes the cake! I was informed by a forecaster at another office (GID) that their office policy (obviously put in place by a manager with no understanding of the science who is following PC guidelines from above) is to be sure that all the "colors blend" between their grids and those of their neighbors. In the words of Mark Twain, "I may say that I was never so confounded before!". The collaboration via "chat" sums up the whole incident Here.

The National Weather Service is headed straight for the toilet and this incredible nonsense is why. We have turned from scientists into a group of interior decorators who are mixing and matching colors. "Queer Eye for the Grids Guy".....

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

A rant specific to meteorology....

Classical frontal analysis appears to have become passe in the National Weather Service. For the past several weeks I have read countless meteorological discussions from people whom are otherwise good meteorologists. A constant theme in them has been the identification of a Pacific origin polar frontal system as a "dry-line"... whatever that is.

I used to think I knew what a dry line was - a feature produced when dry, downslope flow into the plains from the mountains "mixes out" water vapor in the air, thereby forming an gradient of moisture which slopes eastward from the surface as one goes aloft. Furthermore, it shows a distinct diurnal cycle in its movement, mixing back to the west at night. But, from the preponderance of discourse I read and hear from modern meteorologists, I'm beginning to wonder if my understanding of the processes which form a dry-line (and its physical characteristics) is not somehow very lacking.

Frontal systems moving eastward out of the Rockies and into the plains naturally undergo some structural changes due to orographic concerns . The effects upon temperature and moisture with an airmass undergoing downslope transport of from the mountains to the plains is demonstrably (through adiabatic decent considerations) an order of magnitude or more greater than the effects of simple synoptic scale advection of the airmass. As a result, *ANY* airmass moving out of the mountains and into the plains will become much drier and much warmer than if it were moving over non-sloping terrain. If one, therefore, ignores the vertical structure of a front moving out of the mountains and into the plains, looking only at surface observations, one is going to see dry, warm air invading the plains in the wake of a surface wind shift. This may, or may not be a dry-line, however! If the structure aloft shows this to be consistent with a synoptic scale front, especially if it continues to move eastward at night, then it is most certainly a front even if it has some surface characteristics of a dry-line. As mentioned above, true dry-lines slope eastward with height whereas fronts slope at least slightly westward (baring the rather nebulous vertical characteristics of occluded fronts exiting higher terrain) toward the upper jet streak and the colder air aloft.

Vertical cross-sectional analyses of relative humidity, wind speed, and potential temperature usually are sufficient to identify the nature of a feature moving into the plains from the mountains. They are not used nearly enough in my opinion, thus the most outrageous terminology being bandied about concerning "boundaries" in meteorological discussions. It is not sufficient to look at a surface chart with plotted data on the mesoscale when one wishes to diagnose the structure (and thus the identity) of some feature in the atmosphere. Failure to do such complete analysis, whether due to lack of time, knowledge, ability, or interest, is inexcusable in my eyes. To further perpetrate the lack of proper diagnosis by discussing a feature using terminology which cannot be backed up in fact (but is clever sounding "jargon") is not science at all, but simply B.S.'ing the uninitiated reader. I, for one, abhor it.

If a meteorologist doesn't do a complete 3 dimensional diagnosis to identify an atmospheric structure in relation to some accepted conceptual model (or develop an new conceptual model from the results of such diagnosis), then he/she should openly admit that they don't know for certain what the structure is. In no case, however, should meteorological "jargon" and "buzz words" be used to discuss the feature even with other meteorologists! To do so is extremely unscientific and unprofessional and lowers our science to the realm of voodoo, smoke and mirrors.

End of rant.....

Monday, April 11, 2005

Morons and Militia....

Once again a group of narrow minded, myopic, morons have scuttled Dodge City's best chance to improve it's economy and save it's history. They did so by focusing their strongly negative attitude about our city and running what turned out to be a successful campaign to defeat last Tuesday's proposition to build a special events center in Wright Park. To accomplish this feat they employed a substantial collection of lies, deceit and half truths cloked in the guise of informative assistance to the electorate. Bless them. We will remind them what they did when things get ugly in the future.

Fortunately, the Dodge City Trail of Fame can move on without any help from people who apparently want to see Dodge City's core rot and die. It will just be a lot harder now to attain our stated goal of saving the Old Dodge City Historic District.

In world affairs, I'm concerned that our European allies and the UN are not taking the threat of Hezbollah nearly as seriously as they should insofar as Lebanon is concerned. The idea that Syria is somehow running the show there is absurd. Hezbollah is running the show, just as it is running things in Syria and most probably in Tehran as well.

We seem to have greatly hampered Al Queda around the globe even though the organization is far from extinct. What are we to do about Hezbollah? There are still large numbers of people in the world who seem to think that all we need do is talk nicely and negotiate with groups like Hezbollah and everyone will walk away blissfully happy. That scares me, as nothing could be farther from the truth. Hezbollah is another muslim fundimentalist group which, though perhaps not an Al Queda today, is only a hair's breadth away from being one tomorrow. They have no intention of giving Lebanon to the Lebanese people (or Syria or Iran to the Syrians and Iranians, for that matter). The rest of the world must present a strong and united front against them or we will all pay the price.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

What's Good for Dodge City...

There is a city wide election on Tuesday with a number of issues on it. I'm not sure how I will vote on a couple of them, but I know I will vote "Yes" to build the proposed special events center in Wright Park. This issue has been highjacked for too long by the most negative and coarse elements of our local society. I have listened to actual cursing and name calling by those opposed to the Wright Park location. It is absolutely amazing and absolutely disgusting at the same time.

Over the past 10 years that I know of, we (the tax payer) have footed the bill for 4 different and entirely independent consultancies to study the proposed project and provide us with information as to where the special events center should be located and what it should consist of in order to realize the best economic development for Dodge City. All four consultants recommended locating the project in the "core" area of Dodge City. Additionally, I have voted in two elections already for this project. It seems that some people in city and county government don't like what the electorate has told them, so we have to keep voting again and again (apparently until things turn out the way those few people want it to!). Unless I missed something in school, that isn't democracy. The majority have had their say several times now, but the minority doesn't seem to want to accept it! This is an incredible mess. If I had the money, I'd file a lawsuit against the city and county for not following the wishes of the electorate on the first two votes!! I wonder of the ACLU would take this case. I think I'll try to contact them and see.

In the meantime, I will (once again) vote for the special events center to be located in the "core" area of Dodge City. Somehow we have to wrestle control of our future from the hands of the people who have no vision and who are against everything progressive. Somehow we have to get excited about Dodge City once again instead of being totally negative about everything our wonderful community has to offer.