On weather celebrity

Sometimes weird things happen. Such things can be entertaining; some can result in considerable work; some are a bit of both.

So last Friday, January 1, I got this text message from a dear friend of ours. He’s a weather enthusiast. OK, he’s kind of a weather nut – but the weather our here is fascinating, what with the bizarre effects that our proximity to Lake Ontario can have.

Our friend is a weather spotter (forgive me if I have the exact terminology incorrect). One thing he does is, during snow events, he goes out every six hours and measures the snow depth. Then he clears whatever surface he was measuring on, and comes back in six hours to see how much more snow has fallen.

Aside: this explains why all those years I’ve wondered why snow totals reported by the local weather stations seemed to be so much more than what was really on the ground. See, by measuring every six hours, then starting with a fresh surface, compaction of the snow is eliminated. So, 26 inches of snow, measured every six hours, is about 20 inches if it’s just left to pile up, because of compaction.

So he texts me Friday evening at 7:30 wondering if it was snowing yet. Of course, I didn’t know it was supposed to be snowing, but I knew there was something in the works (meteorologically speaking). And, lo, it was snowing – those cool, big, puffy, lake effect flakes. Groovy. It’s just started snowing.

He asks me if I’d be willing to measure it every six hours, just to see what sorts of totals we get here. Well, OK. It’s a three-day weekend. How long can this snow event last, anyway? I start measuring diligently, every six hours.

Sunday, he texts me, wondering what the total is. I do some quick math. 26.5 inches.


‘yeah, unless I did something wrong. Here’s some photos’ I picture message him some photos, and while I’m at it, I take a few photos with my better camera (but not with my best camera, not that it matters).

Then a flurry of texts, picture messages, and e-mails. Apparently his friend, a meteorologist on channel 10, is interested in my numbers. Crazy. Oh, and can meteorologist buddy use these photos on the air? ‘oh sure,’ I say.

Well, the rest is history. My photos showed up on the six-o’clock news. Gotten a few e-mails and messages about it. My reported snow totals have been reported to the National Weather Service. And, oh, can you please keep measuring? This event is going to last a few more days.

So, it’s fun and exciting. But it’s also a lot of work. After all, I have to trudge out into the snow at midnight and 6am, as well as at noon and 6pm. And, oh yeah, I need to go back to work now. It’s Monday and I haven’t been to the office in two weeks. And classes start next week.

Huh. I guess I’ll just wing it.

Anyway, snow totals are now 43 inches (from Friday night ’til now, Monday Night)

Our driveway is now a canyon: http://www.flickr.com/photos/paleololigo/4242807458/

Our wood pile and cars are now buried: http://www.flickr.com/photos/paleololigo/4242799676/

Our holiday lights, though still working, are completely buried: http://www.flickr.com/photos/paleololigo/4242806318/

I like the new archway over the driveway, though: http://www.flickr.com/photos/paleololigo/4244742026/

Gotta love the winter.

On the merits of a ‘home office’

It’s 6:24 AM. It’s a work day, but I’m at home. Over the past few months I’ve constructed for myself a home office of sorts. Our home came with an apartment over the garage. It’s part of a 1935 addition that added our current kitchen, laundry room, and two-car garage. It was so full of ‘stuff’ when the house was for sale, that the agent didn’t even include it as a room in the house; nor did he include the fact that there’s a bathroom up here. Not that it’s a functional bathroom, mind you. Maybe in the spring we’ll be so bold as to turn the water on and see what happens.

But I have an office. It also functions as my model train room, the craft room, and the camera storage room. It’s barely insulated, so I need to keep a heater running full-time to keep it in the comfortable 60’s fahrenheit range.

Having a home office is great: It affords me the opportunity to work at home during snow days or on days when the things I need to accomplish can be done remotely so I can save myself 1.5 hours of commuting time. Plus, no one can just pop in for a chat. (I love such chats, to be sure, but they are a bit of a time-vacuum.) The office is pretty far removed from the rest of the house, so it’s relatively distraction-free.

The down side: work comes home with me. I like to keep work and home separate, and here it is slapping me in the face. Some days, having the office at home makes me not want to spend time with my family and they get blown off.

Well, right now I need my home office. I have reviews to write, a proposal in the works, and a manuscript I need to finish. And then there’s the matter of planning a new course that I’m teaching this coming semester and preparing for another week-long course for high schoolers that will also be happening this semester. Nothing has gotten accomplished at work for a few weeks, what with finals week, the holidays, and the usual associated chaos. Working at home means I can get my creative juices flowing and I can get into the writing groove for several hours straight.

My foci will be on the reviews and the proposal. Much as I don’t want to, I need to abandon the manuscript for the time being. My goal had been to have it submitted by the end of 2009, but that’s simply not going to happen. It’s disappointing, but I really need to move on. Maybe once classes have started and the proposal is submitted.

Well, back to it. Writing this has got my fingers set for some serious typing. Proposal, here I come!