The Origin Of My Fascination With Severe Weather

I didn’t always have a fascination with weather, specifically severe weather. I used to fear it with my life. As a child, I would hide under the bed when a severe thunderstorm would move over us. Growing up in Northern Ohio, severe thunderstorms are different than those in the central plains. I rarely ever experience hail larger than pea sized and I’ve only seen a wall cloud once.

I have no idea when the transition occurred but at some point, instead of fearing the weather, I became infatuated with it. Everything I know about mother nature is self-taught. While the general public looks at the graphical forecasts, I read the forecast discussion.

While I have a deep interest in all things weather related, my favorite aspect is severe thunderstorms and tornadoes. Growing up, my grandmother and step-father purchased CDs and DVDs filled with Tornado video to fuel my curiosity. Little did I know that a particular group of tornado videos would leave a lasting impact on me.

The most prevalent is the Andover, Kansas tornado of 1991. A magnificent beast that tore through everything in its path. What I vividly remember about this tornado is seeing a gigantic twister that looked like it was right behind a row of nice houses but didn’t touch them. This is the same tornado that went through McConnell AFB. It’s also the same twister responsible for the infamous video of people surviving a direct impact from a Tornado by securing themselves under an overpass.

The more I viewed clips and movies of Tornadoes, the less afraid I was of them. Now a days, I know enough to realize if a cell is going to move right over my location. While I don’t want to see destruction to any property, especially mine, there’s a part of me that wants to witness mother nature’s worst. It’s the ultimate natural high I can think of. There is a huge adrenaline rush of seeing a wall cloud in person or being within the polygon of a tornado warning. Think about it. Here comes a powerful storm and there isn’t anything you can do about it except hope for the best. You have to face mother nature head on, no ifs ands or buts.

I believe that severe thunderstorms are different depending on your location. For example, we rarely see hail above pea sized in northern Ohio. In the central plains of the US, it’s common to see hail the size of golf balls and baseballs. In Ohio, we just never seem to have the right thermodynamics to support that kind of event.

I’ve never seen a funnel cloud in person, let alone a waterspout. Part of me wants to see and experience a tornado while the other half fears it. When severe weather strikes, I know what to look for in the sky while others around me have no clue. If you live in tornado alley or even outside of it, I think it’s beneficial to learn about severe weather and what to look out for. The information could save your life.

Just once, I’d like to be in position to see an F-5 rated Twister in person rip apart an open field. It would be a moment of life I’d never forget.

I’m Not A Good Journalist

I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not a good journalist. For the longest time, I’ve been some random guy that has a fascination and curiosity with WordPress and have used a website to document my journey. Somehow over the years, that’s lead me to become this thing called a journalist. A title given to me by my peers, not by me. Personally, I don’t like the title of journalist but I don’t have much of a say in the matter.

When it comes to writing stories, for whatever reason I don’t do common sense journalistic things which in many aspects, are just common courtesy. For example, asking for permission to use text in a conversation as a quote attributed to that person. Or, ask someone to answer a few questions for an article and instead of using a snippet, I use their answers in the form of an interview without consulting them first.

What sucks about these kinds of mistakes I’ve made and continue to make is that deleting a post doesn’t work. Once I hit the publish button, I must deal with the consequences if I screwed up. It’s depressing and gives me a sickening feeling in my stomach to receive an email from a person I quoted in an article asking me why I didn’t tell them their words would be used in the way that I presented them. In just about every instance, they’re in the right while I’m definitely in the wrong. The only thing I can do at that point is apologize, tell them I can take the post down and that I understand if my actions have burned the bridge of communication between us.

In an effort to try to prevent myself from continuously falling into this trap, I’m writing down a list of things to do (and print) or consider when I’m involving other people into articles I write.

  1. Understand it’s my responsibility and mine alone to make sure the other party knows specifically how their words will be used.
  2. If I tell the other party I’m going to use their words in one way and in mid-stream decide to use them in another, inform the other party of the change as it’s their right. It also gives them an opportunity to allow or deny the use.
  3. Always ask for permission and never assume. Assumptions are traps and almost always lead to trouble.
  4. Just because my email signature says everything is on the record unless told otherwise, it’s not enough for a lot of people or they don’t see it.
  5. Never ever take words from private conversations and make them public through a post without explicit permission.
  6. If the post is an interview, send the person you interviewed a private review copy of the post out of courtesy before it’s published for review. Or if you end up using a lot of quotes provided by them in a post. This is probably one of the most important things to keep in mind as a final OK from them drastically reduces the chance of getting a pissed off email from them.

Some of the things are repeated and for good measure. Many of the things I have in my list are common sense/common courtesy but damn if I ever think these things through before hitting the publish button. I feel like shit when I mess these things up and get an angry email. It also doesn’t help when the victims are people I know and interact with at WordCamps and other places. There are only so many bridges that can be burned before no one will talk to me. I need to take all this shit more seriously and treat the conversations people have with me with more respect.

If you’ve been a victim of my negligence, I sincerely apologize.

The Invigorating Smell Of Summer Night Air

It’s 2AM and I just let the dog out to do her business. It’s the beginning of August. There’s a part of the moon touching the horizon and as I take a deep breath, I can smell everything the summer night has to offer. It’s invigorating, refreshing, energizing. One of the best times of the year besides a crisp Autumn night. As always, before I get caught up in the moment, I realize the dog is done doing her business. Time to go back inside.

The Pressures Of Being A Remote Worker

photo credit: kelly.sikkema - cc

photo credit: kelly.sikkemacc

After being a remote worker for over a year, I have a couple of things I’d like to talk about. The first is that it’s a lot tougher than I thought it would be. As a remote worker, all of the responsibility of getting the job done is on my shoulders. It’s actually an enormous amount of pressure since the measure of work is output.

The Self Guilt Trip

When I walk the dog during the evening with my wife, I’m checking the phone to see if I’m missing anything. At night in bed, I stare at the ceiling wondering what I’m going to write about the next day. When I wake up in the morning, I check Facebook, Twitter, and my email, not necessarily in that order. By the time I get out of bed, one or two hours have passed without typing a word.

Work surrounds me. Everywhere I go, work follows. Moderating comments, reading RSS feeds, chatting on Twitter, is work and can be done on the phone. When I’m not in front of the Macbook Pro or the desktop PC, I’m thinking about my job. In many aspects, I’m the boss of me and at times, my own worst enemy. I’m sure that’s a musical lyric in a song somewhere.

I’ve often read that bosses don’t want to allow their employees to work from home for fear of them not getting anything done. In my experience thus far, I think the boss has nothing to worry about because productivity rests on the shoulders of the employee. If the output isn’t there, there is no one for the employee to blame but themself.

The Reality Check Of Being A Remote Worker

Being a remote worker has been an enormous reality check. It’s hard to complain about my job because I have the freedom and ability to make it suit my life, not the other way around. If work doesn’t get done, it’s my fault. If I sleep in too late to get a full day in, it’s my fault. If I spend most of the day enjoying life instead of working, it’s my fault. If I work for 10-12 hours during the day, it’s my fault. At the end of the day, if my output is not noticeable, it’s my fault. Thus the pressures I’m constantly exerting on myself to get something done.

Lessons I’m In The Middle Of Learning

Sara Rosso, who has worked at Automattic for four years, published her list of lessons learned from working remotely. I’m in the process of learning some of those lessons myself. One of the most difficult lessons I’m learning is putting my health first before anything else. If I’m out riding a bike, the only thing I can think about is what I’m missing or could be writing at home, sitting in a chair, in front of the PC, generating output. Spacing out an hour or two a day for bike riding, exercise, etc makes me feel guilty. I know there are ways to be fit and work remotely, I’m just personally in the middle of trying to figure it out.

This post serves as a documented effort of trying to overcome the struggles I’ve encountered being a remote worker. If there is one thing I could tell people thinking about becoming one, it would be that it’s not as glamorous and kick ass as you might think. There are benefits for sure, but there is also a lot of self-reflection. Depending on how you react, so much self-reflection can either make you a better person, or constantly eat away at you. Right now, I’m in the middle.

Winamp Plus OctiMax Is Music To My Ears

I’m not sure how many people will remember this, but back in the early 2000s, there was a plugin for Winamp called OctiMax. I’m not sure what exactly it did, but it made music sound so much better in my headphones. It’s the perfect complement to Winamp which I still use as my primary music player.

Winamp Plus OctiMax

Don’t make fun of my playlist! As you can see, the plugin has presets for different types of music and a slider for Bass and Drive. Drive increases the volume while Bass increases the low notes. I usually keep the Bass at the lowest setting because anything more than that is too much.

Unfortunately, the plugin is no longer available on the web. I have two different versions saved to my external hard drive and who knows, they may be the last copies in existence.

Two Versions Of Octimax

Two Versions Of Octimax

I’m using Winamp 5.666 and the plugin works just fine. I don’t know how I ‘d be able to listen to music through Winamp without it. I’m just curious if anyone else still uses Winamp and OctiMax or did at one time? Milkdrop is cool, but it doesn’t make music sound better!

Wild, Wild Horses, We’ll Ride Them Some Day

I’ve never heard of this song until my uncles played it around a camp fire on their acoustic guitars. I listen to 98.5 WNCX Classic Rock out of Cleveland, Ohio and I’ve never heard this on the radio. It’s by the Rolling Stones and was released in 1971 as part of the Sticky Fingers album.

By the way, family members that know how to play a guitar around a campfire produces some of the best moments in life, at least for me. Nothing like a cold beer, singing along with family to some great tunes.