BY POPULAR DEMAND… the NWS-Memphis will be holding Advanced Online Skywarn Storm Spotting Training next Tuesday. If you’ve taken the basic course (online or at a training session in the Mid-South or elsewhere) and want to go to the next level, this is for you.



Early Sunday edition of WREG-TV News Channel 3 video weatherblog Weather Overtime posted and ready to view.  #ShareAndEnjoy

Pandas + Snow = Unbearable Cuteness



OK, astute readers of a science fiction bent will realize that this is a bit of a rip-off.

***ALERT : If you don’t like science fiction, or you like to grouse about people who read or watch or write it, stop reading right here and go do something else. Seriously, just stop now and save us both the trouble.***¬†

One of my favorite series was Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, in which the capitalist extremist species, the Ferengi, played a decently large part. ¬†The Ferengi Rules of Acquisition were the (semi-one-sided) laws of commerce that the species had to abide by… mostly. Kind of. When it suited them.¬†


The Ferengi are not subtle, except when it suits them. They will do anything to earn profit. Well, they’ll do some things to earn it. Most of the time they’ll find a way to wangle it away from their customers and cook the books in their favor.


According to Star Trek Memory Alpha: “The Rules of Acquisition were a numbered series of aphorisms, guidelines, and principles that provided the foundation of business philosophy in Ferengi culture. They were first written ten thousand years ago by Gint, the first Grand Nagus. In the mid-22nd century there were 173 rules, and by the 24th century there were 285. In theory, every Ferengi business transaction strictly follows all 285 rules.”


One physical characteristic of the Ferengi (you may have noticed by now) is their large ears, which lends itself to a raised level of hearing ability. A wise Ferengi, it is said, can hear profit blowing on the wind. (Rule of Acquisition 22, in fact) The one thing about them is that they are good listeners. They have to be if they are going to be good business people. 


I have learned over time that God gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason. (Call it cliche and/or trite if you want to, it’s my opinion and my blog.) If people spent a good deal more time listening and less chatting, things might be a bit better for them. (Again, my opinion. Don’t like it? Stop reading it.) If you ever listen to Drake and Zeke on 98.1 The Max, you may have heard Mr. Drake opine that most people go around with a five foot radius sphere around themselves and don’t care about much that goes on outside of that sphere. Small matters make for the best chatter, I’ve found. Usually to keep the larger matters at bay or to keep the wheels moving upstairs so you won’t have to worry about the trivial stuff? Not entirely sure. I do know that there is an awful lot of chatter and not much space left for listening. Which is a tragedy in its own sense: a lot gets missed when it’s all talk. Close the mouth to open the ears and you might just be amazed. Might be a good idea to put the phone down every once in a while and just shut up. Use your ears more and your mouth less. A lot of my experiences in life have leaned towards the idea of bettering myself, and a lot of times that I should have listened more than speaking. Hard to believe that even the greedy Ferengi can teach us something in real life.¬†


Even though the Ferengi are fictional, their rules occasionally hit on a lot of common sense. 
Rule Number 9: Opportunity plus instinct equals profit. Rule Number 48: The bigger the smile, the sharper the knife.  Rule Number 59: Free advice is seldom cheap.  Rule Number 74: Knowledge equals profit.  

I have another favorite rule that I’ve borrowed, but I’ll save that for later on. Stay tuned.¬†


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Dr. Marshall Shepherd: Polar Vortex: It’s not new

Dr. Marshall Shepherd: Polar Vortex: It’s not new

“I am certain the term “derecho” is feeling slighted. Until recently, it was the “main star” in the News and Infotainment movie entitled “Weather and Climate Words New to the Media/Public, But Known by Weather-Climate Scientists for Decades”. ¬†Note: I am using a metaphors and analogies.

Recently, a new star has emerged in this movie,¬†Polar Vortex. As the President of the American Meteorological Society (AMS), ¬†I couldn’t remain silent as media, public, and even some colleagues mischaracterize the term.”

Dr. Marshall Shepherd, President, American Meteorological Society, Director-UGA Atmos. Sciences, Prof, former NASA scientist



When I was working back at KTKA-TV 49 in Topeka, Kansas, the newsroom had interconnected computers that enabled different users at different desks to send instant messages, typed scripts, etc. to each other. We were also able to create common files that we could all contribute to. One of the main things we typed together were Top Ten Lists. Lots of them. (Yes, it’s not all business when it comes to television news. Occasionally, you have to sit back and laugh a bit.) One of the lists that got created was Top Ten Reasons The Castaways of Gilligan’s Island Should Have Killed Gilligan. The Number One answer was: “He was STUPID! Jeez Louise, he was stupid!!!!” #CantArgueWithThat¬†

Let’s face it: there’s an awful lot of stupid out there. Hoo-boy, there’s a lot of stupid…¬†


About 7 AM most Monday through Friday mornings, Drake Hall and Zeke Logan on 98.1 The Max in Memphis run down the latest and greatest (well…. sort of) of the dumbest of the dumb, in an entire segment dedicated to the “Dumbasses of the Day” or “The Daily Dumbass” part of the show. Some of the entries make you shake your head, some make you laugh uncontrollably, some make you cringe and lock your knees together (as in: yeesh! seriously!?) at what human beings are capable of. I find it interesting to try to figure out in advance if an entry will end with the described stupid person’s demise or not. Wherever Drake and Zeke keep getting these stories from, they don’t seem like they’ll be running out of them any time soon. Sadly.¬†


You’ve done it. I’ve done it. It’s easy. Why? We’re human. We’ve seen it happen all over the place. People who cook oatmeal while smoking and talking on their phones in the middle of rush hour traffic. People who antagonize the gorilla at the zoo from a few inches away. People who eat a large spoonful of cinnamon. People who wind up on America’s Funniest Videos or Tosh.0 after doing something not quite so smart… and for that: we thank you.¬†


Make no mistake: I’m not talking down about people, or talking trash on people’s misfortune. I don’t do that. I try to be as good as possible when it comes to hoping and helping. I got made fun of enough in my life. Big, fat glasses and rather – shall we say – awkwardly dressed at times, I wasn’t always the incredibly handsome and suave person that I am now. Times change, experiences accumulate, and I have done what I can to make things better, being kinder than necessary to myself and everyone around me. I’ve learned from my mistakes (mostly). The trouble is: I keep making new ones. Lots of them. Oy.¬†


I’ve walked into street signs before. Lots of them. Sometimes cute girls walking the other way were the culprit, sometimes not. I’ve missed the last step at the bottom of staircases. I’ve recorded the wrong programs and missed appointments. I’ve read the wrong schedule and gotten to work late. Laughed at the wrong jokes, tripped over my own feet, filled out the wrong forms, gotten lost, forgotten important dates, put the wrong numbers in the wrong column, overreacted when I shouldn’t have, let the dog eat my homework (It happened! that’s my story and I’m sticking to it) and various other things much too embarrassing to mention.¬†


(If there would be a soundtrack song that should play when I mess up, this would be it.)

I’m human. I can’t count the number of forecasts that have busted. I can keep trying to improve myself. Giving up is not an option. I have to keep trying to make myself better and avoid making the bigger mistakes if possible. Doesn’t always succeed, mind you. Can’t stop giving it my best shot.


When I give presentations at the Memphis Pink Palace in “The Magic of Science” program or our Physical Science laboratory, I have a part of the presentations that depend on using dry ice. If you’ve never worked with dry ice before, its really (pardon the pun) cool stuff. One of the things I warn the students about scientific ignorance. The people who put videos on YouTube showing their versions of dry ice bombs (hot water + dry ice in a closed container = illegal explosive device) don’t always end well. To that end, I take a small plastic coffee container with a non-screwtop lid and mix dry ice and hot water. The lid flies off after a few seconds in an arc that, when you mentally stretch that out, is about ten feet long. That’s a lot of power in a small amount of stuff. I remind the kids that being a scientist includes the idea of responsibility and ethical behavior. Mistakes? They happen. Sometimes with a tragic end. On the other hand, being willfully ignorant – especially when the stakes are high – is something that I will never be able to comprehend.¬†


I often look at life with a bent eye, seeing the sheer inanity of a lot of people’s actions, mainly because you have the choice to look at life and laugh, or look at life and cry. I always hope for the best, but am often disappointed by people and their actions. But, I always do hope that things could be better. Most of the time, when I hear the phrase: “Hey, dude… watch this!” I automatically have a sense of either “duck and cover” or “basically… run” take over very quickly.¬†


Some of what I’ve learned over the years is to be kind to yourself and everyone else. My beautiful and smart science teacher wife (who has had to put up with a lot of my brain-misgivings over the years) is a forgiving type, especially dealing with me and my oops-moments. When you screw up, and you will, be kind and give yourself a break. I’ve seen too many people beat them up over a failure to the point of near-depression and heartache (and various other stomach ailments) to boot. I’ve also seen a lot of people get way overheated about other people’s mistakes to the point of near stupidity on their own. The sheer amount of vitriolic overkill that some people indulge in is scary when you witness it.¬†


So, when you do something oops-identally, or see someone else doing it, give you/them a break, and quit being such a hard-liner against them, remembering that you are just as human as they are. 

On the other hand, remember well that the alligator doesn’t want your head in its mouth, cinnamon is meant to be used in small doses only, tap dancing through minefields is not macho, doing something just because someone called you chicken is a ridiculous reason to do that said something (even with the triple-dog-dare attached to it), the gorilla is much bigger and stronger than you are, and if you go around acting like a butthead to the police or sheriff officers that pulled you over for speeding, you probably deserve to go to jail for a few days.


Let’s all try to do our best to not violate the “Don’t Be Stupid” policy. And put down that cinnamon.¬†


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