Friday, May 28, 2010


Have I told you about Chase? He’s a little quiet, but a lot of fun. He’s hard to track down these last few days, but when I do find him he always seems to rope me into some sort of something repair.

I’ve never been much of a mechanic, I’ve got nothing against machinery, but on the timeline of people’s interactions with machinery, I’m…well, let’s just go to that timeline:

People who make machines > People who fix machines > People who use machines properly > People who are pretty good at turning machines on and off > People who get frustrated by machines > People who occasionally break machines > People who almost always break machines > People that machines are actually afraid of > PETE (that’s me) > People who have never ever used machines > People from dystopian future novels who are tasked with destroying all machines to prevent a mechanical uprising.

So, I’m not exactly a natural mechanic, but Chase couldn’t care less. Every time he sees me he throws me a wrench and makes me fix something. Yesterday he had me fixing weather balloon circuitry.

Fixing weather balloon circuitry. Me.

It was pretty cool.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Good news! I have one confirmed reader! Bad news to follow.

…it’s Scott, who has told me in no uncertain terms that I should not be making fun of his keyboard, or any of his items on the internet.

So…not surprisingly my day began with a lecture and some keyboard cleaning time. Then things got way more interesting. Scott took me out for a driving lesson. Now, I already know how to drive – but Scott was teaching me storm driving. It was pretty crazy.

First, he made me practice loading the storm gear into the chase truck until I could get the whole process down to under a minute. Here’s a fun fact about storm gear. It is HEAVY and, if given its druthers, would really rather honestly stay put, thank you very much. But after a lot of tries I got it all in the truck.

Then he made me practice driving quickly in reverse. I cannot tell you how much I hated that. It is the hardest, most dangerous thing ever, ever. Don’t believe me? Turn your keyboard around and try to type a sentence as fast as possible. Now for bonus points, do that fifty times in a row while a grumpy scientist is yelling at you.

In the end though, Scott gave me a D. Which he said is bad, but not as bad as Chase, and NOWHERE near as good as Debbie (B+).

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Scott, it’s time we have a talk about the state of your keyboard.

...Is what I’d say if I were WAAAAAY braver. "This is the one time where having a loose cannon around is a good thing." Today Scott had me working on setting up a spreadsheet to track the barometric pressure readings on the hours leading up to tornado touchdowns that have been confirmed by that Canute team. From the massive stockpile of data I’m working through, it looks like everyone here has really had a LOT of storm experience. I’m not sure what’s going to happen to the data once I enter it all in, but I am sure of one thing:

Scott’s keyboard is really, really, reaaaaaally gross.

I don’t think he has ever tried cleaning it. It’s so bad in that thing that I’m pretty sure a weird civilization is thriving down there – if I were to flip the keyboard over and give it a shake I think I’d find evidence that whatever is living in there has started making rudimentary clay pots and simple rock based weaponry. Forget storms, I should just study the archeological significance of stuff I found in Scott’s gross keyboard.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


I’ve lost Cap’n Duckbeard Pegwing. I should not be in charge of the Canute Chasers Official Good Luck Charm, maybe.

Cap’n you’ll be missed. I salute you for your 26 brave hours of service.
Scott was NOT pleased to hear of the development, apparently he’s pretty superstitious. The Canute Chasers Official Good Luck Charm has only gotten lost once before, and from what I’ve heard, that was a very bad year for everyone on the team. I asked Scott what happened that year, and all he said was “You don’t find that duck, and I’m sure you’ll find out soon enough.”

Feel free to post your thoughts, favorite memories, or if possible, the location of, Cap’n Duckbeard, below.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Every Team Needs A Mascot

According to Debbie, the weather is about to stop being polite, and start getting real around here. Those were her exact words, and that is why I like Debbie. That means it’s time for the Annual Choosing and Naming the chase team’s mascot. Since storms have the potential to be dangerous (when you choose to seek the opposite of shelter during recommended shelter seeking times.) it never hurts to have a little good luck on your side. Today it was my job to go find a proper mascot (well, that and a bunch of other less exciting things like making sure all of the file names match on the storm data…word of warning to files names the world over GET YOUR ACT TOGETHER, STAT.) and I think I did a pretty good job of it. After scouring the homestead, I found the perfect mascot.

I’ve named him: The Dreaded Cap’n Duckbeard Pegwing. From this day forward, he’ll be our Canute Chasers Official Good Luck Charm.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Do the shutterbug!

You know in the movies – the guy with the green jacket with all the pockets who is running down the street with an old, sturdy looking SLR Camera, dodging explosions and taking Pulitzer prize winning photos while also jumping out of a bunch of helicopters? That is totally what I was like today. Except I don’t have the jacket – and nothing exploded – and there were no helicopters - and the Pulitzer people haven’t called yet.

Frosty took me out to shoot some film of cloud formations around the homestead. Here’s a fun fact about clouds – they’re REALLY far away from the ground. Now, this may seem like common sense to you, my very clever readers, but it wasn’t until I pointed a camera up at the sky that I realized how really, really, really far away they are.

So, next time you look at the sky and see a cloud, think about the number 25,000. 25,000 feet – that’s about five miles. Some clouds are five MILES away .Think about that. Five miles is REALLY far away. Now imagine taking a picture of something that’s five miles away. Pretty crazy, right? So…keep that in mind when I mention that not a single one of my pictures turned out.

Frown Emoticon!

But Frosty said it was a good start, tomorrow he’s going to teach me the names of all of the clouds, which seems it will take a looooong time.

This cloud is named Gerald McIntire. One down. MILLIONS to go.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


This blog thing is new to me, so sorry I didn't update yesterday, but I'm here today! 

Salad with chopsticks? When you’re a stormchaser, you have to learn how to adapt under pressure!

This week has been a very special kind of busy. Scott has been wrapping up his classes for the semester, so I’ve been getting most of my marching orders from Debbie. Debbie, who told me in no uncertain terms that if I post her picture on my blog I’ll be given an involuntary Viking funeral, is pretty great (except for that whole promising to push me out to sea in a flaming boat thing). She and Scott seem like they’ve worked together for a while – they work together really well and have this bizarre shorthand I don’t understand. Listening to the two of them talk is just confusing – it’s like they hate nouns. Por Ejamplo:

Scott: Debbie where’s my (makes a circular gesture) you know…

Debbie: Upper shelf, next to the thing –

Scott: No, not that, the (same circular gesture, but more frustrated) that…with the –

Debbie: Oh, yeah. That. Pete broke that.

On a…related note. I broke some equipment. I advise against doing this during your internship.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


One of the features of the Funnel Cloud Café: a sandwich eating a pickle. It makes sense!

We officially move into the homestead tomorrow, and Scott’s been leaving me progressively more confusing lists of last minute necessities for the season. Here’s a sample:

- 2 - 5 spare tubes (the good kind, not the ones I hate) for the Doppler.
- 2 Big things of salt – the road kind not the people kind
- Will there be dogs? I don’t know. Get a little dog food.
- Magazines and books. And by magazines I mean interesting things for us to read when the power goes off, not TV Guide like the last guy got. That made no sense at all. Don’t do that.

And that is what dealing with Prof Varnell is like in a nutshell. He’s the only person I’ve ever seen write a stream of consciousness to do list. Tomorrow I might finally get to meet some of the rest of the team!

- Pete

Monday, May 17, 2010

I Am the Intern!

Alright, so I went to the wrong office, what of it?! We’ve all been there before. Right?
Ok, maybe I’m the only one. When you have my kind of luck (bad, for our new readers) it’s always best to try to show up about half an hour early whenever you have an important appointment. If you factor a little disaster time into an important day, you’ll pretty much always use it. At least I do.

Like today for example: I showed up at Scott’s office ready for the interview. I spent some small talk time with the people in the lobby and prepped for the interview. I read a magazine and practiced my thoughtful nods for the interview (seriously, it’s hard to pull off a good thoughtful nod under pressure.)
Finally, I got called into the professor’s office. I started my spiel, explained why I’d make a great addition to his team. I told him about the biggest storm I’ve been in. I told him what I thought about lighting. I told him about my favorite types of clouds.

Suddenly, I noticed that he looked confused. Really confused. And THEN I noticed the nameplate on his desk did NOT say Professor Scott Varnell, Head of Meteorology. Instead it said, Professor Scott Varnon, Math Department. I was in. The. Wrong. Office. I looked at my watch, I had five minutes to make it to the other Scott’s office – wherever that was.
I wasn’t sure what to say to the other prof. so I did what anyone would do in this situation – I stood up, said “Oh no!” and ran away.

I made it to Prof. Varnell’s office – way late. As my luck would have it Prof Varnell had taken the day off. A woman named Debbie handed me this note:

For those who have trouble reading the writing, it reads “Dear Intern Candidate, if you can read this and can drive – you are now the intern. You won’t be paid. S.V.”
I’d like to point out that I did not crumble it up and pour coffee on it, it came that way.
Something tells me this internship is going to be AWESOME!
- Pete