Sunday, June 2, 2013

A Tribute to Tim Samaras

I wanted to share a story about Tim Samaras. We were in Iowa at the Des Moines Severe Weather Conference. I had always looked up to Tim thinking he was a great chaser and impressed by the work he had done. I was surprised that he was sitting alone at dinner. (At these conferences people always tend to flock is why at COD conference we have assigned mixed seating:-) I asked him to join us and got to spend the next few hours talking with him. I had known him from chasing and although I had met him a few times in person, knew him mostly from on-line discussions.

He was such a great guy. He was friendly, cordial to my students and spun a great yarn. I thoroughly enjoyed that evening getting to know him. He was a passionate, considerate and encouraging guy. He was humble and patient with everyone. I knew that we shared the passion and love for severe weather. He had a boyish quality when he talked about storms. Something that many of my chase friends share.

I think the last time I really got to talk with him was in Goodland, Kansas after a chase when we stopped at the Pizza Hut for a late night pizza and beer dinner. He had been getting data for a hail storm project he was working on. Usually avoiding the storm, he now got to punch the core on purpose!

Tim was always one to wave and say hi. And I must admit, I will miss the opportunity to meet up with him again. He will be sadly missed.

As chasers, we all do stupid things, and we all make mistakes in judgement. But we also know that the supercell is a whole lot more unpredictable than most will give credit to. When someone of his skill dies, it should make ALL of us stop and worry and rethink what we do. And in this day of in-vehicle radar, maybe take a step back and respect the storms even more. Realizing that chasers are getting a little to casual about getting up-close and personal. In the old days, before GRlevel3, I know that I was a lot more afraid, knowing how little I knew. Now I think I know more than I probably do. And I know a heckuva lot more about storms than most chasers. And i amazes me what some chasers will do.

I hope that Tim's death provides a lesson that all chasers will heed. We are still powerless. The storm ought to be respected and that what we do is dangerous. Foolish behavior has no place on the highways of tornado alley.

And for heaven's sake, chasers ought to think 4 times before they think they know enough to always be safe. And damn it, let's learn more about what is really happening in the storm.  I am sick and tired of too many shows telling the wrong thing about storm structure. And encouraging chasers to go out. This rant will be for another time, but the reality is that some of the reports of a large wedge, not save lives. It was clear on radar that this was a fricking beast of a storm. I knew that bad things were happening. I am not sure that people's lives were saved  because there were visual reports of the storm. People in Oklahoma should know when the NWS says a very dangerous tornado is occurring, they should respect that.

I am rambling because I have so many thoughts going through my brain. I am a chaser but I hate what chasing has become. But I cannot blame people for wanting to see what I see. And I am sorry for the mess much of the media makes with live reports. Tornado voyeurism. And I am very sorry that people die in tornadoes and there really is not much we can do to save everyone one.

And I miss Tim.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Many Paths to God

I have heard people say that there are many paths to God. Christians tend to claim that there is one path to God and His name is Jesus. I know enough about other religions to know much about their claims. It is my belief that people in general do not want to believe that there might be only one path to God. It disagrees with their perceptions of God.

The old philosophical parable about the elephant comes to mind. Three blind men are touching a different part of the elephant and because of their individual perspectives each would come to a different conclusion about what is was each was touching.

We should all be prepared to understand that each of us has limited understanding of the Nature of God. We all have a limited and incomplete view of God, who is beyond simple human comprehension. Enough said.

But does that mean there are many paths to God? Well, yes and no.

The first thing we must understand about the parable of the blind men is that they are wrong about their conclusions. What they were feeling was not a tree or a rope or a hand fan. They were all feeling parts of the same thing. And no one was correct. There was no tree, nor rope, nor anything else present. Those guesses were false descriptions of what was actually there.

But how, in the end, do we know who or what was wrong? The basic premise in the story is that we, the hearers of the story, know that there was an elephant. The premise from the beginning was that "they came to touch an elephant."

So how do we know what an elephant is?

Let's go back to the question of many paths. I propose to you an answer in the affirmative and the negative. There are many paths to God. There has to be. Every person in the world is in a different location, a unique starting place. Ultimately, we must travel different routes to the final destination of God. And God uses many different things to bring us to Him.

But like the elephant in the story, there is only one destination. There is only one God that we are all drawn to. And despite affirming that there are many roads to God, it would be equally foolish to state that all roads lead to God. In our lives, no matter where we are, we can find God. But it seems to me that we can also travel a path that leads us away from God. Which means that if we continue to cling to the belief that the elephant is a tree, there will still be some seriously bad consequences!

And now we get to Jesus. Jesus is uniquely qualified to show us God. (This might be a good blog post later.) He becomes the storyteller who begins the story with "Three men touched an elephant..." We are shown that, excuse the pun, there is an elephant in the room. We must know that there is a truth that undergirds our searching for God and the Truth. That we are not searching for just anything, but for something specific

There are many paths to God, yes. Wherever you are, God is calling you to Him. But there is one God and one final destination. And not all roads lead to Him. God will meet you where you are and find ways to bring you close. But if you want to have a chance to see the real elephant, turn to Jesus.

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.

Colossians 1:15-18

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Tornado Outbreak

A few days ago, there was big news and hype about the several-day severe weather event. News outlets were hyping it up, big time. And all because a large trough was entering the western US. And now as it turns out, very few tornadoes (a few minor tornadoes were reported yesterday.) And not very many severe reports. A strong cold front is plowing south through the southern plains and undercutting storms, not allowing any surface-based updrafts. Snow is plentiful and near record cold is overspreading the plains.

This all goes to show that a synoptic scale pattern change can be easily over-hyped because tornadoes are mesoscale events that require very specific conditions to form. And we do not do a very good job and knowing those details a few days out. Although I might add that it seemed to me that the main winds were going to be misplaced into the cold air. A large trough is not the only needed ingredient for a tornado outbreak.

I just hate, that despite a better ability to forecast, we allow the meteorology field to be "presented" by an overzealous media wanting to hype rather than report. It does no service to us when hype takes the place of an accurate understanding of the weather.

Of course, the plethora of chasers who talk up EVERYTHING is probably worse.

Sigh...I am just glad I heard thunder and will probably hear more again soon.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Greater than Myself

The Constitution of the United States will always be on of the world's most important documents. And yet today there are people who want to dismiss it. I shouldn't be surprised by it. There have always been people against it.I find it to be of the primary significance for the good of this country. The Constitution is greater, and ought to be greater, than the US itself and its people. It has to be.

The Constitution recognizes the fact that power is corrupting and the the general guide of mankind (and government) is toward corruption.There are checks to that power. When something "greater than" exists, then all must submit to that power. The power is in the document and the Law that it embodies. Government must submit to its authority. When it doesn't, then something else will take its place. That tends to be a branch of government or a party or perhaps the nature of the person his or herself. Someone may say "I know better." But when we elevate ourselves above the Law, then we become the power that is greater than and everyone must submit. The Constitution is not inflexible. It can be changed; but It, Itself, gives the directives on how that is to occur. No matter what, we need to submit to a greater authority or else, something will come and fill the void.

The same is true with each of us and our relationship to God. More than anything, we NEED a power that is greater than ourselves. God is and the world is set so that we work because we have a power greater than ourselves. When we deny the power that is God, something else will take God's rightful place. For each of us, it will become something: alcohol, work, pleasure, drugs, a relationship, children or something. Perhaps most importantly it may become ourselves. And that is most dangerous. We become God. An even with good motivations, we fail miserable because we do not have the tools needed to be God. And yet God we become. Or something else. We will then submit to that god and call others to submit to that god too.

And that is dangerous.

The more I know myself, the more I realize how no one ought to submit to me. But that is good because I know that *I* need to submit to God. That is how we are designed. If I need to act differently, or to have things I want, there are ways to change that. God works cooperatively with us as we grow up.  Every good parent changes the law as a child grows.

I am thankful today that there is a God who is loving and good and just. And He is greater than myself.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Fruits of the Vine

I like wine. It is a wonderful and sophisticated drink whose history treads across the many pages of the Bible. Jesus Himself referred to vines and wines and vineyards. One of the most important scriptural references was this: "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." (John 5:15)

I realized lately how much fruit God is bearing in me. Unfortunately, every time I rely on my own strength, I cut myself off from the vine and shrivel and die. Like a rose, I can be cut from a rose plant and be placed in a vase. For a while, I will drink water and stay beautiful. But my beauty will be short-lived. I have no roots and no way to grow. I can stay aline for a little more time only. I will soon fade and die.

And that is how I am with God when I stop "abiding" in Him. I need God to provide the roots I need to survive, to grow, to thrive, and to produce more fruit; more beauty. But here is a secret of the grape vine. When a branch is cut from the vine, it can be put back on through grafting. Soon, the living part will mesh with the branch and continue to provide for its nutrition and water. And that branch will continue to live as long as it remains in the vine.

Today, Lord, I want to remain in You and in turn, you will remain in me.

My new blog

Hi everyone. I had been mixing weather thoughts and personal philosophies on my web other blog, Weather on My Mind. I wanted to separate these two blogs so that people following our chases can do just that. I hope you choose to follow me on this, as I hope to write a little more often.