I’ve Had Crazy Dreams Lately, Part 3

I guess it’s time to resurrect this post category because last night I didn’t have just one crazy dream; I had two!

Let’s start with the one I had earlier.  It started when we were leaving work and heading out in the pouring rain to the cars at the end of the day.  I was following everyone else but once I got all the way out there, I realized that I was parked in the front of the building.  I asked Chris for a ride up to the front of the building and hopped in the minivan.  It turns out, the front of the building is MUCH farther than it is in real life.  After a few minute drive, we finally arrive at my car.  I get out but cannot reach my computer bag because it is under the seat. Matt Porcelli, who is also in Chris Schraeder’s minivan, helps me out by grabbing the bag for me.

They leave and now the area looks eerily similar to Penn State Beaver.  Even though my car is there, I go walking up the road in the pouring rain to find my car.  Instead of finding my car, I find a bus shelter across from a gas station and step inside there to call home because I realize I cannot find my car.  While on the phone, the weather intensifies and there’s thunder and lightning.  The clouds also look tornadic.  Eventually, the bus shelter starts to move (almost like it is a bus itself, but I can see out all four sides).  The weather is still rough and it is almost like the shelter is trying to get away from the storm.

This then transforms to what appears to be a bus with an open second story.  We’re traveling along the river in Pittsburgh and I realize that I know where my car is.  It’s back at the area that looked like PSU Beaver… exactly where I started walking from.  I ask the guy next to me when the bus returns and he says that it’ll be quite a while.  The sky magically turns from day to twilight to night right before my eyes and the guy I asked falls asleep and wakes up, almost as if I was fast-forwarding.  The last part of that dream involves me eating some candies that were a little like junior mints with icing on them.  I offered a couple to the people sitting next to me.  Dream over.

But wait… there’s more!

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Top 7 of 2011 > Number 1: Hello WXC, Hello WI

I now work here.

Yesterday, I wrote about my #2 in the Top 7 of 2011 countdown.  That was my leaving WJAC and the state of PA.  Today’s #1 is the reason for my leaving… to move to Wisconsin to start a new job at Weather Central.

One of the things I loved the most about my job at WJAC was creating cool graphics to use on the air.  Weather Central is the company that makes those graphics happen.  They’re the ones that make the computer software that displays weather graphics for television stations across the country.

I had been working with Weather Central software since my days of interning at WTOV in Steubenville, OH and picked up a lot of experience in those, let’s say, 8 years.  With all that experience, I thought working for the company might be fun.  Because of that, in August I decided to apply for an opening for a trainer / customer development specialist.  Within a week, I had a job offer.  A week later I accepted the position.

So how has it been so far?  Fantastic!

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Top 7 of 2011 > Number 2: Goodbye WJAC, Goodbye PA

This is one of my favorite pictures from when I was on TV.

I can still remember just over six years ago signing my first contract with WJAC.  I was thinking to myself that three years is an awfully long time to be in Johnstown.  That contract ended and there I was signing another three-year deal at WJAC.  It’s hard to believe that it was six years ago.  Finally, after six years, I decided to make a move.  Here’s my last official posting for WJAC, otherwise known as my goodbye message.  This will serve as number two in the Top 7 of 2011…

“This was a triumph.  I’m making a note here… huge success.  It’s hard to overstate my satisfaction.”

The line above is from the video game ‘Portal’ and I used it in the e-mail I sent to my coworkers. I really feel it applies here, as well.  I owe so much of my success from my six years at WJAC to you, the viewers.  I came to WJAC in 2005 and had a really hard time in the beginning because I didn’t have a lot of interaction.  I quickly found a way to combat that… social media.

It started with the Severe Weather Team Blog and quickly grew to Twitter and Facebook and even live web streams via Ustream.tv.  This is when I really started to feel a special connection with all of you.  Not only did you welcome me into your living room every night, but you talked with me as if I was a member of the family.  Some people questioned my reliance on social media to connect with you, but I truly believe that it is what made this the ‘huge success’ as I quoted above.  Not only did you get your watches, warnings, and forecasts, but you got to see a personal side of me and I got to see a personal side of you… so much so that some of you shared your most upsetting, personal moments.  It’s these connections that build your trust in me as a meteorologist.

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Top 7 of 2011 > Number 3: Outdoor Adventures

Doing some rock scrambling at Devil's Lake.

I feel like with every year, I get a little more adventurous.  This year was certainly no exception.  I took a couple of great road trips with a bunch of great people and I hope that 2012 will be the same, if not better.  Here’s a look back at some of the adventures from 2011…

Back in 2010, Matt Fiering mentioned that he did the Warrior Dash in New York.  In case you haven’t heard of it, the Warrior Dash is a 3ish mile run with a bunch of crazy obstacles.  It’s not a boring old run, but something that gives you a reason to go out and have a good time.  Then, early in 2011, he mentioned that he was doing the one in Logan, Ohio and I signed up to do the race with him and a couple of others.  In June, we took a short road trip out to Ohio to run in the race and it was a blast.  As a group, we dressed up as characters from the classic WWF.  I didn’t really have a favorite wrestler so I decided to be one of the lesser-known announcers, Sean Mooney.  This year, I’m hoping to tackle a longer run here in Wisconsin.  In the meantime, check out video of the last obstacle in the Warrior Dash 2011.

That wasn’t the only fun adventure of 2011.  The weekend before moving to Madison, I went with a bunch of my closest friends to Logan, Ohio yet again.  This time, it was to do some zip lining.  We went to a place called Hocking Hills Canopy Tours for a fun-filled zip through the trees.  That was such a fun time and a great way to spend time with such close friends before leaving for a new state and a new job.  Here’s video of Rich coming in for a landing after a zip.

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Top 7 of 2011 > Number 4: Memorable Moments at WJAC

Tracking two tornadoes and a waterspout.

My job at WJAC allowed me to do things that most people don’t get to do.  I had the opportunity to go on the TV and give you the weather.  Not only did I get to deliver a weather forecast, I also had the opportunity to save lives and even interview some cool people.

Probably the most memorable moment for me at WJAC when it comes to news coverage was the death of Osama bin Laden.  I can still remember the night of the announcement.  Nick Ruffner and I were doing the news with Matt Maisel and Michael Sell working as well.  We knew something was up because we were getting word of a special announcement by Barack Obama on a Sunday night.  That was just plain odd.  Then, the rumors started on Twitter that Osama bin Laden had been killed.  That was later confirmed by the special announcement.

At that point, the entire news team kicked it into high gear and started producing content for the (now late) 11 PM newscast.  I was getting pictures from Twitter and making graphics with quotes from the families of Flight 93, since that happened in our viewing area.  It was just a great night for us to shine as a weekend crew, blowing the competition out of the water.  That didn’t stop into the early morning, either.  I stayed and went to the Flight 93 Memorial with Michael to get some reaction.  It was my first visit to the memorial on such an appropriate night.  I didn’t finish up until after 3 AM Monday, but it was worth it!

That was just one of the big events of 2011.  Also on the list is my 80+ minutes of tornado coverage for the two tornadoes and a waterspout that moved through Bedford and Huntingdon counties.  It was nice to be able to use the technology we had in the Severe Weather Center the way it was intended.

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Top 7 of 2011 > Number 5: Another Successful Year of Music Trivia

Tone Deaf Challenge 2.0
Title and artist gets you 25. Title or artist gets you 10. Get nothing and you get nothing.

Coming in at number 5 on the Top 7 of 2011 is something that occupied pretty much every Wednesday for the past 6 years or so… the Tone Deaf Challenge.  In case you’re not familiar, I wrote, produced, and hosted a music trivia game called the Tone Deaf Challenge every Wednesday.  The game was (and still is) played at the Brothers Grimm in Robinson, PA, every Wednesday night.

The past year brought about some really cool changes to the game.  Because we wanted to take the game in a new direction, we changed the game up and launched the Tone Deaf Challenge 2.0 in late 2010.  Those changes were good, but needed some tweaking.  For that reason, we changed things up again right before the new year and introduced some Minute To Win It style games into the production right before the new year.  In 2011, we finally got the game right where we wanted it to be by ditching the mini-games and adding in lyrics and saving a challenge game for the final Risk It All round.  After tinkering with the game for a few months, I finally got it where I wanted it to be.

Then, in September, I agreed to take a new job in Wisconsin and I had to give up the game (for good?).  Although I really do miss hosting music trivia every week, I am truly excited that we had such a long run.  A game like that doesn’t have a particularly long shelf-life and I’m proud to have made it through 6 years.

I couldn’t have done that without John Leon.  He was the man behind the turntables (and the guy who OWNED the turntables).  John and I had an interesting relationship but it was that relationship that made the game such a success.  We both truly cared about the game and the direction it was going.

Although I’m no longer in PA to host the game, the Tone Deaf Challenge 3.0 lives on at the Brothers Grimm.  Be sure to stop by Wednesday nights to say hi to John and Becky and play some music trivia.  It’s a blast!

Breaking News: Tomorrow is number 4 in the top 7 of 2011.  I’m Tim Tender signing off.

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Top 7 of 2011 > Number 6: The Pirates Incredible Half-Season

Root Root Root for our home team. A new Pirates generation everybody shout Let's Go Bucs!

Most of you know me pretty well and know that hockey is my absolute favorite sport.  With me being from Pittsburgh, you might think that my number two favorite is football.  In that case, you’d be incorrect.  Don’t get me wrong, I love when the home teams win and I love to see the Steelers win, but if I’m ranking my favorite things to watch and root for in Pittsburgh, it would be Penguins, Pirates, then Steelers.

In the last 20 years or so, it’s been difficult to be a Pirates fan.  Sure, they’d win a game here and there and going to the games was always fun, especially because we have such a great ballpark.  It just wasn’t all there.  We were missing one thing and that starts with a W… WINS.

For the first half of the 2011 MLB season, there was a glimmer of hope.  The team started to win games and for a brief period of time the Pirates were in first place.  It was amazing to see so many people rallying behind a team that hadn’t given us anything to cheer for in so long.  Sure, there were the naysayers, but I didn’t let them get me down (Fiering).  It didn’t matter because they were winning.

Then, a game went so long that they could have played two of them.  In the 19th inning, an umpire by the name of Jerry Meals called a play at the plate safe.  The game that had been deadlocked ended on that call and the umpires went home.  The players went home and apparently never came back.  From that point on, the season was in a spiral.  The Pirates we had grown to live with were back and they started losing games again.

Looking back on it now, I do not regret getting excited over the first half of the season.  It was amazing to actually root root root for our home team again.  Maybe in 2012 we’ll see a new Pirates generation.  Everybody shout “Let’s Go Bucs!”

Number 6 in the Top 7 of 2011 was the Pirates incredible half-season.  If you can guess tomorrow’s entry in the Top 7 of 2011 and where it took place, I’ll give you 25 points.  If you guess where OR what, you’ll get 10.  If you don’t know, you get nothing but the invitation to check back tomorrow.

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Top 7 of 2011 > Number 7: The License Plate Game

Not the Hawaii plate I saw... this one didn't count because I didn't see it in person.

This is the first in a series of 7 posts outlining the top 7 events of 2011.  The list really includes approximately the top 20 events of 2011, but some of those will be lumped into the same category a little higher up the list.  For now, we’ll start with something small but with something that I had been working on for a while.

Although this may have started back in 2010, it took me a little over a year to see all 51 license plates in the license plate game.  If you’re not sure what the license plate game is, listen up.  It’s pretty simple.  I have an app on my phone that lists all 50 states plus DC and shows the license plate for each of them.  When you see one of those state plates on a car on the road or in a parking lot, you check it off with the app.  It was a great way to kill time while traveling back and forth from Johnstown to Burgettstown every week.

I’m sure the first plate that I saw was Pennsylvania.  The entire time I was playing, I figured the last plate I would need would be Hawaii.  Turns out that wasn’t the case.  A couple of months before I finished the game, I was driving back to Johnstown and saw a Hawaii plate in the West End of the city.  I was pretty excited.

The last license plate I needed was New Mexico and luckily, I had some friends who had moved back home to Pennsylvania from New Mexico.  On my last weekend in the area before moving to Madison, they put the plate back on their car and drove it to my going away party.  And with that, on September 16, 2011, I accomplished my task of checking off all 51 plates.

I know it sounds pretty stupid, but it was a pretty cool accomplishment.

The #6 event, coming tomorrow, involves something that hadn’t happened in many years but ultimately led to disappointment.  Do you know what it is?  Find out tomorrow!

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The WX Factor: Hunting

The first Monday after Thanksgiving is a big day for avid outdoorsmen all over the place.  It’s when they head out into the woods to try to bag that prize buck.  It’s obvious that the weather impacts the turnout, but can the weather impact whether or not you get a deer?  Absolutely!  Read on to learn how weather impacts hunting…

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From One Extreme To Another

It's been dry.

It’s never ceases to amaze me how we can go from one side of the spectrum to the other around here when it comes to weather. It’ll be 90 one day and the next we’re struggling to hit 60 degrees. Or, it’ll be extremely wet for several months… I’m talking major flooding… and then we’re talking about needing rain a couple months later. That is the case right now. We need rain, or at least we will soon.

Take a look at the graphic to the right. This outlines some details about our current situation.

As of July 15th, we only had 0.33″ of rain at the Johnstown – Cambria County Airport.  That’s over 2 inches below normal.  Our last half-inch rainfall came on May 24th and the last time we had over an inch of rain in a single day was March 23rd.

So where are we so far for the month and year across the state?  Take a look at the graphics below.  The first one is the month-to-date graphic.  Notice that most counties across the state are 75% or more below normal.  That’s a sure sign that we’ll need some rain soon.

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