Sunday, August 31, 2008

Gustav, a bit weaker still

As of 1 PM Sunday, Gustav's sustained winds are down to 115 mph. that is very good news, since earlier models were projecting significant strengthening by now. It will be very difficult for this hurricane to intensify to a Category 5 storm or perhaps even a Category 4. It is still dangerous because of flooding, wind damage and spawning tornados. But it is looking less like a horrible storm and more like a "typical" one. Word from my relatives is that getting to Baton Rouge from the New Orleans area is actually quite smooth right now. It looks like most people got out yesterday and early this morning. Anyone who is still there should not have traffic as a reason to stay. It still makes sense to get out and get to higher ground. The storm should still intensify to some degree.

Gustav weakens and continues track

Gustav has weakened a bit, sustained winds down to 120 mph, but it has not slowed down. It is still expected to intensify, but it's starting point is lower than we would have thought to begin the day. I've compared the tracks, and Gustav seems very close to projections of yesterday, and doesn't currently show the east "error" that I noted earlier. That is good for New Orleans.

Tracking Gustav some more

This is a comparison of the 5 AM Saturday morning projection and the 2AM Sunday morning projection. The Saturday projection included the first projection of where Gustav would hit US land. Although the projections are remarkably accurate at one level, slight variations mean a lot. Over the course of less than 24 hours, Gustav has picked up speed (projected to hit land sooner than before) and projections have shifted slightly east. Neither of those things is good for New Orleans. A faster moving storm can generate a very powerful storm surge. The 2 AM projections are still for central Louisiana, but east of earlier projections. I'll check the projection again in the morning (after I wake up), but I think it will be interesting to see the 2 PM projections, as 12 hours is a pretty good time frame over open water to get a sense of track. so far, the storm seems to actually track further east than projections. I hope this does not continue.

Tracking Gustav

I've been following the projections for Gustav. The spaghetti graph indicates that it should pass west of New Orleans, although I notice that a couple of models put it right over New Orleans. The graph is useful, but the summated plot indicates a straight line path. That is rare for hurricanes. Of course, this is the best projection so far, but these massive storms rarely travel in such a straight line fashion. At some point, I expect some kind of turning or veering in a slightly different direction. We'll see. If current projections are correct, then New Orleans will have very bad weather but really dodge a bullet. It's too soon to tell.


I've now included a graph showing surface winds. The part I'm interested in is the dotted line, which shows the path. The path to-date is hardly straight. Because Gustav appears to have settled in to the weather systems in the gulf, it is expected to have a much straighter path. But the next 24-36 hours are very important for determining that. The latest track has shifted it slightly east of its earlier track, which means slightly closer to new Orleans.

I talked with my mother today, and she is set on where she'll be going. My aunt will be evacuated with the other residents of the nursing facility she is in, and my cousin will drive to Baton Rouge, and then check in on his mother. Here's hoping it is not too serious.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

More from Boston

I've tended to scorn packaged tours as something geezers do. I guess I've become a geezer, hopefully with not too much geezerness. Taking a set of tours helped me see a lot of sights quickly, although not being able to spend much time at any place. It's a good way to know something about a place, possibly for future reference. I will head back to Boston in November for another conference. Fortunately I had great weather to ride in open buses. I also made it over to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. They had an exhibit of Winslow Homer that was interesting. Too much museum to catch in one day.

The pictures show the Boston skyline via a view from the Charles River, which separates Boston from Cambridge. How long will Boston be separate from Cambridge, I ask facetiously. One of my cabbies was complaining that Harvard was buying every piece of property in sight. He made it sound as if the area will one day be called Harvard, MA. The other picture is of the old capital building. Massachusetts has done a good job of preserving the building as the picture testifies.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Faculty Achievement Award

This week it was announced that I received the Faculty Achievement Award at UDM. This is an award given to junior faculty who have demonstrated some distinction and promise in their work. It is part of the Faculty Excellence Awards. I was really happy and honored to receive this. The actual ceremony will be in early November. UDM hosts a very nice dinner, and I get a few minutes to make a speech. It should be fun. It is a bit awkward to be congratulated by people, even though I like it. I put in my tenure application this Fall, so this is a good time for the award.

Professional CE and Product Pushing

I took a workshop at the APA Convention on the WAIS-IV and WMS-IV. Respectively, these are two new versions of an intelligence/cognitive ability test and a memory test. Both have a long tradition and are very good instruments. The new versions have important changes. This was a pretty good format for this kind of information. Essentially it crowds a bunch of professionals together in a lecture-like format.

Because most of this information is basically factual, i.e., they are informing people about the changes/additions/deletions and basic issues concerning administration and scoring, it is not meant to be very interactive. It is a sales pitch for the equipment, and it is presented by individuals employed by the company that makes the tests. As a "consumer" of such stuff, it is important to keep that in mind and never simply take what is said as the final word. These folks have a big investment in selling the equipment. They did a fine job, but it is very sad that so much of what passes for professional education occurs in a format like this. Most issues in psychology aren't as antiseptic as describing the changes that have been implemented for new psychological tests. Many of the questions from the audience made me wonder if some people are taking after their over-eager students who raise trivial things as a way of standing out and looking important or were they always this way. This was as appropriate a situation for this type of format as it gets, and surely folks wanted to pack it in at the earliest opportunity. Pity the field to do this all the time. Mandatory CE gives this kind of format a life support, as people try to fill up their mandated hours. But it ain't much of an education.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

By Land and By Sea

I took a Super Duck Tour of Boston as well as a Trolley tour of Boston and Cambridge and a tour of the Charles River, a lot for one day. The tour guides have a very mixed quality. The guide for the Duck tour is an out-of-work fisherman who has honed his tour with good and bad jokes, but telling the Boston story with wit and interest. The Cambridge tour folks were students and were putting themselves into it, mostly wanting to impress with possession of a large number of facts. The rest were... well... phoning it in. But no never mind. I got to see a lot in a short time and took a ton of pictures. I'll post some more.

Here is a shot of the vehicle that goes on land and sea. The other boat is the USS Constitution. Unfortunately we weren't able to get a closer look from the water, another limitation in the post 9/11 world. One of the guides said that after 9/11, Boston passed an ordinance significantly limiting the height of new buildings in Boston. I liked Boston a lot, but that was one weenie of a decision. I hope they will revisit that one. Please don't attack us, Mr. terrorist. Geez.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Interesting Boston Shots

These are shots near the Church of Christ Scientist in Boston, MA. The building is quite striking and different from everything else around it. Next to the church is this reflecting pool which serves as an entree to more modern buildings in Boston.

Blue Man Group

Put it into the "need to see it to believe it" category, The Blue Man Group is a lot of fun. They mock modern technology and mock those who make it important and they mock the mockers. A delightful, fun-filled time with interesting music and audience participation. Near the end of the show, the let loose the streamers and the audience has to pull them up to the front. A sea of arms, hands and streamers. I really recommend seeing them live if you can. They're in Boston for about couple of months. I got a sense of them on TV, but live is great.

Monday, August 04, 2008

A Well Earned Reward

Two graduate students helped me put together three instructional videos. The acted out the parts of examiner and patient. As a just reward I took them to dinner in Greektown, a nice spot in Detroit with a lot of restaurants and pubs. We went to Pegasus Taverna for some Greek food. And we did get the flaming cheese.
The process of making these videos is interesting. I have learned a lot, and it takes a great deal of planning. The technology is so good today that it can make this look like a very professional production. In some ways it is, but the equipment isn't really all that expensive. The folks at IDS really know what they are doing. This has more possibilities; I just have to think of them.