• Old Photos: Kansas City Severe Local Storm Warning Center SELS

    One of my favorite scenes from the movie Apollo 13 is when a bunch of engineers remap the spaceship’s trajectory with nothing but a pen, paper and a slide rule.
    This almost seems impossible in this day and age, when we delegate all of our calculations to a computer. I may be a part of a dying breed of people who can still figure things out without the calculator, but I can’t take credit for this – in my day we just didn’t have calculators; I got my first one after the 8th grade. Trigonometric tables, slide rules, pen, paper or even a chalkboard were just as much a part of my education as computers in today’s schools. There is nothing wrong with using technology but it’s amazing what we can do without it.
    This was a long and winded introduction to the old photos of the Severe Local Storm Warning Center (SELS) which was located in Kansas City from 1954 to 1997 (brief history of SELS could be found here). Long before the word meteorologist was associated with associated with clueless jokers on TV, these people were saving lives without 3-D motion maps, scary graphics and “one degree guarantees”. I don’t know how accurate these guys were but given what they had to work with our modern TV meteorologists wouldn’t know where to start. Apparently technology does not a meteorologist make.

    ©Time Inc.Al Fenn
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  • Russian-Korean Gourmet: Spicy Carrots

    Korean Spicy Carrots are like American Chinese food – they are not known in their supposed country of origin, but that doesn’t make them any less delicious. There is a fairly large population of ethnic Koreans in the former republics of what used to be the Soviet Union; many of them live in the Central Asia courtesy of comrade Stalin who thought that they might be thinking of spying for Japan. Sometime between then and now Korean Spicy Carrots were born. The average citizen may not know much about Koreans but there aren’t many people who haven’t tried the carrots. Koreans guard the secret better than the Coca-Cola recipe, but there are many that come close and they are fairly easy to make.
    Attention: Do not attempt to change the following recipe. John Dickerson of Bowling Green, MO changed the recipe and was soon beaten, robbed and repeatedly sodomized, his wife left him and he has a confirmed case of the swine flu. Dick Johnson of Butte, MT, didn’t change the recipe, instead sending it to 45 of his closest friends; soon he won the lottery, married Ms.April 2008, and discovered that he is fluent in 6 languages. Make your own conclusions.

    For this recipe you will need julienned carrots, ground or crushed coriander seeds, cayenne pepper, vinegar, vegetable oil, onion, garlic and salt (kosher is good). It is very important to have julienne carrots, they look similar to thin long matchsticks. You can learn to do your own, try a special peeler, or do what I do and buy them. The package I have says “shredded”:

    …but as you can see on the photo they are square shaped and not flat shreds. Real Koreans manage to have them cut in long almost spaghetti-like strands.

    Mix carrots with salt and leave for 20 minutes. The amount of salt should be slightly more than you would use for a regular salad.

    In the meantime, in a skillet heat up some oil and place a sliced onion in it. I used 1/2 cup of oil for the amount of carrots I had and that might have been a little much, maybe 1/3 cup will do next time; adjust accordingly with the amount of carrots.


    Press as much juice out of the carrots as possible until they look fairly dry.
    Construct a volcano-looking mound out of carrots. Place coriander and red pepper into the “crater” area. I used 1/2 teaspoons of each. Adjust to your own heat tolerance.
    Remove onions from the skillet (they should be golden, not burned) and pour almost-smoking oil into the “crater”. Add a splash of vinegar, 2 finely minced (or pressed) cloves of garlic and mix.
    Place the carrots in a container and refrigerate for 12-24 hours. Some recipes suggest to chop the fried onions and add them to the mix. I didn’t, I ate some and threw away the rest.
    Korean Spicy Carrots can be enjoyed as a salad, pickle-like condiment, on a sandwich, in a taco or with whatever else that may benefit from a spicy kick. Make sure you go easy on heat if you can’t handle it. Enjoy!

    Here is another recipe.

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  • Speaking about ugly cars with high gas-mileage…

    Some old Soviet car commercial.

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  • Almost April Fools

    A full-blown winter storm in March? Check!
    An incorrect, rapidly changing weather forecast? Check!
    Scary drive home? Check!
    Making it home alive to write about it – priceless!

    If you don’t feel like getting out, I shot a little clip for you.

    And the rest of my photos:

    By the way I still think weather forecasters should be arrested for the incorrect predictions.
    UPDATE: I mentioned in comments what the weather forecast used to look like in my childhood and here is a video from November 2, 1977. This is for the whole country;they just list general areas, conditions and temperature ranges (in C°).

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  • Peach Time

    Since we were in the area yesterday, we drove to the Schreiman Orchards to pick up some peaches. I read about the place in the Star several years ago and we usually make a trip there several times a year to buy peaches and later in the fall – apples. For me it’s not just a shopping trip, I can get peaches and apples much closer to home, it’s an excuse to drive along  the Old Trails Road – one of the most picturesque stretches of highway on this side of the state of Missouri. Along the road you will find historic markers, museums, multiple wineries (but wait there is more), and at the end pick up a basket of peaches for the road.


    People who make fun of my love of pickling should take a note that even I draw the line at the red beet and/or jalapeno pickled eggs.

    Some day we should find a designated driver and tour the area. Seems like they are having an event on the August 15th.

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