Wednesday, December 31, 2014


Once again it's New Year's Eve. But this time, it's the future. 2015 is the year that Marty McFly travelled through time to see in "Back to the Future Part II" in 1989.

Then, I was 15 years old and couldn't imagine how the world would look in "two-thousand and fifteen." Even now, I couldn't tell you what things will look like in 2041 (perhaps future Jesse would be kind enough to leave a comment on this blog to tell me).

There's a great article here by leading futurists as to what BTTFII got correct, and what it didn't. The truth is, things don't change that much. Kristi's Dad and I were discussing this at lunch today. We still drive the same cars and fly in the same planes as we did in 1985, and we probably will in 2041.

What changes is the nuances, and they change so gradually we don't notice. The biggest change in the last 25 years has been cell phones, but they're small enough that you don't really miss them if you look at a movie from that prior era.

In 1985, there weren't ads plastered all over the windows of fast food restaurants, toll booths, gas pumps, even the concrete poles that keep you from driving into a Wal-Mart. But now there are. It happened gradually, and we didn't even notice.

15 years ago tonight, I was proposing to my first wife, and worrying about what havoc Y2K might wreak (other than my Windows 3.1 clock saying "Jan. 1, 100" there were few issues). I certainly couldn't imagine then that, 10 years later, I'd be divorced on New Year's Eve. And that night, I couldn't fathom that I'd be happily married three years in, by 2015.

Friday, November 28, 2014

White Thanksgiving 2014 & Past

Yes folks, it's that time of year. We're at Kristi's parents' house for Thanksgiving and Black Friday. This year the Thanksgiving Snowstorm caused us to change our plans and drive Thursday morning. It was a beautiful drive though.

I've also ported a couple early AccuWeather Thanksgiving blogs over; you can now read all my Thanksgiving blogs and Black Friday blogs, since 2005 here.

Once again I've stuck to Black Friday shopping primarily online. It's just not worth the hassle to do it in the stores anymore. The amount of money people spend in the brick-and-mortar stores appears to be increasing each year, though that surprises me, as I know so many people who have turned to their computers instead.

I've also been busy taking pictures with my new Smartwatch which Kristi got me as an early Christmas present; here's what else happened:

Saturday, November 15, 2014


I've always enjoyed publishing weather news to the masses, even when it was on paper my audience was only Mom & Dad. I've started to scan these "newspapers" into my blog. These entries will have "[NEWSPAPER]" appended after their titles. This is the first "newspaper" that I wrote in 1985 (at age 11), reporting on the Cold Outbreak of 1985 in the foothills of North Carolina (that's right, the extreme weather spurred me to start publishing). Little did I know, ten years later I would write my first weather report (complete with photos) on the Internet, for the world to see.

This first "front page" was done on a Commodore 64 dot matrix printer. The "Emergency Edition" (which was issued later in the day) was printed on an ancient typewriter (yes, one you had to jam the keys down on) -- ironically I must have found this quicker than loading the word processing program (from cassette tape) on to the computer and composing it there.



  • D.E.R./ DOWN_ERE_RES.: "Down 'Ere Restaurant," a fictitious business that I ran when I was 10 years old.
  • Shanberg & Pink Island were designations for certain areas of the 50-acre forest where I lived as a child.
  • WWX & WWXY (Channel 5) were a fictitious radio and television station to which I "broadcast" local news & weather (to cassette tape).
  • Frank (Ferrell) was my father
  • Sally (Ferrell) was my mother
  • The Site / The Shop refers to the workshop building behind the house.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

All Hallow's Eve (and whatnot)

It's trick-or-treating night again! Yes that's right kids, Halloween! While I'm waiting for the line to start at my door and my wife and stepdaughter are getting ready to go out and seek candy, I thought it would be pertinent to mention blogs I've done in the past about Halloween.

 I've been working on (slowly) moving over my off-topic blog entries from my AccuWeather blog to this one. When I started blogging for AccuWeather in 2005, I tried to insert my personal accounts into the blog occasionally, to show that I wasn't just a weather geek.

As blogging became more mature and I ran out of time, I got out of the habit of doing personal blogging (especially after Facebook). You can click here to read my blog entries from years past, including 2005, 2006, and 2010.

Hopefully later tonight I'll get a chance to watch my favorite Halloween TV episode (The Curse Of Frank Black, "Millenium" Season 2 1996, check it out if you get a chance.)

Friday, September 19, 2014

This is weird…

I just accidentally found out that Windows 7 / Windows Live has a blogging tool. It’s essentially a desktop version of sites like Blogger. Not sure why I’d need that, but O.K.

It’s called Windows Live Writer. Here’s a test of a YouTube video:

Y U slime my flowers slugs

And then a test picture:


No caption option there, I guess. Shifty But I can do emotions, apparently, and Bing® maps:

Map picture

INTERESTING… Island with a palm tree

Sunday, August 24, 2014

All I Really Need to Know I Learned in 6th Grade

It's back to school time, and Kristi and I have captured it on our cell phones.

For our town, Fall means traffic gets worse and checkout lines get longer here in State College, PA. Why? Well, 45,000 students and 15,000 faculty will be returning to Penn State this week, doubling the population of the city. The local Wal-Mart has filled their entire Garden, Clearance and Seasonal sections with cheap furniture and shower caddies to infinity and beyond.

Secondarily, it means we had to attend a 5-hour Middle School orientation. Kristi and Genevieve attended the first two hours Monday; all three of us went Wednesday night. This is Genevieve's first year in middle school, so I endured the hot rooms,* throngs of sweaty kids, germ-infested tiny chairs and hallways.

Here's what I have learned this week:

1. "Locker Swag" is a thing, and it has its own section at Target. The first job was to figure out not only the lock combination, but the chandeliers, wall paper, and carpet.

2. School is all computers & internet now. Compared to 30-odd years ago when I was in class, the public school system is fairly modern these days. State College is known as one of the best districts in the state, which helps. They do a lot of cross-pollination (Math is used in Art and Art in Science, etc., something that wasn't considered when I was a kid). All the teachers and students are issued laptops and use Google Docs for assignments (no more "I forgot my homework" excuses). G's homeroom teacher asked us to text her cellphone if we need her, then gave us a magnet business card with her email address and website.

Of course, with great technology though, comes great... technical problems. The Vice Principal's introductory Skype-like video resulted in a Windows Media Player mid-way through; the video of last year's choir was sullied by a "Your Mac has Updates to Install" icon in the upper right. Honestly, I was expecting digital lockers.

3. Middle School is not uncomfortable as it used to be. This school actually does have central air conditioning (albeit unable to combat hundreds of people), which is a miracle. G's Elementary School did not, and I remember many days falling asleep in a brutally hot and humid classroom... it's 2014, kids shouldn't have that problem anymore. I also remember being extremely thirsty, and trips to the water fountain were not allowed in-between breaks. At this school, they were careful to point out that kids are free to bring a water bottle to class. Glorious.

4. Halloween is gone. The most interesting thing I learned is that Halloween is no longer a holiday (at least in this school district) -- they were very explicit about that... there is to be no dressing up. I'm guessing this is a result of the overly-politically-correct U.S. public school system. However, they are encouraged to dress up as their favorite President for President's Day.

5. I'd like to punch whoever made the "6-day" rotation. This is a schedule of classes for kids, repeating every 6 days. Which means every day the kids are doing something different on every day. If this were implemented in the workplace, heads would roll. Talk about confusing!

After the grueling three hours, there was a reward: Dairy Queen for all of us.

Kristi also helped her cousin move into a dorm at Penn State. Kristi and I mused that kids are lucky these days, being able to document school life like this. When we were kids, if you brought a camera to school, you were a weirdo (although worth noting: that did not stop me a couple times). Now, kids upload a constant stream of videos and photos from these events to document their entire iives. I think if I were starting college now, I'd wear a Narrative Clip camera:

Narrative from Narrative on Vimeo.

Monday, August 11, 2014

The Funniest Man on Earth

Depression is, unfortunately, not situational. Robin Williams was the funniest man on Earth but this disease ended him. As I said in this blog about Storm Chaser Matt Hughes' suicide.
"As a person who suffered from Depression years ago (in college), I feel I am qualified to speak on the topic. As Mental Health America says a couple of important things: "Clinical depression is a serious medical illness. Clinical depression can lead to suicide. Sometimes people with depression mistakenly believe that the symptoms of depression are a 'normal part of life.'"" The illness is further misinterpreted, or simply not seen, by friends and family who think that depressed people are just "extra sad" because of something that went wrong in their life. Actually, everything could be going perfect for you, but you still feel sad. That's what makes is so odd.

Fortunately, it's treatable. But only if you or those around you recognize the problem. As MHA points out, one way is through screening. Another is simply for your friends and family to be aware of the signs, which they list on their website."

The other thing that died tonight was Twitter, worldwide. The #robinwilliams hashtag was showing up in every major city on every continent (see below - click here for screencap of all trends). As of this writing, 8 out of 9 U.S. & 7 out of 9 Worldwide Twitter Trends were about the man and his movies.

I had most recently enjoyed Robin Williams' humor on CBS's "The Crazy Ones", but of course, he always had a few things to say about the weather:

Lest you think he's typecast as a comedian, watch One Hour Photo.

If you or someone you know has the signs of depression, please visit this website.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

An Awesome Dream

"I had a dream; I had an awesome dream."
--Lionel Richie

I had a wonderful dream last night, which really stuck with me all morning. My dreams are rarely cathartic and I don't identify as "religious" but this was about the closest I've ever come to either!

It started out as a large yard sale in a hardware store (something like a Home Depot). This part was not unusual; I dream a lot about getting good deals on stuff, or making money selling stuff, because, well, I have a lot of stuff, and I like to sell at yard sales and online.

Darkness came and the store started shutting down for the night (apparently we were to bed there). The store clerks gradually partitioned off and secured the yard sale area (presumably to protect the merchandise). At midnight, the store doors burst open and a procession of people carrying red candlelight spread across the store in silence. With them, an overwhelming sense of love and peace washed over people as they passed.

Thieves, racists, war mongers became friends. Strangers kissed and hugged. I was overwhelmed with a sense of worldwide tranquility and love.

I realized that I had lost track of Kristi and Genevieve and went outside to find her. News trucks were there, covering the worldwide event like a worldwide disaster, I mused. I found my family and hugged them as long as I could while explaining what happened inside.

So what does it mean? I know a lot of people attribute deep meaning to dreams, but as a scientist I know that dreams are just a random tapestry based on things that I've seen or heard recently -- in my experience often things that were observed, but not deeply considered. But I sure woke up feeling that the world had changed, and it was quite an experience.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Jesse 39.9 Comes to a Close [J39.9 BLOG]

NOTE: This blog was previously published under the [JESSE 39.9] blog at but has been absorbed into Jesse's main blog for archival purposes. You can read all Jesse 39.9 blogs here.

This is the final blog entry for "Jesse 39.9" | Read All Jesse 39.9 Blogs Here
My goal was to lose 39.9 pounds before I turned 39.9. That date was April 29, 2014. (I would have suspended it around now anyway, as next week is the Yard Sale, which requires a lot of prep and disrupts my normal schedule). I failed to get to my goal, but I'm not disappointed. I lost 20 pounds (from 235 to 215) in the first month, but have been fighting to keep those pounds off since then, through a better diet and exercise. I ran into an unexpected problem -- not being able to run due to leg pain. When I can't run, I can't lose weight rapidly. I thought walking (and elliptical) would cut it, but it didn't, and I still haven't been to the doctor for a diagnosis. The best news, however, is that I have been consistently losing body fat since I got the Aria scale. I started at nearly 30% and am down to 27.8% today. This is because I've added strength training (via Bowflex) to my routine. That means I'm gaining muscle, which is keeping the weight loss minimal. That's a good reason to not be losing any weight. Still, my weight is not where I want it to be. I'd like to lose another 10-20 pounds -- I'd like to be around 200, I think that is my next goal, which I will pursue this Summer.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Second Secret Weapon and Some Progress [J39.9 BLOG]

NOTE: This blog was previously published under the [JESSE 39.9] blog at but has been absorbed into Jesse's main blog for archival purposes.
I've a mere 10 weeks left for project Jesse 39.9, to lose 39.9 pounds before I turn 39.9. Another secret weapon has been added to the arsenal...

I bought a FitBit Aria Wifi scale. This makes tracking my weight much easier. I just step on it once a day and it automatically uploads to my Fitbit account!

...and after a week of better eating and exercising, I am finally starting to make some progress:

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Houston, We Have a (Weight) Problem [J39.9 BLOG]

NOTE: This blog was previously published under the [JESSE 39.9] blog at but has been absorbed into Jesse's main blog for archival purposes.
Well folks, it's time to admit I have a problem. Even though I've been exercising more in the past couple weeks and eating better, I just can't get back down below the 215 (15 pounds down) threshold that I set right before Thanksgiving. Check out the weight graph:

Unfortunately, I'm heading to New York City a week from today, where I'll probably get less exercise and eat more calories than I do here at home. But the good news is, I can come back with a renewed effort to lost that other 25 pounds by my birthday in June. I can still do it, losing only two pounds a week.

Secret Weapons: FitBit, Kindle HDX & Gold Rush Fever [J39.9 BLOG]

NOTE: This blog was previously published under the [JESSE 39.9] blog at but has been absorbed into Jesse's main blog for archival purposes.
In order to achieve my new fitness goals, I have a couple of secret weapons. One is a Fitbit One:

This thing is awesome. I can track the number of steps I take in a day, calories burned, and even sleep! It's so awesome. It's also so small I may lose it!

Another challenge has been the cold weather - we've never seen such a cold winter here. As a result, the temperature in the garage has been in the 20s and 30s. Not great for the BowFlex and Elliptical I've been using. I do have a heater in there, and I've cordoned off the area, so that can help get it into the 40s sometimes, but in a week like this one, where temperatures are expected to be in the single digits for several days in a row, there's no hope.

The solution: The Amazon Kindle HDX I got for Christmas fits perfectly on the treadmill in the Fitness Center at work. I can now continue to watch "Gold Rush" Season 4, a great show that I've been with since Day 1.

New York City by Cab & GoPro

During the week of February 18-22, 2012, Kristi and I went on our first big city adventure. We went to New York City (Manhattan) for Social Media Week. I had never been to the city before, even though I live in Pennsylvania. I was fascinated by the bustle, the people, the tall buildings, and the traffic.

Most of my trips on the island that week were by taxicab. During each ride, I put my GoPro HERO2 miniature video camera in the cab window, and recorded some footage. I finally got around to putting all of those into a movie, nearly a year later.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Back on the Horse [J39.9 BLOG]

NOTE: This blog was previously published under the [JESSE 39.9] blog at but has been absorbed into Jesse's main blog for archival purposes.
Well folks, an unexpectedly long Christmas stay with relatives (that ended in a week-long bout with the flu) has continued to take a toll on my weight loss. The damage is done. I'm at 220.2; I went down 15 but back up 5.

But, I feel much better now and am redoubling my efforts to meet the Jesse 39.9 goal. I'll be in New York City for Social Media Week next month, so I'm going to see if I can lose 10 pounds before then. That will put me at 25 pounds down, 15 to go by June 5th. Easy peasy. Back on the horse. Along for the ride. And whatnot.