Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Well Blow Me Down

stilton’s place, stilton, political, humor, conservative, cartoons, jokes, hope n’ change, tornado watch, storms, Kathy, Funnel Runners, mockumentary

What the cartoon above lacks in humor, it makes up for (nearly) in accuracy. I felt like I absolutely needed to make a post today just to say "Hi," but I was strapped for material. So I went with the classic desperation play of talking about the weather. Which isn't interesting at the moment but potentially could be since my neck of the North Texas woods will be under a severe weather warning for much of the day. 

This doesn't actually worry me much, since this sort of thing is common in Texas and we all know exactly what to do. Unfortunately, "what to do" is hightail it into the basement - but because of the clay soils in my area, there aren't any basements. So we fall back on "Plan B" which is darting from window to window during a storm and hoping very, very strongly that we don't get hit by an F5 twister.

Trivia note: twisters get their F3, F4, or F5 designations based on how many times you scream the "F" word when you see what's barreling down on you.

Barely related to any of this, I've always wanted to make a low-budget mockumentary about storm-chasing because the subject fascinates me...

It's unlikely (but not entirely impossible) that "FUNNEL RUNNERS: Into The Suck Zone" might get made eventually. Heck, I might get some exciting footage from my home security cameras today!

I genuinely love shows about chasing tornadoes and think that the subject would make rich fodder for a mockumentary treatment. The big problem, of course, is that while a lot of things about storm-chasing are funny, tornadoes regularly do very unfunny things to communities and (God help them) trailer parks of the kind I once lived in. So there's a possibility - or even a likelihood - that if I ever made the mockumentary a tragic news story would pop up that would make me look like an insensitive a**hole. Which would be accurate, but which I can also achieve with a lot less effort.

Outside of pipe-dream projects and weather reports, I don't have much else to share at the moment. Although on Valentine's Day, several outdoor flowers that Kathy had planted actually bloomed for me. There was no card, but I knew who they were from.


Mike aka Proof said...

"There was no card, but I knew who they were from."
Awfully dusty in here all of a sudden! Happy Valentine's Day, Stilt!

Graham McDonald said...

It's actually very humorous when the reader gets to the third panel and says, "That's me".

j said...

You got the best Valentine card of all. Love you my friend. God bless you and keep you safe.

Anonymous said...

That last line, tho - sigh... Covered many tornadoes in GA in my time as a reporter - not something to be trifled with.

HankJ said...

Happy valentine's day, Stilt.

JustaJeepGuy said...

The only time I ever actually saw a tornado it was smallish and far enough away that I just said, "Oh look--a tornado." So I've seen one and I don't need to see one any more closely, thank you very much.

Ditto what @HankJ said.

Rod said...

No need to apologize; this is an excellent post (about the Valentine card). And the pink Flamingos are a nice touch; but may also be another of what could be several sneaky codes in that "toon". Methinks you've been busy thinking on this one. The trailer is old; it may have good luck & be OK but someone is probably about to lose a lawn chair. Wouldn't it funny if a follow-up showed nothing remaining there but the birds, Feng Sheu glass, porch rail and rural mailbox?

We lived in new mobile homes two times, each time for three years; and they served us very well for the circumstances & at very reasonable cost: At University in MO and in AK with sub arctic cold-designed unit. But never in TX. The old Texas joke about tornadoes (from about 1970 or before is: Q: What do an East Texas bride & a Texas tornado have in common? A: Sooner or later, they GET that mobile home.

M. Mitchell Marmel said...

"There was no card, but I knew who they were from."

Damned Onion Ninjas...

M. Mitchell Marmel said...

Funny tornado story:


Roger Myers said...

Stilton writes: a tragic news story would pop up that would make me look like an insensitive a**hole. Which would be accurate...

We've never met, but I know for a FACT that this is not accurate!

Jess said...

I've only had one tornado scare that required me to pull a mattress from a bed, drag it to an interior hall, cower under it as the wind tore limbs from trees, and go without electricity for a week. I didn't like it, although I did feel downright pioneerish every evening as I read with a kerosine lamp and drank beer.

Elbarto said...

Yesterday (you might call it Valentine's Day, but in Arizona we call it Statehood Day, admitted to the Union on 14 FEB 1912) the great State of Arizona was blanketed with snow. No tornados in the Copper State, though.

MSG Grumpy said...

Funny story, when I was young and foolish I actually got paid to run outside and look at the Freezing Rain, Flash Floods, Thunderstorms, Hail (We actually had a WWII helmet in the office for just such an occasion), Lightning (Wow that was close!), Funnel Clouds, and Tornados...
I was in the Military and my first duty station was in Abilene Texas, Home to the Marfa Front and all manner of bad weather.
However, after some training and buying a clue or two, I became a Forecaster and from then on my main job was sitting inside a sturdy building and telling the young and foolish observers to go see the exciting world of Ma Nature.
Ahh, to be young and foolish again...NOT!

MSG Grumpy

Snark said...

One of my last assignments before leaving the news business (1974) was chasing tornadoes in North Georgia. After touring through the destruction of a particularly nasty one, we returned to the starting point to finish an interview with an emergency official. Noting the even more extensive damage than before I remarked on the change. His answer: "It was the second tornado following right behind the first one that did the most damage." I learned that if you chase a tornado that you might just catch one.

I changed jobs.

MSG Grumpy said...

And as far as being an A$$h*le,
When I was young and foolish, I tried NOT to be seen as one,
I knew I was one, I just didn't want that rep.
Now that I am old and cranky, I no longer care about trivial things like reps or Pronouns...
I am usually extra special nice to those who are polite,
those who are related to me,
and those who are heavily armed...
The rest...
As I told a young Marine who decided he could bully the old guy,
I told him:
"I was an A$$h*le before you were born, AND I'll be one long after after you are gone"...
It's a gift that even old age can't take away.

MSG Grumpy

Murphy(AZ) said...

What Elbarto doesn't mention is the hurricane force winds we experienced in places last evening as Ma Nature reminded us that she is in charge, and we are just targets.

As to the storm chasers, I never understood the reasoning behind building those tornado resistant vehicles when all they have to do is set their equipment up near just about any Midwest trailer park and the tornadoes will come to them. Choose a park across the road from a local bar, and you can sit and drink beer and watch the game while you wait.

mamafrog said...

Lived in Greater Ader (otherwise known as Ada, OK) for a few years while faking getting a useless college eddycation. There was a trailer park just outside of town, on the highway, that seemed to get hit constantly. They finally gave up and shut it down.

I've also been trapped in a soggy tent that got the front end flipped over because of extremely high winds, or maybe a small tornado, with a giggling baby and a screaming toddler. Those winds really can be unpleasant, and that boy still ain't quite right and his big sister is still a bit dizzy, lol.

Paul said...

The five years I lived in Paris, TX we had a tornado uncomfortably close the first week of May EVERY year. And all the rain storms were gully washers.

Here in Wisconsin, I've experienced two directly.
The first our plane didn't leave ORD on route to ATW because the tornado had gone through and there was too much trailer house debris on the ATW runways.
The second went about 1/4 mile from my home. Lost all but one of my trees. Some soffit and siding damage to the home.

Today the siding is rattling with the wind. Strom on its way, snow arriving Thursday.

TrickyRicky said...

Happy Valentine Day Stilton. It sounds like you got the best present ever!

CenTexTim said...

If you make the locale of FUNNEL RUNNERS here in Texas you could subtitle it "Vortexas..."

M. Mitchell Marmel said...


"The clouds whirl round
You're leaving the ground
Sucked into the heart of Vortex-as..."


John the Econ said...


When I lived in the south, we owned what had originally been a Sears kit home. No basement. When Mrs. Econ asked where we'd go in the case of a tornado, I said "Wherever the wind takes us".

You do know that there's another "Twister" in the works. I'm sure there will be plenty more material to build your mockumentary on there.

I'm a fan of weather, or at least watching it. When that volcano near Tonga lit off last year, my weather station actually recorded the shock wave that went around the world. (I calculated the speed of the shock wave, coordinated with the time that it was recorded at the west coast, and then checked my data to see if there was a bump when I calculated that it would travel another 500 miles to where I am)

Years ago, Mrs. Econ was a volunteer with the Red Cross and working to manage shelters in the wake of a devastating F5 tornado that hit in the south. While she was there working in the basement of a hotel, another wave of storms came through. While I was on the phone with her, I noted her precise location on one screen while watching the track of another tornado heading straight for her on another. Fortunately, it "bounced" over her location. That was a little more excitement that we needed.

But I had to marvel at the age we live in where I could talk to someone hundreds of miles away, pinpoint their location on a map, and also track a tornado heading for that location in near-realtime. In generations past, storms just happened and nobody knew they were coming.

Kinda like Chinese spy balloons.

Colby Muenster said...

I was born and raised in Wyoming. We had a saying: Wyoming is so windy because Nebraska sucks and Idaho blows. So, you can blame your weather on Louisiana and New Mexico!

Been in Central NC for dang near 40 years now, and the main worrisome weather is hurricanes. Tornadoes are like a smash and grab robbery. Hurricanes are more like having your bank account slowly hacked over a long period of time. Both storms may get you the president flying over in a helicopter afterwards to "help you."

Valentine's Day... Roman emperor, Claudius II had St. Valentine's head lopped off on February 14, 269 AD for refusing to deny Jesus Christ. How the heck did this morph into me spending 125 bucks on flowers and candy?

KanB said...

I recently visited the trailer park in Cocoa FL where my parents lived for many years. Absolutely nothing left but a big empty field of memories.. All gone, all gone, but it wasn't hurricanes or tornadoes that blew the homes away, it was time, progress, and the economy.

MAJ Arkay said...

I grew up in the Panhandle and saw a lot of tornadoes. Fortunately, only one ever actually hit our farm. Damaged one barn by shifting it a few inches off the concrete slab. All the cats attached themselves to Dad a couple minutes before it hit, and he had a heckuva time getting down the basement steps, but made it. Cats flew down the basement stairs at the first thunder from then on...

Normally, 14 Feb is nothing more than my red-headed sister's birthday. That's quite enough for me.

But yesterday, Spousal Unit felt so good that he decided steak was in order. Fortunately, he felt the need for steak about noon, so off we went to the local steakhouse and easily got seated. Weren't the only ones -- most of the diners were old coots, most were also veterans, and there was a bit of joshing over whose walker was better ("Needs more chrome there, Jimmy!"). We overate and enjoyed every bite.

Then he said he was feeling withdrawal pains from not visiting Ace Hardware in so long, so off we went to pick up a few small DIY items that yours truly will have to do.

Got home in plenty of time to avoid all the crowds. Pretty good day all around, and the effort ensured he slept real well.

Velveeta Processed Cheese Food said...

Hi back at you, Stilt.
Never did cover a tornado when I was in the news biz, but got in on plenty of other severe weather, including 14-inch rains that washed 8-foot-deep gullies across pancake-flat ground, with resulting flooding.
I've seen a couple at long distance, and apparently was in or near one one night when cutting alfalfa for the local dehy. The farm place across the road was pretty evenly distributed across the field we were working.
The place my father grew up on was blown away twice when he was a kid, with much loss to work horses and other livestock. My mother sheltered in a road culvert while walked home from school during one of them.
Colby Muenster: We have the same saying in Nebraska, just substitute Wyoming and Iowa.
UBoob is infested with "chasers," but the only one I follow is Pecos Hank. He focuses on education rather than sensationalism. I've learned more about the local weather from him than I did from living under it for 70 years. Thought I knew how it worked, turns out I didn't have a clue.
I would much rather deal with tornados than hurricanes. Even deep in Tornado Alley it's pretty random and the average person won't get hit. In hurricane country it seems to be a matter of "when, not if."
Anyway, right now I'm contending with what I hope is the tail end of winter. Two feet of wet snow kind of trashed my firewood supply, so it's taken some effort to keep the stove lit.

Shelly said...

I remember seeing my first tornado, when I was nearing 11 years of age, which occurred in 1957 in Downtown Dallas. My mother worked in the Old Red Courthouse which was very near the main action. My grandfather called and told us there was a cyclone (his word), go outside and take a look at it, then get in the basement (yep we had one). We lived in old East Dallas about 3 miles from downtown. I remember being fascinated by it. It looked like it was just a few streets over but we were far enough away not to hear it. We couldn't see the bottom of it where all destruction is, but the funnel was clear as day undulating back and forth. 66 years have not dimmed my memory of that event. My mom ended up not getting hit, thank heavens.

Kathe Houston said...

I don't have a basement here in this townhouse and no shelter in the complex. Id have to take the cats and drive somewhere which is not happening.
For the 1st time in my life after I got back to Lee's Summit and went to bed around 1 AM all of a sudden I received a couple of phone calls telling me to take shelter as a tornado was heading straight towards where my townhouse is located.
There were not even any tornado sirens going off and I didn't have TV to watch...
I have been terrified of tornadoes all my life but a calm came over me and I opened the blinds and watched a spectacular lightening show. Figured HEY if it's my time to go, BRING IT! Would love to be outta here anyway FEEL THAT EVERYDAY without JFW.
Love to you!

Rod said...

If no shelter close nearby and with a serious nearby warning: Do not delay. Be prepared: Get on decent warm if needed clothes & shoes. If have time turn off any gas at master valve first and master valve for water too. Take water bottle like a gallon jug, a good flashlight, a loud air horn, & a battery radio. Take charged cell phone if you have it. Get in the bathtub; or strongest smallest room like an interior closet. Hucker down & cover up.

When it's all over put everything back to normal and KNOW that you are prepared to survive but it missed you. Make jokes about it. E very place I've ever been where bad tornado struck, the people say it was all over in a few seconds.

Paul Donohue said...

Good to "see" you, Stilt.

I lived in SW Kansas, just above the panhandle, for six years when I was young. I got used to tornado warnings and tornado watches but only actually saw one small one down the road about two blocks from my house. At the time I was looking out of a basement window, completely disregarding my dad's orders.

Some 60 years later I live in SE Louisiana. I have watched as every hurricane track changed and sent them scurrying away, oftimes toward Texas. So when I saw the track for Ida, almost two years ago, I told Annie that we were safe since it was aimed right at us.

I watched for three days as Ida continued on that same track, aimed directly from the Gulf at our home. "Nope," I said, "It'll turn". Ida never wavered. She did come directly through our street, blowing off our neighbors roof and dumping it on top of my car.

Oh yeah. It also sent me to the hospital because without electricity I had no oxygen. So Annie drove me to the ER using all four lanes of the highway to avoid branches and various building materials on the roadway. And the hospital would only admit me with a COVID diagnosis because they had no code for "power out, no home oxygen".

Needless to say, I shelled out $7,500 to install a natural gas generator to avoid future such problems, an expenditure which now appears to have been uselessly made. Oh well, at least after I'm gone Annie will have it when she experiences the frequent power outages we get down here. And I guess the hospital got about $40,000 for two days worth of oxygen.

But, putting all of that aside, let me get to the main point of your blog - You are one lucky guy to have had Kathy, who not only planted those flowers for you but somehow got them to bloom for you on Valentine's Day. What a great way to say that she loves you. And it's very clear to everyone here that you love her. And Daughter J., having both of you as parents, was obviously blessed to be surrounded by love. THAT is your post. But thanks for letting us all talk about the weather as well.

Take care of yourselves. My prayers for you will continue for as long as I do.

I'm so glad that I got to know you, my friend.

Bruce Bleu said...

"Mockumentary"... anything produced by either Michael Moore or AlGore [sic] that is considered to be based on "science".
I learned a lot about weather from my friend John.
This is his website,
He lost a friend and fellow storm chaser in the Moore, Oklahoma tornado of 5/21/13. His car was 1/4 mile from where it was lofted by the storm.

JustaJeepGuy said...

@Bruce Bleu, I have heard that if it comes from Moore or Gore, it's a "Crockumentary". "This Is Spinal Tap" or "Best In Show" or "A Mighty Wind" (to name the few I remember) are "Mockumentaries".

I had an uncle in Cincinnati who lost part of his roof when a tornado came through at 4 AM a number of years ago. The house next door was destroyed; nobody was hurt. Quite a rude awakening, though.

Bruce Bleu said...

MAN I can attest to "A Mighty Wind"... one time, when taking my 10 year old daughter to Mesa Verde on my motorcycle for a short vacation, we stopped in Pagosa Springs for dinner on the way. I had never had brussel sprouts and MAN... did they turn on me a couple of hours later. It gave new meaning to "a mighty wind"! I don't know if it was the sound of dying birds falling out of the trees above our tent, or something more sinister!

Bruce Bleu said...

Oh, JJG... ANYTHING produced by Michael Moore or Gore is a SCHMUCKumentary.

JustaJeepGuy said...

@Bruce, it takes a SCHMUCK to make a SCHMUCKumentary and Moore and Gore fit the bill!

I've been to Mesa Verde twice and I liked it better in '76 than 40 years later.

Stilton Jarlsberg said...

@Readers- Great comments above from one and all. For the record, I'm fascinated by stormchasing because tornadoes scare the crud out of me. As a boy in Indiana, we once had a tornado pass over our house (which we only figured out later) and all of the house's hinged windows popped outward simultaneously as the air pressure dropped radically in an instant. Years later, also in Indiana, Kathy and I said our goodbyes (thankfully prematurely) while hiding in the spider-filled crawlspace under our trailer as a tornado swept nearby.

And as you all know by now, I try to deal with things that scare me by trying to joke about them. But the odds of my trying to make a mockumentary are probably even lower now that there are some stormchasing movies coming out (one of them "starring" Quickdraw Alec Baldwin).

@John the Econ- I'm amazed by the technology we now have to help ordinary folks see a storm's path. I may be at odds with a lot of tech these days, but doppler radar is very much on my good list.

@MAJ Arkay- So pleased to read about the day you shared with Spousal Unit! That sounds perfect to me.

@Paul Donohue- It's my perverse belief that by preparing for disasters, we prevent disasters (just so the universe can laugh at us). So whether you've used it or not, that generator may have prevented a natural disaster or two!

And you're absolutely right about the love Kathy and I had (and have) for each other. What a gift to have shared the time we had. And of course, I'm delighted to see a post from you. You are always in my prayers, my friend.

@Bruce Bleu and JustaJeepGuy- Might I also suggest "Suckumentary" for anything by Michael Moore or Al Gore?

Gonzo'57 said...

Stilt, I'm late to the party but I hope you see this:

Do you know what a tornado in Texas and a couple getting a divorce in Texas have in common?

Either way, someone is losing a mobile home.

It's nice to see that Kathy is sending you messages so you know she is OK and still in love with you.

JustaJeepGuy said...

@Stilt, "Suckumentary" is entirely appropriate!

Colby Muenster said...

Regarding Gore and Moore, it disturbs me more than a little that there are significant numbers of morons that still legitimize these two hucksters, and believe every lie that spills from their well fed mouths.