Monday, August 31, 2009

Ethiopia Report launch, and exciting "other projects"

Hi Everyone-

I'm so happy today to report that the IRI has officially launched a preliminary draft of our report on the Adi Ha, Ethiopia project, which, as you know, I worked on quite a bit.

We also have representatives at this week's World Climate Conference hosted by the WMO in Geneva, Switzerland - again talking about Ethiopia, and other IRI projects we have going on around the world.

My favorite "other project" is just at the scoping stage right now, but has already put forward some promising leads and I hope to talk about it and work a lot more on it in the future. This project is in partnership with the Red Cross, and would be helping Caribbean and Central American countries with enhancing preparedness for tropical cyclones.

Also, this fall I will be taking a microeconomics course at Columbia (my first time officially being a student in a while...) to brush up on some basic skills that I think will improve my understanding of the decision-making forces operating in the families we are trying to help.

No trips to the field planned right now in the near future, but you know how those things can pop up.

Hope you all are well! Happy fall!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Bill reaches Cat 4

This morning, Hurricane Bill was upgraded to a Category 4 Hurricane - with sustained winds of 135mph. Bill is a beautiful storm and has yet to impact any land mass... the best kind of hurricane.

The models have been in agreement for sometime predicting a recurvature between Bermuda and the East Coast - but still have significant spread on just how that will occur.

However, it is getting more and more likely that some land will eventually feel the effects of Bill - and nearly guaranteed that there will be some serious wave action and beach erosion up and down the entire east coast late this week and weekend. Nova Scotia seems to be the ultimate landfall target at the moment, but landfall could be anywhere from Cape Cod, MA to Newfoundland. Bill will likely weaken by that point this weekend or early next week, but could still be anywhere from a Cat 1-Cat 3 at landfall. Bill's large size will ensure that rain, wave, surge, and wind effects are felt dozens to hundreds of miles from the official point of landfall.

The NOGAPS model in particular is the most westward of the models, and is predicting a landfall Sunday evening on Nantucket Island. Of course, this is only one model, and it's still 3-4 days out, so at this point if I were living in New England, I would just remain alert, and be prepared for evacuations, if necessary.

Stay safe out there everyone, and stay tuned to the National Hurricane Center for the most up to date, official forecasts.

Monday, August 17, 2009

All eyes on Hurricane Bill

New England/Atlantic Canada needs to stay VERY alert over the next few days...

With Ana (dissipated over PR/DR) and Claudette (inland after landfall in Florida) both on the outs, all attention has now been focused on recently upgraded Hurricane Bill - which could reach Major Hurricane status sometime tomorrow or Wednesday.

By this weekend, Bill could be bearing down on the New England coast, potentially as a Major Hurricane.

Barring anything too crazy (i.e. a Major, or forced evacuations), a chase-cation to Montauk may be in the works this weekend...

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Ana, Bill, and Claudette

Very quickly, we've gotten very active in the Atlantic.

Just in the last 24 hours, since my last post, we've seen Bill strengthen and overtake Ana as the dominant storm in the central Atlantic, and just this morning, Claudette has formed off the Florida panhandle - with landfall expected this afternoon.

But there is good news embedded in here. Ana has failed to strengthen as much as was forecast yesterday - and will likely weaken as it enters the Caribbean in the next couple days. Bill - though continuing to strengthen, likely to major hurricane status early next week - is trending rightward, meaning, it may miss the Caribbean/United States entirely. And Claudette - if given an extra 24 hours, would likely have become a landfalling hurricane.

Stay tuned everyone, and please stay prepared if you are in the path of any of these storms.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Finally, action in the Atlantic.

Happy Atlantic Hurricane Season 2009, everyone!

While those that live on the southeast coast (and in the Caribbean/Central America) probably DON'T look forward to this time of year ever, it's always a kind of morbid curiosity for me. #1 as a humanitarian, #2 as a "WAS*ISsy" research scientist, #3 as a weather nerd. Although I freely admit that those 3 could be in any order at times... saving lives of course always comes first. It's my job, but also my passion.

This morning, tropical storm Ana (pronounced Ah-na), formed from the remnants of TD#2 in the Central Atlantic. The shear that has been cutting off convection for the last few days is finally on the downswing, and Ana is moving over warmer waters. Ana's forecast track places her somewhere between South Florida and south of Cuba/Haiti/DR in 5 days, strengthening in that time to around hurricane strength. Of course, everyone living in those areas needs to start taking precautions now.

We've had a lot of death and destruction lately (the last 5 years or so), but due to the onset of a weak El Nino, this year's Atlantic hurricane season forecast is officially calling for a calmer than normal season. HOWEVER -- (and that's a big however...) just one badly timed storm can make for a REALLY bad hurricane season for someone. I'm thinking here of the 1992 Atlantic Hurricane Season, which was officially below average, but included as its first named storm Hurricane Andrew which devastated South Florida - the worst US storm on record until Katrina in 2005. Sound familiar to this season so far??

Keep an eye on Ana everyone, especially those in the cone.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

2009 ALDS: Royals vs Orioles, Game 5

Mon Oct 12, 2009, 6:15pm: After a humbling 9-0 loss in a rainy Game 2 in KC, and then a 3-2 heartbreaker in the first game in Baltimore where the combination of Sheets-Martinez was not enough to eek one out, the Royals came back to collect 16 hits and win 8-1 on the back of Billingsley on Saturday night at Camden Yards, to force a decisive Game 5 back home tonight.

Starting tonight it will be Zack Greinke, the Royals All-Star, and Rich Hill, the Game 1 loser for the Orioles. Greinke hopes to have enough to lead KC on to the next round, after his unfortunate playoff debut in Game 2, where he was forced to leave the game in the 3rd inning after a long rain delay. Should Greinke and the Royals emerge victorious tonight, they would face the best-in-baseball Cleveland Indians in the ALCS, who clinched their Division Series win over the A's on Saturday.

Needless to say, fans here are tuned in and turned on for the sold out finale tonight at the K. Thousands of powder-blue "It's Our Time" t-shirts fill the stands tonight, which has become the Royals rallying cry since the pennant race started heating up more than a month ago.

7:40pm: Orioles are off to a quick 1-0 lead here in the second as Adam Jones takes Greinke deep.

8:55pm: Greinke has retired 7 straight here in the 7th... with 7 strikeouts. It must be his lucky night! The score is still tied 2-2, but there is a hopeful buzz in the crowd.

9:20pm: A leadoff single by Teahen and an error have 2 on with 1 out here in the bottom of the 8th. There's action in the Orioles bullpen. Here's the 3-2 from Hill to Crisp - struck him out swinging. A long 10-pitch at bat looks to chase the Orioles starter from the game, as the manager is making his slow walk out to the mound.

9:32pm: The righty Chris Ray comes on to face Callaspo. He'll bat from the left side. Here's the 1-1.... liner through the gap on the left side and it will roll all the way to the wall!...... 2 runs are in and the Royals go up 4-2!!

9:37pm: Alex Gordon to bat now. He's having a great series - the Royals missed him in September, but he came back from the DL just in time to make the start of this 5 game set, and has made a big impact so far against Baltimore. Royals fans are on their feet, looking for some insurance. Here's the pitch... it's a blooper, just over the head of the Orioles 1st baseman. Callaspo will score, and the Royals will take a 5-2 lead into the 9th inning!

9:55pm: Motte will come on to face the Orioles 4-5-6 hitters here in the 9th inning. Here's the pitch... and it's ball 4 to Adam Jones. A leadoff walk for Motte.

9:59pm: Motte against Wieters.... he struck him out! There was no catching up to that 95mph fastball.

10:03pm: Next up, Scott Moore, the Orioles third baseman, who is 0-3 today. The Royals fans are on their feet and urging Motte on. Here's the pitch... grounder to Aviles at short... it could be two! Two second for one, and Youkilis squeezes it at first and pumps his fist! The Royals are going to the ALCS!

Fireworks are popping, as the team rushes the field...jumping and dancing in the infield. A Division Series to remember here in KC!

There they are, your 2009 Division Series champions, the Kansas City Royals!

Player of the game: Alex Gordon, Series MVP: Alex Gordon (1HR, 6RBI, .368/.429/.632)

2009 ALDS: Royals vs Orioles, Game 1

Tues Oct 6, 2009, 6:15pm: Today, the Royals are all anyone is talking about in Kansas City. That's because today, it's playoff baseball for the first time since 1985. Today, it's the Royals vs. the Orioles in Game 1 of the ALDS.

On the mound today, it's Chad Billingsley for the Royals and Rich Hill for the Orioles. A chill is in the air with early fall time temperatures in KC - 46 degrees at gametime - but the Royals hope to give the city something to celebrate later on tonight.

It's been a true team effort this year in KC - especially in the month of September, with 5 starters batting above .290 and a lot of clutch late inning RBIs as the Royals compensated for some ill-timed injuries to 3B Alex Gordon and SS Mike Aviles in the last weeks of the season. The Royals rotation also proved effective in September, with the 1-2 punch of Billingsley and Greinke going 9-0 as the Royals won 21 of their final 31 in Sept-Oct to finish atop the wild card standings in the American League.

The Royals emerged victorious from a 4 way pennant race with 3 powerhouse clubs from the AL East. The Royals, back to full strength now, will trying to finish off the other survivor - the Orioles - this week in the best of 5 series.

9:40pm: Despite giving up two early home runs accounting for all 3 of the Baltimore runs, the KC pitching staff has been quite stingy so far - allowing only 1 hit since Markakas' 2 run shot in the 3rd off Billingsley.

The Royals offense has done a bit better, collecting 7 hits - but the result is the same as we enter the 9th inning with the score tied 3-3.

9:55pm: A leadoff walk quickly becomes moot as Jason Motte finishes off the Orioles on 9 pitches in the top of the 9th.

10:10pm: It's the bottom of the 9th, and Alex Gordon has just struck out looking. Next up, Mike Aviles.

10:14pm: Aviles lines a shot down the third base line - but settles at 2nd. Corey Wimberly comes on to run and the fans are on their feet and screaming.

10:18pm: 1 on, 1 out - drama here in the bottom of the 9th. Up next is Miguel Olivo. The 2-2 count... crushed!! Out to left field and deep... and the Royals win it! A walk-off home run for Olivo, and the Royals fans are living it up! The first playoff victory in 24 years, here at the K... what a night!

Here's how that 9th inning played out:
Bottom of the 9th - Kansas City Royals batting - Pitching for Baltimore Orioles : LHP G. Sherrill
Now at 3B: M. Mora
Batting: LHB A. Gordon 0-0: Ball
1-0: Ball
2-0: Called Strike
2-1: Called Strike
2-2: Strikes out looking
Batting: RHB M. Aviles 0-0: Ball
1-0: Foul Ball, location: 2F
1-1: Ball
2-1: Ball
3-1: DOUBLE (Line Drive, 5L)
Pinch Runner at 2ndC. Wimberly:
Batting: RHB M. Olivo 0-0: Swinging Strike
0-1: Ball
1-1: Called Strike
1-2: Ball
2-2: 2-RUN HOME RUN (Flyball, 7D), Distance : 395 ft
Game Over ... Kansas City defeats Baltimore, 5 to 3

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Pennant fever in Kansas City!

All of the events described below are fictitious. But they COULD be real. Someday.
OOTP is an ultra-realistic baseball simulator, that lets you control every aspect of your team, from free agent signings, sicking within a budget of a small-market city, to managing your team's on the field plays pitch by pitch, to keeping fans happy by not raising ticket prices too high, or trading away their favorite player.
Below is a recap of what IS POSSIBLE. In this case, with those lovable losers - the Kansas City Royals.

Just an FYI: I play all these games out, batter by batter. A full game takes about 15-20 min. But "the rest" of the simulator- negotiating trades, figuring out who to call up from the minors, setting ticket prices just right to balance attendance and cash flow... that's the fun part!

You knew it was going to be something special when we were above .500 when three players in the All-Star game, two starting. Yes, your 2009 American League Wild Card Kansas City Royals are experiencing pennant fever for the first time since 1985.

Thanks to some well placed trades and a few risky offseason free agent signings, the boys in blue are back in the playoffs again for the first time since before a few of their players were born.

A quick recap of the season highlights thus far:
April 5: Signed free agent SP Pedro Martinez to a 1-year deal worth $1,000,000
April 6: Opening Day, Zack Greinke and the Royals lose 4-3 to the White Sox. Another long season looks to be in store for the boys in blue. Opening Day lineup: Crisp, Callaspo, Butler, Gordon, Jacobs, Guillen, DeJesus, Aviles, and Olivo.
April 10: The Royals beat the Yankees 9-7 to improve their record to 4-1.
April 15: In his second start, Pedro Martinez hits the DL with a shoulder strain - and is out for 4-5 months. He would return in August as a nearly unhittable middle reliever.
April 22: SP Zack Greinke sprains his shoulder in the 3rd inning, and goes to the 15-day DL. But the Royals beat Cliff Lee and the Cleveland Indians 9-6 anyway to cap a 5 game win streak.
April 29: Coco Crisp goes 1 for 4 with an RBI triple to extend his hitting streak to 20 games, and Willie Bloomquist hits a pinch-hit RBI double in the bottom of the ninth to lift the Royals to a 3-2 win over the Toronto Blue Jays.
April 30: The Royals finish April with a record of 13-9. A sign of hopeful things to come?
April 30: Hurting for starting pitching, the Royals trade 1B Billy Butler and CL Joakim Soria to the LA Dodgers, for SP Chad Billingsley. Billingsley goes 15-4 for the rest of the season, including a 6-0 record in September during the playoff push. Mike Jacobs becomes the starting 1st baseman, and promptly goes on a HR tear.
May 6: Coco Crisp goes 0-4 against the Seattle Mariners, ending his hitting streak at 25 games.
May 7: Zack Grienke tosses a 5 hit, 8 inning, 3-2 win against Seattle in his first game back from the DL.
May 16: Signed free agent SP Ben Sheets to a minor league deal - with the hopes he would return from the DL in August and be a late season asset.
June 4: To strengthen the bullpen in the wake of the Butler-Soria/Billingsley trade, the Royals acquire Cardinals closer Jason Motte for minor league prospects.
June 18: The Royals make a trade with the rebuilding Boston Red Sox for reliever Manny Delcarmen.
June 29: Mike Jacobs hits 3 HRs against Minnesota. The Royals lose anyway, 16-7, pushing their record to 36-39, 3rd place in the AL Central.
July 2: Zack Greinke strikes out 10 White Sox (his 4th 10+ K game of the year so far) - but loses 6-4, to bring his record to 3-9 on the year. It continues a theme of great performances, but low run support.
July 4: The Royals beat the last place White Sox 9-2, pushing their record back to .500, second place in the AL Central, and into 5th place in the AL Wild Card Race.
July 14: Alex Gordon and Mike Jacobs (leading the league in HR with 17 at the break) start for the American League, which loses the All-Star game 6-5 in St. Louis. Zack Grienke is selected, but doesn't play.
July 17: In the first game back from the break, John Buck singles home David DeJesus to beat Tampa 2-1 in 13 innings. Greinke pitches into the 8th, giving up only 1 run on an error. Jason Motte pitches 3+ innings of no-hit relief, and Manny Delcarmen closes out the 13th for the win. The Royals starting lineup: Crisp, Teahen, Gordon, Jacobs, Guillen, DeJesus, Callaspo, Aviles, Olivo.
July 23: The Royals trade Left Handed SP Greg Smith (acquired off waivers earlier in the season from the Colorado Rockies) to the Boston Red Sox for 1B Kevin Youkilis and his ginormous salary. Greinke needs more run support, and the Royals are above .500 past the All Star break. Fans welcome the decision with open arms.
July 26 (Emery's first Royals game!): Kyle Davies 1-hits Texas, striking out 6 and going a complete 9 innings in front of a sell-out crowd. The best Royals pitching performance of the year! The Royals improve their record to 51-46 and move into 4th place in the AL Wild Card race.
August 17: Luke Hochevar is thrown out of the game for hitting Paul Konerko with a pitch and igniting a bench-clearing brawl. The Royals lose the game 17-1. Their worst loss of the season. But the Royals go 9-4 for the rest of August.
August 18: Ben Sheets returns from the DL and gives up 5 HR in 4 1/3 innings - but the Royals beat the last place White Sox anyway, 16-9.
August 31: The Royals finish August 71-60 overall, and very much still in the playoff picture, 2nd place in the AL Central behind the ML-leading Cleveland Indians (86-46), and 4th place in the AL Wild Card Race behind Boston, Baltimore, and Toronto.
September 1: MLB expands active rosters to 40. The Royals call up a flock of bullpen help from AAA Omaha and sign two free agents: a backup catcher and a pinch runner to help for the playoff push. Royals beat Oakland 3-0 behind a complete game 3 hitter from Billingsley. The Royals starting lineup: Crisp, Callaspo, DeJesus, Gordon, Jacobs, Youkilis, Lubanski, Buck, Bloomquist.
September 4: Pinch Runner Corey Wimberly races home in the bottom of the 10th inning as the Royals win a thriller against the Angels at home, 6-5.
September 21: The Royals enter the second to last week of the season with a 4-game set at home against the Wild Card leading Red Sox. The Royals win the first game 7-6 with some clutch hitting in the bottom of the 7th, and a strong bullpen.
September 23: The Royals move into a tie for 2nd place in the wild card with Baltimore, 0.5 games behind Boston, after beat Boston 13-1.
September 25: The Royals take sole possession of the wild card lead for the first time all season as the Red Sox lose their 5th straight to the Yankees.
September 27: The Red Sox lose their 7th in a row, and eliminate themselves from playoff contention.
September 30: The Royals finish September with an 18-10 record, including a 4-game sweep of Boston and winning 2 out of 3 against the Yankees in the final week.
October 1: Off Day for the Royals. The Royals, Yankees, and Orioles enter the last 3 games of the season and finish the day in a 3-way tie for the AL wild card, with the Orioles and Yankees tied for the AL East lead. Chad Billingsley is named AL Pitcher of the Month for the 2nd time this season as he goes 6-0 with a 1.70 ERA in September. Tug Hulett is named AL Rookie of the Month, hitting .333 with 3HR and 21 RBIs.
October 2: Zack Greinke beats the Twins 4-1 in Minnesota, in a complete game, winning his 6th straight, but the Royals remain in a 3-way tie for the wild card lead, as the Yankees beat Tampa 5-3 and the Orioles beat Toronto 3-0.
October 3: Chad Billingsley (winning his 14th straight game!) and the Royals clinch no worse than a tie for the AL Wild Card when the Royals beat the Twins 14-1, and both the Yankees and Orioles lose.
October 4: Last day of the regular season, and all of Kansas City is scoreboard watching as the Royals maintain a slim 5-4 lead over the Twins in the 7th inning... A Royals win, or either an Orioles or Yankees loss would all send the Royals to the playoffs. The Royals score 6 in the top of the 7th, and you can feel the excitement all across town. The news becomes official in the bottom of the 8th inning of the Royals game... Tampa has just shut out the Yankees, 2-0! The Royals close out the 2009 Regular season by beating the Twins 11-5, and clinch the AL Wild Card!

All of Kansas City is abuzz as the playoffs start today. The Royals open the ALDS at home against the AL East champion Baltimore Orioles, led by Nick Markakis (.309/.378/.487) and Matt Wieters (.309/.387/.527). The starting pitchers for Game 1 will be Chad Billingsley (17-6, 3.00) for the Royals and Rich Hill (18-7, 3.59) for the Orioles.

More updates as they become available!

In the meantime, here are the 2009 season summary statistics, and how the Royals fit into the MLB leaderboards.

Watching my nephew - in the process of learning.

Although I only get to spend a few days per year with my nephew Emery Oliver Atchison, those days are precious as I soak in the wonder that is a growing, learning, changing, loving baby boy.

Here are a few glimpses of me watching my nephew grow, from our last visit.