Data Dive: The Derecho

I've only had a couple moments of my life where I thought I might actually die, and the derecho of 2012 was one of those moments. I was driving some friends home and the weather was perfectly normal, until it suddenly got really windy.  In less than 60 seconds it had gone from "relatively pleasant albeit grey" out to violent winds, torrential rain, and pieces of trees and garbage flying around. We ended up trapped on a narrow road that lets into Massachusetts Avenue that is thickly lined with trees.  All the cars were at a complete standstill because a tree had fallen in the road.  Some people had gotten out and were trying (in vain) to move it--it also seemed like a dangerous move because trees were still coming down.  And this is exactly what happened.  A huge tree branch broke off and fell on the roof of my car, denting it significantly.  It felt like another one could drop at any second and I could neither move forward or backward.  It occurred to me suddenly that I was responsible for all three lives of the people in my car and that this would be a dumb, ridiculous way to die. After all the horrific ways I had pictured my own death, a tree branch hardly seemed a poetic ending.

NASA Satellites Examine a Powerful Summer Storm [video]

NASA imagery of the derecho moving east.

I am also, reluctantly, a huge fan of the MTV show Catfish. Something about the way it is filmed and the topic matter is really addictive even though each show is some permutation of the last. Also, the show is totally fake, and at this point they should push off into new territory--like actually investigating cases without permission from the offending party (ala the documentary Tickled, which if you haven't seen, you should because it is so batshit.) The one thing I do believe is that there are a significant number of people who engage in online relationships (even leading to engagement) with various absurdly improbable aspects. Your girlfriend is a super hot model who can never videochat but has an endless stream of Instagram posts. Your boyfriend meant to meet up with you three times but had an car accident each time. You have to wonder that these people actually know in their hearts that the other person isn't real. But that there's something they still get out of the relationship, and a fake relationship is always better than a real one.

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