Posted in ASSIGNMENTS, CULTURE, EDUCATION, MY PHOTOS, Popular Culture, Uncategorized

Further and Farther … with more STUDENT PHOTOS!

Let’s go … Further and Farther … and look at some more STUDENT PHOTOS! This is another set of “Geography Photo Contest” entries from the two classes that I taught online in Fall of 2020.

As we all try to forget the disaster that was the year 2020, we take heart that students were still able to make Geographic observations in their local areas. Many included photos that were taken last year — PRE-pandemic. Here in this “new normal” I am glad to see how the young students are able to adapt, and to even thrive. Maybe that is a bittersweet lesson to be learned by older teachers.

As the Fall term is over, we can now go further into the next semester. Or is it farther into the next semester?

I had to look it up on Dictionary Dot Com:

The widely accepted rule is to use farther when being literal and discussing a physical distance, as in “He went farther down the road.” Further is used when discussing a more symbolic distance or to discuss a degree or extent, as in “I wanted to discuss it further, but we didn’t have time.”

I am glad that is now clear …


Presentation for Applied Geography Conference 2020

I have a video of my presentation at the Applied Geography Conference 2020. The conference was moved ONLINE this year due to the pandemic. I was chair of a special session on Educational Geography. We met via ZOOM on Tuesday, October 20th. It is important to note that the video shared here is NOT my lecture “A Fair Candlemas” — rather it is a talk about the EDUCATIONAL USE of my lecture. I have already posted the AFC lecture elsewhere on my blog.

ABSTRACT: This paper is the second in my geographic education series “Meteorology and Myth”. The purpose was to develop teaching modules which bridge topics in geography and atmospheric science with topics in history, art, folklore and culture. One question that students in my introductory “Weather and Climate” class would inevitably ask was if the “Groundhog Day” predictions are true. Although a groundhog and its shadow cannot predict the weather several weeks in advance, I found that there was a holistic teaching opportunity within the folklore. The legend does not make short-term meteorological sense. However, there may be long-term upper atmosphere circulation patterns, which have allowed the folk myth to arise in Europe, then survive in America. The lesson was not designed to “prove” if the Groundhog Day folk predictions are true. The point was to explain the relevant physical and cultural geographies in an interesting and accessible manner. Vivid and evocative imagery were used to make the atmospheric concepts engaging and memorable for general education students. Expected student outcomes include the skills to describe synoptic weather patterns, use climatic charts and explain climate change. A secondary pedagogical outcome is to further develop student appreciation of cultural geography, folklore and religion.

KEY WORDS: Geographic Education; Folklore; Meteorology; Climatology.

View a slide show of student comments below:

Thanks again to all who participated!

Posted in ASSIGNMENTS, EDUCATION, Poster Session


I usually hold a symposium in my graduate courses on the final day of class. I would invite faculty, administrators and others to view the projects my graduate students were working on all semester. Refreshments were always served (Little Debbies). Students would have the opportunity to showcase their work, and learn to field tough questions on the fly. A practice symposium was always an important stepping stone for young graduate students. It helped them prepare for a real academic conference.

Unfortunately … pandemic.

However we tried to make the best of presentation in isolation. Instead of a live poster Q & A session, we spontaneously decided to throw together the following. You may want to turn on CC English auto-generated captions due to the noise being made by the ducts overhead.

These are the posters for your perusal. Click for full-size view.

Students are also planning full “conference style” oral presentations of their research papers next week. I hope that I will be able to share those formal presentations with you as well.

Posted in EDUCATION, PowerPoint Ideas

Chapter 2 — all about maps …

I have been using the Getis, et al. textbook “Introduction to Geography” for about a century.  I spent probably half of my life making slides for overhead projectors. Today, of course, we compose PowerPoint slide shows for our lectures — which are even better at putting your audience to sleep. At least with the old overhead projectors, you never knew when its fan would stop, the lightbulb would heat up, then explode.  It was great for keeping students attentive and on their toes … but I digress …

I thought I would share some of my narrated PowerPoint lectures saved onYouTube. This is a playlist for Chapter 2: Maps and Techniques of Geographic Analysis. I have added a lot more graphics than are in the original textbook images from McGraw Hill*. Warning: These are very good for curing insomnia. Why not try some tonight?

Listen to Part 1 here:

These videos are for online versions of the course, when it became a necessity to provide lecture materials online. When I first contemplated putting all of my lectures online, I thought that I might record myself in the classroom. I thought that I might be able to give these great “lecture hall” speeches, which would mesmerize the students. I would be standing up there, in front of a big screen and then profoundly thunder out all this great knowledge. I would be another Carl Sagan, or Neil Degrasse-Tyson. It turns out that I really could not do that. The lack of talent on my part might be one reason. I also did not want to sound like a pompous, unapproachable professor. I needed a friendlier approach and method. Instead, I made my narrated PowerPoint lectures as “tutorial” videos. I tried to describe the topics the same way that I might explain it to a student during an one-on-one office hour conversation. The delivery I am trying to make here is more like a tutoring session or consolation. I’m trying to explain the concepts here in a casual, relatable manor. (I apologize in advance if these lectures are not profoundly Earth-shaking.)

Part 2 continues here:

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Part 8

There you have it – a whole week of classroom PowerPoint slides for the virtual lecture hall!

* Legal: No copyright violation is intended. All graphics and all other content are “FAIR USE” for Education.


My presentation at SEDAAG Online Virtual Conference

I will be presenting a research talk at the SouthEastern Association of American Geographers annual conference on November 7. This year will be a little different — as the conference will be forced to be ONLINE due to the COVID pandemic. The category is Teaching Experiences and Educational Geography. The talk is about my experience teaching “Geography of North America” in Spring Semester 2019. I wanted to share my efforts partly because my experience is approaching its expiration date as a story, and also because I will be teaching the course again in Spring Term 2021. Once again, my students and I will be slogging and blogging through the GEOG-ing.

I will be sharing this video at the virtual conference, then I will field some comments and opinions.

If YOU would like to share your opinions, please leave them in the comments below.

Posted in Climatology, CULTURE, EDUCATION, Uncategorized

Meteorology and Myth Part VIII – Bivröst: The Bridge to Åsgård

I am working on another chapter in my Meteorology and Myth series. Part 8 will consider the Auroras and Norse Mythology. Here is a preview of the educational poster.

You will just have to wait until next year, in order to see the full conference presentation, PowerPoint and video.

That is … if there are conferences ever again. And I don’t mean those “Zoom” conferences, which are all of the work — and none of the fun.

Any questions? Suggestions? Put them in the comments.

Posted in Climatology, EDUCATION, NORTH AMERICA

(A preview of) Meteorology and Myth Part VII: “The Dead Man Walking”

Today I will share yet another avenue of my research in my “Meteorology and Myth” science education series.

There is room for more research on multiple vortex tornados. I would like to find a good student to work with me on this chapter.

Multiple vortex tornados contain several small but intense vortices revolving around the main tornado funnel cloud. These should not be confused with double (or other multiple) tornados produced by the same supercell thunderstorm.

Multiple vortex tornados produce some spooky images. The individual vortices seems to kick around as if they are alive. Our imaginations sometimes see a human-like figure.

The tornado vortex on the right appears to be “walking away”. The “Dead Man Walking” image in the poster is a still photo of the May 27, 1997 F-5 Tornado which killed 27 people in Jerrell, Texas. The tornado started out as a small rope, but grew into a large, multiple-vortex monster as it slowly walked across the landscape. I will share a documentary of that terrible day.

There is also another documentary worth viewing about this tornado.

YouTube user Antarctic Vortex has posted the full TLC Channel documentary. It is an important part of pop cultural history as well. It looks like the video was transferred from an old VHS tape recording. You can see the tracking lines at various points. Furthermore, the commercial breaks have been retained. This video is about a terrible, tragic event, but it was amusing to see the anachronisms about sharing photographs on America Online, or shopping at Blockbuster stores. The Native American legend is mentioned at time 16 minutes in, as a frightening moment is recreated in the documentary. It also includes a still frame of the “Dead Man Walking” image.

Look for an update to this chapter of Meteorology and Myth later in the 2020-21 academic year.


Agee, E. M., J. T. Snow, and P. R. Clare, 1976: Multiple Vortex Features in the Tornado Cyclone and the Occurrence of Tornado Families. Mon. Wea. Rev., 104, 552–563,<0552:MVFITT>2.0.CO;2.

Clay, Nolan. 2013. “Oklahoma storms: Amateur storm chaser took photo of tornado that killed him”. The Oklahoman. June 4, 2013.

NOAA Storm Prediction Center. 2020. National Severe Storm Laboratory Public Domain Tornado Images. Accessed June 1, 2020.

Wurman, J., 2002: The Multiple-Vortex Structure of a Tornado. Weather and Forecasting, 17, 473–505,<0473:TMVSOA>2.0.CO;2.

Wurman, J., K. Kosiba, P. Robinson, and T. Marshall, 2014: The Role of Multiple-Vortex Tornado Structure in Causing Storm Researcher Fatalities. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Societ., 95, 31–45,

Posted in Climatology, EDUCATION, NORTH AMERICA

(A preview of) Meteorology and Myth Part VI: Satan’s Winds

My series continues with another topic: “Satan’s Winds”.  I put together this draft of a conference poster. Now I am just waiting to find an interested student, and an outlet for it. Most conferences I attend have canceled their in-person meetings, and are converting to “online conferences” and “virtual sessions”.

I think that this would be a good topic for an undergraduate student to present at a local or regional conference. I need a student to “take the ball and run with it”, and to conduct a thorough literature review.

I know what you are going to say – it is not SATAN — it is Santa Ana — as in the canyon named after the Mexican General. Actually … there is some debate about the origin of the name. The winds are not named after the general. You will just have to wait until you hear my explanation.

The Santa Anas are certainly a devil of a problem though. Please view this short documentary from KCET Online about the history and importance of Santa Ana.

I also found out that several California pop groups have recorded songs using Santa Ana winds as a theme. The Beach Boys for example. There is a humorous music clip from the TV show “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” which sings the problems associated with the devil wind in the style of Franky Valli.

At least the cancellation of so many conferences cannot be blamed on Santa Ana. Look for more updates on this project this fall.


Abatzoglou, J. T., R. Barbero, and N. J. Nauslar, 2013: Diagnosing Santa Ana winds in Southern California with synoptic-scale analysis. Weather Forecasting, 28, 704–710.

Cao, Y., and R. G. Fovell, 2016: Downslope windstorms of San Diego County. Part I: A case study. Monthly Weather Review. 144, 529–552.

Durran, D. R., 1990: Mountain waves and downslope winds. Atmospheric Processes over Complex Terrain, Meteorological Monographs, No. 45, American Meteorological Society, 59–81.

Guzman Morales, J., A. Gershunov, J. Theiss, H. Li, and D. Cayan, 2016: Santa Ana Winds of Southern California: Their climatology, extremes, and behavior spanning six and a half decades. Geophysical Research Letters, 43, 2827–2834.

Masters, Nathan. 2012. “SoCal’s Devil Winds: The Santa Anas in Historical Photos and Literature”. KCET, October 25, 2012.

Needham, John. 1988. “The Devil Winds Made Me Do It : Santa Anas Are Enough to Make Anyone’s Hair Stand on End”. Los Angeles Times. March 12, 1988.

Rolinski, T., S.B. Capps, and W. Zhuang, 2019: Santa Ana Winds: A Descriptive Climatology. Weather and Forecasting, 34, 257–275.


(A preview of) Meteorology and Myth Part 5: The Legacy of “Huricán” — A Carib God of Evil

I wanted to share a preview of another chapter in my ongoing science education series “Meteorology and Myth”. The fifth part considers the hurricane gods of the Caribbean Basin.

Mesoamerican history contains many stories of local and regional deities. The native peoples of the Caribbean had to deal with destructive hurricanes occasionally. To the peoples of the Caribbean, Yucatan Peninsula and Gulf of Mexico coasts, hurricanes are nothing but destructive. It is not surprising that hurricane gods would be considered evil, vengeful deities.

How do we know when and where ancient hurricanes struck? There is a new field of Earth Science which studies this question – Paleotempestology. Scientists use various “proxy data” to estimate the number, strength, and location of tropical cyclones which ocurred before modern instrumentation. Well, just click on the poster to view full size and read it now to learn more!

This poster is the start of perhaps a conference presentation. I would like to have a student participate and pick up the research from here. As always, I am looking for students who want to work on research projects and individual investigation studies.

Look for more updates this coming academic year.