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                   Monday, January 7, 2008 - 3:48AM

Foggy sunrise, movies and heating bills

By DAN ROBINSON
Editor/Photographer
25 Years of Storm Observing
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I try to keep this blog as on-topic to the weather as I can, but since it is a 'blog', I have a few tangential things I like to write about every once in a while. This will be one of those somewhat rare 'random' subject posts. To keep some weather content going, here are a couple of shots from my living room window from a sunrise few days ago.

"National Treasure - Book of Secrets"
I go to see a movie in a theater maybe once a year, and most of the time I leave wishing I'd saved my money. 99% of movies have become too vulgar lately for me to enjoy or spend my cash on. The ones that don't bombard you with cursing or suggestive scenes usually end up being pretty bad, unfortunately. However, I was pleasantly suprised when I went to see the "National Treasure" sequel with a few friends last weekend. Here's a clean movie - without even one curse word - that is actually good. Even more encouraging is how well the movie has been doing, staying number one for three weekends so far. I've got to applaud Disney for putting this one out. See, it is possible to make a decent movie without being offensive! Hopefully we'll see more of this type of film (clean+good) in the future.

Space heaters and gas furnaces
After paying an average of $300 a month for my gas heating bill last winter (with one month peaking at over $400), I decided I needed to make some changes this season. I bought a $30 1500W space heater for my office to run during the day while I'm working, and then just shut off the main gas furnace. I've only been turning on the furnace at a low 55F setting if the temps outside dip below freezing (to protect the pipes), which has only been a few days and nights a month since November. The result? My gas bill for December was a little over $90, and my electric bill only went up $20 as a result of running the small heater all month. So, compared to last December (a climatically similar month to this year), using the space heater is saving me about $200 a month. I figure I'll end up saving between $700 to $900 this winter just by using a $30 electric heater.

New Comment System
You might have noticed the new comment feature that popped up here yesterday. I've been wanting to get a comment system installed on this blog since I started it, but because I'm doing all of the updates manually rather than in WordPress or Blogger, I had to develop a custom script that would do what I needed. I finally got it working yesterday, and finished the anti-spambot validation system today. I'm going out on a limb and trusting the validation system to keep spammers out, but it's inevitable that something will get through from time to time. But at least this blog is now 'up to par' with the rest of the internet.

Area weather roundup
Back to the weather! Our snowstorm of last week is a distant memory, with the snowpack completely gone. West Virginia will be warming up even more during the next two days as southerly winds spike our temps into the 60s and 70s. Unusual, but not unheard of for mid-winter in this part of the country. A strong cold frontal passage may bring some lightning and thunder to us on Tuesday night. The next chance for snow looks to arrive on Friday night.

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