Storm Highway by Dan Robinson
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                   Friday, March 16, 2012 - 4:50AM CDT

(Missing the) early spring activity, and other news

30 Years of Storm Photography
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What is life like for real storm photographers? Well, contrary to the myths, observing isn't a job - it's a hobby. An expensive one at that, and always getting more so. Yesterday, I paid over $4 a gallon to fill up my truck for the first time ever, almost quadruple what I spent during my first expeditions to the Plains. So if storm photographers don't chase for a living, what do we do? Well, we work normal jobs just like you do (I work in IT doing network support and web development). That means for most of us, we can't chase every setup like the storm photographers on TV do, even during peak storm season. I have 9 vacation days to use this season, which sounds sufficient - if it weren't for the fact that I'm currently (not by choice) working evenings 3PM to 11PM. If you didn't notice, that's prime storm time. That means I'll need to take a vacation day for nearly every expedition, unless one falls on the 2 out of 5 days per week I have off.

So, my 2012 season is going to consist of many weeks like this one - marginal severe weather days that I simply have to sit out completely. If I run out of vacation days, I'm prepared to take unpaid leave days to photograph storms if necessary - after all, it's why I moved out here to begin with. But all told, this season is going to be my most difficult ever in nearly every way - higher costs, conflicting schedules, you name it. But on the bright side, I'm *here* - in the Midwest, on the prairies of Illinois. Being in this situation back in WV would have been far worse.

Looking for a rental house: It's hard to believe, but drugs have taken hold in the peaceful neighborhood on the western edge of New Baden that I've lived in and enjoyed for over two years - primarily as a result of two new neighbors. It's an uncharacteristic intrusion into an otherwise flawless experience living in what has been a great small town, and a testament to how quickly things can go bad when even a small number of the wrong people are introduced. My tires were slashed by a *next-door neighbor* (yes, you heard me right) last week, in retaliation for me not allowing him to use my cell phone to call his dealer. No joke. This, coupled with pot smoke wafting through my door from the *other* next door neighbors lighting up several times a day in the entryway, is a clear sign that it's time for a change.

The landlords have been helpful in swiftly taking as much action as they can, but unfortunately without anything less than a written confession from the offenders, eviction is going to be a long and arduous process. So, the search is on, with the goal - once again - for a 360-degree view of the sky at least within walking distance. A small house is preferred. If you're a local reader and have any leads you could send my way, I would be very grateful.

In other matters, I've almost completely recovered from surgery last month - and was just given the all-clear by the surgeon to resume any and all normal activity. A new pair of running shoes is on tap for the weekend! With temps in the 80s this week and the trees already beginning to bloom, it's going to be a great time to get outside. I think the first spring downtown photo outing may be in the cards, so stay tuned!

Stay safe. Hope you find something soon.
- Posted by Mom
Time to set up some surveillance, let them enjoy the comfort of a new home, 10x10 preferably.
- Posted by Paul from IL
I moved 3 of my cameras outside, and bought a new 8-camera system that should be here next week :)
- Posted by Dan R. from New Baden, IL

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