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The Buresh Blog

    We can continue to count down to the end of the hurricane season - Nov. 30th.  For daily updates on the tropics, go to 'Talking the Tropics With Mike'. While we're still technically in the tropical season, winter is starting to show its true colors across the Lower 48.  First.... a swath of snow covered the ground from the Plains to New England.  As an arctic high pressure moved east/southeast, the snow 'field' helped to keep cold air 'refrigerated' as the cold front plowed south & east.  The result was some of the coldest temps. for Jacksonville & surrounding areas since March into early April with a 'slew' of record lows from Texas to Michigan.  Some parts of inland Ga. had their first freeze of the season - anywhere from 1-2 weeks earlier than average.  The avg. first date for 32 degrees or lower: Check out the beautiful photos sent to me from Sean Riley, St. Augustine early Tue. (Nov. 12).  A fog bow forms when the sunlight is reflected/refracted off the water vapor/droplets that make up fog.  Due to the very tiny size of the water droplets that make up fog, the 'bow' appears white or even bluish in color (vs. the color spectrum of a typical rainbow caused by the sun reflecting off & through much larger raindrops).  More on fogbows * here *.
  • We're in the last month of the Atlantic hurricane season.  Only two hurricanes - going back to 1851 - have made landfall on U.S. soil during the month of Nov.  'Yankee' hit Miami Nov. 4, 1934 & 'Kate' hit the Fl. Panhandle Nov. 22, 1985.  More in 'Talking the Tropics With Mike'. For the 2nd year in a row, we're having a very warm autumn.  October was the 6th warmest on record for Jacksonville & the warmest since 1981.  Every month this year so far has been above avg.: And October was a dry month for NE Fl...  wetter for SE Ga.  From our Jax N.W.S.: FL JASPER 2.59  BEAUCLERC 5.05  JACKSONVILLE BEACH 7.62  LAKE CITY 2 E 2.95 GLEN ST MARY 1 W 3.40   SOUTH PONTE VEDRA BEACH SHOP 5.20  CRESCENT CITY 5.57   GAINESVILLE RGNL AP 3.59  HASTINGS 4NE 4.23  WHITE SPRINGS 7N 2.17  JACKSONVILLE CRAIG MUNI AP 6.57  JACKSONVILLE INTL AP 3.30  JACKSONVILLE NAS 4.89   MAYPORT NAVAL STATION 7.58  BELL 4NW 3.57  FEDERAL POINT 5.69  GEORGIA: PRIDGEN 5.45  ALMA BACON CO AP 3.48   NAHUNTA 6 NE 4.30  BRUNSWICK 7.35  BRUNSWICK MALCOLM MCKINNON AP 5.36   WOODBINE 8.90 Speaking of rainfall....now that we're in standard time, residents are only allowed to water their yards & landscaping once a week.  Though typically drier this time of year, days or shorter & temps. are cooler so less water is generally needed.  From St. Johns River Management District: Starting Sunday, Nov. 3, homeowners and businesses will fall back to once-a-week landscape irrigation across the 18 counties of the St. Johns River Water Management District. Nov. 3 is the day that Eastern Standard Time begins. 'Healthy lawns in our area require no more than one day a week of irrigation during cooler weather, based on scientific analysis from the University of Florida,' said St. Johns River Water Management District Executive Director Dr. Ann Shortelle. 'So, when you change your clocks Saturday night, be sure to also reset your sprinkler timers to water only on the designated day for your address. And thanks for doing your part to protect Florida's water resources!' The district's new Water Less campaign features four seasonal themes, starting with 'Fall Back' in November to encourage once-a-week watering as temperatures begin cooling. Public water supply is the largest category of water use in the district's 18-county region — about 565.5 million gallons of water a day. The bulk of this water is for residential water use, and landscape irrigation can account for more than 50 percent of total water use at residential locations. Because lawns need significantly less water in Florida's winter months, watering restrictions are in place to ensure that water used for irrigation is used efficiently. During Eastern Standard Time, landscape irrigation is limited to no more than one day a week on the following schedule: • Saturday at addresses that end in an odd number or have no address • Sunday at addresses that end in an even number • Tuesday at nonresidential addresses • No irrigation is allowed between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Irrigation restrictions apply to all landscape watering not currently regulated by a consumptive use permit, which typically includes residential, commercial and industrial landscapes, and includes water withdrawn from ground or surface water, from a private well or pump, or from a public or private water utility. Golf courses, plant nurseries, agricultural crops, and sports recreational areas generally have consumptive use permits that specify their irrigation limitations. Massive Amazon wildfires made headlines in Sept. with the typical flippant blame placed solely on climate change.  But as is often the case, there are extenuating circumstances: A new NASA study shows that over the last 20 years, the atmosphere above the Amazon rainforest has been drying out, increasing the demand for water and leaving ecosystems vulnerable to fires and drought. It also shows that this increase in dryness is primarily the result of human activities. Scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, analyzed decades of ground and satellite data over the Amazon rainforest to track both how much moisture was in the atmosphere and how much moisture was needed to maintain the rainforest system. 'We observed that in the last two decades, there has been a significant increase in dryness in the atmosphere as well as in the atmospheric demand for water above the rainforest,' said JPL's Armineh Barkhordarian, lead author of the study. 'In comparing this trend to data from models that estimate climate variability over thousands of years, we determined that the change in atmospheric aridity is well beyond what would be expected from natural climate variability.'  So if it's not natural, what's causing it? Barkhordarian said that elevated greenhouse gas levels are responsible for approximately half of the increased aridity. The rest is the result of ongoing human activity, most significantly, the burning of forests to clear land for agriculture and grazing. The combination of these activities is causing the Amazon's climate to warm. When a forest burns, it releases particles called aerosols into the atmosphere - among them, black carbon, commonly referred to as soot. While bright-colored or translucent aerosols reflect radiation, darker aerosols absorb it. When the black carbon absorbs heat from the sun, it causes the atmosphere to warm; it can also interfere with cloud formation and, consequently, rainfall. Why It Matters The Amazon is the largest rainforest on Earth. When healthy, it absorbs billions of tons of carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) a year through photosynthesis - the process plants use to convert CO 2 , energy and water into food. By removing CO 2  from the atmosphere, the Amazon helps to keep temperatures down and regulate climate. But it's a delicate system that's highly sensitive to drying and warming trends. Trees and plants need water for photosynthesis and to cool themselves down when they get too warm. They pull in water from the soil through their roots and release water vapor through pores on their leaves into the atmosphere, where it cools the air and eventually rises to form clouds. The clouds produce rain that replenishes the water in the soil, allowing the cycle to continue. Rainforests generate as much as 80% of their own rain, especially during the dry season. But when this cycle is disrupted by an increase in dry air, for instance, a new cycle is set into motion - one with significant implications, particularly in the southeastern Amazon, where trees can experience more than four to five months of dry season.   'It's a matter of supply and demand. With the increase in temperature and drying of the air above the trees, the trees need to transpire to cool themselves and to add more water vapor into the atmosphere. But the soil doesn't have extra water for the trees to pull in,' said JPL's Sassan Saatchi, co-author of the study. 'Our study shows that the demand is increasing, the supply is decreasing and if this continues, the forest may no longer be able to sustain itself.' Scientists observed that the most significant and systematic drying of the atmosphere is in the southeast region, where the bulk of deforestation and agricultural expansion is happening. But they also found episodic drying in the northwest Amazon, an area that typically has no dry season. Normally always wet, the northwest has suffered severe droughts over the past two decades, a further indication of the entire forest's vulnerability to increasing temperatures and dry air. If this trend continues over the long term and the rainforest reaches the point where it can no longer function properly, many of the trees and the species that live within the rainforest ecosystem may not be able to survive. As the trees die, particularly the larger and older ones, they release CO 2  into the atmosphere; and the fewer trees there are, the less CO 2  the Amazon region would be able to absorb - meaning we'd essentially lose an important element of climate regulation. The study, 'A Recent Systematic Increase in Vapor Pressure Deficit Over Tropical South America,' was published in October in Scientific Reports. The science team used data from NASA's Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument aboard the Terra satellite. NASA/JPL-Caltech, NASA Earth Observatory: Night skies into early Dec. courtesy skyandtelescope.com Top: The path of Mercury across the Sun's disk on November 11th. Cardinal directions are in a celestial frame of reference; the Sun will appear tilted counterclockwise 40 to 60 from this view at sunrise (depending on your latitude) and clockwise by roughly the same amount in late afternoon. Bottom: Here's where the November 11th transit of Mercury will be observable.  DO NOT try to observe this with the naked eye! Credit: Sky & Telescope                                                               Nov. 9–11 (dawn): Mars passes 2 to the upper left of Spica, the blue-white alpha star in Virgo. Nov. 11 (daytime): Tiny Mercury transits (crosses) the Sun, with the midpoint occurring at 10:20 a.m. EST. This 5 -hour event is entirely visible from the eastern U.S.; roughly west of Mississippi River, the transit is under way at sunrise. This is a telescopic event (not visible without optical aid). Never look at the Sun directly, by eye or through a telescope, without using an approved solar filter. See skyantelescope.com for more details. Nov. 16–17 (all night): The typically weak Leonid meteors should peak tonight; waning gibbous Moon will interfere. Nov. 22–24 (dusk): Venus and Jupiter pass one another low in southwest, separately by 2 or less. Nov. 27–30 (dusk): Three planets and the waxing crescent Moon grace the southwestern sky. The Moon climbs higher each evening, visiting Venus and then Saturn along the way. Jupiter is lowest on the horizon.   Dec. 1 (dusk): Saturn, Venus, and Jupiter form an 18 long string above the southwestern horizon after sunset. The waxing crescent Moon guards the trio of planets from upper left is to their upper left. Dec. 10 (dusk): Venus and Saturn are less than 2 apart not far above the southwestern horizon.   Moon Phases First Quarter: November 4, 5:23 a.m. EST Full Moon: November 12, 8:24 a.m. EST (Full Beaver Moon; also Full Frosty Moon) Last Quarter: November 19, 4:11 p.m. EST New Moon: November 26, 10:06 a.m. EST
  • 5 weeks left in the hurricane season - 'Talking the Tropics With Mike' updated every day. Summer is trying to hang on.  Yet another 90-degree day (91) Tue., 10/22 was the 100th 90 degree day of the year.  The avg. for a year is 82 days, & we were just 5 days from the latest 90 degree day ever recorded - Oct. 27th. The unseasonable heat occurred ahead of a strong cold front that dipped temps. the next (Wed., 10/23) morning to the coolest in nearly 6 months! But the cool air will not be around long & heat & especially humidity return for the weekend into a good part of the following week (I always say you have to wait 'til Halloween - at least - for when cool air will move in & stay). While we've had some chilly air enter the Northern & NW U.S. this month, arctic ice is well below avg. - some 3 million sq km below the avg. of 8.4 million sq km. - from the National Snow & Ice Data Center.  This despite a very snowy spring & early summer that saw snow on the ground into late July in Greenland. Interesting read from phys.org - on Florida mangroves - click here.  Mangroves are tropical, salt-tolerant trees that die of during severe freezes.  Florida's last widespread significant freeze was in Jan., 2010 but a long term widespread severe freeze has not occurred since the 1980s.  On average, these harsh freezes occur every 10-30 years, so we're due to say the least.  The article points out that data doesn't necessarily point ot climate change for the latest move north by the mangroves which serve a vital role in our coastal environment: (1) protect against storm surge during hurricanes.... (2) good at removing carbon (greenhouse gas) from the atmosphere. Photo from NOAA: Lots of talk & controversy regarding a major EF-3 tornado in Dallas Sunday night (Oct. 20th) & the manner in which tornado warnings were - or were not - communicated via television.   The FCC may very well become involved.  The NBC affliate was showing the Dallas Cowboy game which led the station only occasionally breaking into programming - including weather/storm crawls - despite a large EF-3 damage moving through populated areas of North Dallas.  See an interesting video timeline * here * showing all four local t.v. stations at the same time & their handling of the tornado warning.  Video & pics from 'LiveScience' - here. This protocol is constantly scrutinized by consumers.  Action News Jax policy is to break into regular programming for all tornado warnings. Interesting air pressure readings: Jamie Rhome, National Hurricane Center, has been awarded the Service to America medal for his pioneering work on storm inundation & storm surge including public warnings.  I've had a chance to interview Jamie on multiple occasions.... I've followed his work & research... & now I use many of the forecast products he's helped develop to warn & advise you about storm surge & water levels during a tropical storm or hurricane.  Job well done! Example of a storm inundation map - forecast feet above ground level.  This map has proven to be very helpful - especially along the coast during hurricanes.  These proved quite accurate along our coast during Matthew & Irma.
  • Talking the Tropics With Mike' - updated every day during the hurricane season (through Nov. 30th).... Speaking of the tropics.... the first 10 days or so of Oct. have become rather notorious in recent years.  Hurricane Joaquin in 2015 over the SW Atlantic which contributed to the sinking of the cargo ship El Faro... hurricane Matthew in 2016 which hammered our local NE Fl./SE Ga. coast.... & hurricane Michael last year - 2018 - the most powerful hurricane to ever hit the Fl. Panhandle. Joaquin track: Matthew track: Michael track: Well... September was dry which was continuing into the first week of Oct. then came 'Rainy Days & Monday's' on Oct. 7th.  A tremendous soaker from the I-95 corridor to the coast with amounts approaching a half foot at some of the beaches.  While inland areas have been the driest & again missed out on the heaviest rain, beneficial rains occurred over virtually the entire viewing area except for inland SE Ga.  The combination of a weak stalled front, winds off the Atlantic, an upper level disturbance & warm/humid air lifting across the area (isentropic lift) set up bands of heavy rain virtually all day long. Rainfall as provided by the Jax N.W.S. for the month of September: FL   JASPER                                0.48 FL   BEAUCLERC                             2.74 FL   JACKSONVILLE BEACH                    4.88  FL   LAKE CITY                     0.26                 FL   LAKE CITY 2 E                    0.71       FL   GLEN ST MARY 1 W                0.68                   FL   CRESCENT CITY                         2.64             FL   GAINESVILLE RGNL AP             0.93          FL   HASTINGS 4NE              3.75                                           FL   OCALA                    2.01                                                FL   WHITE SPRINGS 7N               0.45            FL   JACKSONVILLE CRAIG MUNI AP      3.05      FL   JACKSONVILLE INTL AP        2.35              FL   JACKSONVILLE NAS          3.19              FL   FEDERAL POINT                2.66                                       FL   BUNNELL                 5.99                            FL   PALM COAST                            6.19 FL   NORTHEAST PALM COAST                  7.56  FL   NORTH PALM COAST                      7.20  FL   WEST PALM COAST                       7.29 FL   WEST PALM BEACH              7.29             FL   WEST CENTRAL PALM COAST               7.89  FL   FLAGLER BEACH                 4.35                     GEORGIA:              GA   ALMA BACON CO AP        0.20                                               GA   NAHUNTA 6 NE            1.70                   GA   FARGO 17 NE            0.70                                     GA   BRUNSWICK             1.39                  GA   BRUNSWICK MALCOLM MCKINNON AP       2.76 Our Oct. night skies courtesy Sky & Telescope: Oct. 17 (evening): The waning gibbous Moon rises about 2½ hours after sunset with Aldebaran 3° to 4° to its right. Oct. 21–22 (all night): The moderate Orionids meteor shower peaks in the evening. The radiant, northeast of Betelgeuse, stands high by midnight local time. However, light from the last-quarter Moon will interfere somewhat. Oct. 26 (dawn): The thinnest sliver of the almost-new Moon, Mars, and Porrima form a triangle low on the eastern horizon just before sunrise. Binoculars will help. Oct. 29 (dusk): Right after sunset, look toward the southwest to find the Moon, not quite 2 days old, and Venus less than 5° apart. Oct. 31 (dusk): The waxing crescent Moon, Jupiter, and Saturn briefly gracing the skies in the southwest after sunset.   Nov. 1 (dusk): Saturn, the waxing lunar crescent, and Jupiter form a line 22° long in the south-southwest after sunset. Nov. 3: Daylight-Saving Time ends at 2 a.m. for most of the U.S. and Canada.   Moon Phases First Quarter: October 5, 12:47 p.m. EDT Full Moon: October 13, 5:08 p.m. EDT (Full Beaver Moon; also Full Frosty Moon) Last Quarter: October 21, 8:39 a.m. EDT New Moon: October 27, 11:38 p.m. EDT AND - after 'great demand' :) ...... I am now professionally on Instagram!  Apparently this is 'the thing to do' but at least a few years late.... according to my kids & co-workers.  A shout out to Nora Clark on our Action News Jax digital team for her enthusiasm regarding this endeavor & for at least trying to get this ol' chief meteorologist up to date.  Give me a follow if you wish.
  • Two months! left in the hurricane season.  'Talking the Tropics With Mike' updated every day. We turn the calendars to Oct. with the hopes of some true fall weather (I always say you have to wait for the Greater Jacksonville Agricultural Fair &/or at least Halloween before we get sustained cooler temps.) So the averages at JIA: Low / High - 1st: 66 / 84.... 31st: 55 / 77 Rainfall: 3.93' Sunrise / Sunset: 1st - 7:20am / 7:12pm.... 31st - 7:40am / 6:40pm - lose 52 min. of daylight. Our so-called wet season is officially over (June - Sept.) & ended up drier than avg. largely thanks to a slow start in June & dry end in Sept.  JIA was a little more than a half foot below avg. for the four months but some inland areas were nearly 10' below avg. And it's been a hot year again.  As of Sept. 30th, JIA has had 96 90-degree days - well above the avg. of 82 & closing in a top 10 year (2018 is 10th with 99 90-degree days):
  • Talking the Tropics With Mike' - updated everyday throughout the hurricane season (ends Nov. 30th). Astronomical fall arrived Mon., Sept. 23rd.  But I always say we usually have to wait 'til Halloween to enjoy sustained fall weather in Jacksonville/NE Fl./SE Ga.  Our avg. high does drop 20 degrees to the mid 60s by the astronomical start of winter in Dec. The seasons are a result of the tilt of the earth.  In the Northern Hemisphere, the earth is tilted toward the sun during the summer (but farthest from the sun).... the earth is tilted away from the sun during the winter (but closest to the sun!).  The tilt is just about equal during the (autumn/spring) equinox. U.S. Forest Service tracks fall foliage * here *.  Fall foliage prediction map * here *.  Various state links on autumn color from the SE Regional Climate Center - here. Arctic sea ice reached its summer minimum in mid Sept. (18th) & was tied for the 2nd lowest at 1.6 million square miles - with 2007 & 2016 - since 'modern' record keeping began in the 1970s.  The Arctic summer temp. averaged about 7-9 degrees F above avg.  Full NASA story * here *.
  • The tropics remain active overall - daily updates: 'Talking the Tropics With Mike'.   'Velocity Potential Anomalies' show an impressive burst of 'rising air' (green lines) which often signals an active period in the tropics.  So while there will be multiple named storms across the Atlantic Basin into early Oct., ultimately the period will be perceived as active based on whether or not any storms threaten or hit land. More often then not, where tropical systems move & go will be dependent on the positioning & strength of the Bermuda high.  Far enough east or weak enough & many of the deep tropical systems will turn more north over the Atlantic - that's a best case scenario most of the time regarding any landfall threats. Meanwhile... our 'wet season' is winding down.  For the 2nd year in a row, Sept. has been drier than avg.  We could use some rain - especially inland where the past few weeks have particularly dry. September/early Oct. night skies (courtesy 'Sky & Telescope'): Sep. 20 (dawn): Look high in the south to see the waning gibbous Moon in the Hyades, not far right of Aldebaran. Sep. 23 (morning): The Moon is in Gemini and forms a triangle with Castor and Pollux ('the Twins'). Sep. 23: Autumn begins in the Northern Hemisphere at the equinox, 3:50 a.m. EDT. Sep. 24 (morning): The waning crescent Moon is to the right of the Beehive Cluster (M44) in Cancer. Sep. 26 (dawn): The thin sliver of the Moon is just 3 left of Regulus in Leo. Sep. 27 (dusk): Look for Venus very low in the west about 30 minutes after sunset.   Oct. 3 (dusk): The waxing crescent Moon and Jupiter are 1 apart after sunset, with Antares 10 to their lower right. Oct. 4 (dusk): Saturn, the Moon, Jupiter, and Antares extend along a 34 -line stretching from south to southwest. Oct. 5 (dusk): The first-quarter Moon and Saturn hover 2 apart just left of the Teapot in Sagittarius.   Moon Phases Full Moon: September 14, 12:33 a.m. EDT (Full Harvest Moon) Last Quarter: September 21, 10:41 p.m. EDT New Moon: September 28, 2:26 p.m. EDT Once in a while I'll post something in this blog that's not necessarily weather related.  And so it is in this case.  My wife & I 'dropped' my oldest daughter at college 15 hours away from home back in August. Of all the 'dad moments' so far in my life, this was one of the most emotional. Upon returning to work, things got busy in a hurry due to the tropics & developing 'Dorian'.  So I must admit my work - as is frequently the case - provided a distraction... & also delayed the writing of this post. A little about my oldest daughter: She's our first which is always particularly memorable.  She is an avid, bordering on rabid book reader.... very observant & astute... trusting... trustworthy.... practical... a really big heart... not the most social... a deep yet somewhat private faith... & very tight with Dad :). Thanks to her scholastic abilities, my daughter had plenty of college opportunities both in & out of the state of Florida. She has a keen interest in the sciences & in getting away from home (?) which closely guided her college choice.  Here are a few of my experiences/observations over the last few months during this 'life change' in the Buresh household: * as parents, it's mind boggling trying to make sense of all the financial aid & details, deadlines, & digital (used to be paper in the old days) work * her HS graduation ceremony was pretty fun & nostalgic with lots of family & friends. When the graduation party was over & the last of the family folk exited, I was thinking there's still 3 months before my daughter leaves.  It's a summer of fun & memories ahead.  The latter was true but the three months flew by! * some of that fun included a visit to the campus for orientation in June.  We met a lot of friendly people, & I came away feeling more comfortable with my daughter's decision.  And I thought: 'to be going to college again!'. * 'Florida Prepaid' is one of the college tuition bargains going.... IF your kid stays in Fl.! (you do not lose that money, however) * We were pleasantly surprised that our daughter diligently picked up & cleaned her room prior to departure in Aug. :) * it was interesting to watch my daughter plan her schedule including work while also saying her good-byes to friends & family in the weeks leading up to her leaving home. * my daughter & I had a nice steak dinner planned at one of her favorite restaurants the Sunday before she was to leave - just the  two of us.  In my head there was so much I had planned... so much I wanted to say.  So much so that I even wrote down some notes & hid the piece of paper in my pocket.  Why is it something like that never goes quite as planned?? * she flew to her University a week early because of more orientation * so my wife & I drove out my daughter's stuff (girls = lots of clothes!) leaving in the evening on an overnight road trip that would get us to our daughter by late morning the next day * we paid a bit extra to be able to move her in a day early - well worth the fee which was recommended by a Facebook parents page my wife is a part of.  We highly recommend parents sign up for such a group if their kids are going off to college - lots of handy hints.  Of course, a lot of 'dribble' too but you just have to filter through what's worthwhile & practical vs. what is not. * there were a LOT of sweaty parents on the moving days.  In fact, it reminded me of Disney World.  Yelling & tired but caring parents, impatient & sometimes crying kids. :) * quite the people watching opportunity!  & a stark difference between the amount of stuff the ladies are moving in vs. the gents.  I'm not sure how some of the students got multiple pickup loads or one of those mini U-Hauls squeezed into a dorm room!  But while watching all this, I decided I'm glad I'm not the one that's a freshman in college. * we moved, scrubbed & cleaned for hours!  How is it that there are cleaning crews for the dorms these days??  Once every two weeks the bathrooms are cleaned for them.  Seriously?? * 'campus town' reminded me of the fun of old days :)  On our way out of town, my wife & I stopped at a few restaurants to buy gift cards which we sent to our daughter in a card a few weeks later. * one of our friends told us they give their college daughter(s) cash every month.  I was like 'really?'.  We have to provide cash too??!! So we do drop a few dollars into her account each month but not a lot.  That totally screws up my nearly constant mantra to them: 'Money doesn't grown on trees!'.  I feel like this is the start of a teenager officially being independent & responsible.  She's also 'scoring' some cash from time to time courtesy her grandparents. * saying goodbye on that Sunday was nothing short of traumatic.  We took my daughter out for breakfast then walked her up to her dorm room.  We took some pics & traded some idle chit-chat & bad dad jokes. I feel like we lingered as long as we could with the inevitable hanging heavily over us.  When it was 'time'..... I hugged my daughter as hard as one possibly can, as long as I could.  I turned away saying something to the effect 'see ya' later' not wanting her to see my tears.  But she was crying as well, so I decided it was o.k., & I returned to hug & hold her again.  I told her 'this is your chance.  Your time to shine. Go get 'em. Have fun but work hard too.  Be smart. I love you.' -- or at least something along the lines of all that.  * so my wife & I headed out of town in a silent car with still some tears & a pretty deep lump in our throats. During this long drive, we'd be fine talking about something insignificant - often the weather (there were storm clouds!) only to look at one another & begin to tear up again. :) * one of the smarter things we had decided to during this trip was stop at a beach on the way back to Jacksonville for some R & R.  This was a good & necessary recovery period. * something like your first kid going off to college has caused me to really examine - often - the last 18 years of being a dad.  What I did right, what I did wrong - all the events, ballgames, classroom activities, etc. that I made it to..... but also that I missed - usually because of work.   What would I do differently as well as the times I so dearly cherish.   Was I as patient as I could have/should have been? Was I as good a parent as my mom & dad? Did I show her & explain 'things' enough to her so as to be an independent & productive adult? Did I prepare her enough for life's inevitable pitfalls?  And - oh dear - what about boys??!! Photos on my phone that show my daughter as a tiny little baby to now all grown up & such an independent thinker.  Special conversations that grew from the trivial & mundane to something much deeper. So.... in the weeks since we moved our daughter to college, she seems to be very, very happy & truly living the college life.  She was genuinely concerned about hurricane Dorian near our coast as well as how I was doing since she knew I would be working constantly. My wife & I are adjusting & are proud of her.... so far (long ways to go). I think she might miss our dog more than the rest of the family(!).  I still do hate to walk by my daughter's empty & quiet bedroom.   And we have a younger daughter who believes she's now in charge :). Meanwhile.... I'm counting the days to Christmas break. My daughter is in the pic below somewhere(!): Our therapy:

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  • Two jail guards tasked with monitoring wealthy financier and accused child predator Jeffrey Epstein on the night he committed suicide were arrested Tuesday and accused of falsifying records to hide the fact that they apparently slept during their shifts and browsed the internet instead of conducting mandated inmate checks. >> Read more trending news  Prosecutors said guards Tova Noel and Michael Thomas falsified records at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, New York to make it appear as though they carried out the required checks every half-hour on Aug. 9-10. Instead, authorities said, they spent 'substantial portions of their shifts' sitting at their desks, browsing the internet and moving around the common area of the jail's Special Housing Unit. During one two-hour period, the indictment said, both appeared to have been asleep. 'As alleged, the defendants had a duty to ensure the safety and security of federal inmates in their care at the Metropolitan Correctional Center,' U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said in a statement. 'Instead, they repeatedly failed to conduct mandated checks on inmates and lied on official forms to hide their dereliction.' Authorities said video surveillance from the jail showed that no one checked on Epstein between at least 10:30 p.m. Aug. 9 and 6:30 a.m. Aug. 10, despite U.S. Bureau of Prisons protocol mandating inmate checks every half-hour. When Noel and Thomas went to serve inmates breakfast just after 6:30 a.m., they found Epstein dead in his cell with a noose around his neck, prosecutors said. Montell Figgens, a lawyer for Thomas, told The Associated Press both guards are being “scapegoated.” 'We feel this a rush to judgment by the U.S. attorney's office,' he said. 'They're going after the low man on the totem pole here.' U.S. Attorney General William Barr vowed earlier this year to investigate Epstein's death and some 'serious irregularities' in his treatment at MCC. In August, Barr announced the acting director of the Bureau of Prisons had been replaced and reassigned. Epstein died weeks after an earlier suicide attempt, according to investigators. Officers found him with a strip of bedsheet around his neck in July after he apparently tried to hang himself, authorities said in the indictment unsealed Tuesday. Officials briefly placed Epstein on suicide watch after the July suicide attempt, though that status had been lifted before Epstein's suicide in August. Epstein had been housed at MCC since his arrest in July on federal sex trafficking charges. He had been accused of sexually abusing and exploiting dozens of girls as young as age 14 between 2002 and 2005. He had pleaded not guilty and was preparing to argue that he could not be charged because of a 2008 deal he made to avoid federal prosecution on similar allegations in Florida. Epstein’s death prompted a whirl of conspiracy theories from people, including members of Epstein’s family and some of his alleged victims, who questioned whether it was possible that he’d killed himself in such a high-security setting. His death was considered a major embarrassment for the Bureau of Prisons, according to the AP. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • The Clay County Sheriff's Office says it has identified a person of interest, nearly a month after a Fleming Island woman was reported missing. Deputies say Susan Mauldin was last seen on October 23 and was reported missing from the Eagle Harbor area the following day. At that time, detectives said they did not believe that Mauldin was in danger.  But now, the sheriff's office says their detectives have identified a person of interest in Mauldin's disappearance, which it says has 'mysterious' circumstances associated with it.  'The facts and circumstances developed during the course of this investigation led us to believe an individual, identified as Corey Binderim, has pertinent information related to this case. Mr. Binderim has cooperated during the course of this investigation, but until recently, he's left the area all of sudden, with no explanation and his whereabouts are unknown at this time, ' says Detective Howard Fryer.  The sheriff's office says their investigation revealed that Mauldin wasn't the type of woman to wander off and has missed several medical appointments.  'She would tell her friends if she had any plans to travel and there's no signs of financial transactions or travel plans made. Mr. Binderim's association with Susan Mauldin was, he is a contractor, contracted to perform a remodeling job in her bathroom. During the course of that contract, he failed to perform all the work. He took a deposit from her, which during the course of that, Ms. Mauldin determined she didn't want to work with him anymore and requested her money back. There's no indication during the course of our investigation that Ms. Mauldin left her home, willingly. Her vehicle is still at the house. There were signs that she was to be there at the house, with no indications of leaving,' says Fryer.  Anyone with information about Mauldin's or Binderim's whereabouts is urged to contact the sheriff's office.
  • A 16-year-old girl has been arrested after authorities discovered her plan to kill people at a predominantly black church in Hall County. >> Read more trending news  The teen, who is white, planned to attack the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, according to Gainesville police. “Our investigation indicated the church was targeted by the juvenile based on the racial demographic of the church members,” police Chief Jay Parrish said Tuesday in a news release. “The church was immediately notified of the incident by Gainesville police to ensure the safety of our community and the current threat was under control.” Students at Gainesville High School told school administrators that the girl had a notebook with “detailed plans to commit murder” at the church, Parrish said. Administrators notified school resource officers of the plan on Friday and opened an investigation. They verified the threat and turned the investigation over to Gainesville police, who took the girl into custody, Parrish said. Her name has not been released. The teen was charged with criminal attempt to commit murder and taken to the Gainesville Regional Youth Detention Center. “This is an active investigation and a prime example of how strong relationships between the student body, school administration and law enforcement can intercept a potentially horrific incident,” Parrish said.
  • President Donald Trump checked into Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Saturday for medical tests as part of his annual physical, White House officials said. >> Read more trending news   The trip, which was not on the president's public schedule, sparked speculation about the 73-year-old's health. White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said Trump is 'anticipating a very busy 2020' and wanted to take advantage of 'a free weekend' in Washington to begin portions of his routine checkup. Here are the latest updates: Update 12:45 p.m. EST Nov. 19: At a Cabinet Meeting on Tuesday, President Donald Trump complained about speculation that he might have suffered a heart attack over the weekend. Speculation swirled after Trump visited Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for two hours Saturday. The trip had not been on Trump's public schedule, though White House officials said the visit was routine. 'I went and did a very routine -- just a piece of it, the rest takes place in January -- very routine physical,' he said, according to CNN. When he returned to the White House, he said, 'I get greeted with the news, 'We understand you had a heart attack.'' 'These people are sick and the press really in this country is dangerous,' Trump said. 'We don't have freedom of the press in this country. We have the opposite. We have a very corrupt media.' Update 11:33 p.m. EST Nov. 18: In a memorandum, President Donald Trump's physician said Monday the president's visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Saturday was merely part of a 'routine, planned interim checkup, several media outlets reported. 'This past Saturday afternoon the President traveled up to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for a routine, planned interim checkup as part of the regular, primary preventative care he receives throughout the year,' Sean P. Conley wrote in the memo, CBS News reported. 'Due to scheduling uncertainties, the trip was kept off the record. 'Despite some of the speculation, the President has not had any chest pain, nor was he evaluated or treated for any urgent or acute issues,' Conley wrote. 'Specifically, he did not undergo any specialized cardiac or neurologic evaluations.'  Update 2:05 p.m. EST Nov. 18: White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham deflected rumors about President Donald Trump's health, saying it is “absolutely not” true that the president's visit to a doctor Saturday was anything other than a routine procedure, The Washington Post reported. Grisham also said the President is “healthy as can be,' the newspaper reported. In a statement Saturday, Grisham said Trump, 73, had “a quick exam and labs” and “remains healthy and energetic without complaints, as demonstrated by his repeated vigorous rally performances in front of thousands of Americans several times a week,” the Post reported. Grisham said rumors about the president 'are always flying.' 'He is healthy as can be,' Grisham told Fox News Channel host Jeanine Pirro on Saturday. 'I put a statement out about that. He’s got more energy than anybody in the White House. That man works from 6 a.m. until, you know, very, very late at night. He’s doing just fine.” Update 12:56 a.m. EST Nov. 17: Trump took to Twitter early Sunday, just hours after his visit to Walter Reed Medical Center. 'Visited a great family of a young man under major surgery at the amazing Walter Reed Medical Center,' he tweeted shortly after midnight. 'Those are truly some of the best doctors anywhere in the world. Also began phase one of my yearly physical. Everything very good (great!). Will complete next year.' According to The Associated Press, the two-hour appointment did not appear on the president's public schedule like his previous annual physicals.  Original story: 'Anticipating a very busy 2020, the President is taking advantage of a free weekend here in Washington, D.C., to begin portions of his routine annual physical exam at Walter Reed,' Stephanie Grisham, White House press secretary, said in a statement, CNN reported. Trump’s last physical was in February at Walter Reed. He weighed 243 pounds with a body mass index of 29.9, and 30 is considered obese, USA Today reported. He also had increased his use of a statin that helps control his cholesterol. 'I am happy to announce the president of the United States is in very good health and I anticipate he will remain so for the duration of his presidency, and beyond,' Dr. Sean Conley, the president’s physician, wrote at the time.  The visit Saturday is different than the president’s previous physicals. The last two physicals were announced beforehand and noted on the president’s calendar. Trump usually takes the Marine One helicopter to Walter Reed, but this time, a motorcade dropped him off unannounced, CNN reported. 
  • One of two women accused of cutting an infant out of an expectant mother's womb earlier this year has given birth to a child of her own, according to multiple reports. >> Read more trending news  Cook County Sheriff's Office spokesman Joseph Ryan told the Chicago Tribune that Desiree Figueroa, 25, gave birth Nov. 1 at the John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital of Cook County. She has been in custody since May, when she and her mother, Clarisa Figueroa, were arrested and charged in the death of 19-year-old Marlen Ochoa-Lopez. Desiree Figueroa has since been returned to jail, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. Additional information was not immediately available. Prosecutors said Clarisa Figueroa, 46, lured Ochoa-Lopez to her home on Chicago's Southwest Side in April after they met through a Facebook group geared toward young mothers. Authorities said the Figueroas strangled Ochoa-Lopez and cut her baby from her womb. Clarisa Figueroa later called 911 to falsely claim she'd given birth to a child who was not breathing, investigators said. Tests later confirmed the newborn was Ochoa-Lopez's son. The baby, named Yovanny Jadiel Lopez, died in June of severe brain injury. Both Figeuroas have been charged with one count each of first-degree murder, aggravated kidnapping, dismembering a human body and concealing a homicidal death. They pleaded not guilty to the charges on June 26, the Tribune reported. Clarisa Figueroa's boyfriend, 40-year-old Piotr Bobak, was also arrested and charged with one count of concealment of a homicide. He has also pleaded not guilty, according to WTTW.

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