Transcript of the NHC press conference; QuikSCAT science

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 8:27 PM GMT on July 06, 2007

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The National Hurricane Center political controversy continues today. In an Associated Press story released this morning, Senior Hurricane Specialist James Franklin of the National Hurricane Center commented on Bill Proenza's QuikSCAT claims, saying:

"He has been very loudly saying if it failed our forecasts for landfalling storms would be degraded, that warning areas would need to be expanded. None of that is the case, and he knows that we feel that way. The science is not there to back up the claims that he's making."

This was the same case I made in my blog yesterday. However, in comments published in the Miami Herald today, Dr. Bob Atlas, a QuikSCAT scientist who runs NOAA's Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory on Virginia Key, rose to defend Proenza. To quote from the Herald:

He said the report challenged by Masters, even if not yet published, appears to be a "rigorous study" that provides the "most comprehensive study of QuikSCAT data related to hurricane predictions."

Atlas said nothing he has heard Proenza say about QuikSCAT has made him wince, though Atlas added that NOAA is developing ways to mitigate the loss of QuikSCAT data.

In addition, he said, Proenza's estimates of 16 percent and 10 percent have been misunderstood: They apply to the accuracy of one of many computerized forecast models rather than actual, end-result predictions by hurricane forecasters.

"Bill's worked very hard and very well to position the hurricane center to interact well with researchers," Atlas said.


Dr. Atlas was mis-quoted by Time Magazine, who printed this:

Bob Atlas, director of NOAA's Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory in Miami, insist that Proenza's concerns "are very well founded. QuickScat is the most valuable forecasting tool." Atlas says he applauds Proenza's outspokenness, predicting it will "accelerate the effort to replace QuickScat with an even better scatterometer satellite."

I talked with Dr. Atlas this morning, and what he actually said is that "NCEP's Ocean Prediction Center (OPC) have referred to QuikSCAT as the most valuable tool they have." OPC issues the high seas marine forecasts and warnings for the North Atlantic and North Pacific. Dr. Atlas did not say QuickSCAT is the most valuable forecasting tool for hurricane forecasting which it is not. Dr. Atlas and I both agree on what the science says about QuikSCAT. I respect his support for Proenza, and hope that Proenza's superiors in Washington take into account all the facts in the case. I did my best to present what I know of the science in my blog yesterday. No one knows the full story of what's going on at NHC, but this morning's press conference, done by staff members at NHC who oppose Proenza, will help clarify things. A transcript was sent to me by WTVJ, the NBC Station in Miami.

Transcript of this morning's press conference

Senior Hurricane Specialist James Franklin
We have been a family here, we are a small group of about 50 people. When things are really happening, we've got a Katrina out there or a Rita type of storms, everybody needs to stop what they're doing and pull together and make sure our message gets out and that we're doing the best job that we can to make the best forecast. We've got a lot of people pulling together to do that. That takes a certain amount of teamwork and appreciation of sense of family and he's destroying that, he's destroying that.

He's divided the staff, and it's hard to know how we're going to be able to come together with him here. One thing that happened yesterday when the staff met, and talked about these issues and a lot of people learned for the first time about some of the issues going on yesterday, and that brought a lot of the staff together. You saw a number of people speaking out both in terms of 3 to 23 yesterday. We found out what was really going on here. and I think you're going to see more later on.

I was very very gratified, we had a wonderful meeting with staff, including those who have been prior supporters of Bill. And we're learning a lot of things for the very first time. There we're a number of people who agreed with us, didn't like the idea of going to the press, but felt he needed to go, there are a fair number of people who didn't sign the letter for that reason. They wanted to keep it in house, and I certainly understand that. About 70-percent of the people who were in the discussion yesterday, put their names on the paper.

I think we've learned an awful lot about Bill here, during the last six months that maybe we didn't know.

We would have liked to have seen Bill realize that he didn't have the support of the staff and step down. That's not going to happen apparently. The process, the Dept. of Commerce process, I imagine needs to go forward. I think it would be nice if they could take him out of the office while that process goes on, those are not decisions we can make.

Lixion Avila-Senior Hurricane Forecaster
-Been here longer than any other forecaster
-Worked for 5-hurricane directors

I was Bill's stronger supporter, I went with him to the Caribbean with the hurricane hunter plane. To develop the hurricane hunter plan, like I did with all the directors. And I'm very upset (loud truck drives by) that he's been misrepresenting the views of the National Hurricane Center, and the hurricane plan. That plan was developed by the previous five hurricane directors, it's a jewel, it's the best in the world and it's been something that Neil Frank, Bob Sheets and Jerry Jarrel and developed for 20-years in six months he wants to destroy that plan.

For example he, I'm a scientist not a manager, and I don't know anything about management, but I can tell you that he came to my office telling me that he wants my advice, that he can not work here if he doesn't hear my advice.. very helpful with the previous directors, and he asked me, and I said the first thing you need to do is quit talking about that QuikSCAT and tell him that is out of line, will help all the problems. And he says he will do that, instead he goes back to the media, and you don't publish that you only publish the good things he said.

He said that we don't want to work with him, because he brings many good ideas, and we don't want to do that. I want you to know that he has not made a hurricane forecast since 1964.

That satellite, I gave that example to many people here. There are many things more important than that satellite. Of course I want that someone to have that satellite. The example I gave everybody is like having a BMW with leather seats. If you don't have leather seats that BMW is going to ruin, and we are going to make a very damn good forecast this year, with Bill or without Bill, and I think. I'm being very emotional, because I was his strongest supporter and I feel betrayed.

I was the last forecaster to join the group. They were smarter than me, I was giving him one more chance. Two day's ago when he came to my office and said please, what should I do to solve this problem? And I was very naive and I told him you need to stop fighting, pretending you're David against Goliath, and all those things with NOAA. The public thinks you're a hero, but you're not. You just need to develop your time and saving the hurricane program that your predecessor developed so nicely, this castle that has been done here. and he went back and said he was going to do that, he went to the media and said the opposite, and that's the end, thank you.

James Franklin
I want to say something about the QuikSCAT issue because, because that's important. The QuikSCAT satellite, is important to us, it does a lot of good things for us. We want a next generation advanced instrument, however there are a lot of things that current instrument cannot do, and by misrepresenting the case for that satellite, he has made it seem so urgent and so important. That what we're afraid of, that we'll get a quick fix, a copy of the kind of thing with existing technology. And within a couple of years we'll be in exactly the same position same situation. QuikSCAT is not a tool to help us improve track forecasts, that's how it's been misrepresented. Bill waves this NOAA report that some of my colleagues worked on and said look this is it. That report did not address track forecast accuracy, that is another one of the misrepresentations.

QuikSCAT is important to help us understand the size of the wind field, the strength, the current instrument has a lot of trouble with rain, a lot of rain in tropical cyclones. We need to move forward if we take the time develop the technology further and in a few more years get at the technology that really helps us get at the intensity problem, that's where our forecast problem really is. We've made great strides with track, as you know we're having a lot more problems with intensity, and doing the QuikSCAT problem correctly, taking our time, developing new technology is one of the tools that we need to help solve the intensity problem. But because of the way it's been portrayed we're afraid that there's going to be a quick fix that's not going to address the track problem, and it doesn't address the track problem and it isn't going to end up helping us with what the forecasters really know will help us.

We've see members of the Congress talking about how the information from the recognizance aircraft are inferior to QuikSCAT, we're afraid that somebody might get it in their heads to fund a stopgap QuikSCAT to take funds from recon aircraft. There is no comparison, there is not a forecaster here who believes QuikSCAT is more important than recon aircraft or other tools we have. But because this issue has been misreported we're afraid we might lose what we have.

We've got forecasters still back at there desks doing their jobs and they'll continue doing that. But there's a lot of people losing sleep over this, and as we get into august September, October, I don't think you want a bunch of tired sick, forecasters working the forecast desk. I think it takes a full effort. It's not just about doing our jobs, we need to go over and beyond when those storms are coming, and that's becoming harder to do.

I think when things get busy, it's going to be harder for us to work effectively with the situation we have here.

Vivian Jorge, Administrative Officer
As far as myself in the administration, since Bill got here, is the turmoil in the administration, because in my sense, bill(sat breakup) likes controversy. And I myself have been asked to do things that I know are not procedure but have been asked to do because that's the way he wants things done, and I've worked at hurricane center since 1985.

Unfortunately I think a director needs to unite his staff and he needs to be a calming person. It doesn't need to be a no new ideas. All the directors have different ideas.. from Neil on down to Max, they were different, they were not the same, their management styles were not the same, but they united the staff, the listened to the staff, especially the folks who have been here for so many years. .. and I think in the case of bill he doesn't feel that's necessary, he always feels he knows best. And that again in our case, there's never been so many closed doors, so much intrigue at the hurricane center as now and that's really unfortunate. I can't tell you how proud I am to work here.

--End of Press Conference

QuikSCAT science
Enough of politics, let's talk science! I've communicated several times over the past few weeks with Dr. Paul Chang, a NOAA QuikSCAT scientist whose QuikSCAT web page I've linked to hundreds of times in my blogs over the past two years. He did not want to comment on the politics of the QuikSCAT issue (smart man!), but did ask me print these comments:

The need for an operational ocean surface vector wind satellite system like QuikSCAT (or actually better) goes much further than the hurricane issue, and the push for it started long before Bill Proenza became the NHC director. NHC actually wants/needs something better so that it can provide them with reliable and accurate information (intensity and structure) within all hurricanes. A few other users of QuikSCAT data include: The Department of Defense's Joint Typhoon Warning Center in Pearl Harbor, which has a much larger area to forecast for. They have no Hurricane Hunter data and much less surface and upper air data to work with, and thus use QuikSCAT winds quite a bit. This is a similar situation for NOAA's Central Pacific Hurricane Center located in Hawaii. QuikSCAT has also had significant positive impacts at the Ocean Prediction Center, which issues the high seas marine forecasts and warnings for the North Atlantic and North Pacific. This has led to the introduction of a warning category for hurricane force winds for the most dangerous extratropical cyclones. I know of at least a few private marine weather companies that routinely use QuikSCAT. The Australians, French and many others use QuikSCAT routinely for tropical storm forecast/analysis, and for marine weather in general.

The track degradation impact numbers that Bill Proenza has been stating publicly come from a limited data study for the 2003 season in the Atlantic with the GFS model only. I believe Bob Atlas did some earlier work studying the impact of QuikSCAT on Hurricane Cindy using an earlier version of the NCEP global model. Both of these studies did show promising positive impacts. They are of course limited studies, and a more in-depth study is warranted.

The GFS model hurricane track forecasts are just one piece of guidance that the NHC human forecasters use to generate the official track forecast, so the impact in a particular model guidance package does not directly translate to the same impact in the actual NHC officially issued track forecast. Additionally, QuikSCAT data are also used directly by forecasters at NHC and elsewhere, but this impact tends to be more difficult to quantify.

The aircraft are a very important hurricane operational and research tool, and no one involved in the QuikSCAT follow-on effort has ever said QuikSCAT (or its successor) should or could replace the role of the hurricane aircraft flights, just as no one has said that aircraft could replace the role of satellites. They are very complementary platforms, but they fulfill different roles.


It would be a shame if in the hubbub over Bill Proenza's push to get a replacement for the QuikSCAT satellite we lose sight of what all the scientists agree on--QuikSCAT is a vital tool in weather prediction that needs to be replaced with a better satellite. Both Dr. Atlas and Dr. Chang are working on research specifically designed to study just how much impact QuikSCAT has on landfalling hurricanes in the Atlantic, which no studies have yet quantified.

Read Margie' Kieper's View From the Surface Blog for more on the QuikSCAT/Bill Proenza matter.

Jeff Masters

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1786. auburn (Mod)
7:25 PM CDT on July 08, 2007
Wow 96L is back....................hehehehe
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1785. KoritheMan
7:26 PM CDT on July 08, 2007
Wait a sec Pat, perhaps I was looking at that map wrong. It doesn't look pretty bad after all. Looks good.
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1784. RL3AO
7:22 PM CDT on July 08, 2007
This is the last TWO that mentions 96L

000
ABNT20 KNHC 071506
TWOAT
TROPICAL WEATHER OUTLOOK
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
1130 AM EDT SAT JUL 7 2007

FOR THE NORTH ATLANTIC...CARIBBEAN SEA AND THE GULF OF MEXICO...

A WESTWARD MOVING TROPICAL WAVE IS PRODUCING A FEW SHOWERS AND
THUNDERSTORMS OVER THE WINDWARD ISLANDS. UPPER-LEVEL WINDS ARE NOT
FAVORABLE FOR DEVELOPMENT

TROPICAL CYCLONE FORMATION IS NOT EXPECTED DURING THE NEXT 48 HOURS.

$$
FORECASTER AVILA

1783. JupiterFL
12:25 AM GMT on July 09, 2007
Dust doesn't press anything southwards. It would just infiltrate the storm.
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1782. bobw999
8:26 PM EDT on July 08, 2007
Oh ok KoritheMan. Now a days its hard to tell when some one is joking and when one is serious.
1781. KoritheMan
7:25 PM CDT on July 08, 2007
KoritheMan What your suggesting is that you are either a wishcaster for a storm to form or a wishcaster for no storm to form.

Huh? I was just making fun. An argument usually starts in that manner on here. This is a tense blog.
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1780. eye
12:23 AM GMT on July 09, 2007
jp, i think you are the one that might be confused, perhaps?
Member Since: August 21, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 147
1779. bobw999
8:22 PM EDT on July 08, 2007
KoritheMan What your suggesting is that you are either a wishcaster for a storm to form or a wishcaster for no storm to form.
1778. eye
12:22 AM GMT on July 09, 2007
if it is not dust it is shear, without even look at the maps, throw out one or the other and you would probably be right as to why it will not develop
Member Since: August 21, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 147
1777. KoritheMan
7:21 PM CDT on July 08, 2007
Pat, Man-yin or whatever it's called, looks pretty bad on that image you posted. Thought it was supposed to rapidly intensify?
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1776. stormybil
12:21 AM GMT on July 09, 2007
as we have said many many times, this is not 96L

i agree 100%
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1775. KoritheMan
7:19 PM CDT on July 08, 2007
lol, just wait until there is something really to talk about........

Wishcasters for a tropical cyclone to form: Man, shear is 5-10 knots, an anticyclone aloft is over the storm, SSTs are 85 and very deep, no mid-level dry air to hinder tropical cyclogenesis. It's gonna develop and be a Category 5!

Wishcasters for no tropical cyclones to form: No, it won't, even though conditions are favorable. Use this you can actually see the dry air overtaking the system.

Wishcasters for a tropical cyclone to form: No man, it isn't! There is no dry air, get outta here you know-nothing fool!

Wishcasters for no tropical cyclones to form: Shear has increased to 10 knots from 5 knots, this storm is dead as far as I'm concerned. Not the time of year yet, even though it's August.

An argument will probably start, and go ON and ON and ON... I'm betting on it.

Sorry guys, had to. No offense to anyone. :)
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1773. stormybil
12:17 AM GMT on July 09, 2007
ok this is were the nhc center had the floaters on invest 96l now and all day its been gone . so if this 96l again when does it get labled

Atlantic Floater 1
Not Active ( please note )
Visible Image - Loop
Infrared Image - Loop
Shortwave IR Image - Loop
Dvorak IR Image - Loop
Water Vapor Image - Loop
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1772. Patrap
7:16 PM CDT on July 08, 2007
WEST_PAC WV

Link
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1771. eye
12:14 AM GMT on July 09, 2007
lol, just wait until there is something really to talk about........
Member Since: August 21, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 147
1769. bobw999
8:12 PM EDT on July 08, 2007
Stubborn folks on here today.
1766. Tazmanian
5:11 PM PDT on July 08, 2007
bill but they re started updateing 96L with are new wave
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115456
1764. stormybil
12:09 AM GMT on July 09, 2007
if the floater is on the navysite this should be labled 97l . 96l has been gone all day from the floater on thenhc site so we know its dead . new system here so RYANG your tile shouldnt say 96l reforms
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1763. eye
12:08 AM GMT on July 09, 2007
jp, just agree with taz and everything will be fine.
Member Since: August 21, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 147
1762. EdMahmoud
12:07 AM GMT on July 09, 2007
I'm not "wish-casting" against development. Nor do I worship models.


Just wait til August. That is my motto.
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1761. stormybil
12:06 AM GMT on July 09, 2007
and it was taz that notice it we all been posting about the wave all and it didnt even enter our minds
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1760. msphar
11:58 PM GMT on July 08, 2007
Drak sorry you're having trouble seeing the dry air and dust to the North of the wave.
The boundary area is pretty obvious. In any case, this weather looks like another gutter ball ala 96L going into the Caribe.
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1759. bobw999
8:07 PM EDT on July 08, 2007
Typhoon Tip Link
1758. Tazmanian
5:06 PM PDT on July 08, 2007
they are re doing 96L be come are new wave is where are old 96L ues to be and they this started updateing 96L with are new wave today
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115456
1756. Tazmanian
5:05 PM PDT on July 08, 2007
eye bill and ryang new what i was talking about and the olny ones
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115456
1755. stormybil
12:03 AM GMT on July 09, 2007
chill taz we are agrreing with you some are just saying the navy site has been slow . but then again why change the pic and still say it 96l . i think we are all confuse god help us if a real hurricane forms .
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1754. Alec
8:03 PM EDT on July 08, 2007
Sorry to you folks.....(especially the lurkers), shouldnt have engaged in argument....but this blog confuses many sometimes.....Mix in those that know what they are talking about with those that dont, it really gets confusing.......I do believe we have many youngins on here BTW.....
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1753. Tazmanian
5:04 PM PDT on July 08, 2007
GOOD BYE DR M BLOG
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115456
1751. Patrap
7:03 PM CDT on July 08, 2007
NRL Monterey Scatterometer Winds
Note: Click desired image for more features and options

Link
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1750. eye
12:03 AM GMT on July 09, 2007
jp, see what you did?
Member Since: August 21, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 147
1749. Patrap
7:02 PM CDT on July 08, 2007
NRL Monterey Images with NOGAPS Overlays
Note: Click desired image for more features and options.

Link
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1748. Tazmanian
5:01 PM PDT on July 08, 2007
AM DONE HER SEE YOU IN MY BLOG IF YOU WANT TO TALK WEATHER I AM NEVERE POSTING ANY THING IN DR M BLOG ANY MORE
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115456
1747. eye
12:01 AM GMT on July 09, 2007
...TROPICAL WAVES...
A NEW TROPICAL WAVE IS INTRODUCED ALONG 37W BASED ON SATELLITE
IMAGERY AND SSMI DERIVED PRECIPITABLE WATER. THIS IS A HIGH
AMPLITUDE TROPICAL WAVE WITH SOME TURNING NEAR 11N. THE SAL
VERTICAL SOUNDING SHOWED THE PASSAGE OF THE WAVE ON THE 4TH OF
JULY. THIS TROPICAL WAVE WILL BE ADDED ON THE 00Z SURFACE MAP.

THE TROPICAL WAVE THAT WAS PREVIOUSLY ALONG 40W/41W IS RELOCATED
FURTHER W ALONG 51W BASED ON THE HOVMOLLER DIAGRAM THAT CLEARLY
SHOWS THE WESTWARD PROPAGATION OF THE WAVE...AND LATEST
SATELLITE IMAGERY THAT REVEALS AN INCREASE IN CONVECTIVE
ACTIVITY ON EITHER SIDE OF THE WAVE AXIS. THE CAYENNE VERTICAL
SOUNDING ALSO INDICATES THAT THE WAVE IS JUST OVER THE AREA.
CONVECTION HAS FLARED UP OVER FRENCH GUIANA AND SURINAME.

A TROPICAL WAVE IS ALONG 66W SOUTH OF 16N MOVING W 10-15 KT.
THIS WAVE HAS LOST MUCH OF ITS IDENTITY OVER THE LAST COUPLE OF
DAYS...AND NOW IS MAINLY JUST A SURGE OF MOISTURE AS DEPICTED
WELL BY SSMI DERIVED PRECIPITABLE WATER. DEEP CONVECTION REMAINS
MINIMAL ON BOTH SIDES OF THE AXIS.

A TROPICAL WAVE IN THE CARIBBEAN IS ALONG 82W/83W MOVING W NEAR
15 KT. THE WAVE...COUPLE WITH THE EPAC ITCZ IS GENERATING
SCATTERED MODERATE CONVECTION OVER THE SW CARIBBEAN AND CENTRAL
AMERICA S OF 13N. A DIFFLUENT PATTERN ALOFT IS ALSO ENHANCING
THIS CONVECTIVE ACTIVITY.

Member Since: August 21, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 147
1745. stormybil
12:01 AM GMT on July 09, 2007
just watching the red thingie at 10n 50 west thats the ticket
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1744. RL3AO
7:01 PM CDT on July 08, 2007
Me too drak. Later guys.
1743. Tazmanian
5:00 PM PDT on July 08, 2007
THAT IS WHAT I AM TRYING TO GET IN TO EVERE ONE THAT THEY ARE SAYING THIS AND THAT WISH IS MAKEING ME MAD
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115456
1742. Drakoen
12:00 AM GMT on July 09, 2007
I'll come back later when there is less arguing.
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30835
1741. KoritheMan
7:00 PM CDT on July 08, 2007
...Forget my comment. It was directed at EdMahmoud, but that was before 20 posts flooded it. XD
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1740. Patrap
6:59 PM CDT on July 08, 2007
Microvap 07/08/2007 1800 UTC

Link
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1739. Tazmanian
4:59 PM PDT on July 08, 2007
THEY ARE RE UESING 96L WHY CALL IT 97L IF ARE WAVE IS IN THE SAME STOPS HAS ARE OLD 96L UES TO BE????
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115456
1738. Alec
7:59 PM EDT on July 08, 2007
randomichael, I was merely giving you a suggestion......thinking that this blob will be a cat5 isnt healthy for you.....but speak as you will....I dont care...
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1737. KoritheMan
6:59 PM CDT on July 08, 2007
^ IMO, models are extremely, extremely overrated...

I like to use them, but they are still overrated.

And this blog is turning into the blog of wishcasting. Most people on here wishcast against development everytime something goes to form. >_>
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