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I wonder if any of you remember the TG&Y stores? In my small hometown, long before the days when the big box retail stores invaded, TG&Y was your "one stop shopping" destination. From school supplies to records (you know, the kind that actually played music), this place had a little bit of everything. And when it came to purchasing Valentine candy, you just couldn't beat the selection.

I remember those wonderfully garish heart shaped boxes of chocolate, each decorated in satin ruffles with plastic flowers on top. You generally had a choice of red, pink, blue, or yellow- and each box had a strange resemblance to a funeral arrangement. When I was very young, dad would take me to pick out a box for mom. I was always a serious little kid, and I would take an inordinate amount of time to pick out the "perfect" box.

Of course, TG&Y was also the best place in town to buy supplies for the school science/math fair. The event was usually held very close to Valentine's Day. Contrary to what you may think, I seldom created entries for the "science" division. Instead, I opted for the "math" competition. This is not to say I was a math wiz; I just figured I had a statistically better chance of winning in the math division since the "science" projects outnumbered the "math" projects nearly 5 to 1.

Many of you probably remember those nifty tri-fold cardboard backgrounds students used as displays. Each year, I would sit down in front of that big blank board and pour as much creativity as my little brain could muster. Armed with my pack of stencils, markers, scissors, and tape, I would spend hours making sure everything looked just right. Many years, I didn't win a thing. But one year, fortune smiled.

I had developed a geometry theorem based on principles that give me a headache to recall today. I typed my arguments on note cards (using a vintage Sears manual typewriter), constructed display backings for each card, and mounted everything onto my big display board. The judges were suitably impressed, and I won the opportunity to compete in the Regional Science Fair on the campus of UNCW. Ironically, this would mark my first trip to Wilmington. The facilities and level of competition were impressive for a young kid. Little did I know that I would practice some REAL science decades later, when I returned to Wilmington to work as a meteorologist.

Speaking of February, this is often a training month for meteorologists. It is a time of year when we meet professionally with colleagues and experts from the National Weather Service and area Universities to learn the latest advancements in forecasting. We spend many hours updating and familiarizing ourselves with upgraded weather tracking equipment. We don't train simply because February has arrived. We train because February will soon be gone, and the unofficial start of severe weather season will be here.

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By: Jerry Jackson