Cloud Collector's Handbook

   This handy and very portable little book should be in everyone's handbag, backpack, manpurse, or glove compartment. The Cloud Collectors Handbook is a full-color field guide that encourages users to get outside, look up, and have fun identifying the clouds...while you rack up points. Author Gavin Pretor-Pinney is the founder of the Cloud Appreciation Society and is out promoting this book and the sheer pleasure of cloudspotting.
   "Collecting" is a virtual activity (where would you put your cumulus congestus anyway?) and really means you are collecting points for identifying as many clouds as you can--each with a number of points reflecting its rarity of commonness. It's a bit like birdwatching in that we no longer need to shoot or physically have something in order to collect it. Your checkmarks or your points eventually add up to awareness, happiness, beauty, fun. What more could you ask for?
    Pretor-Pinney's philosophy is similar to mine: clouds are the best free show on the planet--available to everyone equally all the time. If only people would get outside and look up!
   Pretor-Pinney's mission to encourage cloud appreciation was featured in today's New York Times and on PRI (Public Radio International) "The World." Follow links to learn read or hear these stories. Click here to learn more about The Cloud Collector's Handbook from the Cloud Appreciation Society--a great website for the cloud photos, artwork, poetry, and science from around the world.
   And, after a day of struggling with the physics of turbulent flow, eddies, dew point, and lapse rate as deep background for my book on clouds, I was soothed to read that the University of Reading (England) is hiring Pretor-Pinney to become a fellow in meteorology despite his complete lack of training in the subject.
  "You just need to look and observe," he is quoted saying in the New York Times. "Sometimes getting too trained up in something narrows your vision."
   I am getting pretty squinty eyed of late.