If you have a question, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call Speak Out (334-5111) and identify your call as a question for "Fact or fiction?"
Q: Does the university own an apartment or condo in London, England, that they let employees stay in for free while on vacations there? -- Robert M. Aubuchon, Jackson
A: "The university rents a one-bedroom flat in London, where a Southeast faculty member may stay while teaching in the Missouri London Program," said Ann Hayes, news bureau director at Southeast Missouri State University. "The Southeast faculty member may stay in the flat at no cost while they are teaching in London.
"Faculty members teaching in the program are the only employees who may stay in the flat at no cost. Other university employees may pay rent ($600 a week) to the university and stay in the flat when it is not occupied," Hayes explained. "This procedure has been in place since the start of the Missouri London Program many years ago."
Are there ever exceptions to this policy? I asked Hayes.
"I have spoken with Dr. Phil Finney, who is the coordinator of the Missouri London Program at Southeast," she said. "In the time in which he has been the coordinator [the past three years], he knows of no exceptions that have been made."
Q: Where do the weather forecasters on KFVS get their forecast from and why does one forecaster say one thing about the weather and temperature one day and then the next day another one says something completely different? Why is that?
A: "Individual forecasters tend to have their own preferred sources of data, which in turn they tend to interpret differently," explained a spokesman for the KFVS Storm Team in an e-mail. "For example, Brian Alworth has a 1973 Farmer's Almanac, which has served him quite well over the years!
"But seriously, weather is constantly changing," said the spokesman, later revealed to be none other than Alworth himself. "A good weather forecaster, whether working for the National Weather Service or for a local television station, is constantly looking at new and updated information. It is therefore not surprising that forecasts change from forecaster to forecaster and from newscast to newscast. In fact, a forecast that hasn't changed from one day to the next has probably not been updated.
"Also, many of the 'updates' are not drastic forecast changes, rather that the forecasted weather may arrive a bit earlier or later than originally predicted. It would be unreasonable to think that a prediction on Monday for a forecast on Thursday would not change as Thursday arrives," Alworth said. "There are just too many variables in weather that constantly change."
Alworth, by the way, isn't just a pretty face. According to his biography on the KFVS Web site, he holds an undergraduate degree in physics (and French) and a masters degree in Atmospheric Science, along with "a broadcast seal of approval" from the American Meteorological Society. Très bien, Brian!
Jon K. Rust is publisher of the Southeast Missourian. He can be reached at jrust@semissourian. com.