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November-December 2010

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On the Job: Gavin Pretor-Pinney

Cloud Aficionado

Gavin Pretor-Pinney is the founder of the Cloud Appreciation Society, a Web-based community that was started in 2005 for people who are inspired by clouds. Cloud-watchers, photographers, poets, and daydreamers come to the Web site to share their inspiration and read about the latest cloud-related news. The site won a Yahoo! award in 2005 for the most weird and wonderful Web site. Pretor-Pinney is also the founder of Idler magazine and the author of the book The Cloudspotter's Guide. His new book, Cloud Collector's Handbook, will be published by Chronicle Books in the spring of 2011.

Where and when did you develop your love for clouds?

I remember when I was 4 and a half, I was being driven to school with my mother in London, and I looked out of the window of her car. I looked up at a cloud in the sky, and it had these rays of sunlight bursting out from behind it. I now know they are crepuscular rays, but those fingers of sunlight—they have a kind of magnetic attraction, and they drew my attention to this cloud. I suppose it was the first time I ever really thought about a cloud—I wondered what it was made of, why it was there, and what it would be like to sit on it. And it went from there.

KIMBRA CUTLIP is a freelance writer and former assistant editor for Weatherwise.

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