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Charlie Hatton
Brookline, MA



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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

Weather She Will, Or Weather She Won’t

(This week’s Secondhand SCIENCE piece was quite timely, as synthetic genomics has been buzzing in the news recently.

That doesn’t mean it was accurate. Or helpful. Or plausible. Or free of beloved Warner Brothers cartoon characters poorly photoshopped into marketing stills for awful cable TV dreck.

But it was timely, dammit. I’m counting that as ‘baby steps’. Check it out.)

Now here’s a science — like most of them, really — that I don’t know much about: climate change.

“Whur’s yer global wermin’ NOW, smertypents?”

(Actually, I don’t even know if that’s the current term for it. The scientific community has to keep changing the label, because occasionally some undereducated foot-stamping literalist will proclaim that flurries in Florida means “Whur’s yer global wermin’ NOW, smertypents?” and everybody has to agree on a new name.

Frankly, I think they should just call it “climate grow-a-pair-of-gills-before-your-double-wide-trailer-sinks-into-the-Arkansas-sea, dumbass” and get it over with. But maybe that doesn’t fit on the tote bags.)

Details (like “RUN FOR THE ROCKIES; THE ANTARCTIC IS MELTING LIKE A GODDAMNED OTTER POP“, for instance) aside, here’s something I perceive as happening in my local area — the weather is becoming more unpredictable.

I can’t say whether this is true ’round the globe. Are there floods beleaguering the Gobi? A plague of summer streakers in Greenland? Non-ornamental woolen scarves being worn in San Diego? To know, I’d have to watch the Weather Channel. And seeing how I’m not currently in the direct path of an approaching typhoon or over the age of seventy, I’m not going to watch the Weather Channel. So I don’t know.

But around Boston, the weather’s feeling wilder. Certainly at this time of year, the conditions are always highly variable. Add to that the trend over the past few years — where the highs get higher, the lows get lower and the baromet gets barometer — and it’s a crapshoot every time you leave the house. Case in point — I was told yesterday afternoon that it was 87 degrees outside, with not a cloud in the sky. At lunchtime today: dreary and 50, with a wind chill pinging 40.

A complete flip-flop in the space of eighteen hours; that is bona fide crazy shit. If Mother Nature were your girlfriend, you’d break up with her and hope she didn’t chain herself naked to your porch to show her love. And even if she didn’t, you’d still make an anonymous call to the local mental health line — because you can’t deal with the roller coaster any more, man, but you still care about her. You want her to get help. Mother Nature needs a professional — and probably a wheelbarrow filled with Xanax.

This whiparound weather is a particular nuisance to a guy like me. I’m lazy, so I don’t put a lot of thought into what I’m going to wear. I’m ill-informed about the weather — see “under seventy, not living in trailer park in Tornado Alley” above. Finally, I’m stubborn — and I decided a long time ago that once it’s warm enough in the spring to wear short sleeves, then that’s what I’m doing until fall. When I make the transition, I don’t want to be doing a lot of day-by-day flip-flopping, studying prevailing winds and low pressure systems and isobars of mercury or whatever.

That’s my rule. One day, it’s winter. The next, it’s not. End of season. No looking back. Lazy, ignorant and stubborn is totally my way to go through life, son.

When the weather behaves, this isn’t a big deal. I can wait out a few weeks of 60ish balm in my long sleeves, until I’m sure that spring has sprung. Or suffer the odd evening of mid-50s chill wearing a T-shirt and shorts. It’s all the same ballpark, and Mother Nature’s moodiness passes pretty quickly, once the flowers bloom and the birds sing and her new doctor gets her various meds tweaked just so.

At least, that’s how it used to be. Lately, Ms. Nature’s gone off the plan entirely. She canceled her shrink appointments, flushed her pills and now she’s standing ominously in your driveway, wearing nothing but your old sweatshirt and half a pair of handcuffs.

And I found myself in practically a Nor’Easter on the way to work today, wearing basically beachwear because it was practically ninety fricking degrees when I went to bed last night.

So I don’t know much about climate change in general. But I can tell you this: Mother Nature be crazy. I’d just like to know who it was that broke up with her. If we can’t get her on a morphine drip, stat, maybe we can talk those kids into seeing a relationship counselor.

Hell, I’d pay for the sessions. They don’t have to reconcile for long; June ought to do it. Anything beats going back to full sleeves.

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