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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!

A Weather Report We Can Finally Believe!

And this is your brain on beer and habanero peppers. Stay clean, kids.

I’d like to talk a bit about the weather today. Or rather, about forecasting the weather, which is impossible, and yet here we are with people on six stations a night with their pretty teeth and non-threatening outfits trying to do just that. I have a bit of advice for these folks. But I don’t know any meterologists, so I’m just going to tell you folks. You happened to be closest. Sucks to be you, I guess.

Anyway, forecasting the weather is a pretty thankless job, from what I understand. It’s a bit like being a baseball umpire, or an average-looking stripper.

(No, really, stick with me here; I can pull this together, really.)

The similarity is this: when these folks actually do their jobs correctly, they more or less blend into the background. They’re not the stars of the show — the news anchors, or starting pitchers, or headline acts who were once featured in Hustler. Their work, unless truly transcendently spectacular, goes largely unnoticed and unappreciated. Sure, they get the occasional perk — an on-location assignment, a chance to call the World Series, the odd lap dance for a bored businessman. But most people don’t notice these folks — not really — and that’s during the good times. But when they screw their jobs up — well, that’s when the hammer comes down. They’re stupid for thinking it was going to be sunny today, or blind not to see that pitch was a strike, or crazy to think that shuffling aimlessly across the stage would turn anyone on.

It’s sad to think that the best these hard-working folks can honestly hope for is anonymous mediocrity. And, I’m sorry to say, there’s little that I can do to help out the men in blue or the pastied ladies. My eyesight’s not all that good myself, and I look horrible in a G-string. So I have limited experience in these rather specialized fields, and not much to say, except: hang in there, folks. Keep fighting the good fight. Practice your dramatic ‘Safe!!‘ calls at the plate, and your upside-down jiggling from the fire pole. Your day will come. And in the meantime, you have each other — given your professions, you can truly understand the plight of the other. This is why umpires should — nay, must — spend more time in strip clubs, and why the fine ladies therein should always be kind to them, and show them an extra-special good time. Really — it’s like a moral obligation or something.

(Editor’s note: The preceding paragraph in no way reflects the fact that my buddy Joey is an umpire, or that he gave me ten bucks to tell strippers to be nice to him. No, really. It’s pure coincidence. Honest.)

Okay, where the hell was I? Ah, weather wrangling. Fantastic.

So, I can’t help those folks. Nor can I really help Joey — how many strippers do you think read this crap, anyway?

(I’m still keeping your ten bucks, though, dude. Tough luck.)

But I think I can offer some assistance to the weatherpeople out there. I have a couple of suggestions that should make your lives a bit easier, and stem the tide of hate mail that you receive because of freak thunderstorms and blizzards and twisters that you failed to predict. So listen up.

First — and this is for everyone out there — we need to realize that forecasting the weather is a difficult, taxing job. No, scratch that. It’s impossible. The folks you see on TV try very hard at it, and they have a lot of help behind the scenes, but it just can’t be done. You can get just as good an idea of what it’s going to be like outside today by interpreting Nostradamus or Rasputin as you can from listening to your local weathermonger.

(Of course, Nostradamus can tell you anything if you take a liberal enough interpretation of the prognostications. They’re vague and hand-wavy enough to support the prediction of just about any event you care to select. Hiroshima? Of course. The spread of AIDS? Naturally. The Angels comeback over the Giants in the World Series last year? Sure, if you try hard enough. Look, Nostradamus foretold of my wedding, my layoff, what color my dog was going to be, and that I’d be drunk last Thursday. I’m tellin’ you — mother fucker knows all. You just have to help him a little bit, by filling in the details. Hey, he’s dead — he can’t do it for himself any more. What do you want from him?)

Anyway, the inability to accurately predict the weather isn’t the meteorologists’ fault. It isn’t anyone’s fault, you see. It’s just too complex to wrap our small human brains around. Sure, there are experts out there who can tell you about what the weather might be like, and what usually happens when a cold front meets a warm front, comin’ through the rye. But face it — if one fat guy in Omaha farts in the wrong direction, the whole model is shot, and they’re back to square one. The blizzard fizzles, or the hurricane slams into a coastline after all, or whatever. And there are the poor weathermen and weatherwomen, stuck holding the soggy, windy bag. Really, it’s not quite fair, is it?

And so, I have the answer. I bring to you today the soon-to-be-patented (hey, my wife works in a law firm; surely she can slip one through for me) Universal Forecast. It’s guaranteed to appease anyone listening or watching your weather report, leaving them to blame only themselves should a sudden climatological surprise occur. It’s foolproof, it’s easy, and it’s just vague enough to work. It goes something like this:

Hello, folks — this is your afternoon weather report. I’m your friendly meterologist, Joe Wetgaloshes. Let’s look at the forecast.

All right, it looks like it’ll be partly cloudy in the metro area today. It’s possible that the sun will peek out for a bit, but there’s also a forty percent chance of rain. Some of you may even experience an occasional shower, so be prepared. The temperature will be reasonably warm, though we do expect some isolated pockets of cool air to be drifting through this afternoon and evening. So you may want to hold on to a jacket, just in case.

The barometer is rising slightly, except in those areas of the city where it’s actually falling, just a bit. So be aware of that.

The winds are light and swirling, though we do have reports of some gusty conditions at times. So hold on to your hats out there!

And we do have a bit of news on the extended forecast. There is a low pressure system moving slowly in our direction from the south, and a high pressure system, further off to the northwest. We don’t expect to see much of a change in our weather patterns based on these fronts, but if there’s any change, we’ll let you know at least three minutes before the really hard stuff starts coming down. At least.

And that’s your forecast for today. So grab your sunglasses, your bathing suit, your umbrella, your coat, your hat, and your long johns, and get out there and have some fun! I’ll be back with you tomorrow to tell you the same damned thing, only in a high, squeaky voice. I’m Joe Wetgaloshes, and this has been your guaranteed accurate AccuView forecast. Good night!

Really, who could argue with that? It’s got just the right level of detail to scare people into preparedness, and yet doesn’t really say anything. It takes three or four minutes to say, and there are lots of times when you can wave your hand meaningfully over a map or chart, as though you’re really conveying any sort of information whatsoever. And look at it this way — how often are your forecasts right now? If you’re good, what, maybe seventy-five, eighty percent of the time? This baby’s good up to around ninety-five percent! And what’s more, I’ve even got the answer for the exceptions. What more could you ask for?

See, when there’s a real weather emergency of some kind, you’re going to break into our favorite shows with a forecast update, anyway, right? So during the news, you just give the standard party line as outlined above. Business as usual. But then, when you break in with a ‘Weather Watch‘, or ‘Meteorological Emergency!‘, or ‘Have You Seen What the Fuck It’s Doing Out There?!‘, you simply give the following report, selecting the appropriate options for your particular set of circumstances:

Hello, this is Joe Wetgaloshes with a special weather report. We interrupt your very most favoritest show just as [ the snitch is about to get it / the crafty detective is revealing the murderer / the funny fat guy gets himself out of this week’s ridiculous pickle / the hot chick strips down to her bikini ] , to bring you this emergency weather alert.

We have reports of an impending and very serious weather crisis which will soon reach the metro area. Viewers should be on the lookout for [ whiteout blizzard conditions / torrential monsoon rains / searing dangerous heat waves / towering tsunamis / alien terror squads / plagues of frogs and locusts ] in their area. We advise all people in the area to remain in their homes for safety. Those unable to reach home should find the nearest shelter immediately.

We further want to stress that this is a real weather emergency, and not that annoying beepy EBS thing that you sometimes hear. We wouldn’t cut into your favorite show just for that; we’re not quite that sadistic.

Also, based on the data that we have, we must advise that you carefully monitor any [ elderly / children / infants / cats / dogs / fields of wheat ] that may be in particular danger from this crisis, and be sure to keep them [ indoors / warm / dry / cool / underground / uneaten ] at all times for their continued safety.

Thank you for your attention. We anticipate a return to our usual bland, nondescript forecast in a few [ hours / days / weeks / millennia ]. We now return you to your most favoritest show, already well past the good part and near the closing credits.

See? That’s it. Just repeat that a couple of times every hour, until the emergency is over, and then go back to the ‘normal’ forecast. What would be easier? Certainly not staring at isothem maps and radar images and climatological trends, which is what you’re doing now. (And paying for it once or twice a week, I might add, when it rains or snows or rivers suddenly turn to blood, just like you said they wouldn’t.)

So feel free to use my forecast. Spice it up a little every now and then — say it in a funny voice, or with a sock puppet, or something. Just don’t venture too far from the middle ground it represents, and the complaints and bitches will slow to a crawl. And, of course, if your particular area isn’t really relevant for this forecast — if you live in Phoenix, or San Diego, or somewhere in Alaska — then certainly, build your own. Call it ‘hot and sunny and eighty degrees‘ every day, or ‘continued cold and snowy‘. Whatever’s appropriate.

The important thing is to find your default forecast and stick to it. You’ll make people a lot happier, and you’ll free up a lot of spare time for yourself, too. Just be careful if you use that time to hit the beach, or play golf. You never know what the weather will be like out there. Really — you don’t. Trust me.

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