Thursday: Stormy Weather
On Thursday, T and I were driving back from town and the sky was really dark. Sure enough, the heavens opened up, and the resulting downpour turned roads in rivers, and parking lots into lakes. Literally. People had their basements flooded, and cars were floating in the streets. It didn’t last long, and the flooding was mostly due to backed-up storm drains, but on the news that night, the weather reporters were thrilled, having earlier predicted that a very large storm system might wreak havoc in our part of Ontario. Why “thrilled”, you ask? Because the week before, tornados had touched down in cities south of here and there had been NO WARNING from the weather people (we call them “Environment Canada”). In fact, the outcry was ridiculous, with people calling for an investigation into the most “egregious failure” of the year. Someone who describes herself as a professional stormchaser (WTF?) from Tennessee called out Environment Canada by tweeting, “Emergency personnel are being requested in mass amounts in Windsor due to an UNWARNED tornado. How does that make you feel @environmentca”. I’m not sure what “mass amounts” of emergency personnel look like, but to quote Donald Trump, I’m going to say “a lot”. And I’m sure Environment Canada feels pretty bad, thanks to all the mean tweets.
Anyway, the weather people defended themselves by claiming that 90% of our weather comes from over the border, and that Michigan hadn’t alerted us to any impending storm systems, that it had just “popped up out of nowhere”. Sure, blame the Americans. But frankly, the whole thing is silly, and is yet more proof that we’ve become irrationally obsessed with weather. The mere fact that there is an entire segment devoted to the weather on every single news show is evidence of that. And the first part of the segment is invariably reporting on what the weather was like that day. I don’t need to know what the weather was ALREADY like—I WAS THERE. Then we move to “the current forecast”, which I also know, because I’m looking out my WINDOW. Finally we get to “tomorrow” and the long-range forecast. But for all the technology, the radar, the system trackers, the low and high front graphics on the weather screen, being a weather person in Canada is a relatively simple task and these people are way overpaid, because, let’s face it—there’s not a lot of variation in the weather here:
News Anchor: So Bob, what’s the situation with the weather?
Weather Guy: Well, today it was f*cking hot. Tomorrow, it will also be f*cking hot.
News Anchor: You’re sure right there! What about the long range forecast?
Weather Guy: In a couple of months, it will be f*cking cold, with an increased chance of it getting even more f*cking cold.
News Anchor: Do your magic-y weather skills predict anything else for the near future, Bob?
Weather Guy: The only other thing on the horizon is periods of “when the hell is it going to rain?” interspersed with “when is this goddamned rain going to stop?” That’s about it, Nancy.
News Anchor: Thanks for those insights, Bob. We’ll get back to you later for a recap.
I honestly think we expect too much from weather reporters. Blaming them for sudden weather events is like blaming the sportscaster when your favourite team unexpectedly loses. You’d never do that—it would be irrational for newspapers to call the Blue Jays losing yet another pennant the most egregious failure of TSN Sportsdesk ever. Yet weather reporters get blamed for all kinds of things. For example, you’re having an outdoor birthday party and it clouds over then starts raining. Suddenly it’s open season on the weather reporter, with people running around trying to get the cake inside before it gets ruined, and yelling, “Was this predicted?! I don’t remember Bob saying anything on the weather report about rain! Now the piñata is all mushy! What the hell is this world coming to when you can’t even count on Bob for a good party?!!”
But you CAN’T count on the weather report. Weather reports are just filler in a broadcast, the same way that talking about the weather is just filler in a conversation. I asked Ken why he thought people are so obsessed with weather, and he said, “It’s something easy to talk about.” And he’s right. Consider how many times in your life you’ve had random and inconsequential conversations about the weather because you felt like you had to talk about SOMETHING or be seen as anti-social? This happens to me all the time in the elevator at work, when someone I barely know gets on. After “hello”, what the hell else is there to say, except “Can you believe the weather?” And the other person will say, “Oh, I know. It’s just terrible/gorgeous out there.” The weather is safe and quick, and makes us all feel that we’re capable of normal human interaction.
Again, though, I don’t think we need an entire network devoted to the continual reporting of the weather. An entire network, you say? Yes, because not only is every single news broadcast littered with weather teasers (“Coming up next: Sharon will have some exciting information on the current state of the weather. Find out here first!”), we also have The Weather Network, where you can satisfy your need to know about the state of the environmental nation 24 hours a day. Local forecasts, regional forecasts, national forecasts—hell, you can even find out what it’s going to be like in Madrid tomorrow (for the record—f*cking hot). My favourite, though, has got to be when, for want of anything else to talk about, there’s a “50 years ago today” segment, where the weather from the 60s is compared to the forecast today, and the reporter is like, “Can you believe it? The high on July 15, 1966 was 3 degrees lower than it is today. What a world we live in!” Even better are the segments analyzing the latest record-breaking temperature. You’d think it was the Nature Olympics, with the sun getting gold medals all the time like American athletes (or bronze medals, if the sun was Canadian). I guess if it wasn’t for global warming, there’d be even less for them to talk about, so yay climate change.
A hundred years ago, there were no weather reporters. Well, there was your crazy old aunt, who claimed her gouty toe could predict when a storm was a-coming, or the one guy in every town who hung out at the General Store chewing on a hay stalk and muttering ominously, “Pine trees are puttin’ out cones early. Gonna be a hard winter.” And they were about as accurate as weather reporters today, who, despite all the bells and whistles, still can’t always predict when a tornado will develop. I like the guy from LaSalle who said that he hadn’t heard about the tornado, but he looked out his window, saw it coming from across the field, and got his family into the basement. Then he went back upstairs and recorded the tornado with his cell phone. He predicted a tornado hitting his house better than Environment Canada did—The Weather Network should hire HIM.
Sunday: Titus can’t catch.
Every morning, I eat a bowl of Corn Pops. I do “adulting” very well, as you can see. In fact, when we were in Iceland, I couldn’t find Corn Pops, so I was forced to buy Cocoa Puffs, another very adult cereal, and would tease Ken and T by calling them “tiny bites of chocolate happiness for breakfast”. Corn Pops are actually very healthy though, containing fibre and stuff, and not as much sugar as Rice Krispies, if you can believe that. Titus also loves Corn Pops. Every morning, when he sees me get down a bowl, he comes running. It’s become part of our morning routine that I grab a few and toss them to him as a treat. The only problem is that Titus can’t catch for sh*t. I’ve never seen a dog so uncoordinated. It’s bad enough that when he gives you a high five, he’s more likely to slap you in the face then fall over—but his Corn Pop-catching skills are abysmal. This is what it’s like every morning:
Titus: Oh boy! Corn Pops! This is the best day ever!
Me: You say that every morning. Do you think you could try a little harder today?
Titus: With what?
Me: Catching them. You’re hopeless.
Titus: What are you talking about? There’s nothing wrong with my catching abilities. You’re just a crappy thrower.
Me: Are you kidding? I toss them straight at you. It’s your timing. They bounce off your face most of the time AFTER you’ve snapped your teeth at them. I’ll show you. Sit down. (tosses Corn Pops)
Titus: That one was too high…too low…are you TRYING to aim for the refrigerator?…wait, I wasn’t ready for that one…Ow, my eye!…What the—did it go under the cupboard?…You’re trying to make me miss on purpose…
Me: You’re not concentrating. Focus, for God’s sake.
Titus: Can I just play “dead” now? I’m exhausted.
Me: You don’t know how to play dead. You only play “wounded”.
Titus: But Corn Pops are sweet gems of deliciousness. If I close my eyes, I might miss one.
Me: You’re missing them with your eyes OPEN! Fine—Bang!
Titus (falls to floor): Ok, I’m good. Hit me with a Corn Pop…Oh sh*t—where did it go?
Me (sigh): I rolled it right between your paws. How could you miss it?
Titus (head under cupboard): I got it. It’s all good!
Me: I think I’ve proven my point.