Thursday, August 11, 2011

Weather: The Great Equalizer

Mark Twain is credited with saying, "Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it." Some people over the years have found that sentence humorous, probably because Twain is associated with it. But it is either an obvious statement or a foolish one. It's obvious we don't do anything that will either make it rain or make the rain stop, unless some sinister accusations about the Russians are actually true. And it's obvious that we are constantly doing things because of the weather. We add another layer of clothes and a coat. We peel off as many clothes as we legally dare. We build houses to keep ourselves out of the elements. We invent and build artificial cooling machines and artificial heating machines. We put up an umbrella, install windshield wipers, build drains, plow snow, put on snow tires, but that's about all we can do. When it comes to weather, we're pretty much all in the same boat because weather is The Great Equalizer.

For a couple of weeks, much of the midwest was stuck in a heat wave. Highs in the 90s, heat index values (whatever they are) in the 100s and 110s... nasty stuff. But we couldn't cool it off. Why? We can't do anything about it. Same in the winter when the snow keeps falling. We can't do anything about it. Same in the spring when the rain never seems to stop. We can't do anything about it. It's obvious. We just try to make ourselves comfortable.

As far as everyone talking about the weather, again this is obvious. We talk about the weather because it is something we all have in common. If it's raining we can used the tired old question, "Is it wet enough for you?" when we feel the urge to converse. We all have to deal with it. Now of course the weather here is not often the same as in the more southern states or the more northern ones either. And we make special note of that. Does this happen to you? When my friends or family take a trip south during the cold winter months, they seem to be required by law to call me and tell me the temperature where they are staying. Almost always it's 70 or more degrees hotter than the frozen tundra I'm walking around in. So I have to chuckle and sound envious even if it's 45 and fairly comfortable here in the thawed tundra.

Weather also immediately makes us wish conditions were different. Now, Thursday was just a banner day in Van Wert County with the puffy clouds, the blue sky, Mr. Sun playing hide-and-seek in the sky, and a nice breeze. It was a day to file away and remember on those days when no one wants to venture outside. But mostly, any day's weather makes people wish for something different. If it's dry, we want wet. If it's wet, we want dry. If it's 50 degrees, we want 75. If it's winter, we want summer. You get the idea. But I'm sure that even on that banner weather day, had I looked more extensively, I would have found someone whining that it was too hot and someone else whining that it was too cold, and a third person praying for rain.

And don't blame the weatherman! People complain that forecasters are never right yet get to keep their jobs. Of course most of the rest of us aren't asked to predict the future either. And persons coming up with sales projections or trying to get a handle on the stock market aren't that accurate either. In truth, it's amazing that meteorologists can predict storms, severe weather, heat, and cold as accurately as they do. Maybe we should all stop whining about them and appreciate the advanced warning we get. We're all in this together. And until we can actually cause rain to start or stop or get the temperature to everyone's ideal, we can't do anything about the weather. Except talk.

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