Beanery Online Literary Magazine

December 20, 2007

AND NOW, THE FORECAST

Filed under: WR/V GEOFFREY — beanerywriters @ 2:58 am
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—written by geoffrey m. miller

I need your help to settle an argument I’m having with my girlfriend. A postcard containing the words, “GEOFF IS RIGHT.” will do nicely. Thanks. I’m assuming that by now, all the guys are busy looking for pens, and the women are still reading this, waiting to hear my girlfriend’s side of the story. I’ll try to be objective, even though her side doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

This morning, I had a totally brilliant idea for a new business: A Weather Forecasting Service. And as usual, she failed to see its tremendous money-making potential. “But you know absolutely nothing about meteorology!” she reminded me. “Yeah?” I replied. “So what’s your point?” If we had been talking about nursing, or accounting, or carpentry or something, she would have been right. But being a weather forecaster, I explained, ” …is just like being a philosopher: you don’t have to know anything, except how to make it look like you do!”

Years ago, I too believed that weather forecasting involved a lot of science and technology. Then I got a job at a radio station, and discovered that the weather forecast is nothing more than a constantly changing stream of fiction. Here’s how it works. Before leaving for the overnight shift at the newspaper, a reporter watches the 11 O’clock News, jots down the forecast and makes a crude drawing of the weather map. After a little re-wording and cleaning up, this slightly different forecast appears in the morning paper. The forecast we hear on the way to work is a shortened version of what the radio announcer copied from the paper, which brings us to the most fascinating forecasting fiction of all: The Television Weather Person.

About half an hour before news time, the Weather Person appears in “The Weather Center”, surrounded by what is alleged to be the latest meteorological forecasting technology. We are told that this person is busy preparing “THE OFFICIAL WXXX TV NEWS ASTRO SATELLITE ACCU-FORECAST”. In reality, he is busy making up a bunch of imaginary stuff about “cold fronts”, and “high pressure systems” to decorate his map with. His so-called forecast is just his version of the one he heard on the radio, coming to work. At 11 o’clock, the cycle begins again, but after being copied and recopied all day, the forecast is now completely different than it was 24 hours ago. The fact that this fabrication is occasionally correct is entirely within the odds of random chance.

As usual, she didn’t believe me, and wondered how I could expect weather guys to pay me for something they can make themselves for free. “Oh yeah?” I replied intelligently. “They’ll be falling all over themselves to pay me! Y’know why?” She said she didn’t have a clue. “Because after generations of being abused, weather forecasters will finally have what they’ve always wanted: someone else to blame!”

“Whatever you say, dear.” was not the kind of enthusiastic response I was anticipating. I was expecting something more along the lines of smooching, interspersed with comments about my intelligence and business savvy. Maybe she was just down on the idea because it would take up too much of our time together. Maybe she’d be a little more enthusiastic if she knew that it was something we could both be involved in. “The way I have it figured”, I told her, “we can work the business together. Since I have good hand/eye coordination, I’ll be in charge of the three-day forecasts. And you can manage the long range forecasts, since you like animals.” As she peered at me over top of her glasses, I explained that three day forecasts required good coordination, since the technology we’d be using would be a kind of modified dart board thing, with phrases like “Cloudy” and “30 percent chance of…” written on it. But she didn’t care. She was waiting to hear the animal part. “Two orangutans and a Ouija board!” I exclaimed. “Am I brilliant or what?”

© 1996 Miller Creative Services. All rights reserved mcsot0023

Check Geoff’s folder (WR/V GEOFFREY) to read more of Geoff’s writings.

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