Saturday, December 19, 2009

Let's talk about the weather

When you are outside of the US and watch CNN, the impression is that it is a tad weather obsessed. It is all about storm front this, high pressure system that, category 5 hurricane the other. Surely, there are other things to interest people.

We have been here just over a week and we, it isn't going to surprise you, have bought in to the weather obsession. Part of the obsession is, of course, trying to reconcile what the 'written' weather is saying with the 'actual' weather that is outside. The major issue is that the weather is, for intents and purposes, invisible. You can't just go a window and see what it is. Moreover, you do not want to open the window, lest you find out while wearing inappropriate attire. And the open of actually going out and seeing seems costly again given the attire issue.

So what happens when I look it up on the Internet? In that case, it tells me it is currently 20 degrees outside. That is, of course, 20 degrees Fahrenheit but with my brain circuitry wired for Celsius it is hard for me to accept that it is really the -7 the 'conversion' algorithms tell me it is. In any case, what the heck is -7 degrees anyway? Remember, the lowest we ever get in Melbourne is around 5 degrees. So the best I have it is 12 degrees colder than really cold. But it is an abstract notion.

One indication that we have regarding what -7 degrees is, is what it does to an iPhone left in a car outside. For your information, it freezes, rock solid. The only application that works is that one where you use your fingers to wipe the condensation off the screen. By the way, an iPhone takes about 2 hours to thaw at 'room' temperature.

And it gets worse because the -7 degrees is just the temperature. There is another temperature that seems more relevant to me and that is the 'feels like' temperature. At the moment, that is 8 degrees F or -13 degrees C. So I lose another 6 degrees just for being a human with feelings! Who knows what it feels like to an iPhone. Near as I can tell, this is a big fat warning to not go out.

Sadly, that can't always been avoided. Now I know that this next thought is hardly original: what I want is the Weather Channel to tell me what I should wear. Helpful readers told me what to buy (and I am grateful and happy to report we haven't lost anyone, yet) but with a full closet, the whole, what to wear issue is looming large. If the Weather Channel can tell me what it feels like, why can't it tell me what it feels like as I add and remove various bits of apparel? One could imagine even specifying it by particular coat, jump, thermals and brand. Consider the advertising possibilities: "if you just had an LL Bean ridiculously large and puffy parker, it would feel like 17 degrees to you now, instead with what you have got it will feel like -3 degrees. Would you like the nearest directions to LL Bean?" To my economist's mind, there seems to be missing markets all over the place.

For us, the issue is that the weather changes. It can do so from minute to minute making it impossible to optimise clothes. We can be cold and all of the children have ample incentive to keep various layers, scarves and gloves on. Then it gets warmer and the extremities get exposed. Then it gets colder, and we engage in a freezing search for lost gloves. Now I know that we need to sow them on but just haven't had the time. That will happen because for the moment, our entire Boston experience is a continual concern about losing gloves. Why they can't put an RF chip in these things with a location finder, I don't know.

We are told it is unseasonably cold at the moment. That is all very well at the moment but it is the word 'unseasonably' that has me worried. That means there is a season for this cold and it is coming. And it will come with snow which our children are yet to really see. My only hope is that it doesn't come with 'unprecedented' cold.

Update: some of my wish has just come through. This site translates your weather into Star Wars terms. The snap shot below is what I am facing. Where is a dead tauntan when you need one.