Thursday, March 7, 2013

Yesterday's weather today

We had an interesting teacher in sixth grade, a man named Mr Myers.  He taught us what was a new word to us back then: "googol," the mathematical term for a 1 followed by a hundred zeroes.

Years and years later, a couple of brainiacs from Stanford University started a little search engine business and called it "Google," because they misspelled googol.  They liked the concept of a very large number, which is how they intended to serve up information to web browsers: in staggeringly high numbers.  For instance, when you google images of this Justin Bieber character, you get 655,000,000 results in less than a tenth of second, and there you sit, wondering what you're going to do with all those pictures.

Meanwhile, the guys who invented this incredible search engine are rolling in dough, hauling it away in googol-sized amounts, and misspelling googol was about the last mistake they ever made.

Mr Myers also stands out in my memory for taking points off an essay I wrote in which I used the term "fizzled out," as in, something big was supposed to occur and did not.

If you live around where we live, you know where I'm going with this...ALL the weathercasters were calling for a huge snowstorm yesterday.  In fact, it was supposed to be ending just this morning.  Predictions were dire, I wanna tell you.  This BA storm started out in the Pacific Northwest and was to sweep across the length and breadth of America, picking up ocean moisture and a cod-fishing boat or two on its march up the Eastern seaboard, a march that was to leave between 6 to 13 inches of snow on my driveway.  And others.

Well, if you look at the map above, you can see my tony home town, fashionable Carney, MD, marked by an "A" on the map.   Looking at the map will give you an idea of where we are in the world.  Now, if you have a second, please take a look at the map at left.  See where the "A" is in the word "Heaviest"?  That's right about where we live.  We were supposed to be buried under snow like nobody's business.  Actually, a lot of people are in business to remove snow, but anyway, the predictions were wrong, as they often are.  We got a little bit of snow and rain and slush and snain, and by lunchtime it was all over, except for the kids outside trying in vain to make a mudman with a corncob pipe and a button nose and two eyes made out of coal.  And all the parents spent the evening talking about what's wrong with the meteorologists, and how could everyone have gotten this storm wrong.  And that's not the point!  Meteorology, by definition, is not a precise science.  Like the people who predict the outcomes of football games and presidential elections, they're going to be right sometimes and not right at others.  Why holler about the broadcast weather people?  They do their best.  And they're right more often than not.

Out in Western Maryland, they got some snow, but not much, and the area of the state most affected was Ocean City, which got so much rain that some parts of the town flooded and they had to open up emergency shelters. Back here in Bmore, the big AM radio station used the word "fizzled" to describe the storm, so I guess Mr Myers didn't teach anyone who works there.

Because if he had, he would have also taught them this handy aphorism:  "Man proposes, God disposes."

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