Saturday, July 19, 2008

Curse You MegaDoppler!

It was dim and dark this morning. The marine layer had moved onshore during the evening. In Southern California when you wake up and there's a thin layer of clouds between you and the sun you know its going to be a beautiful summer day. Sure, it'll burn off by eleven, just in time to catch me doing the Saturday yard work, but it wont get to that fiery furnace desert heat that makes you go inside, close all the windows and turn on the AC. A beach day! A day to drive up to Angeles Crest or the Santa Monica Mountains and go on a hike. Time to get out the hedge trimmer, the edger, the blower and the lawnmower and try to keep the constantly encroaching plant-life at bay. After that's done you can sit in the garden at the glass picnic table in the shade of the trees and read a nice book while the cats each grab a soft spot and have an afternoon siesta.
But hey! This is an angry blog. I started it so that I could vent my socially unacceptable middle aged angst without offending anyone. My tiny audience has expectations! Shouldn't I be denouncing someone? Well, now that you mention it, what would be more typical for me than to rail against the liberal media? But this time, instead of deriding them for liberal bias or writing scathing lines about how they've replaced most of the actual news with 'fluff' news I'm going to question the expensive technology race that cropped up between the three local network affiliates; the race for Doppler Radar supremacy. When they first started with this Doppler nonsense I tried to figure out whether they all were getting their data from the same Doppler or if they were engaged in some multi-million dollar spending race generated by tiny ups and downs in the ratings.
"Oh my GOD! Channel 4's kicking our ass--it has to be the radar!"
"If we dont get better radar than them our ratings will be lower than the news on...Channel Nine!"
"Get that radar upgraded and do it NOW!"
But they're too cheap to actually spend money. The race was in the graphics departments; who could come up with the most compelling name for the radar that they all shared with The National Weather Service. MegaDoppler 7000 on Channel Seven seemed to have won the war. Does Channel Four escalate to AstroDoppler 40000? Channel Two the would need to raise to OmniDoppler 200000; it could end up like an Argentine inflation report with zeros proliferating into the trillions.
But all this loud, breathless promotion of their hi-tech prowess has one flaw. This is Southern California. Between the middle of April and the beginning of October there usually arent any clouds within a thousand miles except for the stupid marine layer. Even in the rainy season we only get four or five downpours which you can see coming for a week on the satellite photos; They start off Alaska and roll clockwise down until they collide with the West Coast. The Chumash Indians a thousand years ago probably had as accurate idea of what the weather was going to be as we do now. But still the TV stations tease the weather in the beginning of the show ("I'll have the weather for your morning commute coming up later in the broadcast!")
as though we were living in Minnesota or Florida or some other place that has weather all year round that you have to take into account when you're planning your day.
And where do they get those weather dudes? I guess they're supposed to look tan and healthy so they spray on this orange man-tan and then truss them up in ill-fitting suits so they look like the corpse at an open-casket funeral. And the JOY they exude when they tell you that its not going to rain tomorrow as though it just MIGHT rain in July--it did in 1993, it could happen again.
Its better news for them when there are giant brushfires. They have to share that one with the rest of the news crew but they get to say whether the humidity will drop or if the marine layer will move in. Brushfires keep the weather guys relevant in the summer, they probably send their interns out to light them if they don't start spontaneously.
Well, I've got to trim a tree, mow the lawn and leaf-blower the patio. Enjoy your Saturday; if where you are you can look up and see a puffy white cloud tell it I said Hi!

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