Beware the ideas of September


by admin on September 9, 2009

Ain’t life grand hereabouts?

The sun is out, the thermometers are up and all is right with the world, right?

Well it would be if our July-like September wasn’t poised to turn into that awful item called winter.  And winter, as we all know, is the time of year when the mind drifts off to thoughts of days of heat gone by.

September is a time for winter tire contemplation and obsessive wondering about the weather and how to survive the coming bitter wintery blasts. Some people I know swear by the Old Farmers’ Almanac. It comes out in midsummer and carries predictions of the weather to come with specific instructions for specific areas. This area, we are told since we don’t subscribe to anything so unscientific as a bunch of statisticians looking back to the climates of years gone by then combining it with God knows what nature signs (perhaps the length of the porcupine’s quills or the depth of a duck’s down) to come up with a prediction, is due for a mild winter.

My wife, the late Kitty Mantell (we call her late because she’s never on time) relies almost religiously on the Canadian Weather Office to plan her winter outings. As the mercury plummets she gets on the blower and daily calls the weatherman to hear a recorded message predicting what the weather will be like over the next five days.

Now if you believe in UFOS, fairies, angels and the like you will probably believe in Canada’s weatherman. On the phone he sounds so authoritative and compellingly confident when he recites how the sun will come up at 7:10 a.m. and set 5:12 p.m. while a cold front moving in from the prairies is engulfing Ottawa where the temperature will range all the way from X to as far down as Y or some such frothy balderdash involving climatic convulsions.

Now Kitty insists on listening to and believing in these wishful weather wanderings with the zeal of a religious fanatic. Never mind that the weather office was grilled by a journalist last year and one official admitted publicly, and apparently without a shred of embarrassment, that his organization’s record of accuracy in predicting the weather was at best spot on only 45 per cent of the time.

Forty-five percent. Imagine if your doctor was only able to diagnose correctly 45 per cent of the time. Or if your airline had pilots who could only land their airliner without crashing 45 per cent of the time. Or if your local politician told the truth only 45 percent of the time. (Oh, wait. For someone like Ontario Premier Dalton McGinty, who once put into writing a promise never to raise taxes, 45 percent would be a number to boast about.)

Nevertheless Kitty remains blindly faithful even when told that her beloved weather office earlier this decade decided a budget shortfall could best be remedied by closing a number of weather observing station across the country and losing the use of their vital weather observing equipment.

Now, isn’t that the solution of an organization that has given up trying? Where are you Percy Saltzman, now that we need you once again.