While at the office one day, a young co-worker was lamenting "being over the hill." I mentioned I have been over so many hills, I can barely remember the particular one which was causing so much angst. They were not comforted...ungrateful punk. Now, I stand at the crest of yet another "hill" looking back across the summits and valleys which had been traversed. Sometimes the scene is poignant, sometimes humorous, but always different. Join me while taking in the view.
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Friday, June 14, 2013
A Brand New Word!
This was a new one to me.
A co-worker sent me an e-mail Tuesday
warning of a derecho. My immediate response was to inquire if this
was a new menu item at Taco Bell.
The following promptly popped up on my
monitor, sent by my co-worker to inform the unenlightened.
would have thought weather-nuts are so touchy??
How could I
have not known that, I wondered. Had I spent my entire time upon this
planet living in a cave?
Which caused me
to think of other meteorological/natural catastrophe terms.
years ago, the news gave us a new word to add to our lexicon;
tsunami. Which, everyone knows is Japanese for “harbor wave”. Or
they don't know. It is a humongous wall of water. Until the
terrible tragedy to hit Indonesia, who had ever (outside of
geologists, and meteorologists) heard of “tsunami”? They were
called tidal waves or “humongous walls of water”.
This in turn,
brought to mind terms such as “wind-chill”, “ heat index”,
“relative humidity”, “dew point” and others. Now, when
hanging around the coffee station , everyone sounds like they
moon-light as a TV weather person when discussing what is going on
beyond the windows.
I sip my coffee
asking myself “How did we ever survive before we knew all this?”
example, our recent derecho. Not only did we experience a derecho,
but it was a very specific “bow echo/'low end'” derecho. What
this means, I have no idea. Does this equate to golf, where being on
the “low end” of the score card is good? Or, does it signify
being on the “low end”, this was a small potatoes derecho?
Further, the term derecho has its roots in Spanish,
meaning “straight” (see above) which confuses me a bit more.
See, when I was
younger, a storm such as this would be referred to as “a really big
thunderstorm with pretty strong winds.” The weather forecaster
would say something like “Hey, we have a pretty good chance of
having really big thunderstorms with some strong winds. You may want
to bring light things indoors.”
Simple. To the
point, and everyone knew what they meant.
television, cell phone, internet connections all carried constant
updates as to the precise location of the storm, along with colorful
images of rain-fall, wind velocities, and direction of anticipated
See, years ago,
the guy on the radio would say something like “We have a pretty big
storm headed our way. I am looking out of our studio window, and see
a lot of lightning out over the lake. You folks on the east side will
be seeing some rain pretty soon.”
to the point, and concise.
Is my life
improved because I can now see at what road intersection a storm is
If I am not
directly there, it isn't going to impact me one way or the other. If
I am directly there, I knew about it before the weather service did!
So, this is rather superfluous information, wouldn't you say?
And, calling a
big thunderstorm with strong winds a new name; what does that
accomplish? Is “derecho” the meteorological equivalent of saying
As the alerts
came in I did what any red-blooded American does; I promptly headed
out the door to watch the storm!
Don't tell me you go downstairs, and hide under an old
mattress. Uhh-uhh, I am not buying that. You know dog-goned well if
you didn't go outside, you at least stood in your doorway watching.
Come on, admit it.
I figured if this was no longer a really big thunderstorm, but now a
well, by golly, I was going to be able to tell my grandkids about it.
tell us about the time you were out in the derecho.”
got pretty wet. And it was windy. Oh yeah, the lightning was pretty
that is what sticks in my mind.”
like a really big thunderstorm with strong winds.”
question is this: Do we really need another term to tell us what we
of terms which do just that are:
Chill: anyone can tell you if you go out on a blustery Winter day,
you are gonna freeze! Bundle up! Heck, we knew that back in the 50s!
It was called “freeze your ears off” cold.
Index: everyone knows when you can see a haze in the air on a July
afternoon, you are gonna be sweating. Does it make you feel any
better having someone tell you it feels like a steam bath outside? If
it is already 95° out, does knowing it feels like 115° help any?
Humidity: relative to what? Death Valley? Humid is humid. Terms like
muggy, sticky, unbelievably humid; those work just fine.
Point: isn't that what you do when you go outdoors at daybreak,
point to all the condensed water on the grass and car, saying; “Wow!
Look at all the dew!”
note, I am NOT minimizing events such as tornados, blizzards,
droughts; all are definite weather events. When a person says “We
had a tornado.” you know precisely what they mean.
blizzard is a blizzard, unless you are in a Dairy Queen. However, you
have a blizzard during
a blizzard. People would probably think you a bit daft; but you can
advice: Weather Person, please don't over-sensationalize. We don't
need additional words to elicit fear and anxiety, especially about
something over which we have zero, zip, zilch control.