What Dave Barry always calls “an alert reader” stopped me the other day in the PCDL and asked if I wasn’t going to write some more stuff drawing on the abovementioned publication and it seemed like a good idea, so here we are. The Old Farmer speaks : (Freely translated by yours truly)
What is it that everyone quotes the almanac on? The weather, of course. So I turned there first, wondering how the aged agriculturalist had dealt with the premier weather feature of this year so far, El Nino. Well, he was definitely off in November and December of ’15—too much cold predicted. January of ’16, not so bad, some reference to the up-and-down nature of the situation outside. My favorite is, “Wintry mix leaves roadways slick. Milder for a spell, then cold as …Hello! Whadda ya know? It’s 10 below!” The month ends with “Slop, glop, stop!” This sounds like the Northeast Ohio weather that we all know and love.
Before the specifics of prediction , there was a section titled Jet Streams: Hot Curves and Cold Weather; this had colored maps and diagrams and bunches of new terms that I had not seen before. Cool! (You should pardon the expression.) It seems there are Polar cells, Hadley cells and Ferrel cells interacting with a Polar jet, a Subtropical jet and the tropopause. Got that? Then you have to figure in the Arctic Oscillation—positive or negative—and the Pacific North American Pattern and the North Atlantic Oscillation (with an assist from the Icelandic low and the mid-Atlantic Azores high…not to mention the Aleutian low and the Western high). Where we are, according to the Summer/Winter outlook maps, is likely to be cold and relatively dry right now, followed by hot and dry this summer. Don’t plan on much skiing; invest in air conditioning. Or you could just contemplate the comment of Mark Twain—who commented on nearly everything—that “Climate is what we expect; weather is what we get.”
The Almanac is just full of oddball pieces of information. To wit: “Seventy percent of people asked to choose between their spouse and their dog will choose the dog (Dr. Nicholas Dodman, Tufts University). There’s a whole section on the moose. In it there’s a tale about Thomas Jefferson, who, while in France as the ambassador from the United States, asked some of the “powers that be”—George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, et al.—to send him a moose to contradict a view bandied about by a prominent European natural historian, that all plant and animal species (including humans) found in America were “weak, feeble and degenerate”, due to pervasive cold and wet, swampy conditions. Somebody did send him a 7-foot stuffed moose, which he then delivered to the misinformed sort-of-scientist, who died shortly thereafter. Now there’s a story you don’t run into every day.
How about some selections from the list of 12 New Proverbs in the section called “Amusement”
• It’s always darkest before… Daylight Saving Time.
• A penny saved is…not much.
• A miss is as good as …a mister. (I liked that one)
The advertising is interesting too. It ranges from RTPR—Real Time Pain Relief—an “Exclusive herbal blend made in the USA, available nowhere else” (Smells Great Too!!!) to the Taylor Manufacturing Company’s “Little Sheller” for preparing peas and beans (God help us! If I ever had so many peas or beans that I needed a sheller, it would be a sign of the Apocalypse, since I have a black thumb when it comes to domestic gardening. The Last Trump would be about to sound.)and the Snow Pusher Lite(You can figure that one out). We certainly won’t dwell on the product coming from the Wellness Logix ™ company, Prostate IQ™. Certainly not. One can also purchase quality wood shutters, Cape Cod Metal Polishing Cloths, a Vermont Bun Baker(Three models—no jokes, please) or eXmark landscaping machines. Pretty much covers a range of lifestyles, I’d say. There’s even a *Power Psychic* who says she will solve problems of marriage, health, business, weight and is a Love Specialist. You get one free question by phone; presumably no answering machine.
All of this is available online too, only $9.99 for 12 issues. Can’t you just see the Old Farmer sitting down to his keyboard to shoot info out into the ether? Who’s getting up to milk the cows?
And to top all of this off, the Quiz Bowl info/trivia service that I subscribe to had a question the other day that was pretty interesting. I was just barely(Ha!) aware that there is a person known as the Naked Cowboy on Times Square, NYC. This dude(real name, Robert Burck, a native of Cincinnati) has, for the last 16 years appeared in the heart of Manhattan wearing naught but a white hat, white cowboy boots(They’re painted with the word ”tips” down the side—guess where people, women, mostly, stuff money) white briefs(with ”Naked Cowboy” across the seat in red and blue) and a guitar(with a flag motif). He’s a fixture and a tourist attraction. Now he’s gone corporate; he’s franchising the look to other cowboys…and cowgirls; he has a trademark, even sued Mars Candy over an M&M’s commercial. The franchisees put up $5000 a year or $500 per month to be part of the action. Burck’s “action” comes to around $150,000 per year. And now he has a deal with Fruit of the Loom which is bringing out a new line of boxer briefs (Slogan : “Even the Naked Cowboy has changed his underwear.”)—he says they’re a little bit “baggy”. They’ll be giving out free samples.
Is this a great country or what?