Thursday, June 5

Don't Go In The Basement

IN case you were wondering where I'd got to, it's Day Two of Big Basement De-Hydrolizing II: The Re-Wettening, which means it's the fifth straight day of clean-up, or the second since the first one was almost but not quite completed, or the one that Just Might Kill Me. The storms that rolled in around 2:30 in the AM Wednesday were the strongest sustained (five hours) ones I can remember, but then my memory isn't what it used to be. Decent road-show Lear straight through to morning, though. Through Herculean efforts (which have left me, today, walking like Vulcan) measurable standing water has been corralled into two areas; the rest is just wet. We've gone from twenty-second fill time on an unassisted Shop-Vac (12 gal.) nozzle dunk up to nearly three minutes. I time them on occasion. Really. I am the J. Alfred Prufrock of nozzle dunks.

Honorable mention in all this goes--don't get ahead of me--to local media coverage, which began Monday evening with wall-to-wall carpet narration of a storm system, or Possible Tornadic Event Horizon to the incontinent argotizer, which barely brushed the northern edge of their Viewing Area. (Here is all you'll ever need to know about Local Teevee News: they solved any potential problem about interrupting Jeopardy! so that some maroon who pays $200 for a haircut that looks like he slept on it could, basically, narrate himself watching the thing move across his computer screen, by splitting the screen, and showing Alex on one-half. I highly recommend you try it some time: watch Jeopardy! with the sound off. See if you can spot anything vital that's missing. If you can, you're unfit to be a modern teevee producer.)

Now, there's a short span here where I'm unclear about what went on over the air, because I went out to mow the lawn before the predicted Tuesday rains, and when I got back in my Poor Wife was still watching the goddam radar, only now it was showing a monster fucking Highly Probable Tornadic Event Potential whose Horizon was about fifteen miles west and aimed right at our heads. ("It just popped up," she said. "While they were speculating about how much rain Chicago was getting, I'm guessing," I muttered.) We sat mesmerized as the thing moved--more slowly than anticipated, if by "anticipated" you mean "occurring every two minutes as a part of the incontinent, brain-damaging chatter kept up by profession nincompoops"--slowly over us, manhandling people to the south and north but merely tearing major limbs off our trees and depositing them where they did no damage, and as the American Meteorological Society Approved Mouthpieces followed the damn thing to the outskirts of Dayton, name-checking every town in between. It was only the next morning we were to learn that a category 2 tornado had ripped a mile-long swath through a neighborhood two miles from where these jokers sat, warning Snack's Crossing and West Muckville of the exact moment they were scheduled to join in the festivities, just in case any viewers out there couldn't read the graphic in the fifteen minutes allotted.  

My wife says that the next morning they offered up some excuse as to why they knew just what radar code meant a possible tornado possibly developing, but had no idea for several hours that one had smashed down within earshot. This is, of course, the major accomplishment of the age: better explanations.

Well, that, and the other thing, the development of high-tech gizmos to the point that even their paid apologists can no longer pretend they impart any information at all to someone lacking a lifetime of study.  Potential weather disasters are now your best opportunity to watch some guy playing with a computer, and beyond counting lightning strikes, and putting up little fluorescent graphic mushrooms to indicate hailstones, they've got some dealie that turns clouds into a sort of three-dimensional pie chart that looks like some Lego™ figure out of the old "Money For Nothing" video and is roughly half as informative.  Whatever these people are paid, I suppose the ability--it must be innate; I doubt it could be learned--to avoid saying "What the fuck is this shit?" every time one is required to play with it makes 'em worth it, in some wardrobe-malfunction avoidance sense.

Now, here's the thing: I'm not a gardener who uses chemical controls, at least not unless something catastrophic was occurring, but if I were, and if, say, there was a problem with chafers, or corn smut, or tulip blight, I would respond to every occurrence in the same fashion. Not teevee weather. Faced with the same set of circumstances Wednesday (or worse, if anything) which happened to occur during their regularly scheduled celebration of barely-competent teleprompter following, do they go wall-to-wall to make sure the citizens of Petroleum, Donnybrook, and Mucus Lake are kept fully informed? Do not get ahead of me. No, the weather--though a major story, as it is every single fucking day of the year--is interrupted regularly for the pictures they've finally been able to get of the previous day's weather, plus the standard Health Scene reports on diseases or elective surgeries popular in New York, or wherever the feed they got came from, and the results of their having sent someone around with a microphone, ambushing streetwalkers who looked as though they might have a half-formed opinion on The Historical Candidacy of Barack Obama.

And then, since no amount of whipped cream is ever complete without more whipped cream, came the Wednesday morning storms, almost exactly as predicted, which were thundering like mushroom-mazed Valhalla and dumping inches of rain hourly with no seeming let up. And a throbbing knee had awakened me a half-hour before, and when I first heard the approaching disaster I switched on local news. Don''t get ahead of me. Enjoy your infomercial.


Marion in Savannah said...

I've done some fairly extensive research into weather forecasters over the years, and I've determined that they're all troglodytes who live exclusively underground. I finally reached this conclusion in NYC some years ago when the local trogs were announcing possible snow flurries with a maximum accumulation of less than 2 inches. At the time of the announcement there were 12+ inches on the ground and it was snowing so hard you couldn't see your hand in front of your face. Tunnel dwellers, every single blessed one of them.

heydave said...

While I sympathize about the weather plights, I'm starting to think entropy is just gonna kick our asses anyway. I mentally envision the little boat that will shelter me and the accompanying Scotch and cigars as I float away on my own waves of ennui.

Anonymous said...

First, why cut the grass before it rains? (Curious city dweller).

Second, when I was a kid in the NYC area, it rained everyday for about a month and one-half. Every single day the local weather guy got it wrong. Miserably, Bush administration wrong.

Finally, some local smartass, sent him a rock with instructions to set it outside, when the rock was wet, he would be able to report authoritatively it was raining.

Of course, that was before the widespread application of new fangled computing equipment.


Scott C. said...

They should just retire the computers and videotape your knee. Quiescent, and the viewer can safely plan that picnic. But if the fleshy hinge is throbbing, then he better get the loved ones and livestock down to the southwest corner of his swampy basement, 'cause there's a twister a'comin'.

ahab said...

Seems much more like Delillo around your house than whatsizname, Eliot.

heydave said...

For a curious city dweller, you sure know some folksy ways: I've seen that weather predicting rock deal out here at a gas station in Ioway. If the rock's been blown away, the instructions went on, it's a hurricane.

As for lawn care, if you don't mow prior to a rainy spell, that shit's just gonna grow and grow into knee-high rain forest and be much more challenging to mow.

Anonymous said...

heydave, a hurricane in Iowa would be like a hurricane at sea. Nothing vertical to help you.

I understand from those who know that it's bad - both from the grass's POV and the mowing machinery's - to mow wet grass.

DR, were the bottoms of your trousers rolled when you were downstairs? Great garden pix, btw.

Now that the Dem chosen one has been elevated in his media-propelled sedan chair, I can give up politics and weed my own patch.

Li'l Innocent

ignobility said...

I dunno, anon, I once heard a Reno station predict a hurricane off the coast of Indiana. And is Obama's nomination really cause to give up weed?

jackd said...

Petroleum, Donnybrook, and Mucus Lake

I thought those were three of Meghan whatsername's kids that Tbogg used to write about.

My thinking re modern meteorological technology is that it's enabled the hairstyles* to be wrong with much greater precision than they used to be.

*The local papers just profiled the latest weatherspokesmodel to hit the scene hereabouts, alleging among other things that her name really is Dagmar Midcap.