I know a lot of you are interested in global warming/climate change, so you need to know that this book is not mainly about that (but it is covered). Rather, this book is the Rosetta Stone that allows you to connect a general understanding of the planet (it is round, it spins, it has an atmosphere that includes water vapor, and tends to reside between -50 and +50 degrees C, etc.) and the person on the TV talking about air masses going up and down and what is going to happen during “the overnight” and “the overday” and such. Continue reading Making Sense of Weather and Climate→
Weatherman Bob disappeared today. He was consumed, or maybe absorbed, by his Green Screen. A Green Screen is a screen, green in color, with special properties. A TV studio camera and the equipment it is hooked to replace the green screen with an imaginary background. So, a person who is not green can stand in front of the Green Screen and to the TV viewer it will look like the person is standing in front of something else. This is how weather reporters on TV ply their trade. They look like they are standing in front of a map of the region showing cold fronts and warm fronts and temperatures and pictures of a kitten buried in snow or a Minnesotan scooping up golf ball size hail while wearing shorts and a furry hat. And today, Weatherman Bob’s Green Screen consumed or absorbed him. It was pretty funny.
I first saw Bob about a dozen years ago when I moved to a new town. There were two weather reporters who seemed to be able to predict the weather reasonably well, on two different stations. One of them was Bob, the other one was Doug. Both of these are made up names. I remember the first time I looked at the weather in this town. I had been out driving and was caught in a severe thunderstorm, on the highway. After I got through that I was driving into town and I saw a giant spinning cloud in the sky. It was just like a tornado but horizontal and at high up. I thought, “Wow, the people in this town don’t know how lucky they are. Where I come from it is not every day you get to see something like that!”
Later I got home and turned on the TV and there was Doug the Weatherman showing a picture of the giant horizontal tornado thing. “This is something you don’t see very day!” he was saying. He gave the thing an official name which I no longer remember, and said, “This is like a giant horizontal tornado up high. They rarely ever come down to the ground but when they do it is bad news.” A minute later I changed the channel and there was Weatherman Bob giving his version of the weather. He did not mention the giant horizontal tornado, but he did say that jury was still out on global warming.
And so it went for a dozen years. If I watched Weatherman Doug he would always say something interesting and informative about the weather. He once told me to get into the basement and I did right away, though the tornado missed us by a few blocks. Every time I watched Weatherman Bob he would not say anything interesting about the weather, but he would occasionally say something snarky about global warming, about how the jury was still out.
As time went by I watched Weatherman Bob less and less and Weatherman Doug more and more. Basically, I only watched Weatherman Bob when I had to. Meanwhile, I noticed that Weatherman Doug started to show up on various other TV shows as an expert on weather and he would speak truthfully and thoughtfully about global warming. Weatherman Bob stayed on his regular TV show.
Then global weirding happened. One day a few years ago the weather got strange and it has not stopped being strange since then. The latest version of global weirding was to have Central Europe turn into a large lake where there used to be many cities and towns and a medium size river. Here in my town, we became surrounded by rain storms. There are rain storms to the north of us, rainstorms to the south of us, rainstorms to the east and to the west of us. Frequently, there are rainstorms right on top of us.
On weather radar the rain storms look like green. When the rain is more severe it looks yellow, but mostly it is just different shades of green. One of those shades of green is very much like the green of the green screen.
So today I was at the Gym on the treadmill and off in the distance there was a TV with the news. It was the station with Weatherman Bob. Right in the beginning of the news show, they went to Weatherman Bob and he was standing in front of his green screen, showing the weather radar. There was green everywhere and he was pointing to it and gesticulating. Every now and then they switched back to the news anchors and they looked concerned. Then they would go back to Weatherman Bob and he would be pointing to the green radar images all over his Green Screen, and he also looked concerned.
Then they went on to other news but in a few minutes they went back to Weatherman Bob, and this time there was even more rain shown on the radar. The whole region was covered with it almost. And he gesticulated and the anchors looked concerned. Then they went on to some other news stories.
A while later they went back to Weatherman Bob and this time the Green Screen was almost entirely green with radar-rain, and Weatherman Bob was gesticulating, but this time he seemed to be a bit green around the edges himself, almost as though the green screen was bleeding onto him and not keeping him nice and separate from the imaginary image. I don’t know what he was saying but I imagined him saying something about how this odd weather pattern was not due to global warming. Then they went on to some other news stories.
Then, at the very end of the news show, they went back to Weatherman Bob one more time. The green radar totally covered the Green Screen. Weatherman Bob gesticulated at it. His edges became even greener and suddenly everything but his face and hands disappeared into the background. They cut to the news anchors for a moment. One of them was staring towards where we assume Weatherman Bob was standing with his mouth wide open and a shocked expression on his face. The other anchor had pulled out her cell phone and was dialing 911. They both looked concerned.
When they cut back to Weatherman Bob his hands had already disappeared and his face was now just a circle with two eyes, a nose, and a mouth. He was shouting something that I could not hear because I was seeing this at the Gym and I did not have a radio tuned to that TV station with me, and then his face disappeared. Later, I found this weather forecast, the last one ever made by Bob the Weatherman on YouTube and watched it again with the sound on so I could hear it.
Weatherman Bob’s last words, as he was consumed, or maybe absorbed, by his Green Screen, was “The juuuurrrryyyy … is stiilllll ooooouuuuuuutttt!!!!”