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In My Own Little World: Polar Vortexes, made-up weather

26 January 2014 By Justin Manry, Columnist No Comments

There’s always pressure on a writer to make their first piece after a long hiatus (such as winter break) the best they’ve ever written in their entire career. And obviously, as a writer for The Towerlight, I feel this pressure. There’s no telling how many leaders of how many nations will lay eyes on this paper and use this very column to make decisions such as whether or not to knight me, among other things (Personally, I feel worthy of knighthood.)

And so it is with careful consideration and calculated planning that I dive headlong into this first topic of the new semester: meteorology.

Now I’ve watched Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs enough times (about 234 times to be exact) to realize that the study of weather (and/or meteors), is no laughing matter (except in the case of food puns) and can be used in conventional settings as well as to diagnose food-related weather events caused by an out-of-control and humorously named invention.

But I’ve also watched enough local weather forecasting to realize that – A. Marty Bass will never retire, regardless of my personal opinion of him (love ya’ Marty!), and, B. Weather people will make up just about any name for any weather occurrence to make it sound exciting and hip, and to give themselves something to talk about (Because let’s face it, talking about weather for a living is like having the same weather conversation with that sort of close relative you don’t have much in common with but feel the need to strike up a conversation with anyway to show that you’re glad to be their maybe second cousin. In other words, it can get boring.)

Which brings us to the Polar Vortex. The Polar Vortex is not real. The reason I know this is because it is not found among Wikipedia’s “List of meteorological phenomena,” which I think everyone would agree is the authoritative encyclopedia on all things weather-related (and parenthetically is a great source of information for research papers. Provided you don’t mind getting an “F” on the paper.) I mean, among the phenomena that ARE on the list is a “Zud,” which is described as “a severe winter in which a large number of livestock die,” and if that’s a real thing and the Polar Vortex didn’t even make the list, then I rest my case.

I miss the days when it was cold, and the weather people would come on and say “It’s gonna’ be a cold one today,” and you’d say “No dip” and think of how foolish it was for them to state the obvious like that (and how cool the phrase “no dip” was), but at least they weren’t making stuff up to make themselves sound smarter than us. Now they drone on and on about the polar winds being pushed south and enveloping the northern United States in a polar vortex that will crush your soul and freeze your pee before it hits the ground (Though why you’d be performing bodily functions outside in the first place is beyond me…)

I also miss the days when they cancelled schools for legitimate reasons, such as Teacher’s Appreciation Day or for water main breaks (which were a yearly occurrence at my school.) Now they’re closing schools because it’s cold! I know it’s a little colder than usual, but come on. Put some layers on, turn the heaters up, and keep the schools open so kids can learn valuable life lessons such as how to best utilize rubber bands and folded up paper. The people in Minnesota are laughing at us right now, closing schools for the cold.

The point of all this is, weather happens, but we don’t need a new name for every single weather thing. And we don’t need to overreact when it gets a little colder than usual in Maryland. And we should all watch Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs a couple times so I’m not the only one who gets the hilarious references at the beginning of this column.

The random thought of the week is this: Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Unless you have a cool, refreshing drink to wash it down with, such as Dr. Pepper, which certainly does not sponsor this column. Though I’m willing to make a deal…

Stay warm, party people.

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