Friday, April 14, 2006

Stringing Along

I stumbled across a quote this morning that got me thinking.
“The trouble with weather forecasting is that it's right too often for us to ignore it and wrong too often for us to rely on it.” – Patrick Young
It’s true, isn’t it? Weather guessers get paid, sometimes handsomely, with the expectation that they will be wrong a bunch of the time. Then add in the intentionally confusing code they use. I mean does a 30% chance of showers mean that there is a 30% chance that 100% of the area will get wet? Or are they saying that there is a 100% chance that 30% of the town is due for a soaking?

I think it means, “I can’t really tell you what is going to happen because I don’t really know. I mean come on, we’re talking about the weather, here. But since I’m getting paid to tell you something, I’ve gotta say that I’m guessing there might be some rain. But I’m not sure. So let’s call it 30% chance of showers.”

Really the weather guys just string us along because the weather happens to everyone. And since it happens to all of us, enough of us are wanting to plan our lives and possibly make contingencies for the weather that we’re willing tune in and hear their guess.

I don’t even bother tuning in. Gorgeous would dispute that, I know. When we had cable, I had this habit of putting on the Weather Channel with the volume down and cranking the stereo when she wasn’t around. She might even tell you it was my favorite channel. But in my case, what I’m doing is checking out the raw data. That’s why I like the Navy’s hurricane tracking site, lots of raw data. Between my maritime and aviation backgrounds, I know enough about weather to guess as well as the guys on TV.

Which isn’t saying much.

It makes you think, though. What other things string people along like that?

The lottery does. It pays out just enough to keep people buying tickets. And the grand lottery irony is that the bigger the promised payout, the more people rush in, even though their odds of winning go way down. The truth is you a higher chance of getting struck by lightning than you do winning the lottery. And the odds go way up if you happen to live in Florida!

Of getting hit by lightning, that is.

I can prove it. I know two people who have been struck by lightning, but I don’t know anyone who ever won the lottery. OK, so that’s not very scientific. But it works for me. (I also know someone who was bit by a shark, but hey, I lived in Florida for a big chunk of my life.)

But the big question is do I string people along like that? Are there areas in my life where I deliver the goods just often enough so that people can’t dismiss me outright, but not consistently enough to actually be trustworthy?

That is a hard question.

I think I’ll ponder it while I go out and cut the grass, finally. Oops. Speaking of not delivering the goods consistently, it sure didn’t take long to find one place in my life.

How many others do you suppose there are?

Tag: ,

No comments: