Originally created 04/24/98

Weather enhances family tie

There is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.

-- Ruskin

My brother-in-law and I don't have that much in common.

He's a policeman; I'm a newspaperman.

But during a family dinner last weekend, we discovered a shared affection. We both love The Weather Channel on television.

If I have control of the remote (and no one else complains) I will watch The Weather Channel for hours.

"I really like radar," I told him enthusiastically. "I like to see where it's raining. I like to watch those waves of green (indications of precipitation) roll across those big maps. I figure this is the same view God gets."

My brother-in-law nodded knowingly. Our wives rolled their eyes.

"It's the same thing, over and over again," mine protested.

"So are Friends and Mad About You," I pointed out, "but that doesn't stop you from watching week after week."

And keep watching I will.

Maybe it's because weather remains a mystery to me.

For example, I don't understand high pressure and low pressure. I don't know how they are formed or from where they come.

I vaguely recall dew points from high school science classes, but I cannot explain their significance.

I do know that when isobars are close together, it gets windy.

I do not, however, know what an isobar is.

I know that the women meteorologists are surprisingly attractive, in a professional sort of way. I know all the men wear nice suits, have lots of hair and don't seem overweight.

But I know they're not perfect.

Like all TV weather-folk, they get a little breathless when they say, "More on those killer storms! After this message."

And after three minutes of commercials, they'll come back and tell you about some natural disaster far away on the other side of America.

I know that their local forecasts are often wrong. And that their five-day forecasts are very often way off base.

But then, I also know nobody can really predict the weather that far in advance.

My 4-year-old son is beginning to share my enthusiasm.

He's fascinated by tornadoes, so much so that he gets out the atlas, opens it to various pages and points out "where the bad tornado hit."

Weather scares him, as do thunder and lightning.

Still, he's come to realize it's a lot more comforting to have them captured on a TV screen than booming and flashing outside his window.

He even talks about growing up to be a pilot so he can fly around and look at tornadoes and lightning from the sky.

There also will be a side benefit.

"When you die," he says with 4-year-old seriousness, "I'll be able to fly you to heaven."

Fine by me. My job in the years ahead is to make sure I give him good directions.

I'm looking forward to the trip as well as the view.

It will be like watching radar on The Weather Channel.

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