07 January 2010

"But Then, I Repeat Myself"

It was Twain I believe who quipped, "Imagine I am an idiot. Now imagine I am am in Congress. But wait, I repeat myself." If he seems prescient these days it may not be because he was such a prophet but because venality and politics have been long term friends, intimates even.

So it is with some reluctance that I write these few words today because I may well have said them before. But I have not the time to scour my archive, and perhaps some things are worth repeating.

The weather folk talk of "bitter cold" today. Big cold front up there in Frostbite Falls, and it's coming our way. That set me to thinking, though, about when is it bitter as opposed to frigid? While we have numbers aplenty, how cold or warm the weather feels needs words. So I hereby propose a uniform descriptor scale, akin to the "pain scale" of smiley faces.

Would you agree that the 60s (16-21 C) are "comfortable?" Neither warm nor cool. If so, then the 70s (21-27) are warm. The 80s (28-32) are hot, and the 90s (33-38) are very hot and anything above 100 (39) is... well I cannot think of the best word. But it conveys excessive and even dangerous heat the way the bottom of the cold scale does too. That's next.

Heading down the thermometer, the 50s (10-15) are cool, the 40s (4-9) are chilly, the 30s (-1 -3 ) are cold, the 20s (-7 - -2) are very cold, the teens (-11 - -3) are frigid, and the single digits (- 19 - -12) are bitter. Below that is just awful damned cold. Somewhere around - 40 both scales match. Anything below that is officially *&$#ing cold.

Now, perhaps Frostbite Falls might find the 50s comfortable, and the local scale could be adjusted. Likewise broadcasters from the Florida Keys might find the 70s comfortable and likewise adjust. But I think weather broadcasters ought generally to use uniform adjectives because they tend to prefer extreme words - they get more attention and seem more urgent - which exaggerate things. I remember before there was windchill, and it never seemed as cold when I did not know. People ought to get a consistent sense of what they will feel outdoors.

Now, if only I could find that uppermost heat word. I had it once, but as a geezer in training, forgetting little things is more common. Help me out!