While playing with my Nexus S tonight, three words appeared at the top of the screen: “Weather is unknown.” I have a mobile app that spits out insignificant news stories and the weather. When it launches, the weather forecast pops up for a second. Usually, it’s “45 cool overnight, 66 tomorrow.” But, tonight, no one knew or bothered to check tomorrow’s weather. So…..”weather unknown.”
Not surprising. Unlike Iowa, where unknown weather can kill a crop, most Californians don’t pay much attention to weather forecasts. In the Bay Area, we have lots of “micro-climates.” Drive ten minutes under a cloudy sky. Stop at Starbucks and, in 15 minutes, Sun is shining. Of course, the coffee’s caffeine could make you feel the Sun is shining. I’ll leave that for another article
Yes, a mobile app that spits out insignificant news stories and the weather. When it launches, the weather forecast pops up for a second. Usually, it’s “45 cool overnight, 66 tomorrow.” But, tonight, no one knew or bothered to check tomorrow’s weather. So…..”weather unknown.”
Without caffeine at 9:30 p.m., a technological glitch happened. My phone or Sprint or The National Weather service–maybe even God–claimed that weather is unknown. Kinda scary when you think about it. We don’t like the unknown. We’d rather deny or repress the unknown unless knowing (stock tips, pork belly futures and, oh yes weather, brings us wealth or peace of mind. Can you imagine how much money a 99% accurate weather forecaster could make in the Midwest? She might even turn it into a mobile app.
Let’s face it. Most weather predictors in their hearts know that forecasting is flawed, although it’s a respectable undertaking. People listen to their radios, watch TV and stare at a personal computer or mobile phone expecting semi-accurate weather forecasts. Most weather experts, though, wouldn’t keep their job long by repeating “weather is unknown” on the 6 p.m. news. I touched on this in “On The Day that Nothing Happened.”
Weather Unknown and Others
After discovering tonight on my phone that the weather is unknown, I thought about smartphones, computers, missile launchers, nuclear power plans. My mind went “bizang” as I thought about all the unknown things in our world. If we thought all day about things we don’t know vs. those we do, we’d never do our jobs, learn anything in school or drive a car. Can you imagine a firefighter thinking “well, if I go into that burning building, a concrete slab might fall on me.” On the other hand, maybe not. It’s the uncertainty principle at work.
Or how about the little unknown things in life? Do you know how toilet tissue is made? How does a a diesel engine work? Can you explain the difference between Cumulus and Nimbus clouds? What about “cloud computing”? Unless you thirst for knowledge or you’re naturally inquisitive, who cares?
Know What You Need to Know
Most of us find unknowns in our lives far more upsetting than the weather. After all, what’s the worst that could happen if it was raining cats and dogs?. (Funny expression. See “Raining Cats and Dogs.)
Many people say that getting a college education is learning as much as possible about things you don’t know. Sadly, when students leave college with a degree, the ratio of known-to-unknown doesn’t change much.
But don’t worry if you don’t know a lot of things. When asked a similar question about his lack of education, Henry Ford proudly proclaimed he hired bright people to tell him what he didn’t know. He mostly thought about building a car company.