Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Special Report: Groundhog Day

I hope that you enjoyed a spectacularly cloudy Groundhog Day yesterday.

You know the tradition right? If it's sunny on February 2, the groundhog sees his shadow, gets scared, and runs back down his hole . . . which results in six more weeks of winter. If it’s cloudy, he doesn't see his shadow, doesn't get scared, and spring comes. You can read about the origins of the tradition here. If you are fanatically infatuated with groundhogs, you can read a detailed history, including a statistical analysis of this ancient forecast method here. Based on that article, I think the fuzzy rodent has a better record than Environment Canada.

Incidentally, the burrows of our Upsala groundhogs were so clogged with snow and ice yesterday that they wouldn’t have been able to get out and make the prediction if their furry hides depended on it. If they could get out, I would hope for sunshine on February 2. It would be wonderful to have only six more weeks of winter.

There is a debate raging (or at least smoldering) about the humaneness of keeping groundhogs solely for the purpose of making this annual prediction. My personal opinion is that it’s a pretty good gig – who else earns a living by getting out of bed one day a year and making a forecast that no one believes?

Speaking of weather, the days are getting slightly longer now, but the sun doesn't seem to be getting much stronger. Here's a shot of an Upsala sunrise at a quarter to nine. It looks like it's frozen to the horizon.

The sun supposedly burns at 5000 degrees Celsius. It was -25 C here this morning. Somewhere between there and here, 5025 degrees of nice, warm solar energy was lost.

Speaking of lost things, most people have an item in their life that they chronically misplace. For some, it's their car keys. For others it's their glasses or wallet or purse. For me, it's stick notes.

Stick notes keep me on Life's straight and narrow. They are stuck in my day planner, in my pocket planner, on my desk, on the wall . . . there is one stuck on the phone handset right now . . . they are everywhere. For a person that chronically misplaces his brain (or at least his short-term memory), it's a cheap fix. If I could run a vehicle extrication or a structural fire with stick notes, I would.

A problem arises when the all-important stick note pad gets misplaced. I could put a stick note on the file cabinet telling me where the rest of the pad is, but I've developed a simpler fix . . . I buy them in bulk and just dig a new pad out of the drawer (I should write a how-to book about my organizational skills . . . Tim's Top Ten Tidying Tricks).

If you've been reading, you know I'm not an organizational guru, but my conscience does occasionally awaken enough to motivate me to clear off my desk. Today was such a day, and after filing a few months of reports, training records, government correspondence, and eviction notices (just kidding) I found . . . five stick note pads.

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