Winter’s End

MA dsc250 2008 cottage
(photo courtesy of the World Wide Web)

By John Urban

It’s been a tough winter for North American meteorologists. Given this, you may be surprised to learn that I’ve located a highly reliable predictor for determining the end to what has been a remarkably long and cold winter. How? The key is the application of “little data.”

Surely, you have heard of “big data.” An entire industry of big data statisticians and physicists are tied to their supercomputers, furiously loading huge volumes of information that produce computer simulations and formulations to solve complex questions. In the world of meteorology, satellites and sensors capture vast arrays of information pertaining to cloud formations, ice readings, air and water temperatures, moisture levels, wind speeds, etc. This data is then compared to previous weather instances to develop algorithms and predictive simulations that tell us what the weather will be.

Unfortunately, this winter has been brutal, and many of us are asking when it will end – and big data ain’t saying. Yet fear not, dear reader, I have pertinent news to deliver.

Last fall, when the temps were just starting to lower, we decided to purchase a gas fireplace for our family room. Our motivation was two-fold: 1) we enjoy spending considerable time there, and 2) our family room gets so cold it was nominated as an alternative practice site for the US Ice Dancing team.

As much as we’re traditionalists, we opted for gas rather than wood. We shopped and around Thanksgiving we ordered our fireplace, pleased that the “turn key” installation would occur before the holidays.

So far, “turn key” has meant: 1) a delayed order, 2) a delayed contractor, 3) a pipe-fitter who wanted to wrap a gas line around the exterior of our house as it were decorative fixture; 4) a second delayed contractor, and on and on, Yada, Yada, Yada.

Then, this weekend, it came to me – a revelation. The damn gas fireplace isn’t going to be installed until the final day of winter passes and warm weather arrives. Of this, I am confident.

Forget the big data. Don’t bother revving up the supercomputer. Little data will answer the question that’s been on our minds.

I know the gas fireplace installer won’t give me the real answer, but if one of you can dial him up and get our true install date we’ll have the info we’ve all been waiting for: winter’s end.

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About John Urban

Like his protagonist, John Urban has worked as a college professor and he sails the waters of Southern New England on an old wooden sailboat that he restored. He is a regular contributor to the blog Write On The Water, and his short stories have appeared in the anthologies Seasmoke and Deadfall. The ocean was his desired destination from an early age. As a boy living a landlocked life in Western Massachusetts, nights were dedicated to reading about boats and watching Flipper and weekends were spent boating and fishing, April-to-October, on Long Island Sound. Thoughts of a career at sea ended early after a stint at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, but the circle of life has come around some years later in the form of the fictional world of Steve Decatur. Urban lives just outside Boston and spends his summers near the waters edge of Buzzards Bay and Rhode Island Sound. A Single Deadly Truth, published on Amazon Kindle, is Urban's debut novel. As second Steve Decatur mystery, Masters of Rhode Island, is due out later this year.
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One Response to Winter’s End

  1. gerald dowling says:

    John, love that picture. It is a story within itself. I found the same road but with red clay and trees without leaves this morning on a run down to florida where it is warm right? Wrong, it’s just as nasty as anywhere else. But cheer up the warm weather is coming ready or not. With the warmer weather the mosquitoes, little white flies that hum around your face while your are trying to clean up last fall’s leaves. Stay warm

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