Sunday, December 23, 2007

National Weather Service. Public Service or Public Nuisance?

After such an ambiguous title as the aforementioned, I will try to give you an idea of the National Weather Service and what it means to me. The National Weather Service (NWS), contrary to popular belief, was instituted in 1870, by President Ulysses S. Grant because he felt that weather shouldn't only be acknowledge by people that lived in "Tornado Alley". Over time, the NWS has expanded their duties to locating and tracking the digestive tracts of various hurricanes and drafty weather. The majority of the population are reluctant to recognize the NWS, not as an actual organization that tend to the feelings of weather, but more as a nuisance.

A nuisance? Yes a nuisance. A few weeks ago, in my dorm, I was idly concentrating on the television, eagerly watching an interview of Rupert Murdoch on how poor people are contributing to the poverty of this nation, when I heard a shrill sound. It was a piercing beep, that I took as extraterrestrial life communicating their dominance over me, when I realized it was coming from my television. It was the NWS and they had issued a test that conveniently scrolled at the top of my screen. On the screen Rupert Murdoch was now doing a ceremonial dance, that involved rubbing his armpits, spitting on his kneecaps and yelling something. I turned up the volume, only to figure out that the NWS had muted my television. I became extremely worried. I had heard about the Russians developing technology like this, but I had no idea that it was right in my bathroom (oddly the only place I have a cable output). I was amazed by the sheer magnitude of the NWS reach. I changed the channel to PBS, the only channel proven to withstand a nuclear blast, and it was sharing similar symptoms.

Baffled, I pulled out my hammer, chisel and concrete block (my normal writing utensils were at the shop) and I began to chisel away a sternly written letter to the NWS, when the test was suddenly completed. Relieved that I hadn't missed Rupert's thoughts on financial dictatorship and reinforcing a biased media, I heeded writing my letter for another day.

Surprisingly that day came a couple moons later. I was doing yoga to the Estoban guitar infomercials, when I became stuck in a position. (The position can not be revealed for the safety of the public.) Struggling to remove my foot from under my eyelashes, I was blasted by the same shrilling beep, that had accosted my television before. Wondering if this was yet another test, I untangled myself from myself and pulled out my writing implements. I began to write vehemently, as observed below:

Dear National Weather Service,

It has come to my attention that your increasingly hostile ways of testing your weather service has become an inconvenience and a nuisance to me. I understand the importance of warning people of life threatening disasters, but it is it necessary for making it so bold and unmistakable? I would suggest something like a light tapping sound or a gentle cough to replace that piercing beep. I don't think--

I had reached that line, when a large wooden thing (which I later found it out to be a large wooden thing) kindly entered my room through the window causing a confusion. After a quick change of pants and underwear, a loud knock was heard at my door. It was my RA, who was informing the residents that a tornado was seen and that it was waiting for permission to enter town. The RA was urging everyone to relocate to the basement. After hearing this I began to gather the few essentials that I could not part with, which were; my free coffee mug (compliments of my service in Grenada), my bootleg record of John Denver's Poems Prayers & Promises signed by the legendary Randy Newman, and of course my lint roller. I raced down the stairs along with my fellow residents to the bottom floor, where I sat, clutching my possessions.

After some time had passed the kind fellows at NWS were informing everyone that the tornado wasn't entering town, but was taunting us in anticipation. I became delirious with boredom, so I began to recite the screenplay of Akira Kurosawa's Yojimbo (which often do, to pass the time). I had reached the second act when we were told everything was safe and that we could go back to our rooms.

With a new perspective, I pondered about NWS and whether I was overly stressing about there contributions. I believe, for the most part, they're trying to do good for the people, but I could do without all the pretension. Maybe instead of alerting the whole western hemisphere when there's a light drizzle, maybe it could be localized to the areas that are affected. Although I don't expect the NWS to consider any of the changes I would like implemented, that fact hasn't dampened my spirits. So I will continue to heed the NWS warnings, but only if they're preventing me from watching re-runs of the "Gilmore Girls".

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