Status Amman!

Whether the Weather can be Weathered

I’ve added a little weather/time ticker in the sidebar today. I got tired of having to search the net for what the weather is like in Jordan. Plus my father keeps asking me every hour or so what the weather is like. In his world, the Internet is like the Oracle of Delphi, you pose a question and instantaneously receive a wondrous response from thin air. He frowns when he sees me frantically clicking and surfing from site to site and the fact my computer (now 4 years old) is less than nascar material, is of no help when it comes to speed. So now every few minutes I shout out the weather. “It’s 14!”…”It’s raining!”…”It’s 25!”. Heck, I don’t care if the numbers are accurate, just gimmie something in the ballpark. And lately, he’ll make it harder and ask about levels of humidity and baramotreic pressure. Baro-what now?

Why do people enjoy talking about weather? Why is it such a significant centerpiece of idle conversation? We use it often to fill the void or gap in a conversation; an awkward silence. Or we use it as the central theme of the whole conversation. Is weather a conversation-maker or conversation-killer? I’ve had both of the following conversations on more than one occasion with a person we shall name X:

Conversation 1:

Me: “Have you realized how hot it is outside?”
X: “Oh yeah the weather is so strange these days, one day its cold and the next incredibly hot!”
Me: “I think this has something to do with the ice caps melting.”
X: “What about pollution? Look how much our industries have destroyed the o-zone layer”

a pseudo-intellectual conversation follows in which both X and I are really engaged in, but have no idea what we’re talking about nor do we have an scientific basis for our theories. But the casual observer (nor us for that matter) doesn’tmind.

Conversation 2:

Me: “Have you realized how hot it is outside?”
X: “Yeah it’s pretty hot”
Me: “Yeaaah”
X: “Yeeeeeeah”

an awkward silence follows in which we frantically search for a subject-changer or say something stupid in an attempt to be conclusive long after the weather conversation has ended such as “it was cold the other day”…followed by a “yeah it was cold, I remember”.

Should the modern human being have a minimum requirement of a meteorology degree to engage in social interaction? Will I be excommunicated if my knowledge about the environment does not exceed a David Suzuki documentary on the Nature of Things which I fell asleep to one Sunday evening in 1993 when we still had an o-zone?

We place so much importance on weather. In fact we model our days, our weeks, our vacations and our jobs around it. Will you take a job in Tampa with the palm trees, or in Siberia with the igloos? Should we get away for the weekend? Will it rain? I would estimate 30% of our day to day conversation center around the weather, there is probably no larger category for water-cooler lingo.

Imagine formulating a 5-year plan around weather. Speaking of 5-year plans, I hear Russia now fines meteorologists for wrong predictions. Many a times I have cursed the weather man on TV because he promised sun and all I got was rain.

You can start a conversation with the weather or end a conversation with the weather. It depends how you say it. A “wow it’s so beautiful outside today” will brighten up a conversation, and a “shit, looks like it’s gonna rain” will kill a conversation.

What did people talk about before? I’m guessing the same thing. Ancient Egyptians worshiped the Sun, and sure you have historians and anthropologists who will say in a documentary style British accent “they realized it was the source of all life”. Yeah, sure. My money is they realized how damn hot it was and knelt down to the source of their hell hole and prayed for the burning sensation to stop. Greeks worshiped Zeus, lightning is what they feared. In Norse mythology, the most relevant story was the change of seasons, described as the god Thor going off to fight the giants who had stolen his hammer of strength and thunder, hence stealing summer as well. Of course he got his hammer back and summer would return. Fighting giants every year for a hammer? Two words Thor…Home Depot.

Perhaps weather has always been and always will be the centerpiece of conversation for mankind; it simply evolves to suit the needs of the society based on their level of knowledge and information. If this is right, then I imagine the humans centuries from now will have a conversation that goes something like this:

“Have you realized how high the radiation levels are outside today?”
“yeah I can’t afford anymore of these bio-hazard suits”

followed by an awkward silence

Posted In: Jordan

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