Wednesday, February 5, 2014

February 5, 2014

In a rare show of unity, three of North America’s weather-predicting groundhogs agree on one thing. Winter isn’t over, baby. We get to have six more weeks of the witch.

In Ontario, we have our own groundhog. His name is Wiarton Willie, and he can boast a 60% accuracy rate. I suppose that’s not bad. I have no idea how the weather network fares on their forecasts. Probably better than 60%, but maybe not by much.

We have another groundhog in Canada, on the east coast. His name is Shubenacadie Sam. Yeah, I know, I can’t pronounce it, either. Sam, apparently, did not see his shadow, thus, according to folklore, predicting an early spring. He, however, and at least this year, is in the minority.

Punxsutawney Phil, the most famous groundhog of them all, saw his shadow...or maybe it was just fear of the large, boisterous crowd coupled with those dudes in the tall hats that scared him. But one must keep in mind, regardless of the reason for his “seeing his shadow” that since the beginning—1887 for this Pennsylvania predictor—he’s only been right about 39 per cent of the time. Of course there are Phil supporters who point out that in recent decades, that number has risen to a nearly impressive 59%. But like Willie, that’s not really very reliable at all.

Then we come to the fourth member of the rodent oracle quartet—Staten Island Chuck.

Now, Chuck is a groundhog you can believe in! He has an impressive 80 percent success rate. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, he is right 80 percent of the time. I don’t think the major networks well-paid meteorologists can boast as much.

So you can imagine that, being fed up with winter the way that I am, I was rubbing my hands in great anticipation for Chuck’s prediction.

Now here, for just a moment, I must digress.

Have you ever had the sense that things go well, until politicians get involved? I don’t mean to be cynical. We need politicians, I guess, because the current way we select those who are in charge of the government is through elections; in order to be elected one must campaign; enter the politicians, women and men who are versed in the best way to appear before the crowds, and woo the voters to their sides.

Personally, I have never understood why someone who’s good at appearances and has an aura of charisma is also, therefore, automatically considered talented at governing. But that’s just me and surely a discussion for another day.

Now, let’s get back to our main topic. I awaited word from Staten Island, that beleaguered community still trying to recover from Hurricane Sandy. As in other places, there is pomp and ceremony—tradition, if you will—surrounding Chuck’s performance on February 2nd. I imagine Chuck hasn’t, in the past, been too unwilling when it came to this sort of thing. I use as my reasoning in this assumption, of course, his 80% success rate.

But then, like the rest of us, he began to become weary of the politicians involved. He certainly let Mr. Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York, know this opinion in 2010. What did he do? He bit the mayor.

I imagine that if it weren’t for the fact that Chuck is a revered and beloved figure, he might have become Chuck stew at that point. However, Chuck remains, and mayor Bloomberg is mayor no more.

But this year, this year, it was poor Chuck who was the victim of a politician when the new mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio, dropped the little guy. Yes, he dropped him, and so—maybe out of pique—Chuck agreed with Phil and Willie, and told us we were in for six more long, cold, miserable weeks of winter.

Friends, I submit to you for your consideration, the following credo, which I believe is only logical: We humans like to boast that we are educated, intelligent, technologically advanced, and forward thinking.

But if we are going to place our faith in prognosticating rodents, then we surely deserve however much more winter we get.


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