Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The Winter that has not Been.

Warmest January since 1846. Warmest Minnesota since Minnesota was Iowa. Temperatures are above normal. Normal, what’s that? Statistics do not have normals. (Peer Thune, are you there?) Statistics in its most simple incarnation has the mean, the median and the mode. The median is the middle value. Half of all the values are higher, half are lower. Of all the people we meet, half will like us, half won’t like us, and the other half won’t care. The median is the won’t care half. If it were the alphabet, the median would be the space between the ‘m’ and the ‘n’. (Also found in the median are possums. Some sports teams are like possums. They get killed on the road, and play dead at home. Possums, along with the magpie, pica pica; a South American turtle called the mata mata, and, I believe gorillas, gorilla gorilla, use the same two words for their scientific name, opossum opossum. I collect these kinds of word trivia. Here’s another. The greatest untold joke of all eras came from the film, No Time for Sergeants, starring Andy Griffith, Nick Adams and Don Knotts . The joke: “Did you hear the one about the farmer? He had nine daughters, an’ they was all studyin’ to be trombone players…You already heard it? It’s a real knee slapper." In this movie, there were no normal people.) The mode is that value which appears with greatest frequency. In the greater popular culture it would appear to be lunacy, but it is actually condescension. (Who knew Dianne Sawyer had converted so many?) The mean, (please, no jokes), is popularly called the average. I believe it was Mr. Clemen’s talking about averages who said, “Put one hand in very hot water, and the other in very cold, and on the average, you’ll be warm.” Temperatures have been above average. Who knows what normal is? Who knows whether normally, in January of the year of our Lord, 2006, normal might not be Minnesota buried beneath the ice which became Lake Superior? Normal compared to 936, which I remember as being unusually warm, I grew tomatoes in February. They were both abnormally large and deeper blue than those of 935. But 936 was nothing in comparison with 34,357,219 BCE. (Before connundruidiotomatis inbredvitromentaxia.) The dragonflies grew to 12 inches. (Dragonflies that size today would certainly do well feeding on starlings. Too bad they were hunted to extinction by Piltdownman.) Ears of corn were the size of watermelon, and mules could fly. If horses had been larger than 24 inches, they would have flown too. (Flight would have saved them from extinction. When the glaciers receded suddenly and without warning, on the afternoon of April 5th, 38,157, the small horses were sucked into the draft. The literally went down with the climate shift.) The gravity was much less heavier than normal, in 34,357,219 . I remember it like it was yesterday, when the record high was 53, set in 1948, and the record low was minus 237, set in 13,700,000,000 , a couple of seconds before, (or was it after) the Big Bang. My ears are still ringing.

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