Written by David Vogel Tuesday, 18 May 2010 18:33
It’s about a quarter to 5 p.m. on Wednesday. Not quite suppertime, but I’m hungry anyway.
So while working on my computer I’m munching on Nabisco-brand Ritz sour cream and onion-flavored toasted chips from a bag that has been sitting in my dorm room for the better part of the semester.
It’s to the point where I don’t really need any more chips—after all, pizza will be waiting for me in the school cafeteria in only 45 minutes—but the bag is just empty enough that I would feel bad stopping now.
Normally, this situation wouldn’t seem terribly extraordinary. But, by the time you’re reading this a week later, you must remember just what exactly was going on at 4:45 p.m. last Wednesday.
That’s right: We were in a tornado warning.
Meanwhile, I’m sitting here in my second-floor room. Right next to a large window.
Perhaps this sounds like a dumb idea, but please be aware that I’m taking all the necessary precautions.
No, I’m not in the lowest, most central part of the building away from any windows or glass. I’m not even near a bathtub.
But I am on the Internet.
To be more specific, I’m playing meteorologist.
With the availability of Web sites like weather.com, I have the ease of accessing to-the-second weather data almost as instantaneously as a storm progresses.
And I can keep myself updated while also browsing Google News and Facebook, two of my favorite pastimes that really play no significance in my real life.
Actually, I didn’t even need weather.com to learn about the tornado warning. My Facebook friends had that part covered.
As soon as I logged on this evening, my news feed—a random smattering of recent updates from the Facebook users I have confirmed as “friends”—was bombarded with a large collection of “status updates” about the storm.
Here are a few samples, which I have left as sic as sickly possible: “Tornado Warning in Hillsboro!” “Hiding in the tornado shelter!” “STORM!” “Going to go find this tornado.” “Tornadic weather!” “Hubby’s stopped along the highway, afraid to drive on because of black, rolling clouds ahead. Tornado season has officially arrived on the plains....” “Mother nature is decending her beastly powers and legit roar toward earth...this weather makes everything intersting!”
Perhaps now would be an appropriate time to note that spelling, grammar, punctuation and syntax rules are rarely observed on Facebook. (So their!)
Once I found out about the storm, I immediately decided to follow its progress. This is where technology comes in really handy.
Instead of just finding a basement and sitting there until the storm passes, I can stay right here in my room and know everything that’s going on.
I can refresh current weather charts and maps, peruse forecasts for the next minutes and hours and receive instant alerts to thunderstorm or tornado watches and warnings.
Basically, I am my own weatherman. I’m considering donning a suit and tie, slicking back my hair, hiring a camera crew, designing a sleek television set completely with a dozen or so high-tech computer monitors and requesting a government-issued frequency from which I can broadcast to thousands of homes in the area.
OK, maybe I’ll start that project next spring.
At any rate, I’m really feeling pretty darn safe up here on the second floor during this tornado warning. I know exactly what’s going on at all times.
If I need a visual confirmation on the weather status, I can just turn my head a 120 degrees to the left and see whether cars are getting blown off of the parking lot, or if cackling women are riding on bicycles with small dogs in the baskets.
But I don’t have time to worry about things such as making cheap “Wizard of Oz” references that have been used hundreds of times prior.
I’m almost out of chips.