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By Staff | May 23, 2012

I recently bought one of those whiz-bang weather station gizmos.

This type of purchase doesn’t exactly scream “look out ladies, this guy might be too studly for you.”

It’s more along the lines of “the only way this guy could be nerdier would be if a chunk of tape held his spectacles together.” Which pretty much describes me in high school.

This weather doohickey is quite a rig. Not only does it display the indoor and outdoor temperatures, it keeps track of such things as rainfall, the heat index and wind speed. It even calculates the relative humidity, which is not to be confused with relative humility, which is the feeling you get when your brother whups you in a game of checkers.

The only shortfall of this weather doodad is that it doesn’t tell me whether it’s clear or partly cloudy or cloudy. I still have to use the old-fashioned analog method of turning my head and looking out the window to obtain that information. What a drag.

Some great benefits have already accrued from this weather thingamajig. For instance, if I want to know how much it rained, all I have to do is stroll out to the entryway and glance at the weather doodad’s digital screen. Compare this to the old days when I had to go clear out onto the deck to acquire this data. This means I no longer have to walk that last 10 feet. What a blessing.

Wind speed is among the many data streams that flow into this gizmo. I had previously relied upon such sources as the TV, the Internet and the log chain I tied to the post out in the middle of the yard (you know it’s a really windy day when the log chain is standing out straight).

Not surprisingly, it’s a lot windier out here than what’s reported by such supposedly “reliable” sources as the local TV weather guy, the Internet and the whirligig in our flower bed. But there is a problem with having this super-accurate wind information.

The problem is that this weather whatchamacallit also automatically calculates the wind chill. Admittedly, this isn’t much of an issue nowadays, but it can be very problematical when the weather is cold. A glance at my weather contraption tells me how far the wind chill had plummeted, which makes me that much more reluctant to go outside. I sometimes wish I had simply listened to the TV weather guy or consulted our whirligig.

The feature that pleases me most is the weather thingy’s precipitation measurement capabilities.

It’s been said that the human race owes its existence to six inches of topsoil and the fact that it rains. Since it’s difficult to cheer for the soil formation process – go glaciers! – Do your stuff, organic decomposition! – we have little choice other than to follow the peculiarities of precipitation.

Rainfall has a huge effect on our rural economy. This is why everyone has a rain gauge: talking about how much rain we received is a way for us to brag without really bragging. After all, we’re merely stating a meteorological fact of life.

A remotely located rain gauge screams for the ministrations of a practical joker. A prankster could easily pull the leg of an unsuspecting owner of a distant rain gauge by adding water to the instrument, causing its owner to report deluge when everyone else received but a heavy dew.

Or the mischief-maker could surreptitiously remove some rainwater and engender an erroneous report of a drought.

It would be difficult to prank my weather widget. And it’s not that our dog, Sandy, is a vicious attack animal. He’ll be your friend for life for the price of a tummy rub.

It’s because I have mounted the remote sensor unit way out in the cattle yard, high atop a wobbly old hog feeder. Accessing the sensor unit involves leaning a ladder against the scarily unsteady hog feeder. A prankster would have to take anti-motion sickness medication before messing with my weather gizmo.

It rained recently, which elicited no small amount of joy at our house. Not just because the rain would help the crops, but mainly due to the fact that I could precisely quantify the event in real time.

“Look at this.” I said to my wife. “It’s raining at the rate of more than two inches per hour, and the humidity is 98 percent, and the wind is blowing out of the northeast at nine miles per hour.”

She examined the readout. “What does this little symbol up in the corner mean? It’s flashing a picture of a kitty, then a puppy.” “That,” I replied, “means that it’s raining cats and dogs.”

Nelson is a freelance writer from Volga, S.D. Reach him by e-mail at jjpcnels@itctel.com.

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