Sunday, May 22, 2011

Partly dreary with a chance of insanity

“I’m trying not to be filled with rage about it,” my wife Kara reported after checking the ten-day forecast, which resembled a flip book for a short animation about a really sad cloud that had no intention of going anywhere. Not a single orange pixel had been spent on the entire forecast.

Incidentally, does anyone else find it somewhat presumptuous of the weather-predicting industry that the 10-day forecast has become the standard?

“Man, we’re really nailing all these 5-day forecasts,” they must have said a few years ago. “What’s it going to take for us to be ridiculously unreliable again?”

I understand that trashing weather people is unfair, and that their jobs are not easy, but if they’re really going to pretend that they know what’s going to happen in ten days, they might as well go the full Spinal Tap and turn it up to eleven days.

Kara and I have been watching the forecasts closely because we just booked a last-minute vacation in a little cottage on Cape Cod, trying to get out for an adventure before some looming job responsibilities pinned us at home. But from the looks of the forecast, we just put down a deposit on a 600-square-foot screened-in cage, in which we’ll be trapped with a bored toddler for a week.

“I almost want to cry. I can’t believe we’re going to the beach and it’s going to rain the entire time,” Kara said.

Bad weather on vacation somehow manages to be at least 75% more depressing than bad weather when you’re home, probably because bad weather when you’re home only really affects you on the walk from your car to the Applebee’s entrance. Then your gloom gets drowned in Mexi-ranch dressing.

After spending a week obsessively checking the ever-worsening 10-day forecast, we began to discuss the idea of forfeiting our deposit and staying home. The idea had its appeal, but staying home and being severely disappointed would only be fun if it was free. Once you start throwing around phrases like “forfeiting our deposit,” much of the luster of eating Special K for dinner on the couch begins to rub off.

Of course, bad weather on vacation is a problem on par with crabgrass in your lawn. If that’s what you’re worried about, you’re officially out of real problems. Seeing news stories about terrible flooding in other parts of the country makes me feel especially shallow for getting depressed about our own situation. But as much as I recognize and appreciate our relative good fortune on an intellectual level, other people’s suffering never seems to cheer me up like it’s supposed to.

In any event, we’ve decided to go ahead and make the best of it. Kara ordered a toddler’s raincoat for our son Evan from, since we couldn’t find any in his size locally.

“Raincoats are out of season,” a cashier told me, without irony, as it poured outside.

I’d just read a news story that said Zappos is one of the first major online retailers to begin editing its users’ reviews and comments, automatically correcting spelling and grammatical errors. Apparently, people are more willing to purchase items when the user reviews are well-written, regardless of whether the comment is positive or negative.

So if you try to leave a comment like this: “this ranecote rox!!!11!!”, you could probably come back the next day to find that it has been changed to something like this: “Forsooth! I declare this precipitation-defying attire to be of exquisite quality!”

Smart people are always saying “forsooth.” That’s how you can pick them out of a crowd. Unless that crowd is on Cape Cod on the rainiest week in history, because then all the smart people will probably be back home on their own couches, having forfeited their deposits.

You can rain on Mike Todd’s parade, and his vacation, at


  1. I ran into the same problem last May, when I was looking for a raincoat. The snooty clerk at K***'* told me that I was looking in the wrong season, and if I wanted a raincoat, I needed to buy it in January. Yeah, okay upper midwest in January, rain is the farthest thing from my mind. Hope your vacation remains dry!

  2. Thanks! Yeah, last year, we couldn't find swim trunks for Evan over the Fourth of Friggin' July, but we could easily have scored him a cardigan. If you're gonna need a new parka this year, better grab one before Memorial Day.