Tuesday, August 16, 2016

In Defense of My Shorts

Cargo shorts have come under attack lately. And why? Because they're ugly. They are ugly, fugly, God-awfully smugly ugly in ways too prolific to enumerate.

  • They cause any man wearing them to appear five inches shorter than he really is. 
  • Their wide, ungainly, below-the-knee openings make even the most muscular man's calves look like spindly dowels. 
  • The pleated, poofy pockets are impossible to iron and catch on every cabinet knob below counter level. 
  • They cause the wearer to spill over at mid-thigh into neighboring airplane, train or bus seats. 
  • They give the man wearing them the roughshod appearance of one who rolled out of bed and wrapped himself in the first thing he could find that was at least one step better than pajamas. 
  • To top it off, scientists will likely discover cargo shorts are responsible for chronic joint degeneration due to the incessant knocking of wallets, smartphones and keys against the knee.

Will any of that stop me from wearing them? No, and it isn't simply a matter of obstinance.

I have understood the effect cargo shorts have had on my appearance and psyche ever since buying the first pair. I knew they made me look like a pale, unkempt, bloated Smurf with emaciated legs from the moment I saw my reflection in the dressing room mirror.

When people openly embrace something they know is bad for them, there is typically one root cause. For all their evils, cigarettes provide a calming effect, which is why so many people in high-stress occupations smoke. Chocolate might be fattening, but it provides a temporary elevation of mood some studies have claimed is similar to the way we feel when falling in love. Professional wrestling might be idiotic pantomime appealing to adults who never developed a taste for entertainment beyond Tom & Jerry or Punch & Judy, but... Actually, there is no benefit to professional wrestling.

The single reason cargo shorts have, for me, proven more than a passing trend is simple -- practicality.

My wallet is a huge mass with its own gravitation pull and weather system. I would never, for no good reason, wad up layers of leather and cram them full of plastic, pictures and paper just to shove it all in my back pocket, and neither would you. Sitting all day with one butt cheek propped several inches higher than the other can't be good for the spine or the sciatic nerve, so if I can wear shorts that position the wallet elsewhere in my attire, I will. Apperances be damned.

If I look back through the photographic journal of my life, there are style choices that immediately come into question. Acid-washed jeans, anyone? Facial hair? Anyone who has ever seen me with facial hair has witnessed living proof why blondes should not grow beards. There are only two end results for blondes with beards -- spiraling drug addict or shopping center Santa Claus. How about the tried-to-grow-my-hair-out-and-failed-with-a-bad-mullet phase? Wind suits, polyester pants, two-tone shirts, high-top sneakers, courduroy pants, oversize belt buckles, calculator watches, pink dress shirts, Magnum P.I. courduroy short shorts, knee-high tube socks, flannel shirts... Had any of those trends proven themselves anywhere near as practical as cargo shorts, I might still be wearing them.

I have no immediate plans to abandon my cargo shorts and I have every intention to replace them as they wear out. They might be ugly, and they might not be sexy, but they sure do come in handy when you ask me to carry your phone.

2016 Mark Feggeler

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Will It Rain Today?

Will it rain today? According to the various weather apps on my iPhone, the answer ranges from "No, silly boy" to "Ark-worthy." Perhaps that's a bit of an exaggeration.

In actuality, the free Weather app on my iPhone calls for a 20% chance of rain today based on a 30% prediction of rain at 10:00pm. 

The Weather Channel app also calls for a 20% chance of rain based on a prediction of anywhere between 15% and 35% chance of rain.

Then there's the roguish AccuWeather app, which calls for a 60% chance of rain based on an hourly forecast from now to midnight of between 20% and 56% chance of thunderstorms.

I wasn't a math major in college (that's Our Daughter), but I'm fairly certain if your hourly report says the greatest chance of rain is 35%, then you shouldn't be low-balling at 20%. Likewise, if you're calling for a 56% chance of rain at any point in the day, then the greatest chance of rain you should be predicting is 56%, not 60%. Imagine my boss's reaction if I told her I fully expect to make 100% of my annual goal based on an expectation of never exceeding 67% of any of my monthly goals. It sounds like the kind of mathematical acumen you'd expect from an English major.

These apps don't seem to play loose and free with numbers when it comes to the temperature. 

Today's high temperature is consistently predicted by all three apps to be 86 degrees Fahrenheit and the low tonight will be 71 degrees. When I check the hourly forecasts, I clearly see where the high and low temperatures fall throughout the day. None of the apps say the high today is 86 degrees but at 3:00pm it'll be 92 degrees, or the low tonight will be 71 degrees but at 10:30pm we'll have snow. That would be ridiculous! The high is the high and the low is the low, and no other numbers are dangled out there in the minutiae to the contrary.

Maybe there's some greater-concept thinking going on at national weather central headquarters that I simply don't comprehend. Maybe an over-riding formula beyond the grasp of my simplicity is applied that factors the forecasted potential for precipitation and averages it out to a number that, while seemingly ungrounded in reality, is soundly based in scientific actuality. 

For instance: If the greatest chance of rain is 35% at 8:00pm, and the least chance of rain is 5% at 4:00pm, and there will be seven hours of cloudless sky before noon with at least three hours of severe thunderstorms (with hail) after sunset, and if the color of the liver of a sacrificed park pigeon is favorably red, and there's enough milk in the fridge for all the Oreos in the pantry, and it's been more than six months since any of the college interns have filed a sexual harrassment complaint with Human Resources, then the chance of precipitation today is 20%. That's the only way it makes sense to me.

I understand weather forecasting is just a best guess given available scientific data. Fronts move, winds change, storms stall, hurricanes shift direction and unexpectedly gain strength off the coast... Anything can happen and frequently does. I don't expect the different weather apps to agree with each other, but at the very least they should agree with themselves.

So, will it rain today? Who knows...

© 2016 Mark Feggeler