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December 21, 2011

No Solistice Solace: My Mother and the Hanukkah Weather

Quite often at the end of the day my life is a poorly framed vignette from a Woody Allen movie; the key themes are Me aka The Schmuck, me Not Listening, my Mother, and The Guilt. The details vary in each scenario, but that's the general theme. Today I ran headfirst into, "so... maybe you should listen to your mother?"

The local weather forecast called for unseasonably moderate temperatures (55F) and heavy rain all day. Not just a spritz of rain, mind you, but a near-Biblical deluge. As I planned the day I gave up any hope of getting on my bicycle, even though in the internal monologue in the back of my mind, I knew it was the start of Hanukkah and I dreaded the potential reminder of my Mother's weather expertise.

My Mother is a person of strongly held beliefs which may not always withstand rigorous inquiry. She is not, for instance, much of an expert on the physical world. Time and distance, directions, weather patterns - not her niche. She will call me to ask about long-range forecasts because she thinks I should know these things (but really because she wants me to have the guilt if it rains on her picnic); she asks things like: Is it going to rain on Easter? She asks me this in November.

But my Mother has one rock-solid bit of weather certainty: the weather will always be nice on Jewish holidays, she insists, because they are G^d's Chosen People and He would not rain on their holidays.

The physical implications of a Divine global nice-weather policy during Jewish Holidays would be catastrophic. Imagine, no rain anywhere for eight days. I could hear Jackie Mason asking, So, Mister Chaos Theory, you think a butterfly in Bolivia could make with the flapping wings and cause a problem in China, what about no rain anywhere for eight days? Now that would be a problem I think! It would have tremendous effects, it would be like Death Takes A Holiday on the Weather Channel.

Not withstanding the logical and physical implications, my Mother insists the weather will always be nice on Jewish holidays. In the past I'd schedule some weather-dependent activity - VFR flying, a bike trip, a visit to the beach - and I'd cancel because the weather wouldn't cooperate my Mother would say, you should have waited three days for Yom Kippur, you know how it works, they're G^d's chosen people...."

Today I went about my business in the gloomy wet rain, I blocked time and precluded any bike riding, and then in complete ignorance of the forecast the afternoon turned into this:


People are walking around in short-sleeves under blue skies, 55F on December 21, and I should have brought my bike and be out riding but no, I knew better and I listened to the computers and the forecast and ignored my Mother and in my internal audio channel I hear: You should have listened to your mother, you schmuck. You think Mister Weather.com knows better than your Mother? How's that working for you?

Aarrrggghhhhh.

And the great tragedy isn't that I have these discussions with my Mother. The great tragedy is that these discussions now take place without any interaction with my Mother, completely within my own mind. I'm screwing myself into the ground and she's not even aware of it.

She's inside my head, it's not enough that I hear my own internal voices I've got her whispering in there, too. It's like a Terminate-Stay-Resident computer program, running in the background and it's there again every morning when I wake up and reboot. She's installed; she could go Mute (hah!) and I'd still hear her voice. I leave it to others as to whether it's a bug or a feature.

Happy Hanukkah to my Jewish friends.

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