Thursday, January 19, 2012

Everybody Talks About the Weather ...

Bainbridge Island, Washington State. Wednesday, January 17, 2012.

When I was in journalism school at UCLA, I learned of a survey that revealed the Los Angeles Times, with its headquarters in the middle of one of the most temperate regions in the United States, had more front page weather stories than any other paper in the country.

It seemed like a quirky thing. And yet I've long remembered it. Wild weather is always really fascinating--especially when it isn't happening to you.

So, when I was at the gym yesterday here in California, hiking my way along the treadmill, watching the news on the screen before me and occasionally glancing out at the sunlit park beyond, it was truly mesmerizing to see that Seattle was snowbound. Why was it so interesting? I guess because it wasn't happening to me!

I called Lisa-my friend-from-childhood and asked if she was snowbound up there on Bainbridge Island and indeed she was. I asked for photos and she agreed, once again, to serve as a foreign correspondent for

Lisa's deck on Bainbridge Island, Washington.

Besides not having to shovel the snow myself, I enjoyed the photos because they show Lisa's first tentative photos out her window ...

Snowbound tree, out Lisa's Bainbridge Island window.

And then she clearly bundles up and goes outside for a real look 'round.

 ... And there is absolutely no one about. That is one of the delightful things about snow--when it doesn't happen to you--you remember how quiet everything gets as the snow softens the sounds and people stay indoors by the fire. No traffic. So lovely. Even the mailman isn't out and about.

Mailboxes near Lisa's house and a tree, decorated by the snow.

It all brings back a blizzard I once covered in Washington D.C., where the weather was so bad and the driving so uncertain they made me do my live report standing (in the blizzard) on the sidewalk out in front of the station.

"But Raben," I remember saying to the news director, "Everyone, all day, has been trying to come inside out of this weather. Won't it look silly for me to be standing out here in the blizzard, just a few feet away from the door of a building where every other intelligent person is located--you know, inside?"

He looked at me as if I were a true dim-wit.

"Oh Robin," he said. "Get real.  This is television."

And it probably was good television too. Because the people watching snow-covered Robin were all inside and were saying to themselves: "Boy oh boy. That's fascinating. (I'm glad it isn't happening to me!)"

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linda said...

its like watching tv news here in florida during a tropical storm or hurricane and wondering why any reporter in their right mind would be doing that!

Robin Chapman said...

Maybe, (I'm thinking out loud here) people watching on TV need a human "benchmark" in order to make something seem real to them. I wonder if that is why it seems silly, but it actually does work for television?

linda said...

robin, your answer does make sense in some strange sort of way.

Robin Chapman said...

I think the equation is:

reporter's head+storm=Lay z boy benchmark