1. I consider myself to be a pretty big sports fan, but I’ve honestly never been into pro sports. My allegiances to teams are almost always determined by my location. If pressed, I would have cheered for the Pistons, Lions, Red Wings, and Tigers growing up, but–with the exception of World Series Tigers games–I would never have described my feelings over any of their losses as “heartbroken,” or even “disappointed.” Since I’ve now been in Chicago for 11 months, my loyalties (if you can consider my passing interest as a “loyalty”) have switched over to the Bulls, Blackhawks, Bears, and Cubs (not the White Sox. Never the White Sox.).
Despite my lack of interest in the professional sports scene, I’ve found myself a bit conflicted over all this Blackhawks/Red Wings hockey business. As a native Michigander–a Michigander who distinctly remembers staying up far too late the night before she graduated from high school to watch the Red Wings lose in three overtimes to the Pens during Game Five of the Stanley Cup Finals–I feel like I’m supposed to cheer for the Red Wings. As a Chicagoan, however, I feel like I’m supposed to cheer for the Blackhawks. Truth be told, I really don’t particularly care about either team, because I’m in no way interested in hockey. My biggest problem with all of this comes from social media, I think. The vast majority of my Facebook friends are from Michigan, and therefore cheer for the Red Wings, while probably over half of the active people and brands I follow on Twitter are from Chicago and are all about the Blackhawks. Maybe I should just stay off social media around games.
2. My middle school is closing at the end of the school year, making me now 1/3 on “childhood schools that are still open.” My school system got slammed by the 2008 recession, which just so happened to coincide with their restructuring of the tuition rates, and enrollment plummeted (I graduated with 112 people in 2008; my brother, who will graduate in 2014, has something like 65 people in his class). They couldn’t justify keeping my elementary school open, so that closed and the building was sold back in 2009 or 2010, and they don’t need all the space in the current middle school, so they’re closing it down and adding on space to the elementary school to accommodate the middle school students.
The mom of one of my former classmates created a montage of photos from my middle school’s building’s history (it was a grade school before my school system restructured in 2000, when it became the middle school), and since I went to school with her daughter, there were plenty of pictures of my class, making it a nice little trip down memory lane for me.
Such a baller on my 7th grade basketball “B” team. Please note my wrapped hand — I sustained a sprained wrist in basketball practice. Also, I sat across from my middle school crush in language arts around the time this sprain happened, and when he saw the bandage he poked my hand and asked if it hurt. That was, arguably, the greatest moment of my 12-year-old existence.
It makes me so sad to see schools close. I am admittedly a bit sentimental about old buildings, but to me there are few things more upsetting than seeing an old school torn down to be replaced with a bright, shiny, sterile new building. Yeah, I’m sure the air conditioning is nice and all, but I think you lose a lot of intangibles with new construction. I walked the same halls and sat in the same classrooms as my mom, which is something my kids will never be able to say if I end up back in my hometown. I don’t like new. I don’t like neat and tidy. I like things to be a little rough around the edges, a little worn, a little broken in. It may not be as pretty, but I prefer stories to perfection.
3. As someone who has dealt with an oft-debilitating fear of thunderstorms for most of her life, I like to fancy myself pretty with it as far as meteorology goes. I know which forecasters to trust, who to go to for the most reliable information, and which websites have the best radar. As far as major weather companies go, I always default to Accuweather. They know what’s up (aside from their propensity to only give the “official” Chicago temperature. The official temperature comes from O’Hare. Totally bogus, because the weather can be SO much cooler/warmer downtown, which is really way more “Chicago” than O’Hare in my opinion, but whatever. Weather Underground is your go-to for reliable temperature reads, by the way. Weather Underground also powers Weather Puppy, aka the greatest app known to smartphones.).
However, despite Accuweather’s usually-good forecasting and easy-to-understand radar, I’ve got to say that I hate the stories on their website. No one fear-mongers on Accuweather’s level. For instance, quotes from an article about impending severe weather yesterday (emphasis is all mine):
“…over the Plains in such a way to produce an outbreak of powerful and dangerous thunderstorms.”
“…could be impacted by violent storms through late this week.”
“Some of these tornadoes could be particularly long-lived and intense…”
Now, don’t get me wrong: I’m all for giving people good and fair warning about the risk of severe weather. This kind of apocalyptic language in forecasting, however, really makes me mad. It’s throwing around terms like “powerful” and “dangerous” and “violent” in forecasts that makes people not believe them when they’re given out during warnings. Accuweather told me all throughout Tuesday that there would be strong thunderstorms all day, and you know when the first storm rolled into town? Like 8 p.m. That’s hardly all day. Weather models change, systems shift, and it can be tricky, especially in a place like the Midwest during the spring, to say definitively what the weather is going to do. But like the boy that cried wolf, it does way more harm than good to use frightening verbiage in forecasts, because once there really is something to be worried about, you’ve numbed everyone in your viewing area to the intense language.
(For those of you interested in my unsolicited but highly refined opinion on weather forecasting, the Storm Prediction Center is your best bet for real information on thunderstorm and severe weather predicting. That website is my JAM. So much nerdy information. These are also the people that determine whether or not you’re in a slight (or moderate) risk area for severe weather. Just please, for the love of dressing appropriately on your commute, DON’T trust The Weather Channel! They have no idea what they’re talking about, and it hurts my soul to see people taking what they say as gospel truth. They’re almost always wrong).
Are your childhood schools still around?
Where do you get your forecast?