1324: Weather

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At least if you're really into, like, Turkish archaeology, store clerks aren't like 'hey, how 'bout those Derinkuyu underground cities!' when they're trying to be polite.
Title text: At least if you're really into, like, Turkish archaeology, store clerks aren't like 'hey, how 'bout those Derinkuyu underground cities!' when they're trying to be polite.


Social norm accepts casual small-talk as an ice breaker for interaction — usually it is always safe to talk about the weather without hitting any disagreements as there are rarely any personal viewpoints about the weather — in contrast small-talk is never about political subjects (except perhaps at a political rally or in a similar context where it is reasonably certain that everyone agrees) or similar where chances are that there are strong personal viewpoints.

In this strip Cueball is described a "weather geek", enjoying subjects such as meteorology and weather forecasting. When Hairy makes a comment about the weather, Cueball launches into a detailed technical discussion, not realizing Hairy is simply trying to engage in small-talk. Only weather geeks would have this problem, but this topic is a common opening for a conversation in casual small-talk. Cueball switches to small-talk once he realizes that Hairy is confused and didn't expect this level of technical information.

As to the jargon:

  • Jet streams are strong air currents high in the atmosphere which have a big influence on the weather.
  • 18z is 18:00 UTC (6 PM in London, 10 AM in California). See ISO 8601 at Wikipedia. The letter "Z" is used as 'Zulu' in the NATO phonetic alphabet, meaning just UTC.
  • GFS is the Global Forecast System (also known as NCEP-GFS). It is a computer model used by the National Weather Service to predict the weather up to 16 days in advance. The model is run 4 times a day and the output is distinguished by the UTC hour it was started (18z in this case).
  • Part of the prediction is the atmospheric pressure expressed in millibars (or mb). 960 mb is very low pressure, which is usually associated with seriously bad weather (for comparison, the record low pressure for Minnesota was 963 mb until 1998).
  • "Think it'll verify?": A forecast "verifies" when an analysis of observations at the forecast time are found to match the forecast. Cueball is asking if Hairy thinks the prediction of a 960 mb low will be shown to have been correct.

The title text clarifies the problem weather nuts like Cueball here have: Unlike other geeky pursuits (like, say, the Derinkuyu Underground Cities, one of the most well-known archaeological sites in Turkey) weather is a fairly common small talk subject. As a result, weather geeks have to be constantly vigilant so as not to launch into technical monologues.


[Cueball and Hairy are talking.]
Hairy: So, how 'bout this weather?
Cueball: I know, right? The whole jet stream layer is nuts!
Hairy: Um, sure...
Cueball: The 18z GFS forecasts 960mb by Tuesday. Think it'll verify?
Hairy: What?
Cueball: ...Right. Sorry. Uh, yeah! Weather sure has been crazy.
[Caption below the panel:]
Weather geeks have it tough.

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So, how 'bout that local sports team eh? --Buggz (talk) 07:28, 31 January 2014 (UTC)

Man, did you see the way they implemented a Tampa Two against the spread, allowing the Mike to rove and then disguised zone blitz schemes by dropping the end on the short side when the offense ran red right? 15:19, 4 October 2014 (UTC)
The same gag is made in the movie Groundhog Day:
Mrs. Lancaster: There's talk of a blizzard.
Phil Connors: We may catch a break and that blizzard's gonna blow right by us. All of this moisture coming up out of the south by midday is probably gonna push on to the east of us and at high altitudes it's gonna crystallize and probably give us what we call snow. Probably will be some accumulation but here in Punxsutawney our high is gonna get up to about 30 today, teens tonight. Chance of precipitation about 20% today, 20% tomorrow. Did you want to talk about the weather or were you just making chit chat?
Condor70 (talk) 09:58, 31 January 2014 (UTC)
But because February 2 is this Sunday, today is the appropriate day for this comic. 14:39, 31 January 2014 (UTC)

Does Minnesota have anything to do with the actual comic? -- 21:36, 31 January 2014 (UTC)

Article: "In title text, a clerk instead makes small talk about Derinkuyu Underground Cities" Title Text: "store clerks aren't like 'hey, how 'bout those Derinkuyu underground cities!'" (emphasis mine) 23:08, 31 January 2014 (UTC)

This could still use an explanation for "Think it'll verify?" 08:11, 5 February 2014 (UTC)

Cueball's opening line isn't too bad. A lot of people are vaguely aware of the jet stream layer, because it affects flying. If they aren't, it's at least composed of common words that don't baffle them. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

This is me when I used to want to be a meteorologist when I was 12. I'd constantly baffle people talking about cumulonimbus clouds and how lightning worked and downdraft regions and stuff like that, and things like that. Nowadays I intentionally avoid small talk by obfuscating my response with esoteric jargon, so that people understand I'm a nerd, and that I don't do small talk. The universe is too big for small talk. International Space Station (talk) 08:54, 8 October 2015 (UTC)