Memo to Mother Nature: please try jiggling the handle

Posted: Sunday, June 10, 2001

I may have figured out all the rain. As I looked to the heavens today during a frisky little shower, I wondered if we just have a gasket problem. If we got periodic downpours, I would suspect a pressure buildup thing, like a celestial ice dam somewhere. But I'm leaning toward the theory that we just have an unattended, leaky valve. It may be as simple as asking Mother Nature to jiggle the handle.

To get to the bottom of things, we go to the Internet, so that's where I went. I searched with three keywords (wet, wetter, wettest) and hit paydirt with www.naturetweak.arg, a totally unadvertised admin site. It's an interactive port to the natural world, according to the home page. You can browse and mess around with continental drift, planetary alignment, global plagues or go to smaller topics like climate and natural selection. I was in a hurry, so I went right to climate and clicked on micro climates. I had to start really paying attention because the webmaster, a big, agile arachnid, showered the screen with ads for intriguing storm possibilities, a scary game called "DNA Bingo" and a real-time day in the life of a desert tortoise. Somebody has too much time on way too many hands.

Persevering, I followed some rusty plumbing to a console labeled Juneau Precip with an apparently deceased bottom feeder slumped over a chair. Not sure about the deadness ruling, I darted in and began madly turning valves and flipping toggles. Just tighten things up a bit, I thought. I was saving my work and getting ready to log off when I got a sobering error message. It was a musical hologram of Mother Nature herself humming "Singing in the Rain" and holding out a pile of forms. Escape, control-alt-delete, I tried them all, but could only select the first form in the heap, MN1001 Have I Thought This Through. I had to list 50 reasons for what I wanted and an extrapolation of the opposite and equal reaction. Next, MN1002 Alternatives of a More Random Sort. Here I had to compare and contrast a rash of irrational actions totally other than what I wanted.

After awhile, I got into the language and attitude of the forms and felt I was in tune with Nature, understanding the chaotic order, the inscrutable pattern behind all the mechanics of our world. Then my computer blurted out in a feminine contralto, "Hah hah, fooled you!" Rats, I had simply nodded off! I rushed for a cup coffee to keep going on my, possibly, fool's errand. After several cups and a pack of those little powdered sugar donuts, I finally made it to MN9447 where my years in government service paid off. It was the one asking how many budget years, light years, partners and in-kind services were involved in my project. I ran out of space in what at first glance was an endless field to explain it all, my computer burped a delicate puff of smoke and the error message was replaced with a sweet "Very well."

As in government, it may take years to gauge the success of my work, but I submit to you that it is not raining at the moment. Sorry about the new celestial ice dam. If the attorney representing the hard working and valued member of the ocean floor foraging console tenders union will call me back, I have a statement.

Nita Nettleton can be reached at nitan@alaska.com.



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