01384: Trying to Understand Chaotic Systems

It has been raining on and off since yesterday - not exactly an uncommon event during the monsoon season. Still, a lot of us put a lot of faith in groups like PAG-ASA and other weather forecasting bureaus to give us a fair estimate of what the day will be like. Just this morning the sun was shining brightly and I'm sure a lot of folks expected it to be a pleasant day. And yet all the reports stated it was going to rain - something that was proven true by the time I was leaving the office just before 10:00am.

by makingmymark via Flickr
Now to be fair, it's not exactly easy to predict the weather. No matter how one tries to tackle the problem, we're faced with the fact that the weather is the result of a complex system of temperature, humidity and other related elements coming together. It's not like G.I. Joe where we have brilliant evil geniuses like Destro who can manage to get their hands on weather dominators at the drop of a hat. So us folks in the real world just have to deal with the weather as it comes. 

Despite the best equipment that money can buy, weather forecasters often find themselves surprised by how quickly the weather can shift and change and inevitably how quick the public can assign blame of their lack of covering every single potential result of this ever chaotic system. It's a pain I'm sure, but we work with what we have in this work I suppose.

Many times we end up relying on our instincts for trying to predict the weather. We look out the window. We try to detect the scent of the coming rains in the distance. We stick saliva-dampened fingers in the air of gauge the wind direction and speed in order to have some idea of what the day will be like. Some rely on the pains in joins, the flaring up of old injuries and other quirkier reactions of our bodies to the changes in air pressure, or wind chill. There are a million and one ways and sometimes any one of them is just about as good as whatever science can create.

I love Soundwave for a reason, you know
I'm no weatherman,  but I am the sort of guy to live his life guided by a more than healthy dose of caution and foresight. My mind is always trying to find patterns in the people and places around me - an effort to constantly "read" the universe at large and see if I can determine what's coming just beyond the next corner. I don't claim to have developed any true degree of calculated prescience or above-average foresight or anything of that sort, but it's certainly fun to try and predict how the dice are going to fall in the next turn. Call it a geek thing I suppose.

While I can't claim to be able to predict the weather, I do know when a storm is brewing and I do my best to prepare. This is why we own multiple umbrellas and I tend to prefer to "seed" various locations with rain gear in case the weather shifts and tries to catch one or another of us unprepared. I constantly try to read the signs, study the clouds and just remain fully aware of my surroundings in order to make a fairly intelligent decision with respect to what I need to prepare for or what the worst case scenario may be. This is quite a long way from my former childhood self that had a very odd and nasty habit of imagining different ways to die at any given moment. At least now such forward-facing thinking has helped me hone my sense of caution.

Even Yoshi is ready for rain
The signs are out there and every new experience becomes yet another opportunity to try to see what I can read and prepare to face the challenges ahead accordingly. I don't think this makes me a storm crow or anything like that, but it does give me some leeway in terms of being over-prepared and constantly steeling myself to face the bigger or even darker things ahead.

But the weather is just the weather. It's a result and not exactly a means on its own. We can always try to wait it out and hope for the best. Or we can try to use our time productively and start mapping a path forward once the storm is passed. It's not always easy to do, but it;s certainly worth the effort.

And with every storm we weather and survive, we learn to do even better in the future.
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