Sunday, April 29, 2012

Put the Hood Up, Get the Paper

A faint white sheen overlaid our rust-colored sunroom roof this morning at 7 am. A touch of frost, I thought, echoing the title of a Brit Detective series. The plants out there, the few we’ve put outdoors a little early, looked as if they hadn’t minded, but I got curious. So here we are, one day in the year, April 29. One place in the United States, Detroit. I thought I’d look back at this single day and chart the low temp for a decade. Here it is:

I had to choose “Detroit” rather than this suburb, because “historic” data aren’t published for smaller places, but in Grosse Point Farms the temperature was the same as in “Detroit,” 30° F. Moreover, the pointer lay on 30 on the hanging thermostat out in our yard as well.

One day, 11 years, one place. Not quite a sample of anything, but in my book of days April the 29th certainly displays a downward trend in temps. Averaging year to year changes produces a drop of 0.6 degrees in this period, but such things, in the greater realm, don’t even merit being called “noise.” But it gives me, numbers-gnome that I am, a rich sense of control to get these values and to chart them. But then, and real numbers-gnomes know this in their bones, even a local temperature requires, to be really representative, many, many measurements. We have two in our yard, and they are always a degree apart—and yet they are within about fifteen Monty-Python-John Cleese exaggerated high-steps apart. True knowledge isn’t power; it is humility.

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