Friday, March 25, 2005


I never paid much attention to the weather as a kid. As a young adult, working outside, it became very important to me.

When I worked as a surveyor for the City and County of San Francisco (starting pay $270 a month), rain meant a day off with pay. That conditioned me, like Pavlov’s dogs, to have a life-long affection for rain.

So where did I go on my first non-military overseas job? Perhaps the driest place on earth. The Southern Peruvian Desert. I heard that it hadn’t rained in that desert, and the western Andes that bordered it, in 40 years. It didn’t rain all the time I was there, but we did have a fog or two.

I looked it up. Average annual rainfall in that area is 9mm or 3/8 of an inch. That sounds high. Maybe they count the moisture the fogs leave.

Four or five years later I was in Da Nang, RVN, when a “tropical storm” hit. They called it a tropical storm but it was worse than the two typhoons I experienced in the Pacific. In just two days we got 21 inches of rain. Yearly average rainfall in San Francisco is 19.33 inches. I guess that made up for Peru.

Then I settled down in Southern California. That is a semi-arid region 400 miles south of “The City,” as San Francisco is known. I won’t say the frequent droughts depressed me, but the occasional rain cheered me so much that perhaps I had been depressed without knowing it. Perhaps I had learned to live with it without recognizing it.

Then when I decided to move to Thailand I was looking forward getting back into a tropical climate. Come on monsoon! The more rain the better.

So what happens? Southern California has record rainfall. Thailand is having a record drought.

I just can’t win.


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