Home » Gate Guarding » Anthropomorphically Speaking, Don Was a Dud

Anthropomorphically Speaking, Don Was a Dud

Don turned out to be a dud not a dude, at least here in south central Texas. We have an ever decreasing chance of getting some rain today, then it’s back to an indefinite stretch of 100+ temps, elevated humidity and lots and lots of sunshine. You certainly don’t need a happy lamp in Texas!

Don was indeed a dud. I blame it on the name.

I understand the alphabet naming system for hurricanes but if they’re going to anthropomorphize the weather, then I think they should at least do it with some aplomb!

There’s a lot to a name. Donald means Ruler of the World!

But Don, stripped of his -ald just means little ruler. If they were stuck in the D’s, maybe something like Devlin which means Fierce or Decha which means Strength would have held together better.

Back in the Midwest, we didn’t name our tornadoes. We avoided anthropomorphism’s all together by simply calling them devastating. Actually, that seems to be the pattern with most natural disasters: tornadoes, earthquakes, tsunamis…

Hurricanes are different. According to the Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, the first use of a proper name for a hurricane (tropical cyclone) was by an Australian forecaster in the early 20th century.

He gave hurricanes names after political figures whom he disliked and by properly naming a hurricane the weatherman could publicly describe a politician as ‘causing great distress’ or ‘wandering aimlessly about the Pacific’.

If that system were still in place this week, I don’t think this one would have been named Hurricane Don!

During World War II, hurricanes were informally given women’s names by US Army Air Corp and Navy meteorologists, naming them after their girlfriends or wives. However well intended, it turns out that this caused a significant strain on many relationships, since not all women were keen on having a  tropical disturbance named after them.

For a couple of years, in the early 50’s, hurricanes were named by standard radio names: Able, Baker, Charlie etc.. Then in 1953, the US Weather Bureau switched back to women’s names (clearly, very few women worked for the Bureau at the time). Eventually women insisted on equal opportunity naming and in a “politically correct move” in 1979, the WMO and the US weather Service (NWS) added men’s names.

As of January of 2000, tropical hurricanes in the Northwest Pacific basin are now being named from a very different list.  The names, by and large, are not personal names. There are a few men’s and women’s names, but most are the names of flowers, animals, birds, trees, and food. Food. I’m not kidding!

I like this idea in theory but I wonder how seriously people will take Hurricane Pansy or Hurricane Wren or Hurricane Willow? I’m not even touching Hurricane food of some sort… I can’t imagine which food group they’re using. This all brings us back to Don.

While I wasn’t looking forward to being in the eye of the storm, it would have been just fine with me if we’d been caught in its peripheral vision as our poor ranchers struggle to feed and water their cattle.  Just about everybody that passed through the gate yesterday kicked at the caliche and said things like: “Looks like we aren’t even gonna get a quart.”

Un-hurricane Don was a dud. But as the sun set last night in south central Texas, a new hurricane appeared on the horizon. Emily means Rival. It’s not a fierce name, but maybe it’ll be just enough to bring some rain.


2 thoughts on “Anthropomorphically Speaking, Don Was a Dud

  1. The rancher for the land we guard came by today looking a little down in the mouth. I told him I was sorry for the fizzle of Don. He shook his head and said, “I’ve got some cows going to auction Monday, provided I can round ’em up by then. Can’t afford to keep feeding them with the grass all gone.” I felt so badly for him. He says he uses some of the cattle money to make a college fund for his grandkids. I hear a lot about money being siphoned down to the family coming along. He’s not the first to look at the land and talk about his kids. It makes me sad for the loss of so many family homesteads. Our family lost ours in the 80’s. At least the ranchers we meet are looking at oil money for their clan. Everyone else is really in a world of hurt down here from the drought.

    • Heidi, it is so very sad. In the realm of the haves and have nots, the gap in Texas, already large, is growing every day we don’t get rain.

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