Kevin L. Hoover
CITY HALL – An idea borne of a particularly celestial City Council meeting 10 years ago has been realized with the aid of modern technology.
The City of Arcata and National Weather Service have collaborated to develop a “Lunatic Weather Map” which attempts to forecast the ebb and flow of high-maintenance crazy persons in and around Arcata.
Dubbed “LoonView,” the interactive maps, soon to be available online, can track the influx of everything from babbling nutjobs to gibbering nitwads, with some capability to detect waves of patchouliated scruffdiddles and flurries of freakazoids.
“This will help us allocate staff resources much more efficiently,” said City Manager Randy Mendosa. “For example, if the haze over Redwood Park brings bongo flurries, we’ll beef up ranger hours. Or, if the map predicts an incursion of crankypants litigators, we can budget for legal staff.”
The idea first came up in the year 2000, after an excruciatingly mortifying address in the form of a lengthy song and interpretive dance by a Food Not Bombs activist.
This was followed by a bellowed diatribe by Lovemonger Tranquilidude (possibly not his real name), who declared himself “CEO of the Global Peace Convergence Coalition,” and concluded his stemwinder by complaining about his latest car camping ticket, handing out gold-painted toilet plungers to the councilmembers and vomiting slightly on the sleeve of his camouflage jacket.
“You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows,” the man proclaimed as he staggered from Council Chamber.
“We should have known this was coming,” one councilmember was heard to say.
“Yes, we should have,” agreed another. “But he’s wrong about one thing – we do need a weatherperson... a very... special one, if you know what I mean.”
Shortly thereafter, City staff contacted NWS and talks began. Only recently, though, has technology advanced sufficiently to allow detection of such subtle phemomena as waves of paranoia, surges of faux populism and outbreaks of sanctimonious pusillanimity.
The LoonView program suffered a setback when the new NutSat satellite that provides data was temporarily blinded. A Tea Party demonstration in front of the Arcata Post Office overloaded its rage detectors and saturated its ignoramus sensors, requiring a special Space Shuttle servicing mission to repair. Per routine, NASA will be reimbursed from the City’s Wastewater Fund.
Glitch aside, recent upgrades in sensor technology will likely expand the LoonView’s usefulness. Anticipated enhancements should include the ability to predict even geologic events.
“Some believe that one day, we’ll be able to detect even mild bozo eruptions up to a week beforehand,” Mendosa said. “And should we foresee a repeat of the Great Dingbat Upheaval of 1999, we’ll keep Public Works on call.”
He admits that the 1999 spike in apocalyptic proclamations turned out not to be quite as crazy as it seemed at the time, given the global chaos that ensued the following year due to Y2K.
“We’ll calibrate the circuits against false alarms,” Mendosa said.
The LoonView will be partly disabled next Wednesday, April 7 when NutSat is shut down as a protective measure. That's when the Minnesota Republican Party plans to hold a rally featuring both former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and Rep. Michele Bachman at the Minneapolis Convention Center. Fearing a meltdown, the satellite will be repositioned on the other side of the planet, facing away from Earth and powered down into "safe" mode. Still NASA scientists fear that the sheer magnitude of the high-intensity lunacy may cause permanent impairment.
"We hadn't anticipated a crazy-vortex of this magnitude," admitted Senior Scientist Ames McGrimble of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. "The Palin-Bachmann Dementia Disturbance, as we've come to call it, could cripple not just NutSat, but weather satellites and even the Mars Rovers."
Closer to home, next week’s LoonView Online map forecast for downtown Arcata is partly howly near the donut shop, with a stalled schoolbus mass and sprinklings of puppies by the Co-op kiosk.
The purple haze over Redwood Park locks it in a perpetual high, while City Hall shows a chance of glowers and the Plaza is, as always, slightly blurry.