Tuesday, February 19, 2008


That's an unfortunate name for a blog entry, what with the Nazi death camp connotations and all, but it was the best I could come up with that started with the letter S. At least I didn't replace the C with a K.

Anyway, every morning I have to stop at the door and decide what kind of outerwear to put on. It's winter in Oregon, so I have to form an instant opinion of whether it's cold enough to be uncomfortable, and I also have to predict the future and gauge the likelihood of rain. I have the weather forecast to help, I suppose, but most mornings I listen to OPB, which originates from Portland. Even though they typically have something to say about the likely weather in the Willamette valley, it's pretty sketchy and incomplete. So I pays my money and takes my chances.

And almost every morning I choose the raincoat.

Some days, this means I look ridiculous. It's bright and sunny out, and I'm walking around in a raincoat. In fact, when we got our little five inch dump of snow, about two weeks ago, I actually wore my raincoat that day. The previous day I'd guessed wrong and worn the warm coat (actually a hoodie with a zipper down the front -- surprisingly warm for something so lightweight), and then it had rained, and I'd spent most of the day fairly uncomfortable and wishing I had my raincoat. So I made up for it the following day by determinedly putting on the raincoat and zipping it all the way up. The problem was, when I opened the door and saw heavy snowfall, I was so stunned that I didn't think to step back inside and change, so I showed up to church still in my raincoat, to the amusement of my church brothers and sisters.

Once in a while, I wear both. But that's rarely a good idea. It doesn't get that cold here, but it does get cold enough that if I overdress and break a sweat, the cold can make me wish that I hadn't. So I tend to choose one or the other.

The only reason I find this remotely interesting is that my reason for choosing the raincoat has a lot to do, I think, with adult decisionmaking. Or my adult decisionmaking, at least. When I choose outerwear, the calculation I do at blinding speed in my head is, what are the odds that I'm wrong, and how badly will it suck if those odds turn up? By that formula, even if the forecast says no rain, and even if I look outside and the sky is clear and the pavement is dry, I'm still likely to grab the raincoat a lot of the time, just because not having the raincoat when I wish I did is a much more unpleasant experience, especially in February, than having it when I don't need it.

When I was younger, my decisions were all about "What's the most rational choice? What are the upsides and downsides of each option?" Now, all of that is just a sideshow. The main event is, "If things go wrong, how far up poop creek can I find myself?" I've become quite risk averse. And I think that's a symptom of premature senescence.

But it does cut down on the number of times I've been unexpectedly caught in the rain.

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