February 2008

Calling all Groundhogs!

Author: Paul deVere

Fortunately, writer Paul deVere saved this email from his Norton AntiSpam folder.

From: Goldie Groundhog, Okatie, South Carolina, CEO, IWMA (International Woodchuck Meteorological Association)
Date: Friday, February 1, 2008; 02:09:23
To: Punxsutawney Phil, Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, Wiarton Willie , Wiarton, Ontario; Staten Island Chuck , New York City, New York ; General Beauregard Lee, Atlanta, Georgia; Malverne Mel and Malverne Melissa, Malverne, New York ; Brandon Bob, Brandon, Manitoba; Balzac Billy, Balzac, Alberta; Shubenacadie Sam, Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia; Gary the Groundhog, Kleinburg, Ontario; Spanish Joe, Spanish, Ontario; Sir Walter Wally, Raleigh, North Carolina; Pardon Me Pete, Tampa, Florida; Jimmy the Groundhog, Sun Prairie, Wisconsin; Octoraro Orphie, Quarryville, Pennsylvania; Billabong Pete, Sidney, Australia …
Subject: Heads Up! (so to speak)

1. Important! Our contracts with NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ), NASA and the MSC ( Meteorological Service of Canada) are up for renewal this February. Remember our motto: “Accuracy before all else.” According to most sources, our predictions about spring continue to run 3-4.5 percent ahead of NOAA’s and MSC’s metrologists. I don’t think we’ll have a problem. But keep sharp! Check your e-mail constantly tomorrow. Also keep close tabs on the barometric pressure and your hormonal balance, though I know you have little control over the latter. It seems all three agencies will accept our request for a 6.5 percent COL increase. It’s about time!

2. Also Important! DO NOT go back into hibernation until ALL your reports have been completed and approved!

3. Good news. They haven’t discovered me! Seriously. I get to stick my head out of my home, check for my shadow, send in my report and I’m home free, back to bed. Nobody seems to know where Okatie, South Carolina is. I just do my job. Also, being only one of two female “groundhog” (how’s it hanging, Melissa?) prognosticators, it makes me sort of mysterious. And the guys really dig it.

4. Bad news. Our public relations initiative to have the media refer to us as the sweeter sounding “woodchuck” instead of rather grubby “groundhog” was a total bust. Blame Bill Murray (it WAS a funny movie). Also, the Power Point Presentation, “Woodchucks, the real Groundhogs,” we gave at the Nation Press Club in DC, was poorly received. While everyone thought our fantastic ability to go into total hibernation (our body temperature drops from 95 degrees F to 46 degrees F when we cuddle up for the winter), they complained about the images. See, we had pictures taken of several of our prognosticators while they were sound asleep in their underground burrows. Couldn’t use any lighting because that would mess up biorhythms, so we ended up with 271 totally black slides with reversed cutlines in white that read stuff like, “Here’s Gary the Groundhog, fast asleep.” There’s always next year.

5. Irritating news. Also in the public relations department, my “How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?” contest had PETA people all over our Washington, DC offices, screaming “Cruelty to groundhogs! Stop the chucking!” According to several Cornell University graduate students, with too much time on their hands, the correct answer is 700 pounds, by the way. Our special thanks go out to our dear friend Jonathan “Jack” Frost, whose office is right across from IWMA, for handling those PETA crazies. He sort of “froze them out.”

6. “Image is Everything” news: Video evidence on YouTube of woodchucks/groundhogs destroying a perfectly nice garden was rather painful to watch. PLEASE have your family and friends show some restraint. Witnessing groundHOGS consume two acres of root crops and leafy green vegetables IN ONE SITTING was embarrassing. PLEASE, try to control those urges. Savor one Vidalia onion as opposed to gulping down ten without thinking! We’ll again be offering our Woodchuck Weight Watchers Guaranteed Weight Loss program through August. Yes, we have to gain weight to survive the winter months, but ease off! To learn more, just email wanda@iamwoodchuck.org and in the subject line write “gross.”

7. Note: In reference to the above and the posters we sent out last year for your burrows showing the ideal male and female woodchuck that included the motto: “Everything in moderation,” we’ve heard rumors that some of you have penciled in “including moderation.” Okay. It’s funny. But I think selling t-shirts with the edited motto (ARE YOU LISTENING, PHIL?) is going a bit too far. There may be intellectual property rights involved. I would value everyone’s opinion on this matter. Please join our blog at www.iamwoodchuck.org/goldie/blog.

8. Good news. “A “High Five” to our Aussie relative, Billabong Pete, and Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology for joining with IWMA in celebrating “Groundhog Day Down Under” in July. And special thanks to Mike Griffin (he’s the head “geek”) of NASA for setting this whole thing up. One of you lucky woodchucks will be getting a trip to Pete’s burrow, located on a sheep station (ranch) someplace outside Sidney. Way outside. Contest rules in our newsletter (due out first day of spring).

9. Final alert. As they did last year, the folks up on the international space station will be monitoring our predictions. I know it seems, to put it mildly, like a lack of trust on their part. However, no more single finger salutes to the astronauts.

That should do it. Get some sleep, all of you. Big day tomorrow!


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