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Stand back when I'm getting close to my Dew point

If you're a student of the weather -- and I'm guessing you are because you're a lot more like me than you'd ever admit to even under oath with the threat of felony perjury charges -- you understand that the dew point is an important measurement of temperature and humidity that has meaning for human comfort, forecasting, and how easy it will be to write 'Wash me' on somebody's dirty dewy car hood. Every evening -- in summer especially -- the local television station meteorologist is likely to mention the dew point as he explains to you how cool it might get overnight, or what the chances of rain might be the next day when you had planned to lay in the sun and get a burn on your fat belly the color of cardinal feathers.

OK, well, maybe that's just me. My fat belly burns easily. It's a genetic thing.

The dew point is actually the temperature to which air must cool to become saturated with water vapor, or so says the internet site from which I just plagiarized (unlike auto theft, it's not illegal if you admit it). Because higher dew points mean there is more moisture in the air, this can become significant for comfort levels in the warm summer months. For instance, a dew point of 50 degrees is nice, one at 63 is getting a bit sticky, and at 74, your underwear will jam in your cra...

Yeah, sometimes I stop before I go too far.

Anyway, when most people hear the term 'dew point,' they know a weather discussion is underway, and their ears either perk up with new interest because they want to know how to dress the next day, or they don't give a hoot and switch the TV channel to 'The Andy Griffith Show.' I mean, isn't 'don't give a hoot' just like something Andy would say to Aunt Bea?

Me, well, I have a slightly different interpretation of the term. To me, it's the Dew point, the measure of general drowsiness, irritability, suppressed rage and sometimes even hallucination that requires that I open me another 12-ounce can of that refreshing green sugar water that went from 'occasional dietary dalliance' to 'bad habit' to 'if you keep drinking that crap, you'll be dead before you get a Social Security check.' Well, I might be anyway. My bad cholesterol is higher than the latest unemployment rate (wow, topical, and snarky).

I don't need me a Diet Dew immediately upon waking in the morning, but I can feel myself building toward the Dew point by maybe mid-morning. Depends on the day, and whether or not I had time for yoga (yes, I'm lying, but just imagine a contorted walrus in sweatpants on a vinyl floor mat for a fun visual), but I rarely make it to lunch without swilling at least one. And by one, I mean three. Don't ask me how many are in a 12-pack.

As does the meteorlogical dew point, mine also varies with conditions. In weather, if a dry cold front sweeps down out of Ontario, the dew point is low. Conversely, if a humid air mass bubbles up from the Gulf of Mexico, the dew point can creep up to the level where you're yanking on your scivvies again when you think nobody's lookin' (someone is).

I find my Dew point is relatively mild on weekend days, when I'm relaxing with a fishing pole, working in my garden, or paging through a good book. On workdays, though, when the phone is ringing and the e-mails are pouring in and the weekly deadline is two hours away but I have eight hours of stuff yet to do, well, my Dew point rises exponentially in a formula roughly equivalent to Stress X Time + How Much I Procrastinated Over the Previous Four Days = Dew point. When the quotient reaches 10 or higher, don't stand between me and the fridge. Just some friendly advice.

There are other weather-related terms that I've found relate to my life's situations, too. For example, you've all heard of 'relative humidity' right, that measure of moisture in the air that tells us if we'll get a static shock every time we rub our stocking feet violently on a carpet and then touch the cat (no, he don't like that very much) or if the windows will fog up while we cook dinner. For me, though, relative humidity is a term I use when too many cousins, uncles, in-laws, grandparents, children and bartenders (they're like family to me, too) cram into a small house and all breathe at the same time.

Get it? 'Relative' humidity?

No, it's never good when you gotta' explain it.

OK, let's try 'cold front' then. To most people, said term means the leading edge of a frigid air mass, as in 'An Arctic cold front will pass tomorrow and drop temperatures below freezing.'

For me, a cold front is something a bit more personal. It's what I get when I stand in front of the open-doored refrigerator for 20 minutes at 2 in the morning hoping some leftover pizza will materialize. Likewise, 'warm front' when the pizza doesn't appear so I boil me up some noodles. These aren't really all that difficult.

'Chill factor' is another one commonly heard on weather updates, and of course, refers to the combined effect of cold temperatures and wind on human skin. For me, though, it's the general feeling of dread and anxiety I feel when I see a text arrive from an ex-wife. And man, let me tell 'ya, when that chill factor gets severe enough, it'll burn more than your skin. Here then, a few more (mostly just 'cuz there's nobody here to stop me): -- Straightline winds: In weather, refers to powerful air bursts that occur in linear, not tornadic, rotational direction. For me, the air pattern that occurs between my chair and the kitchen during football game TV commercials.

-- Overcast: A weather observational term that describes mostly or completely cloudy conditions. For me, it's when I throw my fishing lure too hard and it lands in somebody's grill in a lakeside campground. As in, 'Oops. Sorry. I overcast again.'

-- Mist: An atmospheric moisture condition heavier than fog yet lighter than drizzle. Me? It's a misspelled text message -- 'Gosh honey, I mist you last night.'

Hey, I don't see you trying any of these.

-- Downdraft: A term that describes a sudden sink of a column of cold air, often associated with thunderstorms. Mine has a little more to do with the phenonoma following most meals of cabbage and polish sausage. Best not to ask me about a macroburst.

Gale: A storm intensity description most often used in maritime situations, with winds ranging from 28-55 knots (or 32-63 miles per hour). My 'Gale' is a chick I dated in college. Now that I think about it, they both caused a lot of damage and didn't stick around to apologize.