2010-01-17 17:35:48.000 – Ryan Knapp, Staff Meteorologist
If you grew up in the late ’80’s and early ’90’s, then you are probably familiar with the coffee table book series of ‘Where’s Waldo’. But if not, let me explain what ‘Waldo’ was/is all about. Waldo is a cartoon man that has a distinct outfit made up of the following: brown shoes, blue pants, a thick lined red and white long sleeved shirt, a pair of horn-rimed glasses, a red and white striped beanie and a walking cane. Waldo was also a man of travel, taking him to some exotic locales usually flooded with a sea of other characters. It was then the job of the ‘reader’ (ie, you) to scour these photos and try to find Waldo hidden in the mass of people. Sometimes it was simple and he stuck out like a sore thumb with his stripped shirt but there were times when he seemed to go to Waldo fan club gatherings where it was a sea of similar looking people with only one unique Waldo in the crowd. But it didn’t always end with just finding Waldo. Once he was found, the books would sometimes have you find other characters, objects, or specific scenes. It was one of those books you could pick up at a doctors office, have some fun, then put down walking away with a sense of accomplishment.
Flash forward to the new millennium where we find Waldo taking an exotic journey to the summit of Mount Washington, NH. Since I arrived here in December 2005, Waldo has been a summit staple. I’m not sure where we got Waldo (maybe he walked up here like Dr Schlitz) but since we got him, we have made a real world game of ‘Wheres Waldo’ with him. The object of our game is similar to the books in that Waldo hides and it is our job to find him. It sounds simple enough but when you start applying the rules we have made up, it begins to become a bit more difficult.
To start, Waldo is hidden by the shift that finds him for the opposite shift to find. If the opposite shift doesn’t find him in their week, that is where Waldo remains until that shift either stumble on him by accident or finds him on purpose. Then it is their turn to hide him. He has to be hidden somewhere in the weather room; so nowhere downstairs, no conference room, no ICU, no server rooms, no bathroom, no observer office, no library, and no kitchen/pantry. He can be hidden anywhere by any means with the only caveat being he has to be partially visible at any given time. So this means you can’t put him in anything completely enclosed like a metal box or above the ceiling tiles. But if that box had some sort of mesh, or the ceiling tiles had some sort of hole or crack that was always open, it is fair game. And that’s essentially our game.
It is a simple game and one that isn’t very involving. It is a game that can be picked up at any time by anyone with as much dedication and thought as you are willing to put into it. The game can take seconds, or in occasional cases, months to play. It is a game that is simple in theory but difficult when applied. And to this end, we all have a little ‘Waldo’ in our life. In meteorology, Waldo might be that ripple in the atmospheric models that you need to find to know what might happen. In the police field, it might be the criminal that has been alluding capture for weeks at a time. For a big game hunter it might be that trophy Buck. For a computer programmer, Waldo might be that one line of code you need to change to make your epic failure an epic success. A chef might be looking for ‘Waldo’ to add some spice to a dish. For stock traders, Waldo is that company that you speculate to buy low with and then have it explode. And so on and so forth.
But seeking out something that is hidden isn’t the only metaphor one can pull from Waldo. One can say he is no one yet everyone. He is no where yet everywhere if you look hard enough. He trys to blend and fit in but ends up being a completely unique individual. He explores the world, escaping his comfort zones and meeting individuals he might not otherwise get to know. He always appears happy when photographed regardless of the situation he finds himself in. He hides but wants to be found. And so on and without getting too deep, I will leave it at these. When you start digging into what ‘being Waldo’ means, you find that he has some pretty big shoes to fill for being such a little guy. Even on the summit, he plays a larger role than just a game as he serves as a connection between shifts that only get to know each other through passing or via Facebook status updates. So, bravo Waldo! But enough praising, I got your picture so it’s back into hiding for you for the other shift to find…
Ryan Knapp, Staff Meteorologist