French Toast Alerts

Apparently, in Boston, this week has been full of French Toast alerts. I’m not sure when the French Toast Alert system was created, but it surely must have been after my years living in New England, otherwise I can’t imagine missing such a delicious weather warning. According to Boston’s Universal Hub, the French Toast Alert system is a type of storm warning designed to “help you determine when to panic and rush to the store to buy milk, eggs and bread.” These are, needless to say, the ingredients for the aforementioned French toast.

A clever elaboration on the typical tendency to rush to the store for supplies when storms are anticipated, the French Toast Alert system gauges the severity of the storm warning according to the number of slices, ranging from:

 1 Slice/Low “No storm predicted. … Go about your daily business but consider buying second refrigerator for basement, diesel generator. Good time to replenish stocks of maple syrup, cinnamon” to

5 Slices/Severe, “Nor’easter predicted. This is it, people, THE BIG ONE. [Weather reporters make] repeated references to the Blizzard of ’78. RUSH to emergency supermarket NOW for multiple gallons of milk, cartons of eggs and loaves of bread. IGNORE cries of little old lady you’ve just trampled in mad rush to get last gallon of milk. Place pets in basement for use as emergency food supply if needed.”

Yes, it is silly. But it is good to find a reason to smile as winter weather forecasters predict snow drifts, slippery roads, and school cancellations (OK, yes, for some of us school cancellations can be reason enough to smile.) But today, as I watch snow pile up outside my office window, I wonder how many French toast slices today’s storm merits. It also makes me wonder what other weather prediction analogies might work for different parts of the country or different taste buds. Surely, I could create a Michigan hot chocolate index that could indicate the amount of steaming liquid necessary after sledding in a given storm. I have friends in some southern cities for whom winter storm predictions of ½” of snow would merit a serious alert of some kind. What do people consume in Georgia when it snows? I don’t know, but I’ll bet Georgia school children do.

Think about a lesson that combines analogies and weather measurements to create new scales for your area. What is the maximum snow or rainfall your area has received? That would need to be the top of your scale. What is a typical day? Would the scale need to change depending on time of year? If you don’t have snow, perhaps you could generate an index for heat or wind. What metric would your new scales use? Food? Some kind of activity? What about a scale designating how well done eggs might get if placed on local sidewalks?

If, like many schools in Michigan today, you happen to be teaching virtually because of dangerous weather, this might be just the day to talk about measurements and metrics, perhaps even about the usefulness of unusual analogies for catching public attention. It could be an assignment that gets the whole family smiling, which is worth a lot mid-blizzard.

Next week I’ll return to the serious business of creativity research, but for today I’m going to revel in a French toast kind of day and decide how many slices this weather requires.

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