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BEWARE THE GLOPPY MONSTER OF MOLASSESS SWAMP

Does anyone remember the fictional locations "Molasses Swamp", "Gum Drop Mountains", and the "Ice Cream Floats"? You may have to dig deep into your nostalgia bank to find the answer. As for me, I've always been fascinated with board games.

I was pondering these topics during a recent trip to the toy store with my son. We were actually there to purchase diaper pail refills, not board games. Still, I couldn't help but take a detour down the game aisle. In a world filled with online digital madness, it was refreshing to see a few of the classics lining the store shelves. "Clue", "Operation", and even "Hi-Ho-Cherry-O"- they were all there. I counted at least five different versions of "Monopoly", but nothing beats the original.

I did notice that a few of my childhood favorites were missing. I didn't see any editions of "Mystery Mansion" or "Scotland Yard". I wonder if any of you played either of these games? "Mystery Mansion" was one of the first board games to feature a modular game design. Each player took turns exploring a haunted mansion, which consisted of cardboard rooms that could be rearranged each time the game was played. The first player to find a hidden treasure won the game.

"Scotland Yard" was a rather elegant game in which two players attempted to track an elusive criminal through the streets of London. This was accomplished by following a trail of "clues" consisting of travel tickets left behind by the criminal. The game play was rather complex, and a little over my head when I received it as a gift at age eight. As I grew older, I came to appreciate the subtleties of the design. I spent countless hours playing that game.

Like "Scotland Yard", the study of meteorology requires a certain amount of "seasoning" on the part of scientists. Textbooks and theories seldom do full justice to the complexity of our atmosphere. Many a wide-eyed meteorologist has been quickly humbled by storm systems that didn't behave the way the models predicted.

An experienced meteorologist also learns that weather behaves differently from one location to another. My formal meteorological training was conducted in the Raleigh operational area.When I moved closer to the coast, it took several years to develop a "feel" for coastal features such as the sea-breeze boundaries (a common trigger of afternoon thunderstorms during the summer). Also, our proximity to the ocean creates problematic temperature differentials which make winter storm forecasting particularly difficult.

Even a seasoned forecaster can make mistakes. The key to be right more often than you are wrong- easy with board games, hard in real life.

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By: Jerry Jackson