May 16, 2008
An apt topic, giving today’s sudden swelter: The Weather Ball in downtown Portland.
Once I was driving with Mr. Pencil, on the off-ramp from I-5 south, city center exit, and said “Oh, the weather ball says it’s going to rain.”
And Mr. Pencil: “The weather what?”
“Surely you know about the weather ball.”
Just a moment ago, I stuck my head out of the office window, and pulled it back in, then closed the window because it is wavery hot out there. It gleams, and hot wind blows in.
“Drat!” I said to Aileen, across the room at her desk. “You can’t see the weather ball from here.”
“The weather ball?! What’s the weather ball?”
And so it goes. I guess it’s not as common knowledge as I would have assumed.
The weather ball is, well, a ball of sorts (if by “ball” you mean “cube”–it has squared edges) on a pole on a building in downtown Portland. It’s covered in lights. It’s on a squat, dull building–I’m not sure which one. It might be the Unitas building. It might not. It’s near the Standard Insurance Building.
It can tell you one of six things, that is:
Yesterday I imagine it was steady red. I don’t know what it says today because I cannot, as I said, see it. Well, I can see it, by running down the hall to the west end of the building and using the unfinished unit’s view, but it’s so bright I can’t make it out. I think it’s red.
Please tell me I’m not the only one who knows about this. It’s been around a whole lot of long time. I loved it as a child.
According to Wikipedia, it’s one of a whole lot of similar weather beacons in the world.