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The August Assessment

Tornados? Check. Unemployment? Check. New school year? August was a gloomy month.

It’s nearly a week into September and, try as I might, I’m unable to make up my mind about August.

A small mind bomb was placed early last month upon rereading a piece written by “Slate’s” David Plotz, first penned in 2001. His thesis is tongue-in cheek-simple: A lot of bad to really bad stuff always happens in August. Elvis died, nuclear war was invented, those kinds of things. Plus, it’s really hot and news coverage grinds to a lazy halt.

Plotz’s solution is to amend August into a 10-day afterthought, giving the ceded days to July and September.

The idea is completely fun in its triviality, and I know in my heart of hearts that I’d never sign on. However, as stated, the piece planted a small explosive device in my brain, and with August having gone it’s way, the device has gone off.

I’m stuck somewhere short of soul-search brooding, but something more than a fleeting thought that passes once I realize I need to wear a hoodie. Yes, I’ve come to discover, this calls for an August Assessment.

The first thing to do in my AA is to travel back in time through those 31 possibly heady days. Remembering back to the realization of Aug. 1, it’s difficult not to be overtaken by that familiar feeling of dread and motivation. In essence, summer is almost over, but at least it’s not that over.

For a month that is greeted each year with a gut check that only leads to greater expectations, it’s difficult knowing exactly how to advance in the August Assessment. (This is a new program after all.) Sports buffs may push the idea for some sort of Advanced August Stats. Let’s see, one could guess a great August Efficiency Coefficient could be derived adding together sunrises watched and days spent at the beach. That number would be multiplied by days spent on the road. Next, the resulting product would be divided by the number of hours spent working per day (four hour days not included). Incorporate Pi somewhere, and we’d get some nasty number that wouldn’t tell us much of anything. Dear baseball, life is too short for advanced statistics.

Moving on, there are always numbers provided by science and government to go by. This August was the third hottest August ever in the Twin Cities. As for tornadic activity, Minnesota as a whole blew the competition out of the water, way more than doubling the number of tornados that landed in Wisconsin. The unemployment rate for August was 9.6 percent, nearly unchanged since darling month May. Those numbers are horrible for August. Moving on.

What of current events that occurred in August? We didn’t have to deal with any major oil spills to speak of. That’s one good thing, though we did move to more trivial things like squabbling over what one wishes would only be a zoning issue. President Barack Obama’s polling numbers hit their nadir this past month. At least we Restored Honor? Come on, August.

By all accounts, the empirical data has failed. Turning to the soft facts as a last resort, at least we have the memories — those memories!

August might have been okay. Moving forward, there’s fall fashion — always superior to that of August — relentless schooling, a freak thunderstorm or two, and shoot, all the pools have closed. It’s a mixed bag for sure. Until next time, August, possible warts, 31 days and all.

Mike Munzenrider is a columnist.

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