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Cloudy, with scattered jam

A British guy has invented a toaster that sears the day's forecast into the bread. Up pops the toast with a picture of a sunny sky, a cloud, or raindrops. The appliance operates like a regular toaster until the last 20 seconds or so of the heating cycle, when it gathers meteorological info from the Internet and rolls out the proper stencil to brand the toast.

I'm afraid to tell my mother about this weather-forecasting toaster because it could render her job obsolete. She's our official family forecaster.

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Every morning Mom calls and tells me the weather news. She's always up before the sun, checking the headlines and tuning into the forecast.

It dawned on me not long ago, though, that Mom's been putting her own spin on the weather story for the past 40 years or so. When I was in first grade, a cold front was perpetually moving into southern Missouri. That's how I ended up being the only kid wearing an undershirt in May. She still finagles "better cover up those ears with a hat" into every forecast, even when the neighbor is out mowing in his bermudas.

Last week, I warned my husband that he should be prepared to spend the night at work because freezing rain was headed our way, according to Mom. I even stocked up on groceries.

That night, he rolled into the dry driveway wearing more layers than a wedding cake. "What time did your mom say that freezing rain is supposed to hit?" he said. "I've been sweating all day."

If this high-tech toaster becomes a must-have appliance, it could change the way the next generation thinks and talks about weather.

Not so long ago, folks forecast weather the low-tech way, by gazing at the heavens and nature (the bands on a woolly worm, for instance).

In the future, I expect different weather talk:

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Soggy soul: "I skipped breakfast today so I didn't know it was going to rain."

Teen in shorts in blizzard: "Hey, our toaster's broken."

Mom in mukluks in Indian summer: "I couldn't see the forecast for the strawberry jam."

Soaked jogger: "We're out of bread."

And if forecasts can be printed on toast, why not the latest headlines or even advertisements? There's no end to how our appliances can help us get off to a sunny start each morning.

For now, though, I'll stick to the daily ritual of listening to my mother's biased weather report. She's still smarter than my toaster.


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