I have much admiration for folks who make a living sticking their necks out with bold predictions of one sort or another.
They weigh the facts, put their experience to work and share a thoughtful opinion about the future.
Many of these people regularly end up in the pages of The Western Producer, particularly in the markets section. It’s where we run stories by reporters who pick the brains of market analysts and then explain their prognostications to our readers.
Sometimes the analysts are right and other times not so much. The Producer will sometimes feel the heat when things go wrong, but it’s nothing compared to the shellacking that the analysts themselves must suffer.
Meteorologists are another breed of prognosticator who habitually stick their necks out to predict the future.
In fact, weather forecasting has to be one of the only professions where being wrong isn’t a career killer — where being wrong is almost expected.
About 10 years ago I stuck my own neck out while straying into the risky world of predictions — and in front of teenagers, no less. It wasn’t a monumental prediction like canola prices or the chance of rain, but it was still pretty scary.
Back in those days, I would watch the International Space Station’s website to find out when it would be visible from my backyard.
This particular winter night was going to be one of those times, and I was minutes away from heading outside when my teenaged daughter showed up with a handful of friends.
They were milling around the front hallway while she went upstairs to get something when I said, “anyone want to watch the space station go by?”
They were intrigued, so out we went. The only one who didn’t seem very thrilled was my daughter.
As we got into position on the deck, however, I started to fret. What if I’d got it wrong? What if it wasn’t going to show up after all? If that happened, my daughter’s dark looks were going to get a tad darker.
But then, just like clockwork, a little dot of light winked into view in the southwestern sky to oohs and ahs from the crowd, and we stood there together watching the station make its slow but steady journey across the heavens.
For a few minutes at least I was cool, with my neck still intact.