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What’s in a name?

Or: Why is this site called The Iceland Weather Report when it has nothing to do with the weather?

This is a question I get asked frequently, and indeed it does seem rather absurd to call a blog that deals mainly with Icelandic current affairs and politics The Iceland Weather Report. Surely something like The Iceland News Report or the Iceland Observer or even News From Iceland would seem a lot more logical [banality notwithstanding, ahem].

Well, as it happens, there’s a story.

One day back in October 2005, I found myself slightly bored. It was a slow time of year in the freelance copy editing and translating business, and I had plucked my eyebrows, filed my nails, played about 30 games of Snood and had resorted to staring out of the window. At the weather.

And I started travelling down memory lane. Back to the days when I first moved to Iceland about 10 years before. My first job after moving back was working as a journalist and translator for Iceland’s main English-language publisher, Iceland Review. This was when the term ‘Internet’ was just entering the common lexicon and my employer decided to launch a ‘website’. On that website were little bits of news and current affairs from Iceland that we, the journalists, compiled every morning. And there was a weather report.

Now, that weather report was pretty boring. “Today’s weather: strong winds from the south, temperatures x degrees, sunrise at xx sunset at xx.” Period. Dullsville. So after a while, our YT and one other journalist started adding little bits to make it slightly more interesting. Things like, “Frost last night. Was late for work because the ice was so glued to my windshield that I had to scrape until my fingers were numb.” Or: “Amazing sunrise this morning on my way to work. The mountains up in Bláfjöll silhouetted black against the sky – looks like a good day for skiing…” or something similar. And sometimes we’d make them funny. Or witty. Or charming. Or all three.

Much to our surprise, our little weather reports started gaining a bit of a following. People would write in and praise them, or tell us they looked forward to them every day, or leave comments, or whatever. They’d not say much about the news, but the weather reports were a definite hit. So we started making them longer. And soon the weather reports at Iceland Review had a bit of a cult status worldwide.

Not too much later, YT left Iceland Review at the height of her Weather Reporting fame, moving on to Bigger and Better Things. One of which included having a little column in a cute little e-zine called Eye on Iceland. The column was called Alda’s Eye and was about all things Icelandic, and waddayaknow, it garnered a bit of a following as well. That collaboration eventually ended, as did the e-zine. And YT went on to Other Things, but secretly missed having a little column in which to indulge her writing habit.

Until that morning in late October 2005, exactly one year ago today, when I had filed my nails and plucked my eyebrows and played Snood and sat looking out of the window. And thought, Hm, maybe I should start a blog and call it The Iceland Weather Report. I can write little blurbs from my daily life and end it with a little weather report for that day.

So that’s what I did.

Except that after about five years, doing the little weather report at the end had become too much of a chore [you try spending five years coming up with ways to describe the weather] so I decided to scrap it, but keep the other bit. Anyway, by that time this blog had morphed into more of a political-slash-economic-slash-current affairs diatribe [thanks to the economic collapse and the resulting kreppa] so it had deviated quite far from its original incarnation anyway. I debated about changing the name as well, but most of my readers wouldn’t hear of it. So now, instead of a written weather report, I have a daily feed from the Icelandic Met Office, which is much more accurate and complete, anyway.

So there you have it. The story of the name of The Iceland Weather Report, in a nutshell.