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THE GOODS | CYBURBIA

Finally a Site for Just Plain Folks

May 20, 1997|DAVID COLKER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The next time someone tells you they have no interest in the Internet because it's unwholesome, crass and too new, agree with them. On the wild and wooly Web, there is much that is not exactly grounded.

But then point your browser at http://www.almanac.com. There lies the home page of the epitome of folksiness, down-home wisdom and Americana. It's "The Old Farmer's Almanac," which has been a part of the American scene since George Washington's second term.

The publication uses the Web cleverly (and unabashedly) for promotion, and provides Net surfers access to some of its most endearing features.

The introductory page lists the current moon phase, the number of days until the season changes and links to weather forecasts and sky charts.

Weather is a mainstay for the almanac, which claims it has a secret formula for long-range forecasts up to 18 months in advance. This is necessary lead time for an annual publication, and its predictions are, not surprisingly, somewhat vague. "Early May will be rather cool, and these cooler temperatures will predominate in May," reads part of the forecast for the entire state of California.

But recognizing the immediacy of the Web, the almanac site also includes daily, far more detailed forecasts for dozens of cities, provided by AccuWeather.

Digressing briefly, some of the country's most site-specific, daily forecasts are now available on the Web, courtesy of the National Weather Service. Regularly updated forecasts for various areas in Los Angeles can be found at http://www.nwsla.noaa.gov/zones/LAXFPCA.

But getting to actual forecasts might take a bit of heavy mouse clicking.

At the "Old Farmer's Almanac" site, you can find links on the home page to check out the moon phase for any day of the year, scan a guide to eclipses and see where we are in the 11-year sunspot cycle.

Clicking to more folksy features, you can find recipes, proverbs ("A May cold is a 30-day cold") and a few very clean jokes ("Drive-in banking was established in order to allow cars to see their real owners.")

There is also the ever-popular "Today in History" feature and the "Advice of the Day" recommendation (for example, that carrot and beet seeds be soaked for a few hours before planting.

Finding "The Old Farmer's Almanac" on the Web provides a reminder that the Earth has its own rhythms that continue unaffected, no matter how many hours we wile away in front of the computer screen.

* Cyburbia's e-mail address is david.colker@latimes.com.

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