Dear Dr. Boli: Why are there so many different kinds of clouds? Shouldn’t they be rationalized? —Sincerely, J. Bhatia, President, American National Standards Institute.
Dear Sir: Clouds are wilful and capricious beings, of a decidedly libertarian bent, and resist all efforts to regiment them into a more rational order. The best that can be done, therefore, is to learn the various types, so as to be able to distinguish between clouds that intend merely to get you a bit wet and clouds bent on knocking down your house.
Cumulus.—Cumulus clouds are the puffy white clouds one sees in the sky on an otherwise fair day. The most up-to-date meteorological theory suggests that cumulus clouds are the souls of departed lambs and kittens.
Nimbus.—Nimbus, or rain-bearing, clouds are the shadows cast by cumulus clouds on the other side of the earth.