updated 9/15/2006 3:14:44 PM ET 2006-09-15T19:14:44

The Old Farmer's Almanac is on the newsstands again, predicting the weather by researching sunspots. This year's edition also helps predict the outcome of dinner dates with more down-to-earth research, on pizza toppings.

Believers will prepare for a colder and snowier than normal winter in much of the country if, as the almanac expects, a mild El Nino develops in the Pacific Ocean. The almanac also is looking for an early spring and mild summer in most areas, with continued drought and wildfires in the West and the threat of a major hurricane in the Northeast next year.

El Ninos, marked by warm surface ocean temperatures near the equator, can change weather patterns worldwide. If a weak El Nino develops, "it will be colder than normal, on average, just about everywhere except some of the places you would least expect, and that includes northern New England," said Editor Janice Stillman.

"We expect the snowfall to be below normal through most of the center of country but above normal just about everywhere else that gets snow," she said.

Other advice
No matter what the weather, readers can count on this year's issue, the 215th, to help them name their kids, solve fashion dilemmas and get through pizza parties without arguments.

The almanac says its pizza personality profile is based on work by the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago. The foundation concluded that people who prefer one meat topping, for instance, are "irritable, argumentative procrastinators who frequently conveniently `forget'" work and home obligations.

Natural leaders chose nontraditional toppings, such as pineapple, while the pizza with one veggie topping typically is ordered by people who make ideal parents, the study said. Such people tend to be "empathetic, understanding, well-adjusted (and) easygoing."

Published since 1792, the Old Farmer's Almanac is North America's oldest continuously published periodical. The little yellow magazine still comes with the hole in the corner so it can hang in outhouses.

And it still contains astronomical information and tide charts so accurate the government considered banning them during World War II, fearing they would help German spies.

The Old Farmer's Almanac is not to be confused with the Maine-based Farmer's Almanac, which has been continuously published only since 1818.

Keeping pace with the 21st Century, the Old Farmer's Almanac is online with current weather forecasts, tides tables and other information. The site attracted 462 million hits in the last year, Stillman said.

Showing that sun will rise
Stillman said familiarity and humor keep the almanac popular, even as America fights a war against terrorists and reflects on the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks.

"The role we try to play is to be the good news and to be the diversion from the headlines to provide a complete change of pace and view and take on everything," Stillman said. "We need to see the continuity of things. We need to see that every day, the sun will rise."

This edition also offers information on everything from how to impress the opposite sex to growing better vegetables.

Quick tips on making an impression:

Women — lose the shoulder pads. "You can throw them away," Stillman said. "They are not coming back."

Men and women — "Use the most effective pickup line every invented: `Hi.'"

Stillman said she laughed out loud at some of the marriage proposal essays in the new almanac. Her favorite was from a woman who wrote that her "Romeo" asked her to "fetch him another cold one" during a TV commercial.

When she delivered the beer, the woman wrote, "he looked into my eyes and said, ‘How would ya like to do this full-time?'"

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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