Archive for the ‘New England’ Category

Cold weather sucks!

Hot weather sucks!

There is no pleasing an old person when it comes to weather! Yeah, that’s probably true, but then, I’m not certain there is “pleasing” anyone when it comes to weather. In addition, where the hell can one live on planet earth where there isn’t some kind of weather phenomenon that would cause people living there to say, “This weather sucks!” Really, think about it. You might say that San Diego has the most gorgeous year round weather, but they still have their May gray and June gloom. In addition, the winter months are a rainy season. The beauty of southern California appeals to many, but I would rather face the cold than the threat of being tossed into the cold Pacific by “the big one.” There are always the Canary Islands – named for a dog, by the way – off the western coast of Africa…ooh, wait a minute, let’s weigh the choices: Good weather versus the possibility of Ebola; nope, I’ll stay here. Malaga in Spain, Sao Paulo in Brazil, Sydney, Australia, Kunming China, Lihue, Hawaii, Medellin, Columbia, and Durbin, South Africa all have appealing weather, but the dangers far outweigh the desire for year round weather to die for.

It comes down to a matter of what is truly important to the individual. Since I am a New Englander, it is my birthright to bitch about the weather. Were I a Floridian, I would have every right to complain about hurricanes (as well as Cuban émigrés); should I live along tornado alley, that would be, by birth, my right about which to complain. God forbid I should live anywhere in California. The San Andreas Fault gives me the heebejeebees. You see, it doesn’t really matter where we live…we must complain about something, and since the weather is one of those things over which we have absolutely no control, it is that against which we vent out wrath.

Perhaps the worst thing about winter weather is something that you would have trouble guessing. It’s the ‘finger split.’ Just above the finger nails the skin becomes very dry and it splits open…not like a gusher of a deep cut; more like a paper cut that gets deeper and deeper and spreads wider and wider, and it stings like a sum bitch. Moisturizing hand crème is your best bet, but if you forget for one day, the finger split will get you, and once it does, you’re cursed for the winter. Moisturize it after it has begun? Sorry, too late; O’Keefe’s hand crème? Nope, it’s good, but not that good. The finger split is everyone’s worst nightmare. If you work outside in the winter, it’s nearly inevitable; if you work in a nice, dry office, you’d better be putting on Eucerin or something else every hour.

I have a friend who takes the train to Boston each day. She has to walk a couple of blocks to work when she exits the train. She also goes through one Chapstick each day of the winter; that’s like eating the damned things, but she is cursed with dry skin.

Certainly there are places that have a year round temperate climate; trouble is, if I moved to one of these places, what would I have to bitch about? If an old person, in particular, has nothing to complain about, he or she begins complaining about aches and pains. When you begin worry about aches and pains, you have only two things to worry about; it’s a serious condition or it’s not. If the doctor says it’s not serious, you have only two things to worry about; it’s going to get better or it’s going to get worse. If it gets better, you have nothing to worry about; if it gets worse, you have two things to worry about….

…and so it goes…right on to the part about if you die, you have only two things to worry about; will you go up or will you go down. Theoretically, if you go up, you have nothing to worry about; if you go down, you’ll be shaking hands with so many old friends, you won’t have time to worry. Beyond that, you’ll never have to be concerned about the cold again.

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I hate to be the bearer of bad news; yeah, I probably shouldn’t even mention it…well, I guess you have to know…winter’s coming! It is possible to hold back on telling you that, but, well, we’ve sort of become friends over the years, and I believe you’re entitled to be aware of this phenomenon.

If you’re a New Englander, you might already have begun your preparations for this onslaught. If you love it, you’re preparing the ski boots; seeing if last year’s clothing is still stylish enough to be worn on the slopes; maybe you’ll just have to drop another $500 to a grand to be seen in this year’s latest fashion. I do have a money saving suggestion on that. If you know an orthopedic surgeon who can make a plaster cast of your leg – lower half only, of course – and make it so that the halves are held together with Velcro straps, you can spend all of your time in the lodge doing the apre ski bit by the fire, telling wonderful lies about how you snapped your tibia or fibula or both. Wear last year’s indoor stuff or buy a couple of sweaters to fake it look good.

I have never understood the appeal of winter. Eighty fucking winters I have spent here and I still don’t know exactly why I do it…can you say, “masochist?” Really; I think I’m doing penance for summer. Summer I like; I complain about the heat like everyone else, but we have central air conditioning…and a pool…and a dog [What the hell does that have to do with anything?]. But winter, come-on-folks. In the summer, what do you have to break your back shoveling? Nothing; you have to shovel nothing. In the summer, what do you have to worry about when you’re driving? Nothing, you have to worry about…well, okay, the other idiots on the road thinking about their vacations at the shore or whatever, but you don’t have to worry about skidding; about some other asshole skidding; about “Will my insurance rates skyrocket if this fool sliding toward me actually hits my car or will I get beyond him before he can do any…oh, shit!” It’s things like this that begin to prey on my mind as winter approaches, but I suppose that having tiny ice crystals blown in your face, which is so frozen you can’t feel it anyway, as you schuss down the slopes has appeal to many folks. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be places like Vail, and Aspen, Jackson Hole and Snowbird, the hill at the Norfolk Golf Club and the Blue Hills in Canton. Well, I just threw those last two in because they’re close. Celebrities go to places like Alta, Teluride, and Park City, but I’m not certain if they’re paid to tell others they are going there; if they actually ski while they are there; or if they say that and then head for Hawaii.

I have many friends who enjoy skiing and getting outside on a rink to slap a puck around when the temperature is hovering around zero, but I don’t understand them. They tell me how refreshing it is; how energized they become after spending a day “on the slopes.” I think they’re lying, but I can’t tell. How can you enjoy five or six hours of not feeling your fingers or toes; having to wear goggles so your eyelids don’t freeze shut? How can you do that? You call that fun?

There is also the prelude to winter. It’s called fall. In New England, it is one of the most beautiful times of the year. To the skiers and skaters, it portends the descent of white stuff soon to follow. To visitors to the area, it’s the time when the leaves stop making chlorophyll and return to their natural shades of reds, oranges, yellows, and a million different shadings which create an unsurpassed beauty. For the first few years that she was here, Juli and I would use the Columbus Day weekend as a time to follow the Mohawk Trail and take other side roads to see the remarkable foliage. Spots such as Williams College, the Universities of New Hampshire and Vermont, and other college campuses in the area take on an entirely new look in the fall. Artists, amateur and professional, can be seen painting buildings, but with a background so beautiful, it will take your breath away.

Then, the leaves in all their beauty are gone. Where, you ask? I often believe that God has a plan to dump them all on my lawn. I know that’s not the case. It just seems that way! My neighbor maintains that I leave the leaves on my property until the east wind decides to move them to his front lawn. I would never do anything as dastardly as that…heh, heh, heh! Actually, I employ his three sons, who have a very successful landscaping business to care for leaves as well as lawn. I get my exercise each morning in the gym. You expect I should go out and rake leaves, too; what are you, nuts?

I kid a great deal about the seasons in New England but the truth is, I’m not certain I’d have enjoyed growing up, living and working anyplace else. The mountains and the air are magnificent in Colorado, what little I’ve seen of it; the beaches in Florida are beautiful with their white sand and warm ocean breezes; Idaho, Washington, Oregon, and California all have things going for them in one way or another; however, for my money, nothing is more beautiful than the six states that comprise New England. Yes, we have our potential for hurricanes that come over from Africa – no Ebola comments, please – and we have our blizzards that come down from Canada or from the west, and lately, we’re even catching a few damaging tornadoes. We also have some of the best health care facilities in the world; colleges and universities, state and private, that have built an outstanding reputation for excellence in education. We are a diverse culture where all are encouraged to do as they can. In total, despite my bitching and wailing, I’m not certain that I want to spend the next eighty years anywhere else.

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“Oh….I wish I was in the land ‘o cotton” or anyplace far enough below the Mason-Dixon Line or West of the Mississippi where my butt cheeks didn’t feel like a couple of very, very large ice cubes! I generally cast aspersions on my cowardly friends who retreat to Florida this time of year; now I’m wondering if it isn’t cowardice but a firm grasp on reality that drives them south. Our low this morning was minus eight degrees; right now it’s a blistering fourteen…and tomorrow is supposed to be worse? You have to be kidding.

On a bit more serious note, I received my first bit of “that’s how badly your lungs are damaged” information this morning. Juli was sleeping and I decided to let Widget out for her morning ablutions. The ‘long’ leash is about twenty feet. This allows one to stand in the Florida room off the kitchen, open the back door, and let the dog out to do her business without having to step outside. There’s only one problem…the door to the outside must remain open so the dog can see who’s holding the leash. She couldn’t have been out more than three minutes – poopsicles and peesicles form quickly – and she was back in the house like a shot. As I was removing the leash from her collar, I felt so faint that I collapsed in a chair and had a measure of difficulty breathing that caused me to think I might be joining my late wife any moment. I can make light of it now, but it scared the living daylights out of me. Research says that breathing freezing air isn’t necessarily bad for one unless he or she has exercised-induced asthma. Since that’s not a problem, I have no clue about what happened and would prefer that it not happen again.

It was wonderful to watch Deval Patrick, the Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts doling out instructions on television about how to dress; how to drive; and how to keep your house or apartment warm and cozy during this snowstorm that just passed. Either he didn’t have much else on his plate or he felt lacking in television time. Best part of the whole thing was watching a friend from the gym do the signing for him.

Winter in New England certainly isn’t for everyone. It’s not that ‘we’ [notice that, did’ja?] are all that much heartier than folks from the more temperate climate. It’s more that we’re cheap bastards who say we can’t afford to spend the money. Then we die and our kids get what we should have spent going south. Therefore, it may be truly said of us that we aren’t all that bright.

Some will say, “Oh, but you get to see the changing of the seasons and that’s so beautiful.” Bullshit; I’m willing to bet that I could sit in a beach chair in Islamorada and watch the sun set and never get tired of that either. The seasonal changes themselves have changed up here. We go from winter to rain; there is no spring anymore…it’s just that you know winter must be over when, instead of white stuff falling from the heavens, it’s crystal clear and doesn’t stop until July 1. It then goes from monsoon season to the grass-growing-brown season, also known as “turn on the goddamned air conditioning” season. White people lather up and try to turn brown, and Black people prove their mental superiority by staying the hell out of the sun. A Black friend once told me that his sunburn made him turn purple. I didn’t believe him until I actually saw a Black guy on the beach one day and he was turning purple – I kid you not!

Sometime in late September – still summer by my calculations – a day dawns that has a ‘snap’ to it. This is rather shocking since summer seemed to have begun yesterday. The next day is back to being one of summers finest, but by early October, ‘snap days’ become far more common than those of summer temperatures. The leaves change, returning to their birth colors and we all “oooh” and “aaaah” over nature’s beauty. If we’re fortunate, the snow doesn’t begin to fall until after Thanksgiving. Then we repeat the cycle…and repeat, and repeat, and repeat ad nauseum until eventually we give up the ghost and pass silently and gently to another life.

I’m one of those who says that it doesn’t snow as much as it did when I was growing up. Of course, I’m also the one who says that the classrooms in my old elementary school are much smaller than I remember them to be. The stairs are steeper and the desks are smaller, but hey, that’s life.

So here I sit, away from the book I was reading and trying to warm my fingers by pounding away on the keyboard. If we turn the heat up any higher the energy police will probably come knocking. Ah, to hell with it; I’m going back to bed. Someone kindly wake me at the end of the rainy season, puh-leeze?

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For seventy-nine years I have lived in Massachusetts; there are natives – no, not Native Americans you idiot; natives to the state – and it still shocks the living daylights out of me what happens when it is announced via radio – sound, no picture – and television that a Nor’easter is heading our way in December. This is New England. Anytime between mid-November and mid-April, we may expect that our precipitation is going to be white. Why then, oh why, do people go into panic mode each time a storm is predicted?

Years ago, a major snowstorm was considered to be anything over 12-15 inches in 24 hours. Today, a major storm is six inches or above. I don’t quite understand what has changed. Our road equipment is far superior to what it was less than a decade ago. Radar tracking via Doppler and whatever else is a great deal better than ever before. Television updates on road conditions change about every 15 minutes, and yet, citizen panic is worse than it was when I was working in the A&P in Rockland as a teenager.

If one of the local weather forecasters announces, as they often do, “We’re tracking a storm in the Gulf of Mexico that may hit New England as snow early next week,” Why in the hell do people wait until the day before, when the forecasters are sounding like prophets of doom and gloom, to check their pantries and the refrigerator. Drivers wait until the day before to gas up. For three or four days before, ‘newsies’ are reporting from sand pits and salt storage facilities that the state is gearing up for a sizeable snow storm that will hit the region on whenever. Are people so stupid that they don’t believe these news reports? Are they so up to their collective butts in the Christmas shopping gig that they don’t know what the words, “A major snowstorm will strike the day after tomorrow” actually mean?

I hear people at the gym say, “Oh, the weather people are always wrong. No one can predict New England weather.” Well shit Sherlock, I’d much rather be safe than sorry. I have a small freezer in the garage, and this time of year, you just open the garage door a few inches and even if the power goes out, the food will still stay frozen or damn close to it. But nooo, these fools all seem to wait until the snow is already on the road before they decide that it might be a good idea to get an extra gallon of bread and another loaf of bread in for whatever this white stuff is that’s beginning to pile up on the roads.

After working out at the gym at 5, I returned home and prepared to get some of Juli’s packages mailed. By medical directive, Juli and I also had to go to Walmart this morning. One of my numerous doctors decided yesterday that I needed a new prescription; Walmart called last night, saying that the scrip would be ready this morning, so off we went. There was no snow; the sun was out when we entered the store; when we emerged about 20 minutes later, there was much less sun. “Anywhere else?” I inquired. “Starbucks for chocolate croissants,” she replied. “Good thinking, “I thought, and so we made the pit stop at Starbucks on the way home. Home, what a wonderful word; we spent the day, me working on a rug that I’m latch hooking, and my loved one on the couch beside me, doing Christmas cross stitching. Periodically, we would switch to CNN or one of the other channels to watch lines at gas stations or the ants running from Home Depot or Loews with their newly acquired plastic ‘heart attack’ shovels. We were warm and comfy. These jerks were cold and panicky.

I do not understand the raison d’être behind putting things off like this. It’s a snowstorm; what the hell did you do, throw out last year’s shovel? That was kind of dumb. December does tend to roll around each year, and we do sort of expect there to be a sufficient amount of snow that a shovel will be required; so what the hell goes through your mind? Okay, don’t believe the weather person, but for God’s sake, when every channel is saying the snow will be plowable, don’t you think you just might want to get out there early rather than waiting until the last possible minute…serve you right if the hardware stores were all out!

Here’s the formula: NE + December = possibility of snow; snow + potential for not driving = provisions; provisions + cash or credit + common sense = stocking up ahead of time. New Englanders like to think of themselves as hearty stock. However, along with our heartiness, we have also inherited something else from our ancestors; it’s called stubbornness; Over the years, that stubbornness has become osmosisized [I made the word up; live with it!] into a lack of common sense. In academic terms, “We have dumbed ourselves down, e.g., we don’t believe it’s going to snow until and unless there is three inches already on the ground.

What gives me hope for New Englanders is that the same kind of thinking occurs in other parts of the country. For example, if you live along Tornado Alley, wouldn’t it make a lot of sense to have bunkers built into your schools and have reinforced basements or shelters at home? Yet, people lose their homes year after year and continue to rebuild. Folks who live along the Mississippi and other rivers that flood continue to rebuild year after year. Folks who live on the Gulf know that chances are pretty good that they’re going to get flooded out in some way shape or form, just as Californians who live along the San Andreas Fault gamble with their lives damn near every day. Come to think of it, I guess we’re all a bunch of idiots no matter where we choose to live. Mother Nature has surprises for us all. Too bad we don’t listen to her.

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It took me a little while but I finally figured out that the majority of people under the age of 25 who own automobiles are idiots! No, no, no…not you and not her, but that other her, she’s a blithering, drooling, semi-trainable asshole! They just nailed another one in New Hampshire who hit a child. She was “under the influence,” whatever that happens to mean in this case. Anyway, they list her age as 25. If you had asked me from looking at her picture, I would have said, “45, ridden hard, and put away wet.” Man, did she look used, abused, and totally confused.

We seem to have a lot of car killers going around in New England lately. One woman, also in New Hampshire, had been stopped for speeding eight hours before she plowed into a group of riders doing their thing for charity. She killed two and injured three others. Here’s the kicker: On that first stop, she was found to be driving without a license…in a car borrowed from a friend…who loaned her the car again, and this time she killed the two cyclists. The police say that not having a license is not an arrestable offense. Shouldn’t it at least be impound the car and call for someone with a license to come and pick you up? To this day, I don’t know if it was a case of not having a license; whether or not she had one and it had been suspended; why did her friend loan her the car the second time; and finally, don’t the politicians in New Hampshire think it’s about time to take another look at the laws governing drivers in the state?

Cars are not toys. Yes, it’s true; most of them are made of crap these days. My late wife had a 1936 Buick that she swore was capable of plowing through saplings four inches in diameter and brought certain destruction to roadside mailboxes. This, of course, was in her wilder, single college days and the car had originally belonged to her mother. I’m quite certain that when it was given to her by her mother, there wasn’t a dent or scratch. Anna, her mother, was approximately four feet, eight inches tall, and never allowed the speedometer to pass 25.

Today’s cars are made of aluminum foil and plastic. They don’t hold up to well against saplings and fair even worse when it comes to mailboxes. Several years ago, I was run off the road and had to have some body work done on my ’99 Toyota. The fellow at the body shop is the one who told me about the aluminum foil. After he’d removed the rear quarter panel, he demonstrated what he meant by tearing a part of the panel by hand. He then invited me to try; if was frightening to feel the ease with which I could rend this piece of ‘tinfoil.’

What I really don’t understand is what makes people believe that they are safe behind the wheel. Safe to have their music blasting as loud as possible; safe to be talking on the telephone while driving through parking lots with no regard for other cars that might be leaving their parking spots; safe to totally disregard people walking in crosswalks…people can also make a hell of a dent in your car and smash your windows if you hit them hard enough! It’s almost as though they regard their car as a tank. They are not tanks. SUV’s are not tanks. They are not heavily armored. Most important of all, cars are not toys. They require sensible driving, not senseless aiming. They require people to handle them with the same amount of care with which you would handle a loaded weapon.

Recently, I was talking with a young neighbor who is also on the race car circuit.  “It’s not me I’m worried about when I’m on the track,” he told me, “but you have to keep your eye on your four mirrors for the idiots who are behind and beside you because you never know how they may try to get you off the track. That’s how I’m beginning to feel about neighborhood driving or driving on major highways. I was returning from a doctor’s appointment earlier this week and was on a highway where the posted speed limit is 55 miles per hour. I decided to conduct an experiment to see if I could set the cruise control at 65 and remain in the right lane all the way home. I did not pass one car and drew several dirty looks as drivers passed me. This is a four-lane highway…on either side. I tried to guess how fast those in the left lane were moving. My guesstimate was somewhere between 80 to 85…and no one slowed down through construction zones where the speed was supposed to drop to 45. I love the sign, “Speeding fines are doubled in construction zones.” The zone was crowded with State Police cars, blue lights flashing, and no one seemed to give a damn.  Two radar guns and some speed traps up the hill and Massachusetts wouldn’t have had to worry about a budget shortfall ever again!

At least twice a week, our local ABC, NBC, and CBS affiliates show cars wrapped around trees, cut in half by a collision with another car, bark shorn from trees by cars whose drivers thought they had everything under control.  Yet, no one seems to learn. Either they don’t watch the news or they believe themselves to be invincible and immortal, and it just ain’t so.

Here me on this one: The minute you climb behind the wheel, you are in a war zone. At 45 mph, you’re driving a car; at 65 mph, you’re steering a car; at anything over 75, you’re aiming a car. And when you’re aiming, control is no longer in your hands. In addition, if you drink or do drugs or text and drive, you might as well have a gun in your hand and be playing Russian roulette, because it’s not a matter of ‘if’ your accident is going to happen; it’s merely a question of ‘when’ it’s going to happen.

Cars are not toys. More and more, they appear to be weapons of destruction, driven by those who know, without question, that rules don’t apply to them…but they always apply to the other guy…who believes exactly the same thing!

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One of the ways in which you will always know a New Englander is that the first thing he or she says will be a complaint about the weather. We have a propensity to bitch because the ‘winter’ is too cold and the ‘summer’ is too hot. Excuse me, but winter is supposed to be cold and summer is supposed to be hot. This inevitable complaining makes us paragons of idiocy. And yes, I am a part of that group of stupid people that make those exact complaints.

There is, however, a raison d’etre behind our apparent stupidity…we have no spring. Somewhere and at some time, spring abandoned New England. Oh, sure, buds appear on trees and crocus pop up through the snow covered ground…but it’s snow, and if it’s snow, it’s freaking winter; snow is not spring. Spring is supposed to be that time when the sun has driven winter away. The nights are cool, but the windows are open and welcoming the scent of warmer times to come. There is a shower here and there to help the trees and bushes and flowers along the way to aid in creating the beauty of June and more warmth. Not in New England, my friend, not for decades have such an event occurred in New England. Old timers, e.g., me, can recall those days of definite division between the four seasons. Why I recall…”oh shut up old man and let me bitch and wail,” you say, and you’re correct. Recalling the past does little to affect the future. It does seem to me that there was spring more defined years ago. Now it appears we go from freezing cold to freezing rain to rain that’s not quite as freezing to blasts of heat announce summer. We look questioningly at one another and ask, “What the hell happened to spring [it’s so bad we don’t even bother to capitalize the ‘s’ anymore].

Now summer is beginning to mess up my life. The house we moved to has an in ground pool which I use to exercise during the summer months. According to my calendar, summer months are from June 21st  to  October 1st. The calendar says September 22nd, but if the water temperature has not reached 67 degrees, no matter the calendar, it is still summer. Today is September 18th, and for the past few mornings, I have been freezing my buns off. Hell, I’ve almost turned up the thermostat to get some heat in this house. There’s another one of our damned stupid rules…we never turn the heat on until October 1st. How dumb is that? “Add another blanket!” “Put on another sweatshirt!” “Grab an afghan!” And finally, with blue fingers and lips, I approach the thermostat and push the little button to ‘heat.’ Damn thing may be set for 50 but it usually cuts in immediately and runs all day just to bring us up to “mighty damn chilly’ – that’s one of the settings we have – just kidding!

Some say that global warming is responsible for all of these changes in weather. If it is, I wish to hell it would stop. I don’t like sticking to the toilet seat when I get up to go in the morning…and the toilet seat isn’t even metal. I mean, it’s one thing to send your kid off to the first day of school and have him get his tongue stuck on the flag pole, but this is going a little too far.

The one thing that is a certainty in this life – along with death and taxes – is that if you meet a New Englander for the first time, the conversation will soon turn to the weather. Even if the day is beautiful, with warm sun and clear skies, you may rest assured that a New Englander will find some fault. Hell, it’s a given; it’s our birthright, our heritage; we’re New Englanders and in our DNA is a chromosome that’s labeled the ‘four-seasons-weather-bitching-chromosome.’

You want to talk about something non-controversial with a New Englander, ask about his politics!

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I’m a New Englander, born and bred. I’m also …correction…I have been at different points in my life, an ardent Boston sports fan. I remember when Pumpsie Green became the first Black man to play for the Boston Red Sox, and the Sox were the last major league team to have a minority on their roster…I said, “sports fan” not sports fanatic. It had been twelve years since Jackie Robinson had broken baseball’s color barrier, but hey, what can I tell you?

I’m old enough to remember going to a National League game at Braves Field on Commonwealth Avenue to watch Earl Torgeson, Tommy Holmes,  Sam Jethroe, Sibi Sisti, and the whole crowd. Compared to the stadiums of today, that was like a Little League field; no wonder they left Boston. While I never did get to wherever the hell the Boston Patriots were playing at the time, I was wise enough to realize that football is played in weather that is generally fit only for mad dogs and Englishmen. George Pyne, an old friend from the Cape (Cod, that is) played for them; then got traded to San Diego. He hung up his cleats when they wanted to ‘shoot up’ his knees for every game.

The Boston Bruins – pronounced “Broons” if you’re from around here – had the Kraut Line of Bobby Bauer, Woody Dumart and Milt Schmidt and later a couple of hotshots named Bobby Orr and Derek Sanderson. I was never a huge hockey fan, but everyone in Boston became a fan in that 1969-1970 season when Orr took a pass from Sanderson to beat the St. Louis Blues to win Lord Stanley’s cup.

These were all tough people. From Ted Williams and Walt Dropo, of the Sox, Tommy Heinsohn and Jim Lusctucoff of the Celtics, any member of the Pats and Bruins, these were hardened competitors. The thing is that I don’t recall one of them being hauled into court on domestic violence, armed robbery, drunk driving, or murder charges. What has happened? I’m not talking about Boston professional sports teams only; I’m speaking of professional sports teams everywhere. Steroids and drug use, lying to Congress and expecting to get away with it; committing acts of mayhem and violence, are these the heroes we want our kids to emulate? Thankfully, my Little League catcher son had Carlton Fisk as a role model!

There are still plenty of heroes in professional sports. Unfortunately, these are the same people whose names never appear on police reports. These are the people who don’t believe they’re bigger than they truly are. These are the folks who know that they’re not above the law and act accordingly. They go to practice or to a game; they do their job…well or not so well, depending on the game, and then they pack it in and move on.

Then there are “the others;” These are the people who believe they should be allowed to do any damned thing they wish and get away with it. Since the last Super Bowl, 28 players from the NFL have been arrested. Few can rank up there with Aaron Hernandez of the New England Patriots who has been arrested for one murder and may find himself facing additional charges. Ausar Walcott of the Cleveland Browns found himself charged with attempted murder after punching a man in the head outside a club in New Jersey. The Browns, as did the Patriots with Hernandez, released Walcott from their roster immediately.

The list goes on and on. There’s no need to recite the arrests, allegations, or suspensions. What these idiots fail to realize or more likely don’t give a damn about, is that they are – like it or not, Charles Barkley – role models for young kids. It’s just something that goes with the talent and the territory. When hockey players drop the gloves on the ice, everybody cheers. If those same hockey players beat someone to death, the cheers would turn to jeers and questions of why that happened. Fights are a part of hockey. They shouldn’t be, but they are. Do that in college and you’re suspended for one game or more. Basketball players get into fights on the court; emotions run high; there’s big money at stake. Off the court, for the most part, you hear comparatively little about them. The steroid scandal in baseball is bad but the guilty are now being punished. They may never be heard from again, but should we do so, you can bet your boots they’ll behave a bit differently.

It’s time that professional athletes be informed once more what they mean to their fans. David Ortiz’s outburst the other day was totally out of line. By his actions he has given permission for everyone who roots for him and the Red Sox permission to blow off steam by destroying something in the immediate vicinity. I didn’t happen to see where that “called strike” was, but I certainly have never seen the emotional Ortiz lose his cool that way. Remember what you mean to Boston, David.

I suppose it’s easy for professional athletes to believe they’re something special. In point of fact, they are; great talent; great ability; great paychecks…that does not give them the right to humiliate themselves, their teams or their fans. You’re not gods, guys; get over yourselves.

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New Englanders are funny people…not necessarily funny “ha, ha,” but funny “strange.” It is imperative that we have weather about which we can complain – perhaps “bitch” would be a more appropriate word but this is a ‘G’ rated blog. In the winter, with the exception of this past one, we complain about the snow. If we don’t have it by the Holidays, we complain about not having a white Christmas. If we have a foot of it on the ground for Santa and his minions, we complain…nee bitch…how horrible the winter is. If we have a January thaw that lasts for more than three days, we complain that the snow is melting too quickly. Are you getting the picture here? Often, April is hotter than the hinges on the gates of Hell, and we complain that there has been no Spring. Give us three days of ninety degrees in the summer and we’re running around screaming, “Heat wave?” Without question, fall in New England is one of the most beautiful times of the year. It’s when bitching generally subsides to a whisper, mostly about having to rake all those damned leaves. If one was to ask a “perpetual bitching New Englander” why he or she doesn’t move elsewhere, the look you would get would, unquestionably, freeze those hinges on the gates of Hell.

Juli and I were speaking of New England and its people the other day. We pretty much agree that I am a typical New Englander, which means that I continually and perpetually bitch about the weather. Given that she is from Sacramento, California where summer temperatures have been known to hit 112o for three or four days in the summer and where 108o is not uncommon, I guess New England isn’t all that bad.

We live where we live because we have found something that, if hard pressed, we would be unable to put into words. It doesn’t matter whether it’s Seattle, Washington where it rains nearly 360 days a year, or Los Angeles where it’s dry as a bone, there is something that the residents love that keeps them in “their” place. I know a number of people who have retired to Florida. I’ve been to Florida in the summer; thanks, but no thanks. Wringing out my clothing every hour on the hour just doesn’t suit this old man. Come to think of it, I’ve been in the majority of the contiguous 48, but I still, will, and always consider New England my home.

Every state has its draws and its drawbacks. If it had an ocean for me, I might just consider Colorado. The mountains are magnificent; the greenery fantastic, and having deer, bears, and other animal life in my backyard regularly is something I appreciate. But…it doesn’t have an ocean. It gets as much, if not more, snow than I do in my cozy nest at wintertime, and the last time I was there, it took me a week to begin breathing properly! The Great Plains are probably ‘great,’ but they just hold no appeal for me, and most of the Southern states are similar to Florida in the summer…and don’t give me that nonsense about it being a dry heat; I drove through Amarillo in August – even got stopped for doing 30 in a 25 mph zone – and it was really, really hot! As far as Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin are concerned, I’m still a salt water guy. In addition, I served in the Army with some folks from Minnesota. They bitch more about their weather than any New Englander I’ve ever met!

So, without belaboring the point further, I’ll just have to continue to complain…as is my wont, and let others live on their chosen turf. Yep, we generally get dumped on in the winter; get poured on in the spring; get ‘crispy-crittered’ by September, and get pissed at the colorful leaves in the fall, but it’s home, and wherever you happen to live, I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoy ‘my’ New England.

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