Archive for the ‘Tornadoes’ Category

Let us make some assumptions…you may believe them to be unwarranted and that’s your privilege. However, that is the Royal “us” which means that I am the one making the assumptions, and you, well, you’re just along for the ride.

The first assumption that I will make is that I, you, me, we, am dead. We have crossed the great divide, gotten on board our particular plane, seen the bright light and heard the most beautiful music we’ve ever heard, etc., etc., etc. By the bye, this really isn’t an assumption; like it or not, there will come a day when whatever is on our bucket list will have to remain there because we have kicked that particular bucket.

The second assumption I will make is that we – you and I – have been reasonably good people. Without fanfare, we have supported charities, given a buck here and there to a homeless person, not committed murder, although we have stolen things from the office, lied about a few “small” things, seen a special human being along the way and, as President Jimmy Carter once remarked, “Lusted in my heart.” All in all, though, our former life had more ups than downs, and, except for that time when our bracket got totally busted in the first round, life has been good.

The third assumption I will make is that we – thee and me – went directly to the first level of heaven. No, it’s not like Dante’s first ring of hell. And, this isn’t like purgatory where you get to serve time before you go ‘up’ or ‘down.’ This is a nice place…with one exception. When you arrive, you are immediately assigned a seat in a beautiful glass building. This chair to which you have been assigned and to which you are magically transported, is known as the seat of heavenly knowledge. You see, for as good as you and I have been, we still have to ‘earn’ our wings, so to speak. While we thought that we knew the consequences of our actions on earth, here we are to learn precisely the results of our actions. For instance, remember the time when you nudged that golf ball a bit to the right to help you make that shot that got you out of the woods. You didn’t think anyone was watching, but your young caddy saw it; saw you get away with such a simple thing; he went on to be a world class money manager who robbed people of their savings…and you can just imagine the consequences of that. But that’s okay because in front of your seat is a long desk. It has books that tower out of sight. You will stay here and read every one of those books. You will ponder what happened worldwide when you took every single action in your life. Once you have completed reading, you will be asked what you might have done differently, either to make the results other than they were or to leave them as they happened. This isn’t a quiz on which you’ll receive a grade…well, not as we know grades…no, this is a quiz to determine your eligibility to move on in the heavenly scheme of things. By the way, cheating isn’t an option. Saying that you didn’t actually move the ball will just put you on another plane…very quickly…and it isn’t going up…get the picture?

So you sit in your seat, looking up at the tower of books. Next to you is another heaven-bound individual. His book tower is somewhat smaller than yours. You ask him why his book tower is smaller. He answers by telling you that he died over 3,000 years ago. This rattles you just a wee bit and you look back again at your tower. “Holy crap,” you think, “I’d better get busy.” As you say this, the first book, the one at the very bottom of the tower, slides out before you. Before opening it, your curiosity gets the best of you and you turn your head this way and that, to the left and right; then you turn and look back. The seats and desks go back far beyond your ability to see all of them. What you can see is that some seats are empty; others have towers of books larger and higher than your own, and some are much smaller. Looking ahead you see the same thing…seats, desks, occupants, small towers, larger towers, everyone reading, everyone concentrating on the book in front of them. You begin to read.

Each second of each minute, of each hour, of each day, week, month, and year appears to be contained in these books. As you read, you find that you and everyone, everything, every moment of your life affected the lives of millions of others. You learn that you, along with everyone else who ever has been or is now existing, is part the Chinese butterfly effect which, in turn is part of the chaos theory. Let me give you a simple example: In your middle years, for no reason at all, you passed a street musician, stopped, listened as she played the violin, and she played well. You dropped a five dollar bill in the hat in front of her. With that five dollars, she went to a fast food restaurant. Her violin case was seen by a man who was having a quick lunch. He asked if she played. He heard her music and took her to someone he knew in the music business. She went on to become a concert violinist of such renown that others were influenced to pick up a violin and being playing, etc., etc., etc. And all, of this happened because you took the time to drop a five dollar bill in a hat. Obviously, there were a thousand steps before the violinist achieved her dream of having thousands or millions hear her music, but you were a part of that. It has been said that a butterfly, flapping its wings at just the right moment, may someday, cause a tornado in Kansas. True or not?

And so you read…

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The human body is really quite remarkable, you know. It appears to go through some type of metamorphosis as we age. In the male of the species, that with which I am intimately knowledgeable, and rather, genetically speaking, prepared to discuss…and will do so ad nauseum.

The world seems to have done a 180 degree turn in terms of the weight of all children, male and female. Whereas today’s problem appears to be one of obesity among the young (and others), at the time I was in my prepubescent state, the situation appeared to be exactly the opposite, i.e., “How the hell do we put some meat on those goddamned bones. I found him/her hiding behind a sapling for Christ’s sake!” or words to that effect. Oh sure, there were a few of us – not me – who experienced being called “Fatso” or some other derogatory term. I would add that those so christened did not immediately disappear into their sanctum sanctorum only to emerge with bandoliers of ammunition, an AK-47 in one hand and twin .45s on his hips and take out half the school. If he or she in some cases was really pissed, they might deck the skinny kid with the run-off mouth or perhaps throw him to the ground and sit on him to test his breathing skills, but retaliation was rarely violent and never as drastic as the shit that’s going down today.

Through puberty, high school, and even perhaps college, many of us continued to appear much as we had in our formative years. Others stayed as they were by joining the armed forces or immediately entering the work force but, by and large, we remained as we were. For many of us male-types, college meant finding “her.” We’d probably had our hearts shattered, figuratively speaking, many times along the road of life, but “she” was the one we had all been seeking. In my own case, it was somewhat serendipitous, in that it was the accident of college that led me to “her.” While I was not preparing to become a teacher, it was my second minor concentration and I had the opportunity to teach at my old high school. I was struck by cupid’s arrow the minute I saw her sitting in the teacher’s room, cigarette in hand. By the following summer we were marching down the aisle, all six feet, three inches, 145 pounds of me standing next to the woman of my dreams.

I don’t really know if it’s marriage or parenthood or whatever, but suddenly and in a subtle manner, my physiognomy began to change. My waistline, once in the teens, immediately expanded to late twenties, early thirties. My hairline began to create runways on either side of center. Small aches and pains began to become more prevalent and with an increase in intensity…hmm, is this what adulthood is all about?

A daughter and a son and now we’re done became something of an error when four years after we thought our family was complete, another daughter came into our lives. I really don’t believe our lives were complete, and I must give thanks to the Lord above for blessing us with this crazy bundle of joy. Raising kids is, I swear, an additional cause for the waistline to swell; the hair to further recede, and the heart to pound its way into myocardial infarction. Having lived through three of these episodes and with five stents now assisting blood flow, I do speak with authority on this subject.

Let no one throw at you that old saw that goes, “With age comes wisdom;” I am a great believer that with age comes oldness…wisdom may come along for the ride but trust me, old is old. I am now two inches shorter than when I was married. I am also better than 100 pound heavier; my head is shaved, and getting into bed at night and out in the morning is an effort 365 days a year…oh, except in a leap year when it’s 366 days. Both knees have been surgically repaired; rotator cuffs in each shoulder have been ‘fixed;’ three back operations have resulted in five self-fused lumbar vertebrae, and I have had surgery to hands, feet, and just about everything else in my body.

Today, however, I am facing the trial of my life. I must, once more, at the age of 81, subject myself to the surgeon’s scalpel. It is permissible to quote, “If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it here,” but that would be rather tacky. You see, although circumcision took place at an early age, it would appear that the foreskin of the penis has grown over the poor little fella making it both difficult and painful to discard sugar, et al, though the process of urination. I know; I know, we’re getting a bit personal here, but there is a certain humor in this entire chapter of my life. Whereas doctors have terms for damn near every surgical procedure under the sun, nothing has been put forth for this particular operation. My surgeon has informed me that it’s not uncommon at all for this to happen in older people – good luck to all you kids in your 60s and 70s; something else you may have to look forward to – and it’s a rather simple procedure. Not wanting to go into this thing blind, I have been pondering appropriate nomenclature for this particular ‘snip.’ To date, I have come up with “circum,” since it isn’t another complete circumcision; penisectomy, which sounds much too technical and is not in keeping with the manner in which I’m viewing this ‘cut.’ I have decided that it has come down to a choice between “dickectomy” which is appealing because it incorporates my name with what others have been calling me for years, or “peckerectomy,” which I must admit has a certain degree of flair.  Should you feel that I have yet to hit on the correct term for my upcoming (hmmm) in by 9; out  by 5 event, please feel free to comment.

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The death of Leonard “Spock” Nimoy is sad in many ways. He was a fine actor and, from all accounts, a fine human being. He was a man of many talents, from his acting and directing to some of the beautiful photographs that he shared with us. For me, personally, it was sad because he died of what’s killing me, that is, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. While it’s, as you may have read, the third leading cause of death in the United States, Mr. Nimoy is the first ‘public’ figure of whom I have heard, who has died… and I’m frightened of how it may kill me.

The one thing I do not understand concerning Mr. Nimoy’s death is the number of idiots who feel they have the right to dictate who should or should not attend his funeral. Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner were close friends…for many years. The still-working Shatner had made a commitment that prevented him from attending the funeral. So what? Is it wrong that Shatner chose to honor the charity commitment he had made? Would Nimoy have done the same thing? We’ll never know, but just as Shatner’s children attended Nimoy’s funeral, my bet is that Nimoy family members will choose to attend Captain Kirk’s last stand.

Why am I harping on this? It’s personal and hits very close to home. A few years ago, my sister’s husband died; good guy; good husband; widowed before he met my sister; successful entrepreneur, and all of the other ‘good guy’ adjectives you’d care to mention. My sister asked me to fly to California for Chuck’s funeral, and I went. I went because it was the thing to do and because my sister – my only living relative – asked me to do so. It wasn’t a pleasant trip. In airports and of necessity, I traveled by wheelchair. My sister didn’t know it, and I didn’t tell her. It was a nice service and a nice reception, and a miserable trip back home…okay? It’s over and done with.

If my sister dies before me, I won’t go to her funeral, and should I die before her, I hope like the devil that she won’t try to come to mine…after all, she is three years older than I…no matter what she tells her friends. I fly to California and she introduces me as her ‘older’ brother…damn! It’s not that I wouldn’t want to say goodbye, and I’m certain she feels the same way, but there will be people, possibly some of my own children, who will think me wrong should she pass before me. It’s a crazy world. After all, neither of us is really going to ‘know’ if the other is present…what, I’m gonna lean into the casket and say, “Hey, I made it; how ya doin’? Ya look like shit.”  I mean, c’mon. Then some damned fool will ask, as they always tend to, “What did you whisper to her?” If you tell them, they get all pissed off, and if you don’t tell them, they think you’re a snob.

For those of you who are all pissed that Shatner was a no-show, how about Gene Roddenberry, did you see him there? I know he’s dead, but what difference does that make; he should have been there…and who is to say that he wasn’t. I think the only reason these idiots are criticizing Shatner for not appearing is that they weren’t invited to attend the services and they’re pissed off about it, so they have to express their displeasure and this is their way of doing so…it shows that they’re idiots, but it’s their way.

I’d like to believe, and to a great extent I guess I do believe…that somewhere down the line, Leonard Nimoy and Bill Shatner will get together again. I believe that in much the same way as I believe I will be reunited with my wife and family again. What do we really have if we don’t believe in the possibility of that? Kinda makes ya think, doesn’t it?

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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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There is a great deal to be said about an early September day when it arrives in the latter part of July. Yesterday we were bombarded by rain and an F2 tornado that struck not too far from here, but today…today has brought with it sunshine, white puffy clouds, and air so dry you can create static electricity by walking across the grass in your bare feet. Not such a morning as this has struck and been cause for celebration in many a moon.

I arose early this morning. Although all of the windows were closed and the air conditioning was in a lull, there was something that had permeated the house, giving it a fresh feel that fairly screamed, “Wake up and celebrate this morning…get up dammit, get up!” Never one to disobey a ‘fresh feel,’ I dragged my weary bones – getting less weary by the second, I might add – and let Widget, our Cairn terrier out to perform her morning ablutions. Even opening the back door, I could feel the beckoning call of cool – not cold or warm – breezes telling me to get out of the house and enjoy…which I did.

Now, I must describe our backyard to you. As you step out onto the concrete patio, you are assaulted by the smell of flowers…roses of many kinds, poppies, petunias, hibiscus, and heaven only knows what else assault your senses with wonderful aromas. Flowers in window boxes; flowers in pots; flowers in beds; flowers just about everywhere; well everywhere that there aren’t tomatoes, jalapeno peppers, strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries. Yes, our backyard is a multiplicity of gardens. Fear not, however, for there is a pathway to the lava rock patio surrounding an eighteen by thirty-six foot irregularly shaped swimming pool. I say that the patio is lava rock not because of its color, but because no matter how hot it gets, this patio never gets above 72o..

As Widget took off a) sniffing to see what wild animals had been in the yard last night; and b) at some point getting to the pee and poop part of her day, I headed for my favorite chair. This is no ordinary chair I want you to know; this is my ‘special’ chair! When I sit in this chair, I am magically transported; my entire focus on life changes. I sit and the chair begins to surround me; I lay back and the chair lays back with me until I see my toes – ugly little suckers – and I can stare at the sky. This morning, with the cool air and puffy clouds, it was my idea of perfection. The blue of the sky; the blue of the water, the cool breeze…everything combined to release every bit of tension from me. I was more relaxed and more at ease than any time since my “gym incident” of a couple of weeks ago.

This may all sound like a bunch of hooey to you – bullshit, if you want to get downright crass about it – but this morning was beyond beautiful. We happen, at times, on a flight approach to Logan International Airport in Boston. We can easily identify what airline is flying in and sometimes even those flying out. At the height at which we see them, they aren’t all that noisy and this morning, they merely looked like huge silver birds. In addition, a flock – or whatever one calls them – of Canada geese flew over silently. Have to tell you that I’m not all that crazy about those birds. They’re as bad as turkeys in terms of leaving deposits that let you know they’ve been around your area. Usually in flight, I hear the damn things honking to beat the band, but these were so silent and so low, you could hear the flapping of their wings…hot dam!

I lay there from shortly after six until darn near 7:30. Widget did her thing as I stared at the sky. At some point, I must have drifted off, only to be awakened by a harsh dog bark. Widget seems to take exception to joggers as they go by…either that or it’s her form of greeting…yeah, right.

It’s now 11:30 in the morning. The sun has risen above the pine trees and is now shedding light on the pool. The temperature has risen, although it’s only supposed to be in the seventies today. I do believe that this is too beautiful a day to waste. It seems to me that the wisest course of action to pursue is to take a hot shower, jump into a bathing suit, grab a quick lunch, take my Kindle in hand, and head back to my chair. Will I take a dip in the pool? Who knows, but on a day like this, anything is possible. Gotta love this day and cherish every one like it!

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I don’t know about anyone else – and frankly, I don’t give a damn – but I have had it with the winter of 2013-2014. Now just how many Americans, Brits, Indians, and others around the world are uttering the same freakin’ words? Yet, in Massachusetts this is only the 54th coldest winter on record. My complaint is that I can’t remember the eight out of ten of the others in which I was alive…ah, the innocence of youth; ain’t it grand?

It’s said that we forget our unpleasant memories and tend to exaggerate those that we recall as being pleasant. I haven’t done the research on that, but it must have some validity. If not, why would mothers get pregnant a second time? Why would blood donors continue to give after having been stuck by the hollow harpoon the first time? Why would I have gone through a second and third back surgery had I recalled the pain of recovery from the first?  Why would any country ever go to war again, knowing the sacrifice and horror that any war brings? There are hundreds of examples that could be given, but we continue to repeat our painful and unpleasant memories. Remember what George Santayana said; “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

While we may believe that this winter has been an absolute bitch, there is one other I remember. We were in Quebec for a conference and visited the ice sculptures at the Carnivale. Instead of taking a cab Iback to the hotel, we decided to walk…silly us…Quebec in February…walk back to the hotel…can you say “idiots?” I had a full beard then and when the young woman I was with indicated that she could no longer feel her face, I looked at her and, simultaneously, grabbed my beard. Her face was blotched with white indicating frostbite, and pieces of my beard literally broke off in my hand. Although we didn’t know it at the time, the temperature was minus twenty-two degrees below zero. At the hotel, we immediately began putting cool compresses on her face. That’s one bad experience with winter that I really can recall.

There is one positive note about this winter; it has brought rain to the western states. Oh, no, wait a minute, the rain might help to ease the drought, but it’s also going to cause mud slides because of the wild fires that devastated so many acres of woodland over the past couple of years. How can one win? In the mid-west and New England, and even as far south as parts of Florida, the cold has killed people, ruined crops, and collapsed roofs. In California, the fear is that houses may be swept away or damaged by mud.  So tell me this…where the hell is it safe to live in these here United States? The answer is that nowhere is safe, neither from weather, cost of living, or crime. I was going to write that there might have been a time, but that’s not true either. There have always been earthquakes, tornadoes, droughts, and other weather disasters. We’ve adapted to them; and, we are adapting to this particular winter.

Is this winter a result of climate change? Has the polar vortex shifted south because the arctic is losing its ice cap? Who is to say? There appears to be major disagreement one minute and then complete accord the next. Scientists argue over this single degree of temperature or that. There is always some pissing contest going on in whatever scientific community is involved. As many people are aware, the AIDS virus had difficulty being clearly identified because French and American scientists’ egos got in the way. As far back as the invention of the light bulb and the telephone, scientists and inventors have been arguing over “who was the first?” Whatever the case, climate change or just a bad period of time, this winter has certainly given us some bad memories that we can hardly wait to forget.

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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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Since the movie, The Day after Tomorrow, I often wonder what the world will be like when my grandchildren have grandchildren. Is Global warming the crisis it’s portrayed in the movie, or is this just another scare tactic the way the atomic bomb tests were back in the fifties and sixties. Remember, if you go back that far the drills that were conducted in schools. You were to huddle under your desk and expect that flimsy piece of metal and wood to protect you from the horrors of an atomic or nuclear weapon. You might as well have tucked your head between your legs and kissed your ass goodbye for all the good that desk was going to do.

It does appear from what I can gather that the threat of climate change is a greater threat to human survival than nuclear weapons…providing Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or some other idiot who cares little for the rest of the human race gets his/her hand on a button. In a more serious vein, and this really is serious. There has been all sorts of scientific experiment completed that demonstrate how concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide have reached pretty dangerous levels in our global atmosphere. It seems that the increases in carbon dioxide are largely due to the use of fossil fuels and land use change. Those of methane and nitrous oxide are primarily due to agriculture. I’m not a scientist and much of the data I’m using comes from several sources. Are they accurate? Who knows or can say if the data is accurate or not. However, the subject of climate change seems to have become too popular to ignore.

When I see huge chunks of ice breaking away from glaciers; when I hear that polar bears are close to extinction because their habitats are disappearing into the ocean; when I read that, “A warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising global average sea level. At continental, regional and ocean basin scales, numerous long-term changes in climate have been observed. These include changes in arctic temperatures and ice, widespread changes in precipitation amounts, ocean salinity, wind patterns and aspects of extreme weather including droughts, heavy precipitation, heat waves and the intensity of tropical cyclones. Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations. Discernible human influences now extend to other aspects of climate, including ocean warming, continental-average temperatures, temperature extremes and wind patterns,”1 I tend to take this whole thing a bit more seriously.

It appears to me that over the past few years, hurricanes have done a great deal more damage than in the past. Certainly, Katrina was hardly a pussycat and its predecessors, Andrew and Ivan left little standing in their paths. We won’t even bother to talk about Sandy at this point. Her vengeance is still all too real to people living in New Jersey and other parts of the East Coast.

I have always maintained that Tornado Alley, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, etc, is among the most dangerous place in the United States in which to set down roots. Cost be damned, I still don’t understand why schools and all other public buildings don’t contain shelters, and you can bet your bottom dollar that as a homeowner, I’d be certain to have my own underground shelter. The tornadoes in this area of the country appear to be getting more and more deadly despite an improvement in the early warning systems.

In spite of all of the indications to the contrary, there are still a number of members of the United States Congress who do not believe in climate change. Sounds kind of stupid, but then, these are members of our duly elected law makers. Here’s what a few of them had to say: David McKinley of West Virginia maintains that “Scientists are still debating the issue.” Well Representative McKinley, the number of scientific organizations that have publicly denied climate change is zero, so I’d say the debate is over. Louisiana’s 1st District Representative Steve Scalese, noted, “The debate on the causes of climate change are far from settled,” and Florida’s Marco Rubio said, “The climate’s always changing. That’s not the fundamental question. The fundamental question is whether man made activity is what’s contributing most to it.” There are many more head-in-the-sand Congressional Representatives but I don’t want to make you lose your lunch over their idiotic comments. On second thought, listen to the comment from California’s Dana Rohrabacher, “The ice caps are melting which we see over and over again; yeah, their melting on Mars too.” And how about this one from Representative Bill Cassidy of Louisiana: “It could be just a shift on the axis.”  Remember, we elected these people.

It appears that most of the Congressional group, (a) don’t believe the climate is changing at all; (b) believe that scientists are falsifying data to ensure continued receipt of government funding, or; (c) don’t believe that climate change can possibly be manmade.

From what I’ve seen and read, it appears that the climate is definitely changing. I guess that if Congress believes – as 240 of them did in 2011 – that climate change is a hoax, we’ll just have to wait until, as they say, “Hell freezes over.” The thing that science hasn’t said is when all of this is going to take place, and that’s a burden that science better figure out soon. Otherwise, they deserve to have their funds cut. I just hope we have to wait another 10,000 years, in which case…who really gives a damn!


1Climate Path Newsletter

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The Tsarnaev brothers remind me a great deal of the suicide bombers in the Middle East. Well, maybe that’s not quite true; after all, they didn’t strap symtex or dynamite to their chests, run out and cross the finish line and then blow themselves up. On the other hand, they were vicious, malicious, arrogant, impetuous and ignorant. I’m willing to bet that it was their impetuousness that began an entire series of jihadist efforts to terrorize America. The problem is that they didn’t see the big picture and started too soon.

The big picture consisted of a series of events that would culminate in the July 4th bombing at the Hatch Shell concert on the esplanade in Boston. The first part of the plan, as I see it, called for the railroad accident between Boston and New York. I have no idea how many commuters ride that train each day but you have to admit that it certainly did screw up commuter systems and with that, a certain amount of slowdown in what was going to be accomplished from an economics standpoint.

After closing rail service for a month – which one didn’t work out too well either, did it folks – the next step would be to destroy rail lines between Baltimore and the rest of the southern part of the East Coast. We’re going to have to wait to determine the effectiveness of that bit of sabotage.

Do I sound like a conspiracy theorist? The answer to that is an absolute, one hundred percent…yes! There are just too many of these ‘accidents’ taking place where and when they should not. The explosions aboard the barges in Alabama, a convenient bridge collapse on the Interstate 5 Bridge in Washington State, and who knows what other little plans are in the works. Granted, the bridge collapse can be explained by its age but who really knows. Did the truck hit it by accident or did something happen to the steering mechanism. Perhaps that one is too easy to explain, but at the rate things are happening in the US of A, I’m not going to discount anything.

“Next thing you know, you’ll be blaming the tornadoes!” Sadly, these things happen. Towns that happen to be in ‘tornado alley’ or along that route face danger during the changeover from winter to spring and on into summer. Hell, I doubt if the jihadists want to be anywhere near that region.

Every so often, the FBI or Homeland Security will release a report concerning how many plots were foiled during a given time. As a former low-level intelligence analyst, it always makes me wonder just how much isn’t being released; how much Americans are being kept – albeit for their own peace of mind – unaware of the entire number of plots that have been foiled. Transparency, what transparency? There is no such thing as transparency when it comes to the release of intelligence. It can give too much of an edge to those who would see America brought to its knees.

One of these days, someone will have to explain to me what makes America such a horrible nation that it must be destroyed. Is it the fact that we are rich in resources and share those resources with the rest of the world? Is it the fact that for some strange reason we are able to breed the likes of Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Mark Zuckerberg, or Dean Kamen? Perhaps it’s the television shows we export that show such a distorted view of America where everyone lives “the dream.” Maybe those who would destroy us don’t see or don’t wish to see that we have our own share of poverty and homelessness. Perhaps they are blind to our crumbling infrastructure and a government that is in such a state of disrepair, that we are the laughing stock of the rest of the civilized world. That word is emboldened and italicized because it is the uncivilized who want to take us down. If we should fail as a nation, what do we become? Will we ever reach the depths of the Tsarnaevs of Chechnya, or the sand fleas training in Saudi Arabia and other countries? These are the countries that masquerade as our friends and allies while providing training grounds for those who for some blind reason wish to see America a dead country.

Tiny terrorist attacks will continue long after I’m nothing but gone. Will there ever be another terrorist attack the magnitude of September 11, 2001? Certainly there will be an attempt at one. Whether or not it will succeed will depend entirely on how good our domestic intelligence does its job and how well we are able to analyze the actual threat. We didn’t believe the intelligence the last time; one can only hope that we are wiser when the next shot is fired across our bow.

I’ve heard some people say, “Let’s close our borders to people from ‘those’ Middle Eastern countries.” That’s not a solution; it’s not even a quick fix. It’s exactly the type of aberrant behavior that our enemies would exploit to their advantage. What we don’t want are radical immigrants who wish to subjugate their rules for those that already exist in this country. Whether it’s attempting to institute Sharia law in Minnesota or establishing their own small ‘countries’ in Tennessee and Virginia, these things cannot be allowed. We may be “the land of the free,” but your ‘free’ stops right where mine begins, and if you don’t like that, go home; I was here first and I’m not going anywhere.

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“Plan the work and wok the plan.” You’ve probably heard that expression often. The military will tell you that the “plan dissolves upon first meeting with the enemy.” Both statements have validity. The biggest problem is that in both cases you have to deal with the human element. A secondary problem is, that in both cases, failure means that people will die.

No one can effectively plan for catastrophes such as 9/11, the Boston Marathon bombing, or the terrorist attacks in countries around the world. You can have a ‘reaction plan,’ but having a plan to actually prevent such devastating events is nearly impossible. In civilized countries we are very, very fortunate to have organizations that do have plans and who actually have prevented many of the terrorist evens from happening. The old saw, “You can’t win ‘em all” is, unfortunately true. While it is impossible to plan for every contingency, it is possible to plan for most of them.

“In the summer of 2004, the Federal Emergency Management Agency [FEMA] ran a disaster simulation exercise in which a fictional hurricane named Pam hit the New Orleans area. The purpose of the Pam simulation was to help FEMA and local authorities in hurricane-prone areas to prepare for future disasters.

“In the FEMA simulation, Pam hit New Orleans with sustained winds of 120 mph, dumping up to 20 inches of rain in parts of southeast Louisiana and creating a storm surge that topped levees in the New Orleans area. More than one million residents evacuated and Hurricane Pam destroyed 500,000-600,000 buildings. Emergency officials from 50 parishes, state, federal and volunteer organizations participated in the five-day exercise. “The result of FEMA’s Hurricane Pam simulation was a “plan of action” to prepare for real disasters.”

When Katrina hit the Gulf, the majority of the plan suggested by the Pam exercise had not been implemented. Blame can be cast in many directions for this failure. It is not my intention to castigate any single government – state, federal, or local – in this piece. I will say, however, that there was a plan and it was not ‘worked.’ Officials had plenty of warning that Katrina was going to make landfall and plenty of warning about where and when that landfall would take place. The disaster, while probably not totally preventable, could have been lessened if the lessons from hypothetical “Hurricane Pam” had been followed.

Floridians, Georgians, South and North Carolinians and so forth up the East Coast recognize that when hurricane season is rolling around, it’s time to bring in the lawn furniture and board up the windows. If the word is that it’s going to be severe, they get the hell out of Dodge and find a safe haven. In New England in the winter, we lay in supplies when a blizzard is on the horizon. We ensure that the snowblower is in good working order and we have enough wood for the fireplace should the heat go out. We keep battery-powered lanterns near our beds. In other words, we have a plan. A friend of mine living in Los Angeles has an ‘earthquake bag’ hung over his bedpost. I can’t tell you everything that’s in it, but I know that the first thing to go in was a pair of rubber soled shoes because of the glass breakage that can occur. He and his partner also live in an apartment building that is considered earthquake proofed.

Given all of the above, I cannot help but wonder at the competency and mental acuity of the people who live in beach areas, particularly those who live along the Massachusetts coast. For years, beach erosion has been taking place. For years, these people have been asking the state and federal governments to protect their houses by either adding more sand to the beaches, buy building ‘riprap’ in front of their homes or anything that would save their precious property. Despite warnings from environmental engineers and the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA); despite residents’ meager attempts to reinforce the foundations of their homes – a temporary measure at best; despite this, these people refuse to admit that they are players in a losers’ game. And when their houses fall into the ocean, they are stunned that this could happen. They are shocked and amazed when MEMA or some other state agency says, “Sorry, but don’t tell us we didn’t warn you.” Some of these people, those who can afford it, will build again. This time they’ll build away from where their old house was…at least back another 20 yards! Why would they do this? The answer is simple: They’ll do it because you can’t fix stupid!

When the hurricane of 1938 – they didn’t have names then – hit Falmouth, Massachusetts, only one house was swept out to sea. In it were the only two people who had refused to evacuate when told to. Once again, can you say, “Stupid?”

I feel badly for the people of Moore, Oklahoma and for anyone who lives in or on “tornado alley.” However, I don’t feel sorry for them. They know where they live. They know that there is a pretty good chance – if you live in that part of the country – that tornadoes are going to be blowing up from the south. They will pass to the east or the west, or they will come right down your throat! In Moore it’s been three times in the last 15 years. I don’t know about you, but after the second one, I’d either be on the move or I’d build my house under the earth with a glass roof able to stand cannon shots…yes, that glass is now available and is used in some homes in Florida. Most likely, I’d  go with option number one…unless my trade was construction.

There were warnings about this tornado in Moore. Why didn’t all of the public buildings have adequate emergency shelters that were stocked and prepared for a week of waiting to be dug out? What was the city emergency plan and how did it work out. What was learned from the tornado of 1999? Was there any type of planning such as a “Hurricane Pam” series of workshops?

I’m not in Moore, Oklahoma. I don’t know exactly what went on.  What I do know is that Moore has been struck three times in 15 years and on the surface, it doesn’t appear that anyone has learned anything.

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