Archive for the ‘Weather’ 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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“When you are up to your ass in alligators, it is extremely difficult to remember that your original task was to drain the swamp.”

C’mon, you’ve heard it before; saw it on a poster somewhere; laughed your ass off the first time you saw it.  Today might be the perfect day to pull that poster out and stare at it one more time. We really aren’t up to our collective asses here in New England. We are far beyond that point. If my girlfriend’s feet were to touch the ground in our backyard, the snow would be well, well over her head. I am over six feet tall and if my feet were to touch the ground in any plowed spot in our driveway, I would be well over my head.

Some ingenious peckerhead is currently planning how he or she can be the first ones out with the, “I survived the blizzards of 2015” bumper stickers, T-shirts, coffee mugs, and whatever other paraphernalia will hold a sentence of that length. Don’t worry, they’ll be coming out, and the same assholes who are walking around the streets of Boston today will be the first ones to criticize those who are buying them while secretly purchasing as many of whatever as they can.

What is it with people who go outside in the middle of a blizzard; who get in the way of snowplows; and then bitch that their streets aren’t cleared. During the week, some people have to get to work in various cities and towns. That is a given; but on weekends, when the governor of the state and the mayor of the City of Boston have clearly and distinctly asked the citizenry to stay off the streets, why do these assholes insist on risking their lives and probably the lives of others by traipsing around the city like they’re looking for a duck boat parade?

(a bit later)

So here it is…another weekend with more snow promised for Sunday night going well into Monday. Yes, you may read that as “Another friggin’ Monday when I have to commute in a snowstorm,” and don’t you forget it. The only saving grace about this entire winter is that the Northeast is not alone. Some of the southern states have been getting hit with the white stuff, and they really-do-not-know-how-to-handle-it. I would not be very surprised to learn that some of the smaller southern communities have no equipment for fighting snow, including sanders or plows of any kind other than those used to bring in crops. Chuckle if you will; while the amounts may not be what we have seen, anything over three inches can shut down Washington. Imagine what it would do to some towns in South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, or Alabama.

What was the “gently falling snow” of the past few weeks has now become the “concrete foundation” of the snow on the streets. Shoveling this rock solid mass is nearly impossible. Large firecrackers or small blocks of Semtex are more effective, but they tend to really piss off the neighbors, particularly if their car is buried under one of the piles where you have placed your charges.

Word on the street is that Bahstan Mayor, Martiwalsh (everyone says it so fast it sounds like one word), is meeting with the St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee early next week. Tomorrow is the first day of March, and the mountains of snow are so great that the streets still can’t be cleared by St. Paddy’s Day? I want you to know, however, that there is no such thing as climate change; it’s all a figment of Al Gore’s imagination.

If, as the saying goes, “March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb,” the floods we will face in the spring will be nothing short of gigantic. And don’t forget, “April showers bring May flowers;” We can all stand around and watch the daffodils float down the street, followed by the tulips, followed by…well, you get the picture.

It’s been one hell of a winter, but guess what, this too shall pass, and next summer while the roofers and carpenters are repairing our houses, we’ll look back on this and…naw, we won’t laugh; we’ll still be just as pissed then as we are right now.

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New England Disease

If you live in New England, particularly this year, and you find yourself a bit short tempered, ‘they’ have a name for that. In fact, there are several names that apply to how you may be feeling. Without resorting to those that would cause the rabbi to pull his yarmulke over his ears, or the priest to race for the sacramental wine, we will refer to these as “cabin fever,” “seasonal affective disorder,” or “claustrophobia.” “Stir crazy” is another that has been tossed around but we hold that in abeyance and, for now, use it only as it regards incarcerated inmates who also must wear the same uniform year round thus making them more susceptible to that term.

Cabin fever has many definitions. According to the Urban Dictionary, some of these include, “A type of hysteria brought on by spending too much time indoors. Directly descended from long haul journeys where you are stuck in cramped conditions for too damn long.” I have no idea what that second sentence means, but if the author took the time to put it in, who the hell am I to detract from his addled mind. This second definition is the one that intrigues me; “Being stuck indoors for a prolonged period of time during the winter months and suffering from depression caused from a vitamin deficiency caused by a lack of sunlight and sick of being inside with the same people for months on end.” Aha, I have nothing against the person with whom I’m stuck in doors (although I must admit that we did get into a bit of a shouting match this morning over hot chocolate…yeah, like that’s really a critical issue). In fact, she’s rather a pleasant person with whom to be stuck in doors. But on to the intriguing part…”vitamin deficiency;” a lack of vitamin D from the sun; a lack of vitamin C, which the body requires as a defense against colds.

Cabin fever has many definitions; goes by many names, but whatever you call it, this claustrophobic, mind-numbing, attitude-bending, on-the-verge-of-killing-one’s-spawn, condition is only exacerbated by the inability to move around outside of the house even if one wished to do so. “I’m taking the kids to the mall, just to get them out of the house,” doesn’t work when the roads are impassable and there are fifteen-foot snowdrifts at every intersection. Even the kids don’t want to play in the snow because the drifts are so damned high the little brats can’t climb them. Then you hear the news you dread the most…the school cancellations…and your town is among them. Yes, I recognize that it’s 7:30 a.m. and no, you are not allowed to have a large glass of wine – or two or three – with your breakfast.

You are now thoroughly ensnared, trapped, enmeshed, and conquered by the dreaded “cabin fever.” Unless you wish to binge in front of your fifty-inch, flat screen, high definition television set and watch all 40 episodes of Game of Thrones – again, or attempt to do what Martha does – she’s probably on some channel every day, you may well be, as the saying goes, “screwed;” that’s a figurative term, not literal. If you are anything like me – God forbid – you sit at the computer for a few hours, lamenting your fate via something called a blog. You spend a few more hours latch hooking a rug, which is going to take another month to complete. Let’s see, that’s killed about four hours of the day. The gym is out because I don’t cross country ski, so I do something that will transport me out of this morass; I read. Think about it; this is the one thing that you can do to educate yourself and take you away to different worlds. They may be fictional, but what the hell. At present, I am involved in Gray Mountain, and I find myself at war with the coal-mining industry. I can smell the coal dust in the air and feel blank lung disease overtaking my body. Oops, sorry; got carried away there for a moment.

I have great…would it be empathy or sympathy…oh, well, for the parents of school-age children in winters like this. Perhaps I’m wrong to feel so because the kids will just spend all day texting their many ‘friends’ and their conversations never seem to run out of things to say. But what would you be doing if there wasn’t five and a half feet of snow in your back yard? What would you be doing if your partner wasn’t working from home? What would you be doing? One of the great benefits of cabin fever is that it provides the opportunity for you to do some things around the house that you’ve been putting off and putting off, right? Perhaps that’s just another reason that cabin fever irritates the daylights out of us; it exposes us for the frauds that we are. We didn’t want to do some things that needed doing and now we have no excuse…yeeeek!

Soon enough this episode of cabin fever will be over. You’ll laugh about it, sitting on the beach or lying on the chaise beside the pool. It will all be just a distant memory. In order to ensure your memories of this long, long, long, friggin’ long winter, break out the camera, open the front door, and snap to your heart’s content. Remember, all too soon, “It will be just a distant memory.” Aw, hell, who am I trying to kid?

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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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I feel badly for the people who live in the Southern states when they are besieged by several inches of snow in the winter. We saw an example of this recently when Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia were belted by a highly unusual snowstorm. In Atlanta, cars were abandoned one after another along the side of a main highway. It was really a tragic sight to see. Southern states just aren’t prepared to face the rigors of old man winter in this eon of climate change. I think that perhaps they should consider buying some plows for their highway vehicles before the first winds blow next December.

There is a great true story about a town in North Carolina many years ago. I know it’s true because I read it in the Washington Post the day after it happened. The District – as those of us who worked there came to know it – had received a coating of about three inches. In this town further south, they received about the same. Not having any plowing equipment, they sent the fire department out to wash this white stuff down the drains. It was never clear to me how the drains weren’t able to handle the “cleansing of the streets,” but that night the temperature dropped to below freezing. Following the hockey game on the main street the next day…no, no, no, that’s not true; it could have been the case, but it wasn’t. Let’s suffice it to say that neither pedestrian nor vehicle were on the road the day after the fire department completed its task.

Drivers who live in the Northeast are used to wintery conditions. That doesn’t mean that we know how to drive in snow; it just means that come November, we are prepared to deal with whatever God and the weatherman deliver. The funny thing is that the older I get, the more I realize that New Englanders have lost or are losing their ability to driver in wintery conditions. I saw a woman in a huge SUV driving on the other side of the street today. She had a circle cleared of snow on the driver’s side of the windshield. Every other part of the car, with the exception of the tires had a two-inch layer of snow thanks to last night’s brief snowfall. It was terrifying; this one little patch on the windshield was uncovered. When I saw the license plate I understood; Rhode Island drivers, according to several surveys, are the worst drivers in the country…she ranks right up there in my book.

I like the people who clear their windows after a major storm and leave it to God to take care of everything else on the car. They take their vehicle out on the highway and build up as much speed as possible so that the draft will blow the snow from their vehicle. To hell with the person behind them or those they pass as they try to clear their vehicle. “Look out; here I come; rules don’t matter to me; if the speed limit is 65, I’ll still go 75 to get the snow off faster; Look out!” Can you say, “Assholes and idiots?” for that’s what they are. The big rigs I can understand; it’s too easy for the drivers to slip and get hurt if they try to get up on the trailer and clear it off. It just makes sense to give them a wide berth. However, people who leave snow piled on their roofs are just selfish, uncaring, and stupid drivers. Police shouldn’t have to pull these people over; just get their license plate number and send them a ticket for $500. Let’s not fool around with a ten or even fifty dollar ticket. These people are more of a hazard than the potholes we face every winter, and they should be made to pay for their selfishness and stupidity.

There is another group of winter drivers who deserve a good swift kick in the butt. These are the folks who wait until they get to the shopping mall or the local market to clear the snow from the roof, hood, and trunk of their vehicles. Excuse me, whoever owns that lot doesn’t bring their trucks to your driveway and clean them off so where do you get the right to do it in their parking lot. Have we become so self-centered that we just don’t care about the property of others? “Well, it’s a big lot and they can afford it,” isn’t an answer. The simple truth of the matter is that you were too damned lazy to clear your car at home. In addition, you probably blew the snow from your driveway right out into the street where the city plows could take care of it.

It’s time for a little winter courtesy folks; how about becoming part of it?

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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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“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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So first the neighbors came by, and George  yelled, “Come on Helen; come on Charlie. They told us to evacuate.

“We’re not leavin’” said Helen. “We rode out ’38 and we’ll be fine.”

Next came the Civil Defense bus, and the man walked right up to the door. “Maam, you and your husband better pack up some things and come with us. This storm’s getting worse and you have to go to the evacuation  center.

“To hell we will,” Helen told them. “We rode out ’38 and we’re stayin’ put.”

Then came the National Guard Army truck. It was a big one with huge tires and it rode high above the water. The sergeant got out and waded to the front door. “Maam, I’m afraid I have orders to bring you to the evacuation center. Get your things and let’s go. I’ll bring a dinghy so you won’t get wet.”

“You go straight to the devil, young man,” came the shout from inside. “Get off my property. We rode out ’38 and we’re not movin’.”

Finally, a tank came buy. One of the young soldiers unhooked a Zodiac from the back and roared up to a second floor window. “Maam, if you and your husband don’t come with us now, you’re gonna die. We’re the last hope you have. The surge and the storm are getting too bad for us to come back. Now get your backs and let’s go.”

This time it was Charlie who yelled back; “Listen you dumb sumbitch…we’re stayin;’ we rode out ’38 and we’ll ride out this one. Now get the hell out of here.”

So the young soldier, having done his duty, as had the neighbors, the people from Civil Defense, the folks from the National Guard, and the regular Army unit from Fort Dix all went back to the control and planning center, leaving Helen and Charlie to “ride this one out as they’d done in ’38!”

It was about two hours later when the Civil Defense office phone rang. You guessed it, it was Helen. “Unh, Charlie and I are settin’ on the roof and the water’s ‘bout at the second course ‘o shingles. Think someone might drive out and take us to the evacuation center?”

“Well, Maam,” replied the Civil Defense Director, “We don’t have any vehicle capable of getting out there to getcha, but I’ll tell ya…if you and Charlie make it to England or wherever the winds take you, don’t forget to tell ‘em that you rode this one out just the way you did in ’38.”

Foolish story? Of course it is, but there is no doubt in my mind that those who elected to stay in their beach homes along the Atlantic Seabord were selfish, arrogant, and egotistical. And I can guarantee you that the people who will feel the worst when those people don’t survive will be the first responders who tried to make them understand that Sandy was nothing with which to be toyed.

I honestly don’t know if it’s stupidity or even perhaps a death wish for some of those people, particularly the elderly ones that cause them to refuse aid. The younger kids I understand; they’re immortal, invulnerable, imperishable, and indestructible. By the way, those are all adjectives for the word, “stupid.” I don’t regard myself as a coward, but I have felt nature’s wrath while out on the ocean. Remember the old margarine television ad, “Don’t mess with Mother Nature.” It’s good advice, because when She sends a storm of fifteen foot waves at you that you just can’t outrun, you can’t bet your bottom dollar that you are more than happy to exchange your brown pants for something else.

In using, “We rode out ’38,” it was not just a choice of storms. In West Falmouth, there were some lovely homes overlooking the ocean. In the hurricane of 1938, one stubborn elderly couple refused to evacuate. Theirs was the only house that was swept out to sea. It’s my understanding that they were never found.

My advice to everyone is that if the Civil Defense, National Guard, or regular Army come to your door and say, “Get-out,” listen and haul ass!

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When one experiences a winter of the severity of 2010-2011, New Englanders as a group vow never to be caught ‘that’ off guard again. After all, roofs collapsed; roof rakes couldn’t be kept in stock. Power outages were everywhere and folks suddenly found themselves in the dark for days and sometimes weeks at a time. Food spoilage wasn’t really a problem. If you could finally get a door open, you merely shoved your perishables into the snow bank directly in front of you. Put bluntly, it was one hell of a season from November through late February.

Juli and I figured it this way; if we planned….really planned for a blizzard or six this year, it would be a guarantee that we would have a Sacramento winter. Juli, being from Sacramento, practically swore on a stack of Holy Bibles that our winter would be bland. Now that the winter is nearly over – watch, June will see a Nor’easter – I will share with you my partner’s secrets for the seduction of winter:

  1. Buy a roof rake at Loewe’s or Home Depot the minute you see them in either store. Announce loudly that this is but a first step in driving away the winter demons. Be sure to shake the roof rake over your head as you’re walking from the store to your vehicle.
  2. Ordering ‘bear paws’ online is an absolute necessity. These are ice grippers that you slide on over the toe of your shoe or boot and attach by stretching them over the heel. You can practically run on ice and not fear of falling. We didn’t have them last year and after the first storm, Juli went outside to feed the birds, slipped and fell flat on her ass, cracking the ice and (although she’d never admit it) busting her coccyx.
  3. Buy new boots. Your old boots may be perfectly fine, but if you really wish to guarantee a mild winter, new boots are a necessity. Eventually, you will look longingly at them sitting in the hall or kitchen closet and you will chuckle. Never mind; the investment was worthwhile.
  4. Buy a converter box and antenna so the when cable goes out…and cable as we know, has a propensity to ‘go out,’ you will at least be able to watch the major news stations. Do not depend on an honest answer from cable; you will not get one. Should you have Dish, fuh-ged-aboud-it!
  5. Power outages are also a guarantee. If you wish to buy a generator, be certain it is one that will set you on the path to bankruptcy. However, there are easier ways to work around this problem. Battery powered lanterns provide plenty of light, particularly if you put them by each side of the bed, by your seat at the kitchen table, and by your favorite chair in the television room. This was a summer project, equipping various rooms with a variety of these little goodies… now gathering dust.
  6. Stock up on non-perishable foods and wooden matches. Fill the garage with them. Remember, even if your power does go out, you can still light the gas stove by hand and make plenty of mac and cheese for the kids.
  7. Set out and carefully mark your driveway with plow markets. This will demonstrate to everyone in your neighborhood that you are fully prepared for an onslaught such as we suffered through last year.
  8. Finally, over mulch and protect your flower beds like there’s no tomorrow. This single move will absolutely guarantee that we will not see snow in 2012.

Personally, I maintain it was the roof rake that we purchased last summer that did the trick. Either that or the good Lord, in all of His mercy, decided that Alaska needed a little reminder of what it’s supposed to be.

Whatever happened to the Winter of 2012? Juli called it a cool Sacramento winter. My single hope is that we don’t offset this with a hot Sacramento summer. When the temperature hits 108 at noontime, don’t look for this kid to be jogging down the streets.

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New England is a remarkable place. Of course, I say that based on extremely limited travel experience. Never having been to “old” England, I guess I don’t really have a basis for comparison. I do know one thing: In New England, there is a community called Islington. It is a part of a Town called Westwood (where the hell’s he going with this one?). In old England, there is a town called Islington.  (Aha!) It is a part of the city of London. Great, eh? Not really. In New England’s Islington, there’s not a bar or liquor store in sight. In old England’s Islington, there are 300 bars – guess who got screwed on that one…unless, of course, you’re some kind of temperance nut. My mother-in-law was one of those. That’s why her husband always had both pockets filled with breath mints. That’s the end of the community comparisons…so there!

We have four distinct seasons in New England. If you don’t know what they are, go look it up. Anyway, as I sat outside this morning in my mackinaw, hip boots, three sweaters, and a watch cap, looking at the fading summer sky, I was reminded once again that our ‘distinct’ seasons are not always that distinct. In fact, over the past few years, our falls and our springs seem to be slowly disappearing. It appears that one day, the weather people – can’t say men anymore – are talking about the fall foliage in the morning and predicting six inches of snow that same night. I want to watch a weather forecast in Canada where some of the women tell you the weather while they’re topless. I suppose that’s one way of distracting you from hearing, “Eh, we got anudder tree feet ‘o snow tonight, eh!” That wasn’t very nice, but some of my Canadian friends will know I’m just jerking their chains again, eh.

Anyway, back to New England weather. My partner is from California. She was born there, educated there, grew all the way up and worked there. Hell, she even retired from there before she decided that perhaps I wasn’t truly insane and so she moved here. Having been here through one complete weather cycle, she is now having second thoughts regarding the sanity of anyone who makes New England their home. It wasn’t bad enough that last winter she stepped outside to feed the critters and fell flat on her ass; ice was a new experience for her. It probably should even have been expected that when she went out to fill the bird feeders, she would brush by an icicle that would promptly broke and that a large piece would fall that was not only large enough to open her scalp but also large enough to once more knock her on her ass – it’s humorous only in hindsight; the wolves loved the red snow. At the time, there was no humor whatsoever.

Once the snow left the ground in late May – it was a really snowy winter – she learned that growing season didn’t really begin until after Memorial Day. “The thirty-first of May? Are you @#$%&* me?” she asked. As the end of June rolled around and the rains began to subside, it was declared by my bellowed that the growing season in New England is exactly one month less a week long. “I’d already be harvesting if I was in California,” she declared. “What ever happened to four seasons?”

As July came around, so did her behavior. There were three or four days of heat and all seemed well with the world. Next came the tornado watches and warnings. Parts of the State, including Springfield and Monson were terribly devastated. Fortunately, Islington was spared everything but gusts of wind and a hell of a lot of rain.

“I came here from California,” she raged, “where the only thing we have to fear is an earthquake or two. Out here, I’m exposed to blizzards, driving rains, no @#$%^&* growing season, and now the threat of a tornado? Have I lost my mind?”

I didn’t have the heart to tell her that hurricane season was only about a month away.

Despite the inconsistencies in the weather – I chose to call them that rather than saying, “This weather sucks! – The crops finally began to come in. We had beans and peas, beets and summer squash. We had watermelon, cantaloupe, and even several pumpkins. We started with about 12 tomato plants but kept finding ‘volunteers’ popping up all over the yard. They were replanted into beds despite several “experts” telling us that they’d never bear fruit. Before Hurricane Irene made her presence known in these parts – you really don’t want to hear about that tirade; even as an adult reader, you don’t want to hear about that tirade – we had so many tomatoes of all types – cherry, Roma, plain ole round ones, and even some heirloom Black Crims – that I was taking bags full to the gym each day. In addition, I was taking squash, green, red, and yellow peppers as well as jalapenos. One gym member owned a fruit and vegetable store. He jokingly told me I was cutting into his trade!

Irene did a number on the garden. The climbing cucumbers probably landed somewhere on Cape Cod. The watermelon and cantaloupe were washed away along with the rest of the squash. Hands on hips, my partner asked just one question,”When should I expect the first goddam snowstorm?”I thought it would probably be better if I remained silent on that one.

So, to all my friends in Islington, England, why the hell do you have 300 bars and we’re so goddam dry?

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