Battling White Death, again

White Death NYC 1947When I worked at a newspaper, we used to call big snowstorms “White Death.” Well, at least I used to call them that – run around the newsroom exclaiming “White Death is coming! We’re all gonna die!” and the other editors would roll their eyes and tell me to shut the hell up.

Who’d have thought censorship would run rampant within the very bowels of red-white-and-blue journalism itself. But I saw it – I was there. You’d think I was running around yelling “Fire!” in a crowded movie theater or something. Sheesh.

Anyway, we suffered another pretty substantial snowstorm yesterday, the latest in what’s becoming a long string of snowy misery not just in my part of the country but in many regions of the nation. Just ask Georgia and North Carolina if you don’t believe me. Oh, I forgot. You can’t. They’re all frozen stiff in their cars on the interstates.

White Death strikes again, southern-style.

So, in lieu of anyone else still alive to tell the tale, allow me, as a lifelong resident of The Land of Ice and Snow (a.k.a. White Death), to offer some advice on the best ways to dig oneself out and keep at bay the “I-Have-Seen-The-Devil-and-He-Is-White-Death-and-He-Is-All-Over-My-Freaking-Driveway.”

First, for one to successfully survive, one first must know how to successfully succumb. And then not do that.
toeplowStylish? Yes. Effective? Pitifully, no. That is unless you are attacked by White Death once … a decade.
bicycle snow plowJudging from the exceptionally “busy” amount of gadgets, doo-dads and add-ons applied here, creating this White Death weapon obviously took much thought and work. Unfortunately, too much thought and work. Poor man hasn’t anything left to actually fight the battle now. If I’m not mistaken, the cage-like apparatus on the back may be a variant of the old coal-mining canary-in-a-cage warning system. If you see your canary frozen, you’re about to be frozen. Verdict: Dead.SnowmowerSigh, another nice try. But you know what they say – the family that mows the snow together … dies from White Death together.snow vacuumAh, God bless the man who happily helps with the housework around his humble homestead. For him there’s reserved a special place in Heaven, far from the White Death that claimed him – called the Beach of Perpetual Warmness.

Alrightie – so we now know how not to battle White Death. But there’s got to be a way to fight and live to see another snowstorm, right?

A couple, actually.snowshovellingNO, NO, and another NO. You didn’t really think I’ve strung you along all this way for this???? Good, you had me worried there for a second.
remote snowplow 1snowplow 4White Death can’t kill what it can’t get its frozen little hands on. Brought to you by Superdroidrobots.com, let me introduce you to my little friend – the Custom RC 6WD Robot with Snowplow. Absolute brilliance-in-motion! I can feel White Death cringing.

Sadly, cringing only for a moment. Alas, Mother Technology’s answer to Mother Nature is … out of stock. Even at $8,500 apiece. But you can get your orders in now for next winter.

Yes, I hear you. Next winter?!?! Next winter?!?? How do we survive to next winter!?!
al-gore-flamethrower1Yup, that’s Al Gore. Screw global warming. This is war.

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Sucki Olympics breaking news!

U.S OLYMPIANS NAB FIRST SLOPESTYLE SNOWBOARD GOLD
2014-02-09 09.22.43Americans Sage Kotsenburg, upper left, and Jamie Anderson flew, twirled and flipped off the rest of the world’s best snowboarders to take the first gold medals awarded in the brand-new Winter Olympic event. To most observers not really a surprise since we Yanks invented the damn sport. But probably not to one observer, fellow American Olympian and snowboarding icon Shaun White. He sadly backed out of the event, declining to tackle the slopestyle’s inclines possibly after discovering that clipping his hair may have clipped his aerodynamic wings. His comment: Yeah, whatever. I got my own clothing line of boys clothes at Target.

And in other breaking Olympics news …

RUSSIAN PLUMBERS TURN WATER INTO GOLD AT SUCKI
2014-02-09 09.19.57Russian President-for-Life Vladimir Putin may not walk away with a personal gold medal for his Sucki Olympic Games, but look at him – does that look like a man crying about it? Nyet! As the world leader single-handedly promoting stray-dog shooting as an Olympic demonstration sport says: I ain’t blowing $50 billion U.S. for nothing, comrades.

God Save the Queen’s budget!

20140201-133234.jpgIt ain’t easy being Queen. Or prince, princess, duchess or duke.

Recent reports reveal a lot of moths but not much moolah in the British monarchy’s royal bank account. A passel of the palaces are falling apart. Repairs are falling behind while their upkeep climbs. And that’s not all of it. Bottom line – the cost of just being royal is just, well, a royal pain.

Why, in 2001 the Royal Reserve Fund, which is used to fill the annual budget gaps, was stuffed with 35 million pounds (about $57 million U.S.). The latest count has it down to its last million.

Not surprisingly, many members of Britain’s parliament, aren’t happy. Off with their expense accounts, they cry!

OK, not quite that drastic. But they do demand the royal household get a tighter grip on its financial purse strings.

But how does a royal family do that?

Glad you asked. Yeah, you could pinch shillings or whatever you find under the cushions of the palace furniture. But where’s the fun in that? That’s so … common.

Your highnesses, think higher! Actually, you don’t have to think at all – I’ve done it for you. Follow some of the following and I guarantee you prosperity.

1. Resume the Hundred Years’ War and invade France.
imageHey, if it lasted from 1337 to 1453 it must have been lucrative, otherwise you would have run out of money 50 years into it. And now’s no better time for you to sneak over there. The whole country’s got their backs to you. They’re all on the lookout for their man-about-town-on-a-scooter president, trying to figure out which French movie starlet he’s hooking up with this week. And consider this – the proceeds from selling off the Eiffel Tower scrap metal alone should bring a pretty quid, or farthing, or whatever.

2. Rent Out the Royal Bling
British Crown JewelsDo you have any idea how many women get married every year on that island of yours? Me neither. But I’ll bet it’s quite a few. And even more, I’ll bet Buckingham Palace that every single one of them dreams of being the Queen for a day. On their special day, especially. Well, let’s make it happen! For a small fee, of course.

And what about the gang of Beefeaters tagging along to make sure the Crown Jewels find their way back to the Tower of London? The finest, best-dressed wedding ushers, for a small additional charge! Cha-ching!

Sound crazy? A little ridiculous? Picture this – Prince Charles, standing on a busy corner in downtown London. As the cars rush by him he’s holding up a handwritten cardboard sign: “Will abdicate for food.”

I thought so. Bottom line – when the money runs low …

3. … a Queen’s gotta do what a Queen’s gotta do.2014-02-01 19.53.10

No man is an iPad …

no_man_is_an_iPad.JPG… well, maybe not.

I’m writing this blog on my iPad. I read two newspapers, a dozen reports on one news service and a couple magazines earlier on my iPad. I checked my email on my iPad. I prepared all of the pictures here on my iPad.

As a matter of fact, lately I pretty much don’t go anywhere in this house without my iPad.

As a matter of complete fabrication, if a herd of rabid wildebeest were running through my backyard right now, I would use my iPad to defend myself.

That’s not true, of course.

I’d use my wife’s iPad.

“What the hell happened to my iPad?”

“Strangest thing, hon. Rabid wildebeest to my left, rabid wildebeest to my right. What else could I do but beat them off with my iPad.”

“But this is my iPad.”

“Tragic case of mistaken identity, my dear. Tragic.”

High technology never got me this … high before. But then my wife told me she’d like an iPad for Christmas.

Why not, I thought. Sure.

“We could share it.”

Why not, I thought. Sure.image

I went and picked it up. It was light. It was pretty. It was freaking thin – a mere credit card on steroids.

But looks aren’t everything of course. I wasn’t impressed. Hell, I have a desktop. I have a laptop. I have a notebook. I have a tablet.

What’s an iPad going to do that they can’t?

After setting up “our” iPad, it became apparent if I was ever going to find the answer to that question, it was going to take a while.

“Um … I thought we were going to share this thing.”

“We are. I’ll be done with it in a couple minutes. Then it’s all yours.”

“It’s nearly 3 a.m.”

“Is it, really? My, my.”

I should have seen this coming. Something needed to be done.image“What’s that?”

“I think they call it an iPad.”

“You bought your own iPad?”

“That would be an affirmative dear.”

“But we were going to share this one. Couple more minutes and I was finished playing with it.”

“Uh-huh. You said the same thing almost two days ago. I got tired of waiting.”

“Two days, really? My, my.”

Yeah, maybe I’m exaggerating. Yeah, an iPad is an amazing little piece of technology, but it’s just an overgrown smartphone. Or a dink of a desktop.

Or a diabolically-designed mind-meld machine soon to take over the world and every person living on it.

Nah, I’m probably just exaggerating.
image

imageWell, maybe not.

FYI: I lost, so you lost

powerball-lotteryI didn’t win the big money in the $590 million-or-more Powerball lottery drawing last night.

Hell, I didn’t win the semi-big money, the middling money or the smallest this-covers-me-for-one-of-my-tickets money. I got zip, nada, zero, nothing, squat.

Oh, and since I was a loser, just thought you’d all like to know you’re losers too.

Because I planned on giving a million to every single one of my readers and followers here, whether you’ve liked me or not. I could afford it and could have used the charity tax breaks too.

Just so you know.

And even after that, I would have had more than enough moolah left over to do a couple other nice-for-me/nice-for-you things.

national debtI was going to pay off all of my family’s and all of your families’ share of the national debt. Shucks, it’s only a little more than $100,000 each. Chump change. That’d be one monthly bill we all could rip up and throw away.

kim-jong-un-and-dennis-rodmanI’d buy a long-range ballistic missile, stuff Dennis Rodman into the warhead and fire it off at Kim Jong-Un and his cadre of yes-oh-great-leader generals. One kaboom and world peace would ensue.

bag of iceAnd finally, I’d buy a bag of ice for every single person on the planet and at the same time we’d all go outside and all-together-now wave them in the air for twenty minutes and … badda-bing, badda-boom … no more global warming.

Yeah, sure, what I nice guy I could have been. But I didn’t win. So now me, you, the country and the world have zip, nada, zero, nothing, squat.

And one last thing. To the winner of last night’s Powerball, who bought the ticket at that Publix supermarket in Florida, probably a 97-year-old retiree who’s really going to send for those mail-order kitchen curtains now and (why not?) the valances too, and who most likely will bequeath the rest to Clarence, your 12-year-old Maine coon-Persian-calico cat mix because he’s such a finicky eater, don’t you know … I hiss this:

I just hope you’re happy now.

A lesson too hard, too soon

The reality begins to take hold of this Sandy Hook Elementary student after the shooting today. Michelle McIoughlin (Reuters)

The horrific reality begins to take hold of this Sandy Hook Elementary School student outside the school today after the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. Michelle McIoughlin (Reuters)

“The sun is out today.”

My mother always used those same words as she stepped in between the sitting or prone bodies of me and my brothers on the floor of the family room on many Saturday mornings. We were spread out in front of the TV, all set for a morning full of cartoons. But whenever I heard those words, it also meant that she was making her way to that TV and about to hit the off button.

“The sun is out today. It’s too nice outside for all of you to be in here,” she always said. “Now, go outside and find something to do. Out, out, out!”

And out we’d go, reluctantly, for another day of playing. Goofing around. Getting into trouble. Getting out of trouble. All in all, just being kids.

It wasn’t so bad. Not as good as a slew of Bugs Bunny cartoons, but not so bad. We didn’t sweat it. Heck, life is pretty simple when you’re just a 6-, 8- or  9-nine-year-old, which at some point during our collective childhoods was how old we would have been.

That’s the way life is, when you’re one of those ages. Pretty simple.

“The sun is out today.”

Those words came into my mind again a few hours ago. Over and over. The sun was out at that moment. I was sitting in my truck, in the parking lot outside of my office. Taking a break from work. I’d just turned the key, and turned up the radio. I keep it tuned to the local public broadcasting station. I was expecting to listen in on whatever heady, wordy talk show was being broadcast at that time.

Instead, I heard the station’s news reporters talking. Live coverage. That could only mean one thing – bad news. Very bad news. News so big that it had knocked off the regular programming. Or news really close, somewhere in my home state of Connecticut.

It was both.

At that moment, all the reporters could report was someone had walked into an elementary school – kindergarten through 4th-grade – and started shooting. According to an anonymous source, the reporter said he’d been told there were up to 28 dead. And at least 18 of them … were children.

The story would become clearer, in time. There were 28 dead, that was spot on. But 20, not 18, were children.

Students at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

Kindergarten through 4th-grade.

Including 6-, 8- and 9-year-olds.

“We were in my art teacher’s room. We heard some gunshots, like 20. Then the police came with guns and told us to close our eyes.”

Fourth-grader Vanessa Bajraliu, 9 years old.

In another report, a father told of his six-year old son’s dramatic escape from a room after the gunman burst in and opened fire. Robert Licata said his son was in class when the killer burst in and shot the teacher.

“That’s when my son grabbed a bunch of his friends and ran out the door,” he said. “He was very brave. He waited for his friends.”

A hero. A boy. A 6-year-old.

At my age, you’ve learned long ago that life is not simple. It’s complicated. It can be very, very good. But it can be cruel too. Harsh and unforgiving. Infuriating and frustrating. And very, very painful. Not always, but that’s the way life often is.

At my age. Maybe yours too.

State police officers lead evacuated students from the school after the shooting. Shannon Hicks (Newtown Bee)

State police officers lead students away from the school after the shooting. Shannon Hicks (Newtown Bee)

But why did it have to be that way … for these kids?

“The sun is out today.”

That’s all life was for me when I was 6-, 8- and 9-years old.

And what did the kids at the Sandy Hook Elementary School learn today?

It isn’t that way for them.