February 25
Weather beaten, divorced father of 4 through a lot of changes and far happier than I have been in my entire life... in spite of the day to day crap coming my way. The ability to find the humor in it all and maintain a sense of openness and respect with those with whom I choose to share my free time, makes it all worthwhile. Expect intermittent rants of whimsy as time permits. And maybe the occasional political rant to get my left leaning friends all in a dither.


Gwool's Links
JANUARY 13, 2011 12:08AM

WTF: It's Snow People! Lose the 24/7 News Coverage!

Rate: 14 Flag

I am sorry, but can the news cycle cover something other than snowstorms?  Sweet Jesus.  We live in New England, OK?  It comes with the territory.  This isn’t the Carolinas where a couple inches grinds things to a halt, and the helicopters can get footage worthy of America’s Funniest Home Videos of southern drivers sliding into parked cars on the street like the end game scenes from drunken car chases.

The recently retired local police chief had a discussion with me shortly before a first snowfall of a couple inches years ago.  He told me he was ordering in all available officers.  Being the head of the finance committee at the time, I looked at him like he was crazy.

He, of course, looked at me like I was the crazy person and simply said, “Gwool think.  I will have six month’s worth of new drivers on the road racing to get to school.  What do you think is going to happen?  The brick parsonage on the corner gets hit every year.  Every year.”

He was right.  I was wrong. (And I know a kid who nailed the parsonage going to school.) Wasn’t the first time that was the case with Al, and it wasn’t the last.  Great man, and a great cop.

But this was different.  This storm had schools cancelling 24 hours before it hit, and some have delayed schools two hours tomorrow morning.  No first time drivers out on the streets, if their parents have any brains.

As a little safety tip, let me impart this one on you, dear reader.  If you have young drivers, get them out in an unplowed parking lot and let them slide around and skid.  Teach them. 

My mother did it with me around 1 a.m. in the morning.  One of her better parenting moves, although the screening process was not terribly exhausting, but you have to give the old girl credit where credit is due.

It was a positive take away, retailored to my personal predilictions.

In my instance, I happen to live on a lake that has an oval for ice car races.  I took my boys out one night under the influence and had them racing my F-150 around the oval in two wheel drive skidding it into snow banks and having a grand old time.  I let them do it THEIR way the first few times and fail miserably while I laughed.  I then asked if they would do it my way and taught them.

Even the cop who put on the blues and thought he had an excuse to go into the station and get warm gave us a hall pass when I gave him the explanation.  Didn’t even make us stop the training exercise before he left … or make me walk a line.

None of my boys has gone off the road as a result of weather. 

Snapping tie rods after running over mail boxes?  Well, that’s another story entirely.

But back to the point.  SNOWSTORMS ARE NOT NEW NEWS IN NEW ENGLAND.  Here you have a story of a four generation tradition, as my grandfather allowed my mother to drive his Model A grocery delivery trucks on the lake to learn, and to get his drunken French Canadian buddies back from their ice holes when they needed to go to the bathroom … when she was 12.

We know what to do.  During the storm I worked from home like many others.  I

  • Reviewed three different research documents firing emails, IMs, and PowerPoint documents into the ether. 
  •  Sat in on a vendor product announcement conducted by a company based in MA who had all execs working from home with the internet feed a little slow because all sorts of other people were working from home.
  • Had a conference call with six people kicking off a 12 week project.
  •  Did some internet research.
  • Looked after my daughter.

My daughter did what she should do at the age of 12.  She slept until 1 pm, went out and played in the snow building forts and having snowball fights, and then flaked out in her papasan chair sipping hot chocolate  and IMing friends on Facebook.

During this time I could hear the Townhouse complex snow blower blasting away and the maintenance pickup truck doing the plowing.  I giggled, thinking about the poor Jamaican guy on the business end of the snow blower figuring he was wishing he was back in Jamaica smoking a blunt with his toes in the hot white sand.

After dinner and after the storm subsided, I did what I always love doing.  I went shopping with one of my children.  No one goes out after a storm blows over.  It’s great.  Only thing close is timing Home Depot runs for the nights the staff does inventory.  They flock to you.  Only risk there happens to be needing something in an aisle roped off while these poor schmucks use lift trucks to count product.  But if you work it right, they’ll jump the fence and go get it for you.

Tonight I had Wal-Mart floor people flocking around me like lounge lizards hovering around the tipsy girl at closing time.  From there I went to Staples and had two tech support folks collaboratively advising me on what $29.00 laptop pillow to buy and on what $14.00 photo paper would work best with my laser printer.  On a normal night I would not have been able to get their attention even if I lit my hair on fire and said I had a bomb wrapped around my stomach.

So done with a traditional “spoil your daughter day” expedition, I got daughter home and to bed and sought to flick mindlessly through the cable channels.

And all I got were breathless news promos about the storm.  It’s done.  Move on, people! Come up with some real news.  If it were 100 degrees in New England this time of year, I just might be curious as to why.  But snow? In New England?  In January?

Come on.

Next up will be wonderment at the cold snap the Nor’easter weather pattern generates 9 times out of 10. 


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"As a little safety tip, let me impart this one on you, dear reader. If you have young drivers, get them out in an unplowed parking lot and let them slide around and skid. "

I still do this every year at first snowfall. Necessary to make the ol' reflexes switch over from summer driving to winter driving. To those who think their old winter driving habits will "just kick in", let me tell you that I've been driving since the age of 14 and in 56 years of driving, I've NEVER seen that happen. Get some practice time in. It'll keep you - and others- alive.
Good rant, Woolly!

I like your method of sensitizing kids to bad roads. My oldest son, a 20 year old car geek, keeps telling me I should do that--well your mother's method, not yours (ie, no pond, no drink)--for his two younger brothers.

In the meantime, here in Cleveland we had school today and it was a nightmare getting there. (I was teaching). What's weird about schools is that usually the kids who attend them live right nearby so it's not an issue getting them there, even when there's no busing. It's the teachers who all come straggling in from around town, having spent the previous 1-2 hours in highways-turned-parking lots. Whichever suckers get there first are the few adults in charge of the entire student body, however many grades that may entail. Anyway, I'm always surprised at how often superintendents get it wrong. Today we didn't have huge accumulation, but it's been snowing for over 24 hours straight. We get what's called Lake Effect Snow, and that came *after* the storm that went through first (and ended up over in your neck of the woods). It's the nonstop snowing that causes the roads to be bad--the city can't get ahead of the clean-up. If there are ever snow days, today should have been one around here. Other days we are left scratching our heads as our kids are off and the roads seem perfectly fine. Other than private high schools, which often draw inexperienced drivers from all over town, most schools really do not ever need to be closed in my opinion. They are generally not causing drivers to clog roads b/c they have buses and they are staying in a close geographic space.
Sky: See people? Listen to the woman on this one.

Lainey: You must be in a city construct? (And I get lake effect snow. My college roomate is in buffalo, and my son attended Clarkson.)

But, when I was a selectman in the northernmost town in the 3 town district, I used to live in fear of having the Boston news stations wind up at more door for comment after a school bus went off one of our woefully maintained roads. So that town would wind up requiring district wide snow days when the other two communities might have had far less accumulation based on the higher altitude and the sparser staffed highway crews.

Cities? Yeah, that makes sense. A 2 hour delay would let the staff get there without breaking a sweat... In our more rural situation, that 2 hour delay is more for the highway guys to catch up. We got between 15" and 20". Not a whopper, but nothing to sneeze at, either.
You guys are heartier than me. I hit black ice a few years ago and have lived in fear ever since. I love your home depot story-so true, so true. Keep warm and dry.
I still don't like it dear voice of reason. Winter is expensive.
Well, I miss New England, despite the travail!
When I was a child growing up in New England, we called this "winter."
With all the global warming hysteria, winter is now a crisis.
Narcissistic, anyone?
Only a narcissistic generation can turn the earths natural cycles into hysteria.
In D.C. the reporting begins the night before the "storm" is expected to arrive. We are shown salt trucks, sand trucks, all standing by in preparation for the storm. When the snow starts falling, every reporter in the Washington metro area is on the street measuring, interviewing people walking by, and trying to keep us interested in... snow.
When I reported for newspapers you could also count on page one the morning after a big overnight snow to feature a photo of the snow and, somewhere in the enormous hedline the word SNOW.
Well New York counterparts all talked about the impending storm. I worked from home and moved my meeting to later in the week.

Our local public works department here in Connecticut isn't as effective as when I lived in Maine or Massachusetts. I bought the biggest snowblower a year ago last fall and my neighbors appreciate my lending it to them when there is a big storm.

The parking lot lesson is a good example of how to prepare one's kids for driving in snow. Unfortunately novices who own SUVs with 4WD think they are invincible when in fact they are deadly hazards.
Priceless! It always amazes me how much we can forget about winter driving in a few months, and how few do a practice run to get the winter reflexes back. These days I rarely need to drive, as I'm usually on public transit to go any distance.

When I lived in NH and had to drive in snow nearly every day in the colder months, I'd do a practice session or two at the start of every winter. It really helped to sharpen me up again, and I had no crashes in snowy conditions in 10 years of NH winter driving.

This "sky is falling" approach to news does get a bit ridiculous. Snow in New England really isn't news. It's just winter. Rated.
Damn. Gwool, can you teach me? We don't get as much as you, I have a good car in snow, good tires but I always want to pump? Old habits die hard. The news goes nuts here too scaring everyone to death, ridiculous.
As someone who, in my youth (yes, there were cars then...) wrecked two cars by skidding on ice, I wish I had had someone who taught me the right way to drive in inclement weather.
Good post.
I thought this was a very Garrison Keilor-esque post, in the best way. It was like Northeast Prarie Home Companion with a little drunk driving thrown in. My kind of read.
I thought this was a very Garrison Keilor-esque post, in the best way. It was like Northeast Prairie Home Companion with a little drunk driving thrown in. My kind of read.
I thought this was a very Garrison Keilor-esque post, in the best way. It was like Northeast Prairie Home Companion with a little drunk driving thrown in. My kind of read.
Don't know why my comment posted thrice. Damn OS.
For us, it's the third storm in the LAST TWO WEEKS. If that's big news, then the sun rising in the east is big news. Sheesh. I'm with you, Gwool.
In the winter where I live, if it's not snowing, we stare at the sky with worried faces and wonder if or when it will start.

I have to say that I like all your coverage, though; it makes us out here feel vastly superior.
Love this line: "Tonight I had Wal-Mart floor people flocking around me like lounge lizards hovering around the tipsy girl at closing time."
You would die of laughter here in Los Angeles. The news stations go into "storm mode" when it rains.
Unfortunately novices who own SUVs with 4WD think they are invincible when in fact they are deadly hazards.

I experienced that way too many times while driving home from Boston at night in blizzards. It pleased me enormously to see the speeding SUV drivers who were menaces to the rest of us (who slowed down due to poor driving conditions and reduced visibility) stopped down the road, getting tickets.

Rita - One of the best things to remember is that easing off the gas and letting engine braking slow you down makes you less vulnerable to skidding than hitting the brakes.