Snow and Panic

NY TV weather people are doing a pretty good job this month of explaining why it’’s hard to determine how much snow we’re going to get.  New York City and Long Island are frequently places where snow storms change course.  Of course, how much they change course influences how much snow we get.  So, Northeast New Jersey got clobbered today and Long Island got rained upon.

In case you’re wondering, here’’s why the New York Metropolitan area goes into panic mode when we get a particularly large snowfall for this area,, but a snowfall that wouldn’’t be considered large someplace else, like Syracuse, for instance.

Incidentally, there is no snowfall on record anyplace in the world that would be considered unusually large in Syracuse.  If you don’’t know it, Buffalo NY has a well-deserved reputation for getting a lot of snow, but Syracuse gets more. Buffalo has Lake Ontario to generate what’’s known as lake-effect snow.  Syracuse has two lakes and needs a better PR person so that snow in Syracuse can achieve the fame it deserves.

Long Island doesn’t usually get a lot of snow.  Typically there are a few snowfalls a year and the most we get here is something like 3-6 inches.  If you left it alone, it would go away by itself in two or three days.  Every municipality in the area has the equipment necessary to deal with 3-6 inches of snow.   The trains and busses have no trouble running through 3-6 inches of snow either.

Rarely, we get what we would consider a lot of snow.  Say a foot or two.  Is that a lot of snow for Syracuse NY, or for Truckee, CA?  In a word, no.  A few years ago, the emergency preparedness people on the California side of Lake Tahoe warned the locals not to go cross-country skiing because of too much snow.  How much did they consider too much?  They were worried about skiers tripping on the overhead power lines that were buried in the snow!

In the days when a Buick was really a Buick, I owned a Buick Road Monster station wagon.  It was called a station wagon because it was big enough to tote around a train station or a radio station (exaggeration).  It weighed 5,300 pounds.  It ran on ambulance tires.  If you only made really short trips in the winter, say a mile or less, it got roughly two miles per gallon (no exaggeration).  Even with its 24-gallon gas tank, cruising range wasn’’t its strong point.  We bought it when our first child was born so we could carry around everything we had for the kid instead of just everything we needed.

Once, here on Long Island, we had a snow storm after which I had only a vague idea where this monument of a car was.  When I started digging for it, I wasn’’t sure if I’’d find the Buick, or someone else’’s car.  Eventually I did locate it.

For a storm like that, no government on Long Island has the proper equipment to get rid of the snow.  Why?  It’’s a two or three times in a lifetime event.  If the government bought the big stuff, the next time they needed it, said equipment would be rusted, rotted or both, definitely inoperable and uneconomical if not impossible to repair.   On I-80 west of Laramie WY, they have devices that look like railroad gates to close off the Interstate when they expect a lot of snow.  Here, we don’’t.  Does it snow a lot in Laramie?  Well Laramie is at seven thousand feet and the mountains that surround it are the Snowy Range.  That’’s a hint.

Additionally, a lot of Long Islanders are parochial people.  They’’ve always lived on Long Island and don’’t go someplace else very often.  Many of them don’’t know how to drive in a lot of snow.  Even if we do know how, a lot of us don’’t get much practice.  I could have gone anyplace in the snow this month if I was able to convince everyone else to stay home.  But since I couldn’’t, I was afraid for my life and I stayed home through the worst of it.  In Fayetteville, NC, they get even less snow than we do.  I don’’t know if they still do this, but I saw them load up a street sweeper with hot water and use that to get rid of the snow.  Only it stayed cold enough for the hot water to turn to ice.  If you didn’’t get too near the road, watching those people drive in those unfamiliar circumstances was hilarious, as long as they weren’’t crashing into something you owned.

So snow that wouldn’’t scare someone in Syracuse, NY or Truckee, CA causes panic here on Long Island.  Panic over something other people consider normal isn’’t that unusual.  Have you ever watched TV news in Los Angeles on a day when they get a couple of hours of rain?

Instead of relying on people who know how to drive in a lot of snow and equipment that can handle it, we rely on one important fact of life: snow melts.

Things I Know

  • Today is the second anniversary of the Sisyphus Project.  If I’’ve ever said anything profound here, I assure you it was unintentional.  I can’’t guarantee profundity will continue to be unintentional, but that’’s my intent for now.

  • I threw out the bagels that were left over from the weekend.  It’’s rumored that David killed Goliath with a two-day-old bagel.

  • If I didn’’t like doo wop music, I might never have learned that sympathy is a five syllable word.

  • Sometimes I’’m unable to listen to Prairie Home Companion on NPR on Saturday at dinner time.  When that happens, I can catch it later at night if I stream a public radio station farther west.

  • Loving someone a lot more or a lot less than they love you is a recipe for disaster.  At least it was the two times I cooked it up.

  • Both of my shoulders have been surgically repaired.  I should have bought the extended warranty.  One of the repairs lasted about a year and I think I loused the other one up on Friday when I slipped on the ice and grabbed on to a car in a futile attempt to keep from falling.

  • If you can afford to donate 2 million Canadian dollars to charity so you can have lunch with Warren Buffet, you probably won’t benefit from Mr. Buffett’s advice as much as someone who doesn’t have that kind of money would.

  • Heads up for the gullible.  Besides this one, I own two other domain names that end in .org.  Today, I received an offer to buy one of them as a .com name for “only” $99.  I’’m not going to, but out of curiosity, I checked on line to see if I could buy the domain name for less.  There were lots of places I could find it.  Only checked one and they wanted $8.95 for a year.   So if someone tries to sell you a domain name, look elsewhere to see if their offer a good deal.

Things I Know

  • Tiger Woods didn’’t hold a press conference today.  He issued a statement and made a short video or a short film or both.

  • A woman I know has a much better idea than Sally Field for fighting osteoporosis.  She makes her Bloody Mary and her Screwdriver using calcium-fortified juice.

  • Spring Training is good for two related reasons.  Baseball causes warm weather’ and you can’t have Spring Training without spring.

  • Pitchers and catchers reported this week.  In the Mets case, maybe only one pitcher.  Okay, two pitchers.  They have one fine starter and one fine closer too.

  • I claim to know the worst joke in the world, but I won’’t tell it unless someone tells me one almost as bad that I haven’’t heard before.  However, when I assert that I know the worst joke in the world, nobody who knows me has ever said anything meaning, “”You couldn’t possibly know the worst joke in the world.”  Some of my friends have asked me, “”What is it?”” though. 

  • This is what I know about economics.  I went to high school with someone who grew up to be a prominent economist.  That’s it. 

  • I’’m not buying a new lens for my new camera if the lens costs more than both of my cars are worth.  I probably will, however, buy a flash that costs twice as much as I made in a week when I got married.  I just did buy a star filter.  It’’s one of those things that causes rays to emanate from bright lights in a picture.  I want to use it to take pictures at night after a snow storm, so even though I hate winter, I hope it snows again.  If it doesn’’t, I’’ll go to a night baseball game this summer and take pictures of the stadium lights using the filter.

  • I learned yesterday that I know someone who is related to the president of a major league baseball team.  I’’m trying to figure out a way to capitalize on that.  My cousin met Peter O’’Malley once, but that doesn’’t help much because I wouldn’’t root for the Dodgers if you paid me, O’’Malley doesn’’t own the Dodgers anymore, and my cousin told Mr. O’’Malley he wasn’t a Dodger fan because they abandoned him in New York when he was a little kid.  Good for my cousin!

  • It’’s almost the end of winter and I came up with an idea for a wintertime business.  When it snows and the owner of a parking lot doesn’’t get it cleaned out, the lot gets icy and the ice is bumpy.  How about if we buy a Zamboni ™ and use it to smooth out the ice in parking lots for a fee?  As an aside, when the ice surfacing machines at the Winter Olympics broke down, they were widely reported as Zambonis™ but they weren’’t.  In fact, Zamboni™ came to the rescue.  It’’s not any ice resurfacing machine, it’s the leading brand of ice resurfacing machine and they didn’’t start out using them at the Olympics, but they switched to Zambonis™ when the machines they were using couldn’’t do the job.

Things I Want (Or Need) To Know

  • This week was the one-year anniversary of the national economic stimulus cargo (it’s too big to be a package).  Has your economic been stimulated lately?

  • I read about a survey that said eight percent of Americans think Congress deserves reelection.  That seems high to me.  What do you think?

  • My doctor told me not to shovel snow.  So, shouldn’’t hiring someone to do it be covered by my health insurance?

  • Sarah Palin’s hand writing isn’’t very easy to read, is it?

  • Have you ever caught any fish with baited breath?

  • When Don Imus reads commercials for appliance and electronic retailer PC Richards, he emphasizes that the company has been in business for 100 years.  I’’ve shopped there, and been satisfied, but does being in business for 100 years count for that much in that field?  I mean, 100 years ago were they selling big-screen TVs, sound systems, computers, air conditioners, microwave ovens, refrigerators and dish washers?  

  • When is a bargain not really a bargain?  Do you think it’s when the $9,200 lens for my new camera is on sale for $6,140?

Things I Know

  • Here’s another free marketing idea, this one for Apple Corp.  They should take up medical research with the goal of developing artificial human organs.  They should develop a device to allow blind people to see.  They can call it the iEye.

  • Thursday night, around 9:45, the phone rang and my wife answered.  The caller said she was calling long distance conducting an opinion survey.  My wife said, “Do you know it’s 9:45 at night?”  The caller replied, ““What kind of question is that?”  First, it wasn’t a rhetorical question, lady.  And second, we’re taking a survey too.  You don’t have to get snippy about it.

  • So they are trucking snow into Vancouver for the Winter Olympics.  Can this be a surprise?  I mean Vancouver is hardly the snow capital of Canada.

  • St. Vincent’s Hospital in Greenwich Village was once one of New York City’’s premier hospitals.  My mom graduated from its nursing school.  It’s sad to think St. Vincent’s may go out of business.

  • A car is approaching you at a right angle and that car does not have a stop sign at the intersection where you are stopped because you do have a stop sign.  Do not proceed and cause the other car to jam on its brakes and screech to a stop.  The other car has the right of way.

  • I thought I had a job interview this week, but unless I blew the guy away, that’s not what it turned out to be.  His staff didn’t tell him why I was there and didnt give him the resume I sent in.

  • The TV show “Lost” doesn’t stretch credulity.  It smashes credulity into itsy bitsy, teeny, tiny pieces.

  • If anyone thinks money will solve all their problems, I offer two examples to prove it’s not so.  Abraham Shakespeare was murdered after winning $30-million in the Florida state lottery.  And Cameron Douglas, whose father and grandfather are world-famous movie stars, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for drug dealing.

  • I don’t think money would give me a problem-free life.  But most of my current problems are money related, and it would be nice to try some new problems for a change.

  • The word “February” has two r’s in it.

Things I Want (Or Need) To Know

  • The folks who run the New York Lottery aren’t doing a lot to tell people they can now buy Powerball tickets as well as Mega Million Tickets, are they?

  • Could we please have a snow storm on Thursday night or Sunday night?  Friday night is bad because I already have Saturday off. 

  • Ed Lowe was once a columnist for Newsday.  I knew Ed many years ago and always enjoyed his columns.  Did you ever wonder why, when snow is imminent, people strip the stores of bread and milk?  Ed’’s theory was that they make the traditional cream of bread soup.

  • The woman’s hairdo known as a ponytail looks like the tail of a pony, so I understand the name, but why do they call pigtails that?

  • Woman and women.  If you change the spelling of the second syllable, it changes the pronunciation of the first syllable.  Are there any other English words like that?

  • Could we please have a law that says when a car dealer advertises a car for sale and the ad includes the price, it should be the price?  You know, no $16,000* and in print too small to read at the bottom of the page, it says *price includes $3,000 trade in or buyer equity.  If I’’m not mistaken (and I seldom am about math) that makes the price $19,000, not $16,000*.