January 28, 2009


I’ve decided that it is at age 40 that one becomes afflicted with the “get those damn kids off my lawn!” syndrome. I find myself thinking angry thoughts about the state of the country today and it has mostly to do with change. I’m not really feeling the vibe of society in general today, moreso than usual, and quite frankly some things are leaving me feeling baffled.

For example, I have mentioned countless times that Earl and I live in Upstate New York. We live downwind of a lake. It’s a really big lake, so big it’s called a “Great Lake”. It’s one of five with such a designation. It’s called Lake Ontario.

Mother Nature, always looking for mischief, decides to bring cold, Arctic air over our friends in Toronto and then shoot it across the lake. This in turn brings moisture from this great lake up into the air and then when the cold air hit land, the water falls in the form of snow. Lots of snow.

It has been this way for hundreds, if not thousands of years, ever since Someone decided that the lake would be great. I have been witness to such an event for 40 winters now. This year it seems like it’s an entirely new phenomenon for some bizarre reason and quite frankly this new attitude is baffling me.

Back in my day (did I really just say that?) it was a rare event for school to close. I grew up in the Lake Ontario Snow Belt, a region known to get the most snow east of the Mississippi (crooked letter, crooked letter). Just like the school districts of today, we were alloted five snow days to last the entire winter. If we used any more than five, they either added more days to the end of the school year or they took some vacation days away from spring break. I can count maybe one or two years where we used more than five snow days during a given winter. During those two years we ended losing a superintendent’s day to make up the difference. I remember getting out of school early on several occasions; those days didn’t count against our snow days. We would always pay close attention to the smells wafting from the cafeteria area. If we couldn’t smell lunch, we were getting out early.

I remember only two occasions where we were snowed into school and didn’t get out until later than usual in the afternoon. That was during the winter of ’77. We had an extra snack of peanut butter and jelly in the cafeteria. I was excited because I saw what the clocks looked like beyond 3:30.

This week is Regents week in the New York State school system. The Regents Exam are a set of standardised test that are required for high school graduation. The same test is administered at the same time across the state. The Regents are a really big deal. Because of the standardisation of the exam, if the test is not given at the right time, it’s not given at all. There are no make ups, if you miss it you wait until the next round. In this case, it’s June.

Many school districts canceled classes today, including Regents exams. The roads were dusted with snow this morning. I took my time and had no problem getting to work. As of this writing, we have received less than a foot of snow. Much of the snow came late this afternoon and this evening. The roads are a bit slick, but if you leave out the crazy hysteria that now grips society whenever the skies are less than sunny and 70 and pay attention to what you’re doing, one is able to get about the area just like we did 20 or 30 years ago when we had technologically inferior cars with rear wheel drive and much more snow on the ground.

I am trying to decide if it’s the constant screams of “Winter Storm Warnings” from the National Weather Service whenever more than six or eight inches of snow is predicted or if it’s the “we are in for a big one, news at 11!” dire warnings from the less than adequate television stations that is scaring the hell out of society. Maybe it’s the litigious nature of society today and every school district is terrified of being sued by a greedy set of parents. Or could it be that union’s are putting undue pressure on administration to make their jobs as easy as possible?

Whatever the reason for the hysteria we now face whenever there are more than 40 snow flakes in the air at once, quite frankly I am sick and tired of it. I will trudge on with confidence in my driving abilities and live life as it was meant to be lived downwind from a great lake. I’ll be annoyed and angry but I’ll deal.

And I’ll spin a tale from the good old days for those that’ll listen.