Archive for April, 2010

Dead Man a Media Darling

April 30, 2010

Too bad David Morales Colon isn’t around to see how famous he’s become.

He’s the unfortunate man in Puerto Rico who was recently shot to death at the age of 22. The funeral home, at the request of Colon’s family, posed his body on a motorcycle for people paying their last respects.

Sure, the idea is a little strange and morbid, but who says you have to meet your maker in a brown wooden box? It’s got me thinking about what I should do when I leave this world, something I hope doesn’t happen for a long, long time.

I’ve don’t want a funeral when I go anyway. I hope friends and family send me off with a keg party instead. But until now, I have been  unimaginative when it comes to how they should dispose of my body.  I’d say just ditch the me in a Dumpster behind Wal-Mart or something.

But maybe I should go for something more creative. Thunderstorms are my favorite kind of weather, so maybe people can coat my corpse in metal, put me on a roof and I can be a lightning rod. I’d certainly go out with a flash, wouldn’t I?

I love working in landscaping and such, so maybe you could just add me to the compost pile, so you get a nice, lush garden the next spring. Just don’t mention how the soil the vegetables are growing in got so rich as you serve your friends a nice, fresh garden salad.

Our friend on the mot0rcycle got famous in death, but I don’t want to suffer that fate. If I become famous, I want to be around to enjoy my 15 minutes in the spotlight.   So don’t do anything too public when deciding how to dispose of my body. I don’t want to be on Fox news or something.

 I owe so much money to people that I can’t die. That means I will outlive you all, thus relieving you of the responsibility of where to chuck my cold dead corpse.

Vermont’s Spring Returns

April 30, 2010

Ah, much better.

The sun was out beautifully yesterday and melted much of the snow.

The storm damage at my house wasn’t nearly as bad as I originally thought. More on that in another post.

I’m just enjoying the return to spring normality.

My friend Denis and I grabbed a bite to eat last evening and had time to savor Burlington’s waterfront, as you can see in these pictures.

Media Madness: Lucky Break For All

April 29, 2010

The Missouri film crew had a fun, but routine assignment:  A $258 million winning Powerball ticket had been sold at a local convenience store.

Nobody knew who won the money, and everybody, not least the people who work at the store wanted to know. The crew showed up, cameras in tow, at the store to talk about the mystery.

While there, a random guy (pictured) showed up, and  the group got its scoop:

By far the most shocking thing about the video is how calm our fearless winner, Chris Shaw,  is. Dude, you won more than $200 million. This was no $10 scratch ticket. I would have behaved differently if I was in his shoes. I probably would have passed out. On camera. Great way to make an impression, huh?

How would you have reacted?

The guy works at the store where he bought the ticket. No word yet on whether he quit his job and went to Tahiti.

The film team won the lottery, too.  As a journalist, I can’t remember the last time I went out on a story and came back with something much better than anybody dreamed of.

Spring Snow Landscape in Vermont

April 29, 2010

I stayed overnight in Burlington last night, rather than at my house in St. Albans.

There’s no snow left from that huge storm in Burlington, as there is in St. Albans. The electric power situation was still iffy at my house, too. Since I was in Burlington to see a play anyway last evening, it worked out well not to drive to St. Albans.

Why continue to experience winter when we’re on the cusp of May?

With my 16 inches of snow melting, it will be interesting to get a clearer view of the tree damage around my house when I get home this evening.

As I noted yesterday, it was disheartening to see some of the plants and trees around my house that I worked hard on get ruined. However, the weather geek in me is fascinated by destructive storms, even if I have to experience them.

Really, no harm done. The tree damage around my house is actually pretty light and everything will grow back nicely. I don’t want to find out how people deal with other disasters like tornadoes, where houses are destroyed. My house is fine.

It was interesting driving around St. Albans during the storm yesterday morning to see how the storm temporarily distorted my familiar world. The photos in this post are ones I took in various sections of St. Albans City during the snowstorm.

All the trees slumped heavily under the snow, as if succumbing to defeat.

In the woods and on tree-lined streets, it sometimes sounded like a war. There was the gun-like crack of a tree branches snapping, and then the thunk! of the limbs crashing heavily to the ground, followed by the shards of ice and twigs skittering down, sounding like shattering glass.

On Interstate 89, trees sagged and leaned heavily above the travel lanes, like so many Swords of Damocles. Some of the trees broke and landed on the slushy interstate, forcing motorists to make some deft swerves to avoid collisions with fallen trees.

It’s supposed to be 52 degrees today,  and in the upper 60s tomorrow. The snow will quickly disappear, I’ll clean up the broken tree limbs from my yard over the next couple of days. Then I will get back happily to my normal spring concerns, like mowing the lawn, maintaining the landscaping, planting the garden and enjoying the nice, live green world around me.

Rocky Was a Lucky Dog

April 28, 2010

My great friend Jeff called me shortly before 6 p.m. yesterday.

“What are you doing,?” Jeff asked. He didn’t sound good.

“I’m headed home from work, you,?”  I asked.

“Rocky died,” he said.

“‘l’ll be right over,” I replied.

Rocky was Jeff’s 16-year old Cocker Spaniel. Jeff and Rocky made a terrific team. Jeff rescued Rocky from a kennel and an uncertain fate a long time ago. Rocky saw Jeff through some tough times a few years ago.

You could see Rocky and Jeff had absolute trust in one another. Pictures of Rocky are scattered through Jeff’s house. In each one, Rocky looks absolutely delighted to be there. Obviously because Jeff was there, too.

In the past year or so, Rocky was feeling the effects of old age. He was blind, deaf and limped from arthritis. Jeff doted on Rocky, making sure Rocky found his way outside to do his business, and always rewarded him afterwards with some Scooby snacks.

Jeff would often wake up in the middle of the night to check on Rocky. When Jeff did so, Rocky would sniff and snort, then fall back asleep, reassured his best buddy had his back.

Jeff said he isn’t sure what he would have done without Rocky during that dark time he had awhile back. Rocky was so protective.  Befitting his name, he was like a  rock for Jeff.

Jeff says he thinks Rocky gave him more than he gave Rocky. I think it’s a tie.

When I got to Jeff’s house last evening,  Rocky was still there, where he died in the living room. Rocky’s head rested on his favorite blanket. His head was cocked upward a bit, as if he saw something fun in the distance. His legs were arranged as if he was getting ready to run toward whatever he saw.

I think as Rocky was dying, he saw his buddy Alex, another Cocker Spaniel who lived with and was loved by Jeff and Rocky until he died a few years ago. Alex and Rocky are probably having a ball somewhere as we speak, running around fields and chasing sticks.

I couldn’t do much to help Jeff. He was mourning, but holding it together. Jeff wished he was there to comfort Rocky when he died. I said I thought Rocky died when Jeff wasn’t home on purpose, to spare him the grief of watching the event.

Jeff wondered if he did everything he possibly could for Rocky during what was clearly his happy life.  I guess it is obvious to everyone except Jeff that Rocky became the luckiest dog in the world when he met Jeff.

I’ve been fortunate to have many friends in my life. A few have let me down, most have not.  Through all that, I’ve learned how best to judge people as potential buddies.

If the person treats the animals around him or her with love, respect and care, you would be wise to choose that person as a friend.

I know I chose extremely wisely in becoming friends with Jeff. 

How do I know that? Rocky told me.

My Snow Disaster

April 28, 2010

I woke up this morning to 16 inches of heavy wet snow here in St. Albans, Vt. . Just incredible. It’s my biggest snowstorm of the winter. And it’s April 28.

Trees had been starting to leaf out, so the wet snow collected on them, and many collapsed. I was outside and could hear them cracking and collapsing all around me.

It’s hard to determine the extent of the damage to my property with all this snow, but it’s pretty bad, as you can see from the pictures. I had to hack my way out of the driveway through broken and slumping trees.  My lilacs have collapsed in a heap. I’ve got branches everywhere.

I thought my three enormous, beautiful poplars in the back yard escaped damage, as I saw no branches on the ground beneath them. But the branches are snapping on the top, and not completely dislodging. They’ll hang  there, like Swords of Damocles, and will eventually fall.

There’s a tree starting to lean into my house and another sagging tree is putting pressure on my power lines.

At 6:45 a.m. it’s still snowing hard and still accumulating. I can’t see it, but they tell me Interstate 89 below my house is down to one lane as trees are across the highway. Many roads are closed by fallen trees.

I’d been saying how Vermont as led a charmed life since last fall, escaping all these disasterous storms that have hit the nation.

Our luck ran out.

Media: Crayola Crazies

April 27, 2010

The Tea Party protestors really do support the free market. 

Here’s a parody advertisement from a woman purporting to be from Crayola Crayons, thanking the Tea Party protesters for their enthusiasm, and of course the extensive use of their product:

This video was only posted a day or two ago. I’m guessing the real Crayola company isn’t so thrilled, since some of the more gullible folks will think this is really the Crayola CEO talking.

I bet the poster paper industry is happy with them, too. Grammar and spelling experts? Not so much.

#%^&#@# Snow!

April 27, 2010

I knew this would happen.

Every time we get a nice warm, early spring, it’s interrupted by snow. They’re actually calling for a doozy of a snowstorm in Vermont later today and tonight.

There’s a winter weather advisory for a few inches of snow in the Champlain Valley and a winter storm warning for most of the rest of northern Vermont, with 6-12 inches of snow. A pretty typical January snowstorm, all in all. Except in heart of spring.

At least the black flies will go away for a couple of days.

To distract you from the tragic weather forecast, I’ve posted a few spring pictures. The purple flowers and such were on the Burlington waterfront yesterday while the temperature was a reasonable 67 degrees. Not 37 like it is now.

The daffodils are in my yard.

People are asking if the snow will kill all the early leaves, flowers, fruits and all that. The answer is no, because the temperature will stay right around 32 in most places. That’s not quite cold enough to nip anything.

The problem is the leaves are already on some of the trees. The heavy wet snow will collect on those leaves and really weigh the branches down. Many, many trees and branches are going to come down. I can’t wait to see which ones I lose in my yard.

My lilac bushes are particularly threatened because they’re heavy with flower buds. All this just after I finish getting everything cleaned up and ready for summer.

I suppose we did need the moisture. It was getting dry out there. But uh, rain would have been fine, no?

This snow is all my fault. My snow shovel is a good luck charm if I leave it by the driveway. Last Friday, I figured it can’t possibly snow much any more so I put it away. And now look what’s happening.

Next year the snow shovel is staying by the driveway all year. If I put it away in June it will snow on the Fourth of July, and that will be awkward. And a blizzard would probably get in the way of the fireworks.

This wintry interruption won’t last long, thank goodness. It’ll just be a bad dream. The forecast says it will be in the 50s by Thursday and well into the 70s over the weekend.

By then, instead of heavy wet, white snow, it will be heavy swarms of black flies. But at least you don’t have to shovel the bugs.

Chickening Out on Health

April 26, 2010

I’m proud to announce that my parents might be on the cutting edge of health care reform.

This is a convoluted story but follow along,  it’s worth it.

I was at my parents’  house in West Rutland Sunday. I did some spring tidying  in their yard. I was working away, when from inches behind me a loud “becaw BECAW!!! erupted, I jumped and dropped my rake. I chicken had snuck up behind me. It was a real Far Side moment.

The reason I bring this up is because of a real out of the Kentucky Fried Chicken box thought from Nevada Republican Senate Candidate Sue Lowden. She suggests we can control health care costs by bartering. You know,  like they used to do in the olden days. You go to the doctor, and if you have no cash, you can offer him a chicken or something like that.

That’s where my parents and the chicken come in. They can capture the stray chicken that hangs out in their yard. Next time my dad’s arthritis acts up, he can seize the chicken and bring it to his doctor.  Think of the money he will save.

I’m really proud of Americans like Lowden, who solve a national problem by really take the bull by the borns. Or at least the hen by the beak.

  We should have never had that complicated Congressional debate over health care reform. We should have just listened to Lowden.

Faced with such creative thinking, I’m really hesitant to raise any questions, but I might introduce a few tiny concerns anyway.

A day old live meat chicken costs anywhere from 20 cents to $5, according to Wiki Answers.  Health care is expensive.  So it would take a lot of chickens to pay for medical care.

Say live chickens cost $2 a piece. Last year, I had a medical problem that cost me about $1,800 out of pocket, with insurance covering the rest. So I would have had to come up with 900 chickens to pay my bill.

My friend Denis drove me to have my surgery done one day last September.  He was extremely kind to drive me, but I’m not sure he would have been enthusiastic if I asked him to cram 900 live chickens into his midsize sedan as we set off for the hospital.

Once we got there, where would they put the 900 chickens?  Plus, many other people were having expensive surgeries that day. We’re talking about thousands of chickens.

My surgeon and the hospital staff did an excellent job of resolving my condition. I’m not sure I would have been as confident in my care had there been dozens of chickens wandering around the operating room. Then again, maybe I’m just being paranoid.

Also, what does the hospital do with all those chickens? They can sell them, but would chicken processing giant Tyson Foods object to the medical industry usurping their turf?  Anyway, somebody has to process all those chickens into food. Lots of it.

I’m told that the U.S. spends $2.3 trillion on health care annually.  That’s a lot of chicken. I like chicken, but I’m not sure I can eat that much of it.  And if we all get fat overeating chicken to support the health care system, won’t all that obesity create new pressures on our health care system?

Also, there are also quite a few vegetarians out there. Do we deny them health care because they will probably refuse to bring chickens to their doctors when they need medical help? Maybe vegetarians can offer their doctors tofu instead.

How does the health insurance industry deal with all these chickens?  Would the big city skyscrapers housing these insurance companies become really, really tall chicken coops?

All these questions I have are just picky little details, I realize. We can work these problems out. So congratulations to Sue Lowden for finally delivering us from the health care mess. She played chicken with a national crisis and won.

Barren to Green

April 26, 2010

In March, right after the snow melted, I took a picture near the road in front of my house in St. Albans. Pretty barren, if you ask me.

It’s nice what a couple months of spring weather can do. The daffodils are blooming and the irises are coming up nicely. And the woods is naturally filling in with foliage, too,

But, as you can see by the pictures, I must plant a LOT more daffodils, and other great plants  to make the spring season really work in front of my house.

I’ll add more every year until I get where I need to get.  I envy the properties that burst forth with blooms every spring. In the coming years, my St. Albans land will be one of those nice yards.

I’ll show you pictures when that happens.