Season's Greetings from Northern Regions!
Winter has arrived in South Dennis. And I imagine it has arrived in South Yarmouth. And in South Orleans. And in South Boston. And South Braintree. And South Easton. And in South Bend, Indiana. And in all the other "South" places I've been fortunate enough to visit in my limited travels throughout this northern hemisphere.
Happy winter! It has arrived thus far without delivering any significant snowflakes, except perhaps the handmade paper kind you see adorning the windows at the local elementary school -- reminding us in a whimsical Charlie Brown sort of way that kids are still kids and when push comes to shove, they probably much prefer a snowy day of sledding to sitting inside playing with the latest electronic gadget.
As the adults of the species (a/k/a the ones with the checking accounts), we find ourselves spiraling toward Christmas like a plane that's run out of fuel just short of the runway -- our lists somewhat checked off, our tray tables in the upright position, and our credit card balances swelling from all the swiping.
Although I enjoy some of the hectic pace (yes, last night I was at the CC Mall ... it was like old home week as I did more gabbing than shopping), I do prefer a much simpler season if that is at all possible. A season of reading and writing and listening to traditional Christmas music (pre-Mariah Carey, actually pre-Elvis, too). A season of nibbling on figs and mixed nuts and of sipping an occasional eggnog. Often times, and this may strike some as rather odd, I am able to convince myself that I am Christmasing up in the northern regions of New England in some snowbound cabin far away from the materialistic trappings of this modern life. For instance, during the long, icy, pre-Cambrian Indiana winter of 2004/05 (of which I spent one solid month alone during our staggered move back to Cape Cod) I was thoroughly convinced that I was not out in the midwest at all but rather somewhere in the vicinity of Nobleboro, Maine.
Sometimes, on my way home from work at a local bank, in the fading twilight the silhouette of the manmade hill at the landfill in that particular midwestern town reminded me of the gracefully aged White Mountains of my beloved New Hampshire. Hey, what can I say, it was a long midwest winter and I am a New Englander at heart (with ancestral ties to the Maguires of Salmon Falls, NH and the Fogartys of Berwick, ME).
Where does all of the above get us on this first full day of winter? Nowhere! So let's look at some of the news items I've found of interest over the last two days:
Obesity - Scientists have determined that the growing obesity problem amongst Americans may be caused by some sort of bacteria in the intestines. That's good to know, because I thought it was something silly like -- we eat way too much and exercise way to little. Phew! I'm glad that's sorted out!
$34 Million - The price tag is $34 million to repair the big dig tunnel ceiling that collapsed over the summer. $34 million! $34 million!!! That's an outrage!! Heck, for that amount of money we can sign a pitcher from the Japanese League to a two-year contact!!!
Denver Snowbound - Apparently it's like the next ice age out west in the Denver area. Everything is shut down, including the Denver International Airport where something like 4,000 people are stranded. Officials there have put out an emergency request for -- no, not food, or water, or reams and reams of toilet paper, but -- sleds so the bored kids can go sledding. Sledding? Where, out on the runways? I must be missing something.
Shuttle - The space shuttle Discovery is attemping to find a place to land today. The first choice, Kennedy Space Center in Florida has weather issues, as does the second choice, Edwards Air Force Base in California. The third choice, White Sands in New Mexico is problematic as the fine white sands there clog up the engines, which then requires a work crew to detail the shuttle afterwards. Last time the cost for detailing the vehicle was rather pricey, about $500, but that included cleaning the whitewalls and vacuuming under the seats. Fourth choice is Denver, which is snowed in (see above). Which leaves the fifth and final choice - Barnstable Municipal Airport. So don't be surprised if you hear a sonic boom today around noontime that shatters all your windows.
Gall Bladder - A Massachusetts hospital removed the kidney of a patient who went in for a gall bladder operation. This is one in a series of mistakes made recently by local hospitals. Not long ago, a man went in for a hernia operation and instead the staff changed the oil in his Ford Taurus, rotated the tires, and replaced the water pump.
Catholics Online - It was recently announced that improvements have been made to Cardinal O'Malley's website. There are downloadable Christmas messages in three languages: English, Latin, and ancient Aramaic, I believe. And there is a special confessional link where you can email your sins directly to ... to ... you know ... thus avoiding the "middle man." After a couple of days you'll receive a confirming email containing the one-word message "Absolved."
Turiasaurus riodevensis - Apparently, one of the largest dinosaurs ever to walk the planet was unearthed in Spain. Living somewhere between the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods some 145 million years ago, the creature was 125 feet long and weighed 48 tons (compared to T-Rex at 45 feet long and 6 tons). Meanwhile, today's religious fundamentalists still cling to the notion that the world is 5,000 years old and that it's okay to blow things up.
That's all from Nobleboro, Maine. Enjoy the wint-ah weath-ah!