Saturday February 16, 2013

The high-strung horses with their colorful numbers are carefully led into the metal stalls. You can feel the energy screaming from them as air exhales from their powerful lungs. The ear-piercing bell for which they anxiously await goes off, the gates fly open and they’re off!

We have completed five weeks since we rang in the New Year; only Five Weeks and think of the things that have happened in this brief amount of time.

Hillary Clinton left a job that she proved to be pretty good at and handed it over to John Kerry, who, well, OK, we’ll see. Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt; at least until, say, March or so.

We’ve learned that the coolest president in modern history can sleep at night knowing we are killing people using stealth, unmanned drones. In the days of my great-great-great grandfather’s brother, Gen. George J. Stannard, when a war was fought they did so looking straight into the eyes of the man who they were about to kill so that he did not kill you. We’ve morphed from this technique to using drones and air strikes to allow for a little less personal confrontation. We’ve been at war for how long now? 10 years? 12 years? You do know we’re at war, right?

Moving onto the local level we watched as Gov. Peter Shumlin was sworn in for a second term after handily defeating Sen. Randy Brock. With the Super Majority in both houses it should be tough to find dissension, one would think. Well, think again. Democrats appear to be at their best when they fight amongst themselves, which is, generically speaking, why they are usually in the minority. It’s always easier to be in the minority, because you don’t have to lead. Leading’s tough. If you don’t think so, then stay tuned to the next few months.

Those who visited the State House in Vermont last Friday witnessed another first; a mini-gun show. No, not tiny guns; just a limited amount of guns and they weren’t for sale. They were on display so that members of the General Assembly could get an idea as to which guns are really dangerous. Not unlike break open tickets, there are some members who are unfamiliar with firearms. They may not hunt, shoot or even own a gun. Now, for all my friends who have a small arsenal in their house I would ask that you just take a moment to slowly breathe in through your nose; now hold; now gently exhale. If need be do that two or three times. My old friend, Terry Tyler, may need to do this exercise twenty to thirty times.

Yes, it’s true, not everyone is a gun fanatic (as an aside here, I have guns. I like guns. I like shooting guns. I think guns should be regulated and those who own guns should register them. Now, all my gun friends go back and review the previously described exercise), thus it was considered wise to educate them.

However, this column is not about horses, wars and/or guns. It’s about storms. To be precise it’s more about what the hell is the world coming to, but naming snowstorms is what’s set me off.

I guess I’m OK with naming hurricanes. I’m particularly partial to that nasty, destructive Hurricane Bob that wiped out our honeymoon spot; Cuttyhunk Island, as it did provide some irony, but I have reservations about naming the rest of them. Unless it’s personal (or convenient; i.e. "BOB"; spelled the same either way) who really remembers the name of a storm. Jeez, I can barely remember the names of my kids.

I leave Montpelier on Friday and drive home through a much-welcome snow storm. You may recall that Vermont has been known to have such things as snow storms; mostly in the winter. By the time I got to Manchester there was not one flake falling from the cloudy sky. The radio, though, was screaming at me saying "Warning! Warning! Look out for NEMO."

I immediately thought, "Man, I wish I had that .45 of mine handy. What’s a NEMO and is it in season??"

There is a gene called NEMO, but I don’t think that’s what they’re talking about. Nope, they’re naming a snow storm. I suppose that if we are to over-hype and sell the weather (who can really afford to buy anything anyway these days) then we have to name a snow storm. Think about it. You can’t sell black, caramel, sugary syrup by calling it "black, caramel, sugary syrup", but call it COKE and you have yourself a winner.

It’s the same with storms nowadays. We have to name them so we can scare people half to death so we can sell advertising time on TV. This isn’t that tough, people. You’re too broke to buy anything so they might as well sell the weather.

I’m from the days that when we had a big storm we took a day or two off to visit with our neighbor while they clean up the roads. No names; just fond memories.

Bob Stannard is a regular Banner columnist.