August 27, 2011

On Earthquakes, Hurricanes, Eskimos and Snow


And Harry Harrison, Dan Ingram, Cousin Brucie and George Michael


A note about the boycott. I’m an east coast dude living on the left coast. With Hurricane Irene barreling north, it’s difficult to think of anything but my friends and family 3,000 miles away. I have plenty of time to respond to the Family Research Council and their duplicitous behavior. Will Kohler has written an excellent blog post on his blog Back2stonewall.com, about FRC and the Catholic League. Nelson penned a great post about FRC and the Catholic League’s hypocrisy, on his blog ngforequality.com. Please check it out!

With the non-stop news coverage of Hurricane Irene, my thoughts are consumed with images of possible flooding, hurricane force winds, and possible power outages, in my home states of New York and New Jersey. On CNN  last night, Anderson Cooper spent hours in Battery Park, speaking with meteorologists and engineers. Anderson spoke about the reality that the Northeast hasn’t had to confront weather of this nature in almost a hundred years. The meteorologists said gale force winds could last for 24 hours, with a 24 hour cycle of tides creating storm surges never seen in our lifetime. Wow.

The east coast experienced their first earthquake this week, and many people will be experiencing their first hurricane.

The Red Cross and other relief organizations advocate being prepared in the event of an disaster striking your home or community. Having a three day supply of drinking water is imperative, as well as having a 3 day supply of food. Flashlights, batteries, a battery operated radio, first aid kit, and a multi-purpose tool should be a part of this kit too. If you have to evacuate your home quickly, you should have copies of you and your families personal papers and documents in one place, to take with you. Things like identification, proof of address, a deed or lease to your home, your passport, birth certificate and insurance policies should be a part of your kit.

With a little preparation, you will be able to ride through the storm with the knowledge that you’re prepared. As someone who has lived in California for a long time, I know the difference between being prepared and being clueless about natural disasters. I’ve experienced some pretty big earthquakes prepared and unprepared. It is definitely more beneficial to be prepared!

This weather anomaly got me thinking about the wild weather of my youth. We didn’t really have much wild weather. There was flooding in the area once a blue moon, but that didn’t have any affect on us when I was a kid. The weather event that excited us all, was the inevitable winter snow storm. While a snow storm would result in the unenviable task of shoveling the driveway, that was small change and well worth it, in exchange for a day off from learning. Storms that dropped an inch or more of snow on the ground, would pretty much ensure that we had a “snow day,” because school was cancelled for the day.

If I heard snow was headed our way, I would try to wake up as early as possible, to hear the town’s fire siren go off at 7:00am. If there was one short siren, that meant no school that day. If I missed the siren, I’d have to listen to 1500-AM WKER, when they announced the school closings. My radio was always tuned to 77-AM WABC, and finding WKER on the dial, our only local radio station, was a chore – especially in the dark. The announcer would read the list of towns quickly, so I’d be ready with my transistor radio next to me in bed. The ear piece would be attached, which consisted of a long white wire that acted as an antenna, with a small plastic cone that you could slip in your ear, for easy listening! It also ensured that I clearly heard which schools were closed, so that I could wake everyone up with the news that schools were closed.

I can still hear the jingle “77 W A B C.” The transistor radio was a pre-cursor to the walkman. The most popular radio station, WABC, played top 40 hits. When there was a snow day I could put the ear piece in my ear and listen all day, and sing to my heart’s content. The DJ’s Dan Ingram, Cousin Brucie, Harry Harrison and George Michael, had classic radio voices, and the rapt attention of every kid in the tri-state area.

A really good snow storm meant that my trusty “flexible flyer” could be dragged out of the back recesses of the garage, for a day of sledding on the hill adjacent to our house. It guaranteed that a day of fun was in store, with snowball fights, and a snow man. If it was an especially significant storm, and the town’s snow plows did their job properly, the mountains of snow on the side of the road would be turned into our very own igloo. That’s where my brother and sister and I would wonder with awe, how the Eskimo’s lit a fire, kept warm, and slept, fished and lived, on the frozen tundra amid mountains of snow.

Hurricane Irene isn’t going to bring sledding, snow ball fights, or hours of Cousin Brucie on 77-AM WABC, and that sucks. I’m picturing Manhattan newlyweds facing their first challenge as betrothed partners, who wonder whether to stay in the city or flee inland, away from the storm. I can hear families in Freehold, and throughout the area, pondering the Saturday night cooped up indoors together, hoping for a conflict free evening, while praying that the beaches and shore stay in tact, with no one displaced due to flooding or a disaster. I’m worried about the Garden State grannies who are afraid and nervous, and in need of a phone call or visit, just to know that those they love, near and far, are safe and sound.

I’m certain that if you live in New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut, whether the storm is big or small, there is one thing you can bank on – your friends and neighbors in the great neighborhoods, cities, and towns, that comprise the tri-state area, will be there to help in the morning, because that’s the way they do it, with an outstretched hand.

While Irene makes her way north, my thoughts and prayers are focused on my family and friends, living in the path of the storm. When the hurricane subsides, and I know my family and friends are OK, thoughts of Eskimo’s, their igloos, warm fires, and frigid nights, will once again decorate distant memories, and those merry days of delight.


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