Pitfalls of Email, Snowpocalypse and the Fiscal Cliff


Red winter coat

Red winter coat (Photo credit: chlywhite)

Had hoped to avoid all US election related updates until at least this evening, but I was foiled by my gmail account of all things. It contained a less than subdued gloat headline from the Huffpo.

I hate Huffpo but I foolishly linked to it via Facebook once and now it spams my mailbox with its tripe. Not consistently though, so I don’t know if I am actually on its mailing list or if my sporadic following of links back to its equally vacuous Canadian version remind it that I exist now and again, and it feels obligated to send me a missive.

Anyway, four more years. Rah. Rah. Whatever. Nothing has changed. My course is set and at some point next year that course and the United States of America will part ways.

I did chuckle a bit when I read a post at ZeroHedge that noted the stock market reacted to the Obama win by promptly dropping.

Not because of Obama but because the odds of a fiscal cliff nightmare showdown went up and the odds of resolution went down quite a bit. Best advice I saw regarding the personal finance health of all US taxable persons came from Simon Black at Sovereign Man who said,

after December 31st,

- Income tax rates are going up
– Capital gains rates are going up
– Rates on dividends are going up
– Estate and gift tax exclusions are going down. Dramatically.

If you are a US taxpayer, you now have 53 days to get your tax affairs in order.

53 days left! It’s like the anti-Christmas.

Meanwhile, a snowstorm blasts it’s way through our neck of Canada. What began as “possibly 5 to 10 cms” has morphed into probably 25cms with a bit of freezing rain, blowing, drifting and shit for visibility.

Had I not desperately needed the massage I was scheduled for early this morning, I wouldn’t have ventured forth at all. But between allergies and hormonally driven semi-migraines, I was left with no choice.

Once in town, it seemed foolish not to stop at the fitness centre for a brisk walk. Here I found a semi pulling an empty flatbed jacked neatly between the curb and a lamppost and nicely impeding inflowing traffic.

It only got better.

At the Safeway, a young blond woman nearly smashed me flat in the pedestrian cross walk because I nearly slipped and she was driving far too fast for the condition of the pavement.

On the way back to our hamlet, I passed one semi in the ditch to next encounter an oversize cube van blocking the entire road. How he managed to get his back half dangling over the banked ditch and his front half at a diagonal cutting off the oncoming traffic almost completely, I still can’t work out in my mind’s eye. Some people are just very talented winter drivers.

At this point, as I was slowly turning myself around, I realized that Dee’s bus would have to travel this road home plus quite a few other back country roads that weren’t nearly as wide or snow cleared. I headed back into town, swung by school for her and took the very long way back home. Long because it involved using the highways and because the blowing made visibility even worse as town receded and was replaced by fields and little else.

Remarkably I am still maintaining a fair bit of zen about this early winter thing. I have considerably less zen about the gloating on my FB feed and I might need to hide more people. While my conservative friends have kept their disappoint largely under control, some liberal friends have been smug fucks for the most part, but I feel bad for people who are now having to resign themselves to another four years under the boot heel (their perspective) of a guy they loathe. I lived under Reagan, Bush I and Bush II, so I get that. Knowing also that there really is no difference in what now happens as opposed to what would have happened under a Romney win, I see little reason for happiness or sadness but I am inclined to be more tolerant of the sad. For now. I believe in a statue of limitations. A reasonable time frame but one that definitely is finite.

And nobody gloats as cattily or with as much “in your face assholes who disagreed with me!!” as a liberal does. Except maybe O’Reilly, Hannity and Rush – and they are entertainers who are paid to do it. My FB friends are just being mean girls for the mean girls in the choir.

I am tired of hearing about people’s vaginas though. And I don’t want to hear about the prepubescent vaginas of my friends’ daughters. Ewww.

Snow continues to pile as I type. Did we have a storm this bad last winter? Once possibly. I think it might be the norm this winter. Damn my sister and her prescient knees.

The winter that Rob and I met, it began snowing here in early November and just snowed like a bastard all winter long. Shoveled snow piled alongside roads and sidewalks until it was like going through tunnels.

I don’t recall what it was like in Iowa that winter. Not that bad because I was teaching at Hoover High in Des Moines, I am fairly certain I walked outdoors at lunch nearly everyday. It was an icy fucker of a winter though and led to a Noah’s Ark spring that nearly did me in with a basement flooding while I was trying to sell in a housing market with the bubble about to burst.

Memories of fun times. Sigh.

However, I am two for two on the “suck it up and drive; it’s just winter” meter. If a little snowstorm stops you in Alberta, you might as well just make like a bear.

Death by Snow


gm_13005 Shining Bank Snow, Alberta 1977

Image by CanadaGood via Flickr

With a second “snow event” in as many weeks behind us, I pondered the piles which have turned our yard, front and back, into a white labyrinth and thought about the phone conversation I had yesterday with my husband.

“The boss dropped by, ” he told me, “looking for anyone who might be interested in a possible project down on the Gulf Coast. I told him that I might be but it wasn’t a decision I could make* without consulting you. The probability of the project is based on a U.S. economic recovery, which isn’t all that likely, but how would you feel about it?”

He was talking about the Texas coast. Texas being only slightly less objectionable than say Alabama, whose governor recently admitted that he has no Christian charity to extend to anyone who isn’t Christian and was once such a bastion of seething racism that blacks forced to travel through it packed their own porta potties and carried an extra gas can for refueling in the trunks of their cars.

“Baby, this is the 7th day without sun and it’s been snowing non-stop since last Wednesday,” I said. “This probably isn’t the best day to ask if I’d like to move south.”

Of course, the southern states in the U.S. are harbingers of the level of bat-shit crazy that will fan out over the rest of the country like the four horsemen once the next election cycle kicks into full propaganda mode this coming fall, so I am lukewarm (though not literally) about the prospect of a front row seat. Monitoring the shenanigans from Canada is enough adventure for me.

But the prospect of warmth, sun and no snow does tempt.

Everyone is escaping to Mexico. I listen to the travel tales filled with bouts of uncontrollable diarrhea and Federales with  machine guns escorting bus loads of pale northern tourists to the insulated resorts with a minimum of envy and a lot of wonder.

I read too much to consider Mexico even the slightest bit safe for someone pale and unable to speak the language beyond the ability to ask for a beer or for directions to the nearest washroom.

Silly white tourists. My student roster when I taught drop out prevention flowed over with Mexicans, who are ingratiating and smile a lot but who also see Americans (we are all Americans to them) as marks to relieve of the heavy burden of our bourgeois bounty.

The boys would regale me with stories of their tourist trap homes and cajole me to visit.

“I have a cousin (uncle or auntie) who can set you up cheap! It’s warm and more beautiful than anyplace you have ever been.”

“Is it safe?” I would ask.

Sheepish grins before a serious look would replace the huckster, “I wouldn’t send you anywhere that wasn’t. My family (friends) would look out for someone who I send.”

I’ve never been to Mexico. Rob and I thought about marrying down there, but the whole translation of documents plus the logistics of getting everyone there proved to be a significant deterrent.

Normally, it’s Rob who funks out early in the winter. He blames it on the lack of sunshine, but statistically, Alberta is one of the sunniest places in Canada.

I am fine until mid-April and it’s still snowing. It’s not the lack of sunshine; it’s the absence of spring. We simply don’t have spring here. It’s cold until it’s not. It snows until it’s meteorologically impossible for it to do so anymore. This could be early April or it could be June.

In Iowa, winters are a bitch, but spring – hot sometimes and lush due to the rain and snow melt – arrives with gusto in late March or early April. That is what my body is used to and I do miss it.

But there are feet of snow in the yard, along the roadsides and piling like small mountain ranges in the parking lots. And it’s still January.

Everywhere I go, people marvel and say, “I have never seen it snow this much before.”

Even Rob remarked, “It’s never snowed this much in the fifteen years I have lived here.”

To be a part of such an historic snowpocalypse hasn’t been a life’s goal and I am unlikely to look back fondly on it.

People talk about “climate change” and “global warming” and I read about scientists who are concluding that the earth is nearing one of the ends of its infrequent warm periods and preparing for the next ice age. The earth’s natural state, after all, is “ice ball”. Whatever the reason, it sucks and I have reached literal saturation.

*Rob unilaterally made the decision to move the family to Kansas back in the early 90’s and was informed by his late wife that he did not have the authority to ever do something like that again.