In the past five out of six years, this time in February seems to be the focal point for blockbuster winter storms, be they nor'easters, blizzards or heavy rain. The first or second week in February, without fail, systems come out of the Gulf of Mexico and bomb out over the Atlantic, giving us feet instead of inches.
This year, however, seems much different.
Mother Nature rewarded us for our travails with warm temperatures in November, and this Christmas with temperatures in the 60s to near 70. This January, we had hardly any snow, and then nice, mild temperatures. Then she said, "OK...since you all suffered through feet of snow last year, I'll give you inches at a time."
(Compare this to last year, when snow was almost up to my shoulders and to see a completely clear and clean sidewalk was a marvel. I nearly freaked out every damn time Harvey Leonard touched the weather map, pointed to the huge wall of water out the mid-Atlantic and traced a path to Cape Cod, then pointed out the polar vortex and traced a path to Canada and cold.)
El Nino, the warm-weather phenomenon, also lent a hand. It has kept the arctic Polar Vortex at bay, so there haven't been days upon days of bitter cold weather, which help along the blockbuster storms.
The biggest fear I have is that the T will fail yet again. Compared to last year, it has been less of a worry, with the ability to work from home. It will certainly tone down that anxiety of riding in sardine-can like conditions, or seeing signs reading FOREST HILLS 20+ MINUTES, or reading about 90 minute delays on the Needham Line.
Winter 2012 was the first winter I had moved to West Roxbury. There was hardly any snow, and it hit 80 degrees in March. 2016 won't be as kind, but it certainly won't be as ferocious this year.
When companies/institutions state that "your safety is paramount" after something grisly or accidental has happened, it's commonly brushed off as being too nit-picky, for want of a more colorful word. When it happens to be a wedding reception costing well north of half a million dollars, where one of the guests forgot to lock the safety of his gun...well, it's a tough call, but a necessary one. The Waldorf Astoria made the right, if unpopular, decision to cancel the wedding reception while an active police investigation was going on.
Some people are muttering "first world problems," "the one percent deserves this," etc. It's also very tempting for people to call the bride a spoiled princess for emitting a blood-curdling scream after she was told her wedding reception was cancelled. She'd be much worse off if she found one of her bridal party, parents, relatives, or even her newly-wedded husband, on the floor bleeding profusely while FDNY EMS were attempting to rescuscitate them - and then stating, "We did all we could; this one's non-viable; call the medical examiner." Then they would be preparing for a funeral, to which they would sit shiva instead of enjoying a honeymoon.
Even though it's heartbreaking to have the perfect wedding ruined completely by carelessness, it's also a lesson for all of us that in the end, the reception could have been marred by other factors - an angry uncle being too drunk, a spinsterish sister getting frisky with a waiter, an ex bashing their other exes' main squeeze, or an obnoxious guest with a huge chip on their shoulders getting into a fight with anyone they encountered. If you focus too much on how much money you lost on a reception instead of counting yourselves lucky that it could have escalated to an uglier plane, the only thing people will agree upon is that you're too shallow, superficial and petty to be married in the first place.
[Side note: On the other hand, there are those perfectly happy being married in their backyards, with the justice of the peace (or maybe Elvis?) and a BBQ reception, or City Hall, in front of the mayor, and then a nice dinner at a restaurant. It would be stress-free, no-fuss, no complaints about the registry, no ugly bridesmaid dresses, no tuxedo rentals, and a much lower price tag. And the money saved can go to a new house.]
I ride the MBTA three days out of five, plus the occasional weekend. I've survived fare increases when they've occured, and in some circumstances, have changed passes to save money.
The Legislature, in its attempt to bring in more revenue to a debt riddled, maintenance-hungry MBTA, took what was supposed to be a 5% biannual fare hike to a 10% biannual increase by changing the language of the bill to "annual". (That meant what would likely be a 2.5% per year increase changed to 5% per year.)
Sneaky? Well, what do you expect when the Legislature doesn't have open-access laws and can do just about anything behind closed doors, sight unseen?
Of course, after heaps of outrage, the T may "listen" (read: concede that the public is onto them and attempt to mollify their anger) and honor the 5% increase all along (or maybe 7.5%). That doesn't forgive the Legislature's underhanded tactics in attempting to grab more money away from passengers than the T is entitled to.
Those kind of tactics would be more fitting for a corrupt backwater, but for Massachusetts, it's expected.
2. "Give one person X amount while giving everyone else Y amount."
Also, the experiment of capping a jackpot has also been exploited to the advantage of the few. Until 2011, a game called Cash Winfall in Massachusetts had a top prize of $2 million, and if the top prize wasn't won, the top prize would "roll down" to increase the payout of the lesser prizes by a factor of 10. CashWinfall was shut down by the Massachusetts lottery after they discovered syndicates (groups of players) bought hundreds of thousands of tickets to guarantee themselves a lot of "roll down" winners.
UPDATE: The $1.5 billion jackpot has been split by three people in California, Florida, and Tennessee.
UPDATE II: Michelle Malkin weighs in. A hoax article about a hedge fund manager winning and other Powerball scams seem to highlight her premise.
That will change in 2017, when WHDH loses its affiliation with NBC. NBC will run its owned-and-operated station, NBC Boston, on Channel 60 (currently WNEU), currently Telemundo Boston. Also in the deal, New England Cable News will be folded into the news operations wing. It will be the second UHF-based NBC station in Massachusetts (WWLP in Springfield is first one)
What happens to WHDH?
I don't know, but the chances of WHDH becoming a Fox affiliate are slim. Cox Communications has WFXT wrapped up; unless Sunbeam Communications, the parent of WHDH, makes an offer WFXT can't refuse, no way would they want to give up that affiliation. Even if they were successful, it would reek of what happened in Miami (same channel number, same affiliation swap, same mess).
I could see WHDH collect the CW affiliation of its siser station, WLVI-56. It would be the first time a new major network would be on a VHF station in Boston, but would leave WLVI as an independent again.
NBC, however, could go right for the throat and purchase WHDH and WLVI outright, put NBC Boston on Channel 56, and force the CW affiliation onto Channel 7. That's least likely, as NBC has not been pleased with WHDH's preemptions and wants a much better signal.
Stay tuned (no pun intended)...
I have never been to prison, but after watching Lock Up several times, the food they serve is intentionally not a foodie's paradise. There is no banh mi, muglitawanny soup, fried chicken, anadama bread or sushi. It's to meet daily nutritional requirements, and all the better if it's made to be unappealing and gross.
Those who really misbehave get a concoction called Nutriloaf - a mix of "milk, flour, potatoes, carrots, margarine and sugar" that looks and likely tastes nasty. Those who get Nutriloaf do everything in their power not to get it again, and that means avoiding solitary confinement.
Add to that the very real prison experience of being watched like a hawk, and only having ten to twenty minutes to eat, and with guards taking away your food or sending you to solitary confinement for even the slightest of infractions, such as putting too much salt on your SOS (creamed chipped beef on toast), and no longer will a self-righteous pill of a college studen't bitch about the banh mi not being crisp enough or the sushi rice not having the correct vinegar and water content. They'll even see chicken pucks (chicken patties) as a good meal.
Maybe a prison experience is too harsh. Send a few Marine Corps drill instructors to these elite colleges, and give these special snowflakes the Parris Island/San Diego boot camp experience, where they will marched everywhere, be barked at to drink water, give facts on demand, be "smoked" (forced to exercise as punishment) and be insulted in everything they choose. Then the self-righteous pill would be too busy screaming "SIR/MA'AM, YES, SIR/MA'AM" to complain.
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