Saturday Reads: Snow Rage!

sick of winter smack a snowman

Good Morning!!

A few days ago, I posted a link to an article about a phenomenon brought on by the horrible winter of 2013-14–“Snow Rage.” I’m going to post the story again here, because this shocking behavior seems to be spreading. People who are disgusted and overwhelmed by endless snowstorms followed by shoveling have begun taking their anger out on snowplow drivers.

CBS Pittsburgh: ‘Snow Rage’ Pits Storm-Weary Residents Against Plow Drivers Just Trying To Do Jobs.

Eric Ramirez, a snow plow driver on Long Island, said an irate man went so far as to rack a shotgun Sunday and threaten to shoot him because he was piling snow in front of the man’s Manorhaven home.

“I see the guy is coming across the street; is coming to me. I say, ‘Hi.’ He talked to me,” Ramirez said, adding the man responded by saying he was coming to shoot him.

Raymond Hounigringer, 48, was charged with menacing in the incident.

In another example, “in Norwalk, Conn., Tony Thompson, also 48, was charged with assault for allegedly attacking a plow driver with a shovel.”

“They yell. They curse at you. They do all kind of stupidness,” said driver Zaheer Hussain. “They make snowballs and throw them at you.” ….

“It started with snowballs, and worked its way to branches; lids, anything they can find and now it’s to weaponry,” said Aero Snow Removal supervisor Sergio Vasquez.

Snowdrifts in North Dakota

Snowdrifts in North Dakota

CBS Pittsburgh also reported on a snow rage incident in Lawrence County, Pennsylvania: Man Puts Gun To Snow Plow Driver’s Head Over Snow Removal Dispute. According to the police report, Richard Eckert, 64, was arrested after he threatened a snowplow driver with two guns.

Police say Eckert became angry when the self-employed driver, John Abraham, accidentally pushed some snow into his yard while cleaning a neighbor’s driveway.

“I went like this to put it in park and there was a gun right here in my face,” Abraham said.

Eckert is then accused of taking a .22-calibur pistol out of his coat, and pressing it against Abraham’s cheek, telling him to remove the snow.

“He said, ‘what the (expletive) are you doing?’” said Abraham. “And I said, ‘what do you mean?’ He said, ‘you’re going to get a shovel and you’re shoveling that snow out of my yard and putting it back in the street.’”

Abraham says Eckert grabbed his arm and tried to pull him out of his truck when he says Eckert put the gun in his face when he refused to get out.

As I’m sure you know, Boston is a very old city with many neighborhood that predate cars. People who live in the older parts of Boston, Cambridge, and Somerville, for example, have to park their cars on the street–there are no driveways or garages. Where I live now, everyone has driveways, but when I lived in Somerville in the 1970s and ’80s, parking spots were hard to come by after a snowstorm. It’s still that way today. Once people dig out a spot, they are understandably very protective of it. They leave old folding chairs, trash cans, and other large objects in the space to let people know not to park there; If I went to do laundry https://www.odorklenz.com/laundry/ I left a warm body in that spot and if you dare to take the spot anyway, you’re likely to get a tire slashed or worse.

I had friend back then who was living in East Cambridge. One day she moved someone’s chairs out of a shoveled parking spot and proceeded to leave her car there for several days. I warned her when she first park there that she was asking for trouble, but she didn’t believe me. Even after the “owner” of the space left a not on her windshield telling her to move her car, she did nothing. When she finally wanted to drive her car, she found it with four slashed tires. She had to hire a flatbed truck to haul it away. I guess people do the same thing in other places.

Snowdrift in Minnesota

Snowdrift in Minnesota

From the Lehigh Valley News: Tires slashed in Allentown snow rage incident.

Following the recent surge of wintry weather, some Allentown residents have started using household items, like trashcans and chairs, to reserve parking spots they shoveled clean. An Allentown woman, who lives in the 400 block of North 10th Street, said she parked in one of those spots this week.

“I parked right next to the chair, I moved it and placed it on the sidewalk and parked there and went inside the home,” she said.

Really bad idea.

When she returned to her car the following day, she learned someone had taken it too far. “I jump in my car and start driving. Within four blocks from my house I feel that my car is driving funny,” she said. Her tires had been slashed. She said it was revenge for parking in a spot that she believes was fair game.

Sorry, lady. Shovel your own spot. Just read the comments on that story. That’s Snow Rage. There’s even a #SnowRage hashtag on Twitter now, and at the Boston Globe there is a Snow Rage Gauge to measure your level of anger.

At the Christian Science Monitor, Patrick Jonsson wrote about the #SnowRage phenomenon and attempted to explain why this winter has been so awful: While Atlanta adjusts to snow, Northerners shake fists at another winter storm.

At issue is a systematic barrage of so-called long-wave weather systems sweeping more deeply into the South than usual, creating a seemingly interminable run of weather across massive swaths of the land to the east of the Mississippi.

If Southerners – at least Southern schoolchildren – are growing used to this strange thing called snow, many Northerners are fed up. “Snow rage” is beginning to appear in tabloid headlines, amid news of shotguns being pulled on snowplow drivers. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio complained after shoveling three times during last week’s storm that “the snow is getting really obnoxious.” ….

“Another week, another major winter storm. Literally that’s been the case in 2014, a year that is exactly six weeks old,” writes WPIX-TV reporter James Ford in New York. “The storm offers a chance to challenge some long established winter weather records. That’s small solace, however, for a metro area that’s grown weary of getting battered again and again by weather that’s severe, even for this season that’s supposed to be cold and snowy.” ….

The core engine of this storm pattern is a constant pumping of “long wave” weather systems pouring down out of Alaska every three to five days, pushing along cloudy low-pressure systems.

The trouble in particular has been a once-in-a-decade “statistical improbability” of cold and wet air that’s common in the snowy Midwest pressing more deeply than usual into the South, says National Weather Service meteorologist Mike Leary in Peachtree City, Ga.

As those storms move up and berate the North, the cycle continues. Rinse and repeat.

“These long waves are about three days apart, just a little more, and when that long wave moves down, there’s a pretty good jet of winds associated with it that push it along, and that’s when you get the weather,” Mr. Leary says.

Polar vortex of 2014

Polar vortex of 2014

The article also notes that many cities and states are running out of money to pay for snow removal. In addition, supplies of road salt are running out in a number of places.

That every three days thing is definitely happening here in Massachusetts. We had a huge storm on Thurs. Feb. 6, and another big on on on Thurs. Feb. 13. In between we’ve had smaller snowfalls every couple of days that are still enough that you have to shovel. Another storm is scheduled for this afternoon and overnight, and another is predicted for Tuesday. I don’t know how much more I can take.

It really hit me yesterday, because I had paid some guys $50 to shovel me out the night before. When they finished, I asked them to pile up the snow a bit more at the end of the driveway because I knew the snowplow would be coming during the night and would push a big pile of snow that blocked my car from getting out. This guy argued with me about it and they wouldn’t finish the job. I just didn’t have the strength to stand up to them.

Sure enough, I woke up yesterday morning and there was a foot of wet, packed snow at the end of my driveway. Not only that, more snow was coming down! I actually started to cry. I’m never hiring those guys again. I really hate being bullied; I’d rather shovel the damn snow myself.

Snowdrift in Antarctica

Snowdrift in Antarctica

I felt really down all day yesterday, and that’s when I started thinking about Snow Rage. It’s a real thing, and I’m going to have to deal with. I worked out some of my anger by shoveling most of the pile at the end of the drive way–enough so I can back over it. But I really need to be aware that this kind of weather creates a lot of stress. If you’re aware of it, you can work on your self-talk and counteract the depression and overwhelmed feelings.

Of course Snow Rage is not new. I found a Canadian article from 2008 that described incidents similar to those we are seeing this year.

Quebec City police say they received more than a dozen calls this winter from warring neighbors upset that snow was being shoveled onto their driveway or sidewalk by the folks next door.

The city was buried this winter in a record 460 centimeters (183 inches) of snow, and is running out of places to put the fluffy white powder until spring arrives and it melts.

In nearby Montreal, where residents are recovering from a ninth major snowstorm this season, a man was charged this week with threatening a fellow motorist with a toy gun over a rare parking spot on a snow-clogged street.

And in likely the worst case, an elderly Quebec City man pulled a 12-gauge shotgun on a female snowplow operator on Sunday for blowing snow onto his property, after warning her.

Even a psychologist weighed in:

“I’m seeing so much white that I’m seeing red,” echoed psychologist Luc Tremblay. “At some point, people feel overwhelmed, crushed. It’s playing on their morale and their nerves,” he told the Globe and Mail.

Yup, that’s the feeling: “overwhelmed, crushed,” and beaten down.

That’s all the news I have for you this morning, folks; snow has taken over my world. I’m depending you you to let me know if anything else is happening out there. Please post your links on any topic in the comment thread; and if there’s snow in your future I hope you stay safe and warm.


Mitt Romney Treats Media to Delusional Pity Party

Mitt Romney with Rob Portman, speaking to reporters on flight to Denver, 9/23/12. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Yesterday, on the way from Los Angeles to Denver aboard his private campaign plane, Mitt Romney commiserated with reporters about the way his presidential run is going.

Recently fellow Republicans have been critical of him for spending so much time fund-raising when he should be campaigning in swing states. Yesterday, Romney explained to reporters on his campaign plane why he has had to spend so much time raising money–it’s all President Obama’s fault. According to NBC News, Romney

addressed his languid public campaign schedule of late, which has focused largely on fundraising and debate prep, by again blaming the president for disregarding federal campaign matching funds in 2008 and again this presidential cycle, forcing him to do the same.

“He’s doing it again this time, so to be competitive it means a lot more fundraising than I think I would like,” Romney said. “I’d far rather be spending my time out in the key swing states campaigning, door-to-door if necessary, but in rallies and various meetings, but fundraising is a part of politics when you’re opponent decides not to live by the federal spending limits.”

See, if poor Mitt had had his druthers, he’d have taken federal matching funds instead of raising unlimited campaign money from millionaires and billionaires. But that mean old Barack Obama forced him to turn to mega-rich donors. It wasn’t what Mitt really wanted.

Frankly, I think Romney must be so anxious about the situation he’s in that he is getting slightly delusional. He’s clearly in deep denial about his standing against Obama in the polls. He told Scott Pelley of 60 Minutes that his campaign “doesn’t need a turnaround” because “We’ve got a campaign which is tied with an incumbent President to the United States.”

Really? When you’re behind by about 3 points nationally and trailing in every swing state, I don’t call that tied.

Back to the pity party. Romney told reporters that

“I don’t pay a lot of attention to the day-to-day polls. They change a great deal,” Romney said. “I know in the coming six weeks they’re very unlikely to remain where they are today. I’ll either go up or I’ll go down. It’s unlikely that we’ll just stay the same.”

But when he was asked why he’s behind in swing states, Romney again blamed President Obama. The New York Times Caucus Blog has details on Romney’s complaints about the Obama campaign’s ads:

“I think that the president’s campaign has focused its advertising in many cases on very inaccurate portrayals of my positions,” he said. “They’ve been very aggressive in their attacks both on a personal basis and on a policy basis. I think as time goes on, people will realize that those attacks are not accurate and we’ll be able to have a choice which is based upon each other’s accurate views for the future of country” ….

“When he says I was in favor of liquidating the automobile industry, nothing could be further from the truth,” Mr. Romney said. “My plan was to rebuild the auto industry and take it through bankruptcy so that could happen, and by the way he doesn’t mention he took them through bankruptcy.”

Mr. Romney did oppose the auto industry bailout, instead lobbying for a process of “managed bankruptcy,” which he said would have allowed the car companies to restructure and emerge stronger than before. Though Mr. Obama did ultimately take General Motors and Chrysler through managed bankruptcies, the president argues that the process would not have been possible without his decision to inject the companies with billions in taxpayer money — an intervention Mr. Romney opposed.

Romney also expressed dismay that the Obama campaign has claimed that he is against abortion “even in cases of rape and incest and the life of the mother….That’s wrong.” It’s true that Romney has said he believes that rape and incest victims and mothers whose physical health is threatened should be excepted from abortion bans;  but at the same time he chose Paul Ryan–who doesn’t support any exceptions–as his running mate and before that he told Mike Huckabee that he supports state constitutional amendments to establish “personhood” for fertilized eggs. So why should voters trust him?

On his tax plan, according to The National Journal, Romney

accused his rival of inaccurately saying he favors lowering taxes on the wealthy while raising them on middle-income people. He was apparently referring to Democrats’ use of a study by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center that found Romney’s tax plan would require households with incomes under $200,000 to pay higher taxes, on average, to help finance tax cuts for the rich. Romney has dismissed the study’s assumptions as “garbage.”

Back to the Caucus Blog:

Standing in the back of his plane, and pressed by reporters to explain his lagging position in many polls, Mr. Romney — whose campaign recently said that they would not allow fact-checkers to dictate their campaign — found himself calling for fact-checkers.

“I understand that politics is politics but in the past, when you’ve had an ad which has been roundly pointed out to be wrong, you take it out and you correct it and you put something back on,” Mr. Romney said.

“He keeps running these things even though he knows they’re wrong and saying them in rallies even though he knows they’re wrong.”

Talk about projection. I’d even call it delusional projection. This is from the guy whose top pollster Neil Newhouse famously said “We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers.” In fact, (via Americablog) a recent study by

the self-proclaimed non-partisan “Center for Media and Public Affairs” – which has been accused of conservative ties in the past – finds that media fact-checkers found Mitt Romney and the GOP lied twice as much as Democrats. It’s some coincidence that the study came out just a few weeks after the Republican party collectively decided that it’s time to start tearing down fact-checkers.

Note that (see above) in the midst of his many complaints, Romney even indulged in the somewhat delusional fantasy that voters would somehow suddenly wake up and recognize President Obama’s despicable treachery:

I think as time goes on, people will realize that those attacks are not accurate and we’ll be able to have a choice which is based upon each other’s accurate views for the future of country.

It’s difficult to see how that could happen as long as Romney himself keeps repeating lies about President Obama and shifting his own positions at the drop of a hat. But Romney apparently believes the voters’ epiphany will come during the debates, when he will magically be able to express himself clearly at last. From The National Journal:

“I think the president will not be able to continue to mischaracterize my pathway, and so I’ll continue to describe mine, he will describe his, and people will make a choice,” he said. “That’s the great thing about democracy. I’m not going to try to fool people into thinking he believes things he doesn’t. He’s trying to fool people into thinking that I think things that I don’t. And that ends at the debates.”

But he said that he couldn’t guarantee a debate win. “I can’t tell you winning and losing,” he said. “I mean, he’s president of the United States, he’s a very effective speaker. I hope I’ll be able to describe my positions in a way that is accurate and the people will make a choice as to which path they want to choose. I happen to believe that if we each do our job relatively well, I will be able to convince people that our pathway forward will be more prosperous and more secure and more confident if we choose the path I describe.”

I really think Mitt Romney is so anxious and stressed that he’s losing it–he seems completely unaware of how his own behavior looks to others. He has begun deluding himself in order to hide his failures from himself.  I don’t think he has ever faced such a difficult challenge in his life until now. He has always been the guy on top–the one who could get away with anything.

In high school, Romney could pin down a classmate and cut his hair without being charged with assault; he could lead an elderly professor into a glass door an not be disciplined, he could make fun of a classmate’s speech patterns and get away with it. He could even pose as a highway patrolman and stop a car on the highway as a “prank” with no repercussions whatsoever. As a young man, his father helped him obtain four draft deferrals so he could be protected from being sent to Vietnam like so many others his age. As an adult, he was a CEO whose every order must be obeyed and whose whims were catered to.

Finally at age 65, Romney is facing a real test of character, and I don’t think he’s up to it. He’s self-destructing in a very public way. It will be very interesting to watch his behavior in the debates and his other appearances during the last few weeks of the campaign.


The Ripple Effect

I don’t know if it’s simply the election cycle or what, but more and more frequently the world seems to be spinning out of control.  Problems and/or issues everywhere.  Which one to prioritize?  How to “fix” what is going wrong?  Is it leaving you with an overwhelming sense of helplessness?  It does me, all too often.

Here is a list of the serious issues that are bombarding my senses:

  • The economy
  • Unemployment
  • Poverty
  • Wall Street’s continuing abuses
  • Wealth inequality
  • Debt
  • Offshore oil drilling
  • Fracking
  • Renewable energy
  • The condition of our oceans
  • Climate change
  • Endangered species
  • Pesticides, herbicides
  • Food safety
  • Pollution of our air and water
  • Violence against women throughout the world
  • Pay equity
  • Abortion rights
  • Access to contraception
  • ALEC’s legislative initiatives
  • ALEC’s co-opting of our political process
  • The need for campaign finance reform
  • Voting rights
  • Union busting
  • Immigration
  • Health and health care
  • The dismantling of our educational system
  • The privatization of the prison system
  • Hate speech & hate crimes
  • Gun rights & gun control
  • The billions of non-human animals killed each year worldwide, not only for food, but on our streets, in our homes and in our shelters
  • Wars, seemingly everywhere
  • The aftermath and attempted recovery following both natural and man-made disasters

There is little doubt in my mind that most people have shut down and they have chosen to ignore many, if not all of these critical issues.  For so many others they don’t have a choice.  They don’t even have the time or energy to think about them because they are struggling to survive, to put food on their tables, to pay the bills and keep a roof over their heads.  Their focus is on their personal problems, not the bigger issues that are taking a heavy toll on their day to day lives, their future and the future of their families.

What can we do?  How can the majority of the people on the planet, especially those whose personal resources are sorely limited make a difference, not only in their own lives, but for the future of all life on our planet?  Here are a few simple each of us could try:

  • Educate ourselves so we make conscious decisions that will benefit our finances, our health and the impact we have on our environment, whether it’s our home, our community or the planet.
  • Reduce the amount of plastic, especially disposable plastic, that we buy.  For example, opt for fresh foods over processed, prepackaged foods when possible.  Use refillable containers instead of individual bottles of water. Avoid individually packaged food items – opt for a full size bag or container.  Separate into individual servings at home. Don’t buy disposable plates and cups.  Recycle and/or reuse plastic – and don’t forget to cut up those plastic rings that hold bottles and cans together – and return plastic bags to the stores for recycling.  Take reusable bags when we shop, instead of the store’s plastic bags.
  • Donate unused items to community groups or thrift stores.
  • Pick up trash when we see it: in our yards, in the parking lots, on the beach, or participate in an annual beach or waterway cleanup in our area.
  • Volunteer our time in schools, nursing homes, soup kitchens, for non-profits or wherever our time and expertise can be used.
  • Eat lower on the food chain.  It’s good for our health.  It’s good for the planet, and it’s good for the animals.
  • Write letters or send emails to our local media, to our elected officials, and to policy makers.  Sign up for the action alerts of groups who address issues of concern to us.
  • Adopt a homeless animal from a shelter or local rescue group.  It will save a life and the animal will enrich ours. And if you can’t adopt, consider volunteering for a local rescue group or even fostering an animal until he/she is ready to be adopted.

Many of you are probably already doing some or all of these, or you may be doing others that I haven’t mentioned.   By all means, if you have additional personal solutions or tips, please add them in the comments.  Most of these ideas will only cost a bit of your time.  Many of them will actually save money.   I know that even doing what seems like something small, I feel better.  I feel like I am doing my part, however little it might be.  We rarely know the full impact of the choices we make on a daily basis, or how our actions might influence others.  Even if we can’t always make waves, we can, at least, generate some ripples.