Friday, January 30, 2009

Super Predictions

My second favorite holiday (4th of July is #1) Super Bowl Sunday is here. And that means its time for some Super Bold Predictions!!

I predict that the 5 hour NBC pregame show will include at least one feature on Steelers safety Troy Polumalu's hair. The pregame interview with Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner will include at least a dozen references to God and Jesus--and at least one mention of how he used to bag groceries in Iowa. Keith Olbermann will say that the Cardinals appearance in the Super Bowl proves that President Barack Obama has brought hope and change to America. Nobody will have any idea who any of the pregame musical acts are. An entire segment will be dedicated to "NFL Insider" Peter King's proof that Brett Favre is not coming back next season. There will be a feature on how each of the African-American players feel about the election of Barack Obama as President. By the end of the 5 hour show, all of America will want to strangle Cris Collinsworth.

I predict that the game will open with a tearful feature on National Anthem singer Jennifer Hudson and how all of her immediate family was murdered last year--before she goes out and lip-synchs the song. Somehow the referee will mis-hear the Steelers call for the coin flip and they will lose the toss. The ref will pull off a mask and reveal himself to be Howie Mandell. Every player in the starting lineup who attended Ohio State will mention they went to THE Ohio State University. The Cardinals will move quickly down the field for the opening touchdown--prompting Al Michaels to exclaim that they have figured out that unbeatable Steelers defense. Kurt Warner will be beaten mercilessly from that point on. Everybody will miss the one-second Miller Beer commercial.

At halftime, I predict Bruce Springsteen will mention--at least twice--how there is so much more hope and change in America since the election of President Barack Obama. The second half will be delayed as the E Street Band wraps up the halftime show with a 14 minute jam session version of "Born to Run". There will be no wardrobe malfunctions.

I foresee a second half where the Steelers defense knocks Kurt Warner out of the game. Al Michaels will exclaim that the Arizona offense just never figured out those blitz packages. Somehow, every cast member of NBC's "Heroes" will have a seat in the stadium and will get on camera. At least half the people at the Super Bowl party will mention how much this year's commercial's suck.

I predict a final score of Pittsburgh 26, Arizona 10. President Barack Obama will contact the lockerroom on his Blackberry telling the Steelers how they are bringing hope and change to America. By this time on Monday, half the people who watched the game won't even remember who won.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Caught Between a Snowbank and a Hard Place

I hope my neighbors enjoy the sound of my snowthrower at 3:00 in the morning--because they might hear it a lot more often from now on. The Oshkosh Common Council votes tonight on amending the city's snow and ice removal ordinance to require sidewalks be cleared by noon the day after a snow event--a requirment that could prove very difficult for someone with my work schedule to meet--without pissing off his neighbors.

I am usually here in the newsroom by four a-m at the latest every weekday. As you can imagine, getting up that early requires going to bed early--so if the snow continues past 8:00 or 9:00 at night, it's going to keep piling up until I get up in the morning. And since I work until 2:00 in the afternoon at the earliest during the winter (there's no incentive to leave any earlier to play golf) that leaves me those few minutes at three a-m to get out there and clear my sidewalk.

I'm sure it will be just a matter of time before one of my neighbors gets fed up with my early morning snow removal and calls the cops. So then I would have to weigh the penalties of failing to clear the walk versus the fine for violating city noise ordinances. I'm guessing the fine for noise will be less than the cost of having city crews clear the walk--so I'll keep 'throwin at 3:00 am. Unfortunately, if I continue to rack up noise citations, my house could be deemed a "nuisance property" and then I would fall into a new category of ordinance enforcement that would result in continuing harassment from several city departments.

I guess I could take the risk of not clearing the snow until I get home from work--but knowing the ruthless efficiency the city shows in doing something that might generate revenue, I fully expect public works crews to be on my street checking the sidewalks by 12:01 the day after a snow event--ready to catch violators. If the "Snow Police" would come through in an actual plow or a salt truck that would be appreciated--maybe our street wouldn't look like a hockey rink by the middle of December every year.

Maybe the city wants me to take vacation to make sure the sidewalks get clear by noon. I could take half-days--leaving at 8:00 a-m--"Sorry boss can't stay, gotta get the snow off my sidewalk again today." Unfortunately, with the way winter is going around here now, I would have to save all of my vacation time for November and December so I'm ready to clear several inches of snow every other day.

In the Council packet for tonight's meeting, I see City Manager Mark Rohloff and Public Works director David Patek have sent along a memo saying they can live without the noon deadline--so long as other requirements are are still placed in the ordinance. Let's hope the Council uses some common sense as well and adopts an ordinance with which all residents can comply--without making enemies in the neighborhood.

Friday, January 16, 2009

A New American Hero

We have a new American Hero today. Chesley Sullenberger is the pilot who managed to set down his crippled US Airlines jet in the Hudson River in New York yesterday. Because of Sullenberg's unbelievable skill and calm under pressure, all of the passengers managed to survive the water landing.

You know how we laud athletes for making last second free throws or draining a clutch putt for the way they "handle pressure"? How do you think that pressure compares to what Pilot Sullenberger was dealing with the couple of minutes his plane stayed aloft after hitting a flock of birds? Kind of puts things into perspective.

And his calm and command of the situation didn't end there, as the pilot and co-pilot led a relatively organized evacuation of the plane. What do you think was going through everyone's mind when it came time to open those emergency exits? Is ice-cold water about to come pouring in? Will the plane flood and take us all down with it? Will I have to swim for it?

It's been a couple of years since my last commercial flight (the wife and I are paying for things a bit more important than a couple of days somewhere it doesn't get a minus-45 windchill)--but I'm one of those who tend to pay little or no attention to the pre-flight emergency instructions. I usually just make sure I know where the closest exit is--and I make a note of how big the people are between me and that door, so I know how hard it will be to push everyone else out of the way. I might pay a bit more attention from now on--especially to the water landing part.

One more thing, try to remember the work performed by Chesley Sullenburger--and all of the US Airways crew members on the plane yesterday--when you hear about pilots and flight attendants agreeing to 33 or 50-percent decreases in their salaries and benefits. Were any of those people overpaid yesterday? I don't think so.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Cold Enough For You Now?

Today's Two Cents is dedicated to the people who complain about how hot it is during the summer. These are the folks who start cranking up the air conditioning about the time it hits 75--and say they can't wait for fall and winter. They usually ask "Hot enough for you?"--and I get a big smile and reply "Yes, finally it is."

The line these people like to use that I hate the most is: "I'd rather be too cold than too hot--because you can always put on more clothes." How many layers of clothing do you plan to wear the next few days? I imagine this army of people running around like Randy (the younger brother from the movie "A Christmas Story") so bundled up they can't lower their amrs to their sides--or get up if they happen to fall on the icy sidewalk. And that's the way you have to dress just to run out and get the mail!

And how long do you have to let your car run on a 90 degree day before you can go anywhere? I know there are a few people so soft they have to "pre-cool" the car so they can drive in the summer--but the rest of us just open the windows, start it up and drive. Us real cool kids in Jeeps can put the top down and take off the doors for real open air refreshment. And I can't ever remember it being too hot to start my vehicle. Ask car shops how many times they have to send out a tow truck to jump start a car on a 90 degree day.

It's the thought of those hot and humid summer days that get me through the winter weeks like this one. I keep a mental clock--just another two months and two weeks of this crap and I might be able to run to the store wearing just a sweatshirt instead of the kind of cold weather gear guys need to compete in the Iditarod. So get out there and enjoy your weather hot day haters--I'll be watching you from the cozy confines of the Newsroom.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Ignoring the Rule of Law

Whatever happened to the rule of law. You know, that basic principal upon which our country was founded--that no person is above the law--and that all laws on the books apply to all people?

I ask this as the saga of Roland Burris plays out on Capitol Hill. Burris is the Senate appointee by embattled Governor Rod Blagojovich to fill out the term of Barack Obama. This week, the Senate refused to allow Burris to take that seat--despite having no legal grounds to do so.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid--who isn't even the leader of the Senate (that is the Vice President--whose "real" job is President of Senate)--ordered the Senate Secretary to reject Burris's appointment papers because the Illinois Secretary of State hadn't signed them. The Secretary of State had no right to not sign the papers--and his signature is ceremonial anyway--so if it's not there, it shouldn't matter.

The law says the Governor of Illinois has the power to appoint Senate fill-ins. Rod Blagojovich is the governor of Illinois and he has made his appointment. That should be the end of the matter--Roland Burris is a Senator. So why do the Secretary of State, the Senate Secretary and the Senate Majority Leader all believe they have powers that supercede that law? Wasn't this the lesson we learned from Watergate? That nobody--not even the President--is above the law.

Just because you don't like a legal action, doesn't give you the right to ignore the result--or to block the result. If the people of Illinois didn't want Rod Blagojovich as their governor, making appointments for the US Senate--then they shouldn't have elected him--twice. Let's start holding our politicians accountable when they flaunt the law--and especially when they break it.