Snowpocalypse… again.

Right now, a storm of epic proportions is brewing! Belching forth from the atlantic is a snow storm to rival the mythical Flood of Noah. We could get as much as Five Inches of snow. Five Inches!

Of course, measurements vary. If a man reports a measurement of five inches, its probably closer to four, or even three. And you can’t trust a woman’s measuring skills, she’s been told all her life that six inches is really eight. Why do you think their dress sizes are 8, 10, 12, etc. We men have purposefully confused them with rulers.

Five inches of snow in South Carolina! That’s the equivalent of somewhere around six feet in the northeast. Schools have shut down, government is sending non-essential employees home, and the three salt trucks have been put out on the roads.

Northerners like to pick on the south for shutting down at the least sign of a little snow and ice, but we just don’t have the equipment to deal with it. It’s needed so seldom, that we just don’t buy it. There’s too many other things to spend that kind of money on.

But, like any disaster or storm, the word SNOW! uttered on TV causes an uncontrolled cascade reaction. Things I witnessed today:

1. Gas lines at the stations. Seriously. Lines of cars waiting their turns at the pumps.

Why? If it snows, where the Hell are you going to go? Five inches of snow on Tuesday that will likely stick around until Thursday afternoon. And if you can Get Out of your driveway, surely you can drive into a gas station? It’s TWO DAYS people, not a week and a half.

2. The utter and complete destruction of the wal-mart bread aisle. Pictures on Facebook show empty bread aisles all over town. Supposedly there is not a loaf of bread to be found in town. I like bread as much as anyone, but really? Is that the only thing to eat? Surely some cans of soup or some ritz crackers would be just as filling.

3. Piles of people at the grocery store in general, loading up like the Yellowstone Supervolcano just exploded. It’s TWO DAYS. Yes, I admit, I went by the store to grab a couple cans of soup and some pop tarts. My job requires me to go to work when it snows, or hurricanes, or tornados. So I can’t sit on my ass drinking beer and eating bread. I need some easy food. But buggies full of crap? You would have thought it was the first of the month and the government free handout money came already.

If someone told me at any single point in time, “Go home right now, and for the next three days, stay there and keep yourself alive on whatever you have”. For the most part I would be fine. Sure, I might miss something – some milk or Coke or cereal, but I could survive. I wouldn’t be thinking, “Boy! I hope there’s enough ketchup left in the fridge so I don’t starve to death.”

Do people really live that much on the edge? It’s the south. We could have a nasty thunderstorm pretty much ten months out of the year that would knock out trees and power lines. At least keep a case of Ramen noodles in the closet or something. Anyone should be able to live for two days on what is in the house right now.

I have been told by a wal-mart employee that they are “completely out of heaters, and have been since the weekend”. Really? Shocking, since in the clothing section you have swimsuits out, and the coats and winter hats have been on clearance for a week.

I didn’t go to Lowes, but I’m willing to bet they are out of generators again. And plywood. No, friends and neighbors, this is a snowstorm, not a hurricane. Leave the plywood at the store. I know you hear “storm” and rush for the plywood, but this is water in a solid form known as “ice”. The plywood is no good.

Of course there will be some generator deaths. “I know it says ‘Don’t Use Indoors’ honey, but how else are we supposed to run the TV so we can watch Honey Boo Boo??”

Don’t be sad, that’s just Darwin at work.

Discussing upcoming traffic problems at work, someone remarked, “well surely if it snows there won’t be that many people out?”

Umm, I don’t think so, Tim. It snowed, people will grab their bread and some milk for the road, drive their freshly gassed-up Ford Subdivisions along the unsalted, un-sanded roads for no other reason than to look around. As if the news guys with their HD cameras can’t show them enough, on their brand new 70 inch 3D TVs. No, they have to drive around and look, and slide into phone poles and each other, then I get to laugh at them while we wait on the tow truck.

But yes, Virginia, there WILL be traffic.

And probably some of them will be going to Wal-Mart, checking on the bread situation.

So, the President likes to Blaze Up?

Well, maybe we shouldn’t go that far. I guess the big debates now will take great pains to dissect what he said, something along the lines of “Marijuana isn’t any worse than alcohol”.

This being a blog and not a reputable news source, and the fact I do this for fun and don’t get paid for it, I don’t feel I should burden myself or you with a bunch of stats that take me a while to search for. So, let’s just say this:

Alcohol is plenty bad and kills a shitload of people, ruins lives, and is toxic for your body.

That being said, I think people should be allowed to drink it. If they want to drink themselves into stupors and pass out watching reruns of Jersey Shore, then fine, it’s their time, their life, and their bodies. Where we have a problem is when people drink and beat their wives, or drive around to see how well they do on the sobriety test, or crash the plane that you’re riding in.

You see, we tried a little thing called prohibition, back in the 20s, which caused us all sorts of problems. The Mafia stepped in, people brewed illegal hooch all over, brought stuff in from outside the country, and generally supplied the people who wanted to drink it. If you were desperate enough you could add some yeast to grape juice and wait a few months. Not the best stuff, but something to drink.

In the words of Popcorn Sutton, “We ain’t tryin’ to make a Rembrandt, we’re just makin’ a little somethin’ to get drunk off of”.

Prohibition was a massive failure, and was repealed a few years down the road, as you should well know by now.

But, Alcohol is plenty bad for you, so saying “Marijuana is no worse than alcohol” really isn’t saying much. It’s likely no worse than tobacco, too. In fact, with the way cigarette companies have manipulated tobacco over the years to produce a plant with higher nicotine to keep you addicted, Marijuana is probably a whole lot better than tobacco.

The thing with Marijuana is, people have to learn to accept it as a drug, just like alcohol. Right now, the potheads want to say it’s “medicine”. Yeah, for the most part I call bullshit on that one. The claims they make about its medicinal properties are so far and wide, you would expect it to be sold out of a wagon by the side of the road.

I get it, it helps people relax. I know people that smoked pot, and they seems damned relaxed. I’ll give you that one.

There’s even proof that it helps epileptics have fewer seizures. Funny thing is, there’s a variety of marijuana with almost NO tetrahydrocannabinol in it that works just fine for this. Tetra…whatever (THC) – is the stuff in pot that gets people high. if you took that out, do you still think that people would be lining up for their “medicine”? I think not.

They need to come right out and say, “Damnit, I want to smoke weed because I just want to smoke weed. Some people drink, some people watch dirty movies, some people gamble. I want to smoke weed.” Quit beating around the pot bush and come out and say it.

But with our government, it always comes down to money. Whether or not marijuana becomes legal depends entirely on money and who can make the most out of it.

I’m sure the cigarette lobby is pushing hard to keep pot illegal. Marijuana legalization is a huge threat to them. Pot is seen (true or not, I don’t know) as less physically addictive. It’s pretty easy to quit weed, from what I understand.

Of course the government will want to tax it. Just like alcohol tax… For example: A quart of 100 proof vodka may cost you $12 at the liquor store. A quart of denatured alcohol, which is essentially 192 proof vodka with enough methanol added to kill you if you drink it, costs you around $3 at the hardware store. Why? Taxes. It’s the same reason it’s legal to brew wine at home, but if you take the water out with a still, they’ll come get you and haul you away. Taxes. Most moonshiners aren’t charged for makin’ shine. They get in trouble for tax evasion. That’s where the money is.

So you’ll have your government approved, taxed marijuana sold by licensed businesses, paying for their business licenses, dolling out the new $15 minimum wage to their employees, collecting payroll taxes (and likely hiring part-time to keep from paying benefits). So, sure, marijuana is legal, but at a price. I don’t see prices going down. When the government gets involved, typically there’s only one way for prices to go, up. Sure, the actual marijuana may be cheaper on a wholesale level, but with taxes and markups for businesses to survive, the price you pay as a pothead will only rise.

But – like the moonshiners still operating in homes and abandoned barns and along mountain streams, there will be the underground marijuana. Legalizing pot won’t suddenly end the drug war, any more than legalizing liquor suddenly put an end to alcohol crime. Moonshine is still prevalent because people want it, people are proud of their craft, their heritage, and some people just like sticking it to “the man”.

There will be the “craft grower”, the guy who grows plants in his barn, or attic, or basement with grow lights. The Mexican cartels will still provide pot, ready to sell through strew level dealers without the government oversight and taxes. The scourge of illicit drug dealing will still take place, maybe on a smaller scale, maybe not.

And of course, new laws will have to be passed. Who gets to grow the Pot? Will Monsanto have a Marijuana branch? GMO pot, designed for this or that effect? After all, selective breeding is too slow, they have to get in there and manipulate genes and play God with nature. It worked for corn, why not Marijuana? Will the government restrict pot to be grown on subsidized marijuana farms, or will it allow anyone to start growing marijuana? Can you smoke it with a child in the house? What about DUI laws? There’s no “test” to tell if you’ve been smoking Marijuana right before getting in your car, or three days ago.

So, just saying, “Marijuana is legal!” will never solve a host of problems.

The funniest thing, however, was Obama saying, “But, I don’t want my daughters using it.”

So, it’s no worse than alcohol, unless it is HIS kid. Hmmmm…

 

I know what you’re thinking…

“Damnit I followed this idiot to read about hiking and such, not Disney World and Wine Failures”

 

You know what? Winter can suck for hiking.

I know, I know, you read my entries last year and I went on two winter hikes. One in November and one in February or something…and I had a good time despite the cold.

The weather cooperated then, it is being a raging bitch right now. First of all, last year was MILD. The heating bill last year was nothing. We barely got below freezing several times, and never below 20 or so. In January, the worst temperature I saw on my hike was 30, which is pretty mild for a hike in the mountains in the winter.

I looked at temperatures in my hiking area last night. You know what the low was? 10! Ten degrees F. You you celsius people, thats, ummm… well, google it. The high was 31. I don’t know how you guys feel about that, but when I’m hiking I at least want the high to be above freezing during part of the day. It’s hard to get water to drink when it’s in the form of ice.

I had a trip scheduled for the first part of January, just like last year. It was supposed to be between 30 and 45. Decent hiking weather… until you throw in rain for the weekend. Sure, I’m an intrepid backpacker, you say. I should be able to handle a little rain, you say.

Handling rain when it shows up unannounced is fine. You treat it like a religious proselytizer, do your best to put on something protective and ignore it. But KNOWING you’re going into the woods for a weekend in rain and near-freezing weather just doesn’t sounds like a good time, to me. Plus it’s dangerous. Ice on rocks to slip on, icy roads when you’re trying to leave, and what if it turns to snow? How the heck do you get out of the South Carolina mountains? We shut the state down when there’s three inches of snow on the ground.

We opened schools two hours late last week because it was 17 degrees… if there is SNOW, Oh Your God! You must stay home from work and school (but make sure you go to WalMart in your pajamas and buy stuff).

So, as nice as it is not having to deal with excessive heat and bugs and a lot of other hikers, Winter can really put a damper on hiking sometimes.

 

Not to say it doesn’t have its moments. A nice crisp winter evening with a clear sky and a full moon can be amazing. The trees are devoid of leaves, which really helps those views walking along some mountain trail. Waking up to just a little frost on the tent can be great, everything covered in a sparkling dew… as long as it gets up to 40 or so by the afternoon (and your water bottle didn’t freeze).

But 10? Yeah I’m not good around 10. Lying awake wondering if I’m slowly freezing to death isn’t my idea of fun. 20, I’m good. 10, not so much.

 

So that’s why you’re stuck listening to tales of the family vacation and my failed attempts at creating something drinkable. Alas, dear readers, fear not, spring is coming.

How to use the self-checkout line.

Using the self-checkout line at your local Wal-Mart is always an interesting experience. It is designed as a handy way for customers to get checked out quickly, without the hassles of dealing with the disaffected staff. Plus, it can offer all the thrills and excitement of working for WalMart without the extensive background checks, thorough job interviews, and competency training the cashiers go through.

For some people, using the self checkout is a daunting experience. Staring down at that laser scanner and keypad with your items in tow can be as confusing as the first time you had reproductive practice. “Ok, I’m here now, what the Hell do I do?”

Here are some tips to help you through the experience. You will soon be scanning like a pro and demanding fifteen dollars an hour for minimum wage.

1. Make sure your buggy (cart, to you damn yankees) is full. It’s even better if you have a second, less full cart to tow behind the first one. Self checkout is all about efficiency and speed, and learning is part of the process. The people behind you won’t mind having to wait on you.

2. Produce. Have lots of produce. And don’t remember exactly what you bought. White onions, yellow, vidalia? Spend a few minutes looking over the computerized chart trying to figure it out. Send someone back to the produce department to compare what you have, preferably someone under 12. Which brings me to:

3. Bring children. The more numerous and younger, the better. Have an infant and a three year old? Great! Hold the infant, watch the three year old, and let the five year old run around loose. Help the children “learn” by letting them scan items, watch them remove items from the bagging area (which is a scale) and play with them, thus freezing the whole process.

4. Buy alcohol. This brings the process to a halt while the one customer service lady has to finish talking to her friends (who have been hanging out for twenty minutes) about “The Bachelorette”, huff and sigh and come punch in the fact the you are 21. Do this twice, once at the beginning of your bagging, and once again right before the end.

5. Buy a phone. Anything that requires “activation” is always a good purchase to walk yourself through. Even better is something with one of the anti-theft tags or “spiders”.

6. Purchase gift cards. Sooner or later your friends and family will have birthdays, and what’s better than a “day pass to Hell”, otherwise known as the “WalMart Gift Card”. Trying to load them yourself while the lady behind you waits, huffing and muttering with her two buggies and three squalling kids, is always an adventure.

So there you have it. Self checkout tips that will make you an expert.

Oh, I forgot one: Wear Pajamas.

Yeah, we know you worked out. We hate you.

We all have that friend… or those friends on Facebook. We may even be guilty of it ourselves sometimes.

“Got my new FitBit! Can’t wait to see how it works and start posting!”

Yeah, how about not doing that. That would be great. Nothing makes the rest of us lazy slobs feel like lazy slobs more than seeing our friends work out on Facebook. I guess they think they are entertaining us.

“Check out the route I ran today!” Um… no, I didn’t want to check out the route you ran today, but seeing as how you are going to post it anyway, I might as well look at it.

If I was going to post a route I ran, I would at least make it fun to look at. Run a route that forms words. “Running Sucks”, or “Look at me you lazy slobs”, or simply “ASS”, the most used three-letter initials in the history of video games.

I confess, I was one of those people once. Over the summer I tried to get in shape and do the “Insanity” workout. You may have seen the commercials if you woke up late at night after leaving the TV on. Theres a bunch of shirtless guys with abs like you’ll never have, a bunch of women in short shorts and leggings with bodies that only emaciated twenty-somethings can get, and a muscular sweaty black guy who screams at you. Everyone is sweaty and gross and screaming and panting.

So I announced to all my Facebook buddies, “Hey I’m going to do the Insanity workout!” It WAS insane. Incredibly, awfully, insane. It was a good workout, but really something you only have time to do in the summer when the kid is out of school and there’s no dance, no church crap, and no after school stuff to go do. Unfortunately, you should really be doing before summer, so you can show off the fact that you lost half an inch in your pants and your man-boobs have shrunk by half a cup size.

After doing it for six weeks, summer was over, and I fell back into lazy slobbiness.

So instead of fueling the fitness craze, now I have to listen to my friends “training for my tri!” and “Ran 6 miles before work this morning, it was great to be out there!”

This type of behavior cannot be ignored. The fact is, no one cares if we work out. Sure, WE care, it’s an accomplishment. Just getting away from the myriad of interesting things on TV and the internet is hard enough. We feel like we HAVE to celebrate it.

But no one cares. It’s like First Birthdays. No one really gives a shit it’s some kid’s first birthday. Sure, the parents care, they made the thing. Making it through the first year is an important milestone. You’re at least 1/3 of the way out of diapers, you’re not in jail for murdering the thing at three am after the sixth screaming fit of the night, and the family has stopped bothering you about having a grandchild, and is now pressuring you to produce a sibling before she “gets too old to enjoy a little brother or sister”. And sure, Grandma and Grandpa care. But no one else. Your friends will shy away from you and yet more baby pictures. They may ignore your “news feed” after just one more set of pictures featuring your smiling offspring laying down, or even “oh my gosh she’s pulling up on stuff and walking!”. They certainly don’t want to have a birthday party inflicted on them.

Exercise is sort of the same way. Show off your new bikini body, that’s great. Pose with those ripped abs. Also cool. We can all envy them. But for the rest of it, please, just go back to posting those grumpy cat photos.

Well, that’s all for now. I have to go walk on the treadmill. I started that up again, and I’m walking uphill at least 30 minutes a night, starting tonight. I’ll keep you posted.