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Saturday, June 01, 2013


Steve Cole muses: Just thinking to himself about life, culture, and business:

1. I watch the guys on Food Network and they seem to have this habit of stacking all of the food up in one pile. First, a scoop of potatoes, then put asparagus on top of that, then lay the steak on top of that. How stupid! I don't want my food piled up like that. Put the potatoes here, the asparagus BESIDE the potatoes, and the steak somewhere else on the plate. I don't know what idiot thought stacking the food up where it's hard to deal with was a good idea.

2. Remember that song about "twenty-five or six to four" that everybody thinks is about drugs and the band says is a reference to being 3:35 am and needing to have the new song finished by dawn? Well, I can tell you the truth because I was there. It was a bar fight. I was chilling out with three of the band members with a crowd of deadheads came in and started a fight. There were twenty-five or maybe twenty-six of them and of course just four of us, but we had those heavy beer mugs and, well, it wasn't a fair fight. We had them all on the floor out cold when we heard the police sirens so we hot-footed it out the back door.

3. In the entire world, only 22 nations have never been invaded by Britain.

4. Apparently, national media reports indicated that Amarillo was virtually destroyed by a blizzard and 19 inches of snow. People know that Texas is in the south, so they assume that this must be a rare thing for which Amarillo was not prepared. The reality was somewhat less devastating.

First, Texas is a thousand miles north to south, and Amarillo is 90% of the way north. We're in the half of Texas that is "west" not "south" and we get snow several times every winter, and we get a blizzard of more than 12 inches every decade (sometimes twice). The city government is well aware of this and has plenty of construction equipment (scoop loaders, motor graders, backhoes, and even heavy trucks to which snowplows can be added quickly when needed). Houses here are designed and built to handle two or more feet of snow. Schools always build two "snow days" into the schedule (and add them to spring break most of the time). The city is surrounded by a "loop" highway, and everywhere a major highway crosses the loop there is plenty of parking for long-haul trucks right next to motels and truck stops and fast food franchises. The truck drivers stuck here on Monday found the interruption annoying but sort of festive.

Second, we had plenty of warning that it was coming. Everybody bought extra food and rented a few DVDs. By Saturday afternoon, everybody knew that the town would be closed on Monday, and everybody was ready. We don't have more than a couple of dozen homeless people in all of Amarillo and they were all warned Saturday to spend Sunday night in the more than adequate shelters. Schools sent children home on Friday with extra homework to be done during the expected Monday snow holiday.

Third, the whole affair was basically one day (Monday) of being stuck in the house (with food and DVDs), one day (Tuesday) of driving at 20mph on snow-packed roads (lots of people just took a second day off), and one day (Wednesday) of being annoyed that a drive of a mile or two meant running into a spot where a few inches of snow had yet to be cleared. By Thursday, the streets were clear and the snow (piled in the middle of the streets) was melting fast. The city was using its construction equipment to snowplow the bicycle paths, as the streets were completely clear.

The Blizzard was, for us, nothing more than an excuse to skip a day of work/school. It was no problem and there was no significant damage. I've lived here for 61 years and I've seen about eight of these and they aren't even annoying. They're actually kinda fun, sort of a bonus holiday.

5. George Washington was not the first president. John Hanson was president for a year (1782) under the Articles of Confederation. Hanson was followed by Elias Boudinot (1783), Thomas Mifflin (1784), Richard Henry Lee (1785), Nathan Gorman (1786), Arthur St. Clair (1787), and Cyrus Griffin (1788). But even Hanson was not the first president. That honor went to Peyton Randolph, who held the title of President of the Continental Congress in 1774! Several others (including Henry Middleton, John Hancock, Henry Laurens, and John Jay) also held the post through 1781. One man was elected but resigned before taking office.