Bread Bags in the Boots-When Cold Winters Were The Norm

It’s been the kind of winter that when I was a kid, we would have wrapped one of Mom’s dish towels around our face to protect us from the cold wind. It was great fun to breath heavy, allow it to freeze then remove the towel as an icy mask.

We also took a pair of Dad’s socks, cut a hole in for the thumb and wore them under our mittens. That is if we still even had both mittens left by December. If we didn’t, we just doubled up on Dad’s socks. The nice part about socks is that they could be pulled up under your coat to the elbow. This protection was important when sledding, as when snow gets up your sleeve and onto bare skin it causes what surmounts to an ice cream headache to the wrist.

You also never went outside and into the snow without first lining your boots with bread bags.

This is how we dealt with cold spells some forty years ago.

Up until about twenty years ago, Wisconsin winters were a lot colder than they are today, and it was common to have a week or two of sub-zero weather.

We had never heard of the impressive “polar vortex,” and these regular cold spells were simply referred to what they actually are – an “arctic blast” – cold air trapped in the arctic forced south by the Jet Stream. Nobody panicked either, as it was simply a normal part of a typical Wisconsin winter.

Schools and businesses didn’t close and our fourth grade teacher old Miss Dorn made us play outside whether we liked it or not. I never have heard of a single child who froze to death at recess at Schurtz School or otherwise. Well equipped with Dad’s socks and a dish towel, the frozen schoolyard echoed with the crunching of all of those bread bags.

Car batteries tend to lose charge in the cold, and we knew how to deal with that, too. If you were going to be parked for any length of time, you simply left the car running. At night Dad would go out and run the car for about a half hour before going to bed.  In really extreme cold he would bring the battery in.

Because winters were colder, the highly inaccurate pseudo science of wind chill measurement didn’t exist to give the impression that it’s colder then it actually really is. Instead of using the actual temperature of say five or ten below, meteorologists now stress ‘real feel’ temperatures of  25 to 60 below.  Twenty five to sixty? That’s a thirty five degree difference. What kind of measurement is that?

What if police used this sort of accuracy to describe a suspect? “We are looking for a white male between three and six feet.”

When winters were in fact colder, there was no need to exaggerate. Twenty five or thirty below is cold no matter how you measure it, and even amongst twelve year olds common sense prevailed. If you sledded in an open field in thirty mile an hour gusts, yes, it feels colder so sled behind the protection of the barn where it doesn’t.

Science has proven that the climate is changing and the earth is warming. It’s a proven fact that recent winters are milder.  I find it refreshing to have a good old fashioned winter for change.  There is nothing shocking about it. This is Wisconsin in January and Miss Dorn did not have wind chills nor polar vortexes to impress her; “You want warm!” She’d bark, “Move to Florida!”


Phony Frenzy over Russian Gay Rights

To the United States in recent years Gay Rights has become a priority and has moved into the forefront of the national debate and conversation.  But fueled by the Obama administration, these passions have been manipulated in order to inflame and greatly exaggerate the perceived plight and persecution of Russian Gays for Obama’s own personal gain.

Following the American media these days, one would think Russian gays are being rounded up and thrown into concentration camps-or worse. The accusations against Russia on this issue range from ridiculous to the truly absurd. Gay activist and writer Harvey Fierstein went so far to suggest in a July, 2013 New York Times op-ed piece, that even people suspected of being gay are being arrested.

Tonight Show television host Jay Leno even compared the current state of Gay rights in Russia to the plight of Jews in Nazi Germany. Right or wrong, apparently the Gay Propaganda Law, which basically insulates children from images or literature that do not portray traditional sexual relations, is akin to the extermination of six million people.

As if that were not enough, the myth is now being spread that even Gay athletes will be arrested as they arrive for the Sochi Olympics. All this is occurring with the blessing of and to the satisfaction of President Obama.

Russian President Putin humiliated him, and it’s payback time. Obama is willing to initiate a perceived cold war over Gay rights because he’s embarrassed. First, Russia offered asylum to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. Putin then forced the US into a position where Obama had to seek diplomacy with Iran. But the real game changer is Syria.

Obama was publically chomping at the bit for an attack on Syria, but it was Russia who craftily built a world coalition and blocked the attack. It was Vladimir Putin, and not the Nobel Peace Prize winner, who devised a workable plan to dismantle Syria’s chemical weapons and possibly avert WWIII.

As Mitt Romney aptly noted during a recent NBC interview: “Putin has outperformed our president time and time again  and,  to Obama, this is humiliation on a global stage.

In order to deflect from his own human rights and foreign policy failures, Obama seizes the Gay cause.  He personally and theatrically boycotts the Sochi Olympics, perpetuates the myth of some sort of wide spread government oppression of Russian Gays, and then selects a Gay delegation to represent the US.

Let’s face it. Obama isn’t passionate about the cause of international Gay rights-his interest lies in insulting the conservative Christian Russia and improving his lagging popularity at home with an issue Americans feel passionate about.

If international Gay rights were such a priority to President Obama he’d challenge Saudi Arabia, where homosexuals face life imprisonment or execution, or he’d cut off aid to Africa, where homosexuality is completely illegal in seventy percent of its countries.

There are eighty three countries where homosexuality is completely illegal and punishable with imprisonment or death. Such is US hypocrisy, that while it scrutinizes Russia over a relatively minor restriction, openly Gay American soldiers risking their lives in Afghanistan face stoning or imprisonment from the very government they are defending.

The reality is that Gay life thrives in Russia, and homosexuals are constitutionally protected.  The Gay Moscow Travel Guide site rates at least ten clubs in that city alone.

There’s also Central Station in St. Petersburg, which sports two stages, and is not only popular with Russian Gays and straights but with tourists as well. There’s also Club Culture, located in the former Palace of Culture and featuring a transvestite show. There’s yet another called the Bunker, which also is reputed to be quite lively.

This doesn’t mean there aren’t hate crimes through attacks on Gays. There have been some widely publicized incidents involving the teen gang Occupy Gerontophilia, and the far more dangerous Occupy Pedophilia, led by Maxim Martsinkevich, who previously served time for hate crimes and recently fled Russia to avoid further prosecution.

There is also the matter of Russian sitcom star Ivan Okhlobystin, who can’t seem to keep his mouth shut about anything.

But these are individual despicable actions and views toward minority groups that any country has to deal with.  The FBI reports that hate crimes against LBGT individuals in the United States have increased to 1295 in 2011, the last year for which complete statistics are available.  The US has also experienced its fair share of homophobic celebrity speech. Most notably, Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson, and most recently, comments made by Juan Pablos Galavas, star of reality show The Bachelor.  Galavas referred to homosexuals as perverts.

But it must remain clear, that although a more conservative nation, the  persecution of Gays  is not the prevailing view of most Russians and contrary to American myth, Russian Gays are not hiding out in barns and basements fearing for their lives or hiding from authorities

Don’t Talk To Me about Pope Francis

Don’t talk to me about Pope Francis. I don’t care about his advice on breastfeeding, views on poverty and Gay marriage, or anything else.

First of all, I’m not Roman Catholic, have no desire to be Catholic and no interest in Catholicism, whatsoever. In fact, I believe that if God were to sue for libel, the Roman Catholics would probably be first on his list.  There is little Biblical about Roman Catholicism, and if a church this archaic and this repressive were to be organized in the twenty-first century, it would be considered a repulsive cult.

There is no need to rehash the historic atrocities committed by this church as we’re well acquainted with them, so let’s look at the Catholic Church today under Pope Francis. It continues to endorse repression of women and gays and ignore priestly pedophilia.

Talk is cheap and that’s all we’ve heard from the head of one of the most backwards religions on earth. When the US Supreme Court ruled in favor of Catholic organizations regarding contraceptives, Pope Hot Air didn’t intervene on behalf of women’s reproductive rights.  Francis may also prattle on in “personal” support of Gays, but he certainly didn’t offer to conduct the first Gay marriage at the Vatican.

Yet the media, especially liberals, can’t get enough of this bozo in thousand-dollar ruby slippers.  Enter “Pope Francis” into the search engine of major online news outlets, and it’s more like reading an issue of “Catholics Today” than serious journalism.

A blog by Jim Wallis, appearing 12/20/13 in The Huffington Post, went so far as to declare, “Pope Francis: An Imitation of Christ.”  My biblical knowledge of Christ does not include his multi-billion dollar estate, priceless art collection, or armored vehicle.

Christ was a guy who hung out with fisherman and prostitutes, slept on the ground and preached on top of a rock – not an elaborate balcony – waving a jewel-encrusted staff. Christ was a person who spurned wealth and religious pomp. Furthermore, Jesus Christ was not the head of a church which recently came under scathing criticism from the UN for its handling of global sexual abuse.

Until the day Pope Francis sheds his silly hat and monkey suit, disavows his repressive religion, its bloody history and its sexist, homophobic tradition, don’t talk to me about Pope Francis. I don’t care about him selling his Harley Davison. Talk to me when he auctions off the Vatican art collection to aid global poverty or turns the palace into a homeless shelter – then I’ll be all ears.

Come back when he demands justice for the thousands of sexually abused children and calls for every priest offender to face trial. I’ll pay attention when he not only apologizes for sexist church doctrine, but actually changes it to include female ministry and the right of women to choose what’s right for their own bodies without church approval.

The Pope is merely the head of a church; he is not universally holy or important. He should be of as much interest and significance to the larger society as the head of LDS or the Methodist Church. If someone is crazy enough to be Roman Catholic in this day and age, so be it, but don’t talk to me about Pope Francis.