Well, here we are. Five days into the brand new year. Have you made any resolutions for 2014?
This year, I resolve to continue a healthful regimen of diet and exercise as well as devote more time to my music, reading and writing. Then of course, there’s also a need to spend more quality time with family and friends.
I spent much of this past week compiling a list of things I can do to help me achieve these goals like starting a journal, doing a few writing prompts and downloading guitar exercises online.
It was then that I decided to make another list. Not things for me personally to achieve, but wishes for us as a society. Things I hope are gone by the end of the year that would make the world as we know it a much better place.
So, without any further adieu, here are the three things I think we need to get rid of by December 31st, 2014….
3. Reality Shows
I know it’s never going to happen, but is it too much to ask that they tone them down a bit? I mean, “The Voice” literally just got over a few weeks ago and I’ve already seen commercials promoting the next “season” which starts in February. I always thought “season” in TV vernacular meant years and not months.
Then there’s “American Idol”, “Biggest Loser”, “The Bachelor/Bachelorette”, “So You Think You Can Dance” and “X-Factor”. Oh, and let’s not forget “Dancing With The Stars” which seems to run non-stop all year long. If we could just get rid of one of these shows in 2014, I’ll be a happy camper.
2. Crappy Music
I may sound like an old fuddy-duddy for saying this but I don’t care. New music today sucks. You can’t turn on the radio dial without hearing the exact same terrible songs over and over. Auto-tuned vocals, blasé beats and cliche’ lyrics are the norm these days. Whether it’s Taylor Swift’s latest man problem, Justin Bieber’s threats of retiring or Miley Cyrus’s twerking, it never seems to go away.
This June will mark the 30th anniversary of the very first concert I ever attended: The Scorpions and Bon Jovi. This is relevant because three decades later I can still remember exactly where I was, who I was with and the music I heard. Better still, Bon Jovi; the band that was just starting out at that time and literally got booed off of the stage in favor of the Scorpions, was the highest grossing tour act of 2013.
There’s something to be said about having longevity in music. Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney, Tom Petty, Billy Joel, Elton John, The Rolling Stones. Some of these artists have been doing their thing for more than a half-century.
Call me old-fashioned, but somehow I don’t think that we’ll still be talking about Taylor Swift, One Direction, Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus 50 years from now. And even if we are, I’ll thankfully be long gone by then.
And now, the #1 thing we need to get rid of by the end of 2014….
1. Naming and Fear Mongering about Winter Storms
I don’t know what part of the country (or world) you come from, but here in the great Northeast the weather has changed dramatically over the last year.
And no, I’m not talking about global warming and an increase in heat waves, rainfall or snow accumulations. I’m talking about way the media has decided to hype up their weather forecasting coverage by fear mongering about “apocalyptic” storms.
An apocalyptic event should be one like a Category 5 Hurricane, an F-5 Tornado, an earthquake, volcanic eruption or a horrific Tsunami. Not one where the region gets blanketed with three inches of snow causing slower than usual commute times to work on a Monday morning.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m grateful that we’re given advance notice about pending hurricanes and nor’easters. But it seems that lately every passing front that goes through between the months of December and March qualifies as Armageddon.
Here are just a few quotes I’ve heard regularly on television weather forecasts (emphasis added because the meteorologist added it in their own reporting).
“It’s going to be the coldest air in FIVE years folks!” — (Wow! That’s certainly a long time ago.)
“Stay tuned and I’ll tell you when to expect the COLDEST air we’ve had in TWENTY YEARS on NBC news at 11.” — (Beg pardon, but what was the weather like 20 years ago? Yep… cold!)
“Winter Storm Hercules is bearing down, blanketing our area with as much as a foot of snow in some of the higher elevations.” — (Hercules? Oh, please!)
Since when have we become such a watered down society that we now have to name every single storm regardless of cold temperatures, ice and snow? I don’t know about you, but in my forty-four years of existence we’ve always had just one name for this type of phenomenon:
That classic quote from my favorite movie seems quite apropos for what we are about the endure.
First of all, let me say that I made a mistake. I spent the better part of the weekend watching the mass hysteria of the news media discussing this unprecedented storm. The never before seen in all of human existences hybrid hurricane/nor’easter combination that is about to strike the area. I’d be lying though if I told you I wasn’t worried about it. I mean, how often is it that you’re in the eye of a hurricane in the northeastern portion of the country? It’s scary.
I’m looking outside at the beautiful fall foliage adorning the landscape for the last time. Before long, the high winds and heavy rain will pick up, leaving the trees completely barren and/or gone. I myself have gone through dozens of these types of storms during my life but still never get used to it. Huge winter storms that dumped two feet of snow, massive tropical storms that flooded rivers and made roads impassable for weeks and power outages that lasted for days.
The thing is, you can take all the precautionary measures you want: batten down the hatches, stock up on batteries and generators and furnish your pantry with all of the dry goods you want. You may even want to consider hoarding some gold under your mattress in the event of a zombie apocalypse.
But the scariest thing of all about this storm (and all storms like it, quite frankly) is not about the heavy rain, power outages or flash floods. The scariest thing of all is the inevitable: it’s coming, and there’s absolutely nothing you can do about it. We all go about our day to day lives seemingly oblivious to it, but every once in a while Mother Nature likes to remind us all of who is really in charge.
So, to my friends in the “zone” right along with me – stay safe. We’ll make it through this. We always do.
Now, about that boat….
There are certain things in life that irk me more than others. Waiting in traffic, bad coffee and top-40 radio quickly come to mind. But this time of year, there are two things that drive me insane more than anything else. Things that make it so I can’t even turn on the TV or browse news websites for fear of going postal.
The first is the pending election on November 6th where we citizens go to the polls to elect a president. I’ve become convinced that my reason for loathing has nothing to do with the physical act of voting, but the fact that people put blinders on and take sides.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for choosing who you think it the best candidate. It’s what this country was founded upon. My problem lies with the negativity expressed on both sides of the aisle.
“MY guy is better than YOUR guy. YOUR guy is gonna raise taxes. YOUR guy wants to take away guns. YOUR guy wants to take Grandma’s wheelchair. YOUR guy wants tax breaks for millionaires. “— AH, SHUT UP!
When will people actually wake up and realize that we hear this exact same rhetoric every election cycle? Conspiracy theories, death panels, birth certificates, October surprises, financial transcripts not being produced in a timely manner… I’m SICK of it.
The other thing that drives me over the edge is actually worse than a presidential election cycle. Where as an election happens once every four years, this one happens every year and as of late, seems to be happening earlier and earlier. I’m talking about extreme weather conditions and the hysteria that follows.
Every winter, my neck of the woods gets hit by at least two or three significant snowstorms that causes news outlets to get on the air and warn people of the apocalypse. Last year, we had a snow event (somewhere in the 6-8 inch range) on October 31st. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that Halloween is very early for snow, but was there really need to remind everyone (who are already used to these types of weather events) to stock up on milk, bread and eggs? Hardly.
Some stations even devote 24/7 media coverage to these storms, saying the same things over and over again ad nauseam about the progress. People call in to local radio stations to give snow accumulation totals. It’s ridiculous.
Early next week, my little region is going to be hit by a whopper of a storm. High winds, heavy rain and flooding are expected. A few days ago, getting news of what “might” be coming was informative and most welcome. But, once it became known that all bets were off and we were definitely getting the storm, the crazy was let out of the cage.
Although we’ve weathered many such events and flooding in the past, the lunacy of the news media is at an all time high. Instead of just stating the obvious and moving on, they seem more concerned about changing the name of the hurricane/tropical storm (Sandy) to something that will better coincide with the Halloween season: “Frankenstorm!” – How convenient.
I am thankful that we have news and weather outlets to warn us of pending storms. It’s great to be informed of what’s coming and I want to prepare for the worst and hope for the best just like everyone else. But I swear, if I see one more story that says there’s going to be a full moon the night “Frankenstorm” hits, I’m going to go Wolfman on someone.