SOTU 2014 Review

In the Polar Vortex cold light of a bourbon hangover morning, I give SOTU 2014 a "son of a barkeep" thumbs up. I'm not going to unpack the specific promises and individually described programs and initiatives (cripes there were a lotta em) but take it as a whole.

The Good
A new target audience - the no-longer/not-quite middle class. Of course the official audience is Congress and there's a lot of Villager talk in it, but it looked (to me) like Barry was talking directly to a different group of people than these usually do. Not the kitchen table crowd with their suburban picket fences, but folks who have kitchens too small to fit a table.  The working poor, the collateral damage of recession right sizing, the recent grad.  The folks who haven't got their tickets yet.

Less bipartisanship BS. A recognition that the House is not going to get its house in order. That the GOP had at least four Responses to the speech highlights how dysfunctional the GOP has become.  Despite the obligatory "willing to work with you", this SOTU was downright hostile towards Congress. Which is of course well warranted.

Moments of passion. The equal pay portion was probably the most prominent, but that intensity of delivery that Obama is capable of made itself known again. Never doubt that Barry can deliver speeches.

The Bad
Fucking centrists. STFU about teh fucking deficit all-fucking-ready.  Fuck. Treasuries are still trading at inflation or lower. Fuck.

So the NSA has been wholesale violating anything and everything they can, all at massive expense and with absolute bupkes to show for it. Here, Obama is going to slap your wrist as lightly as he possibly can while reminding everyone that you are the Front Line in The War On Terror. 

The War On Terror. It is fucking 2014.  What the fuck is wrong with you?

I appreciate that he is trying to sell his ideas and initiatives here, but does he have to sound like a salesman?  So many individual programs called out and a bunch of them weren't very big. At times it really felt like he was lauding the number of cup holders.

Better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.  The good outweighs the bad because it really feels like there is something new here and the bad is just a result of Obama being Obama. He can't be outside the system, he is the system.


Winter Weatherland

The ice storm rode in on the solstice, and on that first winter's night it blanketed the city, piling up high on tree branches everywhere.  High that is, until they came down.  We woke Sunday morning in the dark - although lucky enough to have power restored a little more than one day later.

Lucky too, I had the car out Saturday night in the freezing rain.  The sheet of ice encasing it Sunday morning was easy enough to chip away and we escaped to the in-laws place, for they still had power.  The drive through Scarborough that morning - eerie.  Downed trees everywhere.  Power was a patchwork with one street lit up with Christmas lights and the next in darkness.  It would continue like that for several days, with some people offline for a week.

Sunday night, just after dinner, our temporary sanctuary lost power, so we awoke in darkness for the second morning in a row.  They too were lucky with service restored in by Tuesday morning.  By this time, our home was back online and we could reciprocate sheltering.  Ultra Ninja weathered the most severe weather event of her life with no more than 12 hours in a row without electricity.  My phone didn't even drop below 50%.

We were hosting Christmas Dinner this time round and losing the weekend cut pretty deep into our preparation time.  It still came off without any more trouble than usual.  Stocking up on provisions early and stuffing the fridge to the gills with thermal inertia paid off.  And Christmas itself was a picture perfect postcard, a light dusting of snow on Christmas Eve, just like in the storybooks.  Picture perfect provided you didn't look down at the mountains of fallen wood on the ground.

It wasn't until Christmas Eve that temperatures dropped so severely that people were in actual danger.  Two nights in a row where it dropped below -10 C.  Merry Christmas.  Other than the freezing rain, the weather was actually nicer than Christmas here has been the past few years.  But there was an awful lot of freezing rain.  But it is the absolute insanity since then that's worn me down.

On the 28th, it all started to melt.  Sunday saw the highest temperatures all month at around 5 degrees.

And then it froze again.  New Years Eve was ten below again, as was the night before.

And then it got cold.  -18 on the 2nd.  -24 on the third.

And then it thawed on the fifth.

And then it froze on the sixth.  Hitting minus 10 before sunset.  Thaw freeze thaw freeze - meant that stretches of my inner suburb had plenty of spots with treacherous ice.  Not a coating of ice, but solid slabs several centimetres deep.  I'm a casualty, having slipped and landed on my knee on the commute home.  It's not too bad - I can put weight on it and walk without a limp, but stairs take a lot longer than usual and every now and then I bend it in a way that sends shooting pains through my leg.  I'm taking the classic advice of "so don't bend it that way" - but apparently I fidget in my sleep.  Which I'm not doing right now - fidgeting nor sleeping.

Right now, at half past three in the AM, the storm is raging.  It's twenty below, minus forty with the sustained 45 km/h winds.  I just heard three more tree branches land in our already cluttered back yard.

It's supposed to thaw this weekend and freeze again before the next weekend.