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More Dogs on Main Street

Well, that does it for ski season. I’m ready to have the snow gone and the trails dried out. Monday would be fine. If somebody would get right on that, I’d appreciate it. But what a great ski season. Overall, the winter seemed more gray and stormy than usual. There were lots of little and medium storms rather than a few huge dumps. The result was that there were lots of little and medium powder days, and I think I got most of them. Last year, I was on a quest to get 100 days. This year was more quality than quantity. Three or four powder days a week — I’d say that was top quality.

Here’s a big thanks to all the people who made the ski season such a pleasure. It’s everybody, from the lifties to the people in the cafeterias. I made it through another season without having to be roped off a lift, or ride in a toboggan, thanks to the ski patrol, who was there to get others down when things went badly. These familiar faces will vanish into the ether, heading back to Chile, Argentina, Australia, Heber, Ireland, and other points unknown. I hope to see you all next year, but if you don’t come back, it’s been a pleasure. I hope you enjoyed your time here.

The resorts on the Wasatch Front are still open for a while, and it’s tempting to drive around to get a little more. You’ve got to get it while you can. Still, there are sand hill cranes in the meadow and bicycles in the garage, and spring is here. Time to let go and move on.

Over the season, I’ve become addicted to Deer Valley brownies. The prospect of going cold turkey until next December is troubling. Betty Crocker and I can bake up a pretty good imitation, but they’re not quite the same. Maybe there is a 12-step program for that.

For those of us on septic tanks, spring is always an interesting time of year. A year with a huge snow pack and a quick melt-off is always a challenge. We get to know the distinctive sounds of the gurgling of the sink under different conditions. There is a real fixation on the floor drain down in the furnace room. We learn to pace things. If you take a shower in the morning, you don’t run the washing machine until afternoon. You glance out in the yard over the drain field, just to check for puddles before flushing. There is only about a week each year when things get a little sketchy. Part of that is my own doing. The only place in the yard to push all the snow is right over the drain field. That can’t help matters. But the ground water this time of year really moves, and there is standing water all over the place. So far, though, it isn’t standing in the furnace room.

Speaking of cesspools, this weekend is also the tax-filing deadline. We’ve all spent hours filling out forms, disclosing details of our financial lives that we may not share with anybody else, and then mail it off to the IRS. I’m not much of a numbers person, so I always supplement the tax return with what I call the essay portion of the annual filing. I send a letter to my congressional delegation letting them know what I think of the job they are doing. After all, they are responsible for spending that money we’re mailing off, and also created this wonderful system of collecting it.

I think it’s an important part of the process, letting them know how they’re doing. This year, I’m not very happy about things. As a nation, we’re borrowing a billion dollars a day from China. At some point, that note will come due and we have no plan for repaying it. Worse, we might get sideways with the Chinese government over any number of things. All they need to do is shut off the cash spigot, and we’re in trouble. Congress adopted an energy bill recently. Aside from some tax breaks for the oil companies (who are clearly suffering), and some credits for buying hybrid Toyotas, it didn’t do much. We import a greater percentage of our oil now than we did back when Jimmy Carter put on his cardigan sweater and told us all to turn down the thermostats. Most of it comes from Canada and Mexico, but an awful lot of it comes from places run by people who don’t like us very much. Fundamentally, our national energy policy is still "Cheap Oil." But it’s not so cheap. The forecasts are for $3 a gallon gas this summer — and that assumes that everything goes smoothly in places like Nigeria. Nothing has ever gone smoothly in Nigeria.

It looks like we can count on being greeted as liberators in Iraq for another five years. I’m not sure that’s a good idea. I also don’t much like warrantless wiretaps, holding people in prison without filing charges or giving them access to courts, setting up places to out-source torture, etc. I’d prefer that we not use first-strike nukes against Iran. It would be good if we could respond to an emergency with something other than duct tape and plastic (that guy is now in charge of FEMA). What I’d really like to see is Congress managing the whole operation responsibly and demanding that the administration provide a coherent policy on all of this.

It’s easy to have big expectations — three powder days a week, DV brownies hot from the oven, Congress representing the people, a competent president. You can dream, but at this point, I’d settle for being able to run the dishwasher without the drain backing up.


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