Wednesday, January 14, 2004


It appears the ALBERTA CLIPPER has come to town, in true caps-lock fashion, and dumped (thus far) a grand total of about 1/16 of an inch of snow. Thank goodness I was warned.

I just had a meeting with my boyfriend to find why it is called an Alberta Clipper. I get the "Alberta" part. It figures that somehow Canada is to blame for our wintery weather woes. But where does the "clipper" part come in? Is it a clipper like a ship? Does it "clip" the northern states? Is it a noun, a verb or an adjective? Alas, my boyfriend doesn't seem to know for sure. His best answer, via the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary says a clipper is defined as one that moves swiftly. I guess. But it hardly seems to instill fear and trembling, if you ask me.

Our lives are filled with warnings. From weather to products to a colored-coded safety system, everybody is warning us about something. The local media outlets race to out-warn each other, and then air commercials for several weeks later, bragging how they were the fastest warner in the weather warning war. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I don't need to be warned about snow in January. It's supposed to snow in January. Color me warned-out.

Our current homeland security color is yellow. And no, I didn't know that offhand. I had to look it up. See what I mean? I don't even know the color anymore. What truly irks me about the security color system is listening to some American Flag Lapel-Wearing Muckety Muck tick off all the potential horrors associated with the color du jour, and then turn around and say in the same breath, "but we want you to continue to live your lives as you normally would." No, you don't. Living my "normal" life does not include removing my shoes at the airport, peering into passing cars on the Washington DC looking for suspicious behavior, or handing over a list of Johnny's library choices to some Alphabet Soup Federal Agent. Let's be truthful, here. "Living our lives as we normally would" (so terrorists don't win) really means, "Please go out and buy things as you normally would. Please go out and travel far and wide (America only). Take only memories, and leave only tens and twenties."

Product warnings are everywhere. Although the labels are meant to warn users, their true function is to protect manufacturers from 1-800-SAM-I-SUE. And, like snow in January, we don't pay much attention. An organization known as The Michigan Lawsuit Abuse Watch runs an annual contest for Wacky Warning Labels. The top winners this year?

Fourth Place: A five-inch fishing lure with three steel hooks, with the warning, "Harmful if swallowed."

Third Place: A twelve-inch high CD storage rack, with the warning, "Do Not Use as a Ladder."

Second Place: A snow sled, with the warning, "Beware: sled may develop high speed under certain snow conditions."

And last but not least, The First Place Product, found on a bottle of drain cleaner: "If you do not understand, or cannot read, all directions, cautions and warnings, do not use this product."

What we really need is a Homeland Security color for Stupid.

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