Patiently awaiting the Golden Years

2018 in review, sans politics (mostly)

By Randall Poulton | Jan 04, 2019

Here is my look back at my top stories for 2018. Relax and enjoy. You will not find a single mention of “Russian Collusion” or Nordic’s proposed salmon farm.

January

At 8:07 in the morning on Jan. 13, cell phones all across Hawaii blared the warning: “Incoming ballistic missile ― this is not a drill.” Panicked residents responded by either jumping into bathtubs to hide or filling their bathtubs with water. Some probably did both.

It turned out to be a false alarm triggered by a state government employee “who had a history of confusing drills and real-world events.” Upon questioning by the FCC, “missileman” stated he actually believed there was an incoming missile.

Never mind that the last time a hostile missile was spotted in the United States was back in 1990, and that unfortunate incident was confined to the New England Patriots locker room (if you want the details, Google it).

February

On Feb. 6, Elon Musk finally delivered a Tesla on time ― to outer space! The first test flight of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket was successful and the payload was a Tesla Roadster with David Bowie’s “Major Tom” in the driver’s seat.

In the last few years, Musk’s SpaceX company has developed technologies that run circles around the government folks at NASA. The Falcon Heavy is twice as powerful as the rocket NASA once used to thrust the Space Shuttle into orbit (the Space Shuttle program ended in 2011).

Not only is the Falcon Heavy bigger; it’s better. After completing their job of blasting the main rocket into space, the twin boosters separated, returned to Cape Canaveral, and landed vertically, i.e., standing-up, à la Buck Rogers!

Meanwhile NASA, embarrassed that they no longer have the ability to launch a man into space, is checking with Hawaii to see what they know about missile technology.

March

For Mainers, March 2018 was the month Mother Nature reminded us all who is in charge. Back-to-back-to-back-to-back Nor’easters pummeled the Midcoast with mountains of snow and high winds. When it was all over, many areas had recorded well over 4 feet of snow in just two weeks.

It remains unclear to me how global warming results in snow still covering my front lawn in late April. Maybe a wayward missile caused “bombogenesis”?

April

In what can only be described as scientific serendipity, astronomers from Oxford University have determined that the atmosphere of Uranus smells like flatulence.

Using a special telescope at Hawaii’s Gemini Observatory to study Uranus, the team from Oxford discovered the planet’s atmosphere contains a lot of hydrogen sulfide gas, reporting: "If an unfortunate human were ever to descend through Uranus' clouds, they would be met with very unpleasant and odiferous conditions."

On the bright side, the folks at the Gemini Observatory have yet to spot any inbound ballistic missiles.

May

This was the last spring for Penn State’s Outing Club. A risk assessment by the university determined that the club’s typical activities ― hiking, backpacking trips and kayaking ― are too dangerous. The Nittany Grotto Caving Club and the Nittany Divers SCUBA Club were also deemed too risky and will also be disbanded.

However, the Penn State football “club” will continue to play 12 games during which very large Penn State students, running at full speed, attempt to block, tackle and generally maim students from other universities.

So, is backpacking really more dangerous than football? Or is it that the Penn State football team brought in over $48 million in profit to the university last year?

June

Terry Miller and Andraya Yearwood dominated the competition at Connecticut’s girls’ track and field state championships. Good for them, right? Except, some parents of the biologically female contestants complained Miller and Yearwood were really boys and thus had an unfair advantage.

To further muddy the waters, just two months earlier, Miller had run indoor track on the school’s boys’ team.

I have no answers to this conundrum, but here is something I know for sure: The best female high school basketball players would have a very difficult time matching up against even average male high school basketball players. Boys are taller and stronger.

Mother Nature decides when it snows. Hawaii is the best place to go to see missiles. Enough said.

July

In an effort to save the world, Seattle announced they would ban plastic drinking straws. Not to be outdone, other municipalities soon followed suit. Starbucks pledged to eliminate straws by 2020. And so on.

No matter that straws are a functional tool and their volume represents about one five-millionth of the plastic waste generated each year.

Could it be that the actual manifestation of “the last straw” will soon be at hand?

August

This summer, what may be the last hurrah for the (Boy) Scouts was held in West Virginia. The sponsor organization for the “World Scout Jamboree,” in what can only be described as a (another) sign of moral bankruptcy, required that condoms be provided to all participants.

Will there also be a merit badge for demonstrating the proper use of condom?

This condom foolishness follows last year’s decision to go co-ed and the attendant name change from Boy Scouts to just “Scouts.” Now it looks like the “Scouts” moral bankruptcy may soon be followed by financial bankruptcy.

September

On the afternoon of Sept. 15, about 70 buildings in the Merrimack Valley towns west of Boston exploded. Initial reports of an inbound ballistic missile proved false. What actually happened was a gas company crew removed a section of gas pipe that included an essential safety device, thereby allowing high pressure gas to flow into piping and equipment designed for low pressure use.

The gas company defended its actions saying their workers did everything right. The problem, they said, was the plans were wrong.

October

Elizabeth Warren released the results of her DNA test and suggested that the findings fully supported her claim of Native American ancestry. The straw-banners in Seattle and “missileman” in Hawaii were among the handful of people who agreed with her.

Cherokee Nation spokesman Chuck Hoskin opined: “Sen. Warren is undermining tribal interests with her continued claims of tribal heritage.”

There is truth to the old saw that “sometimes it is better to keep one’s mouth shut and let people think you are dumb, rather than to speak and remove all doubt.”

November

In a stunning development, the first ever audit of Pentagon spending revealed that it is impossible to figure out where billions and billions of taxpayer dollars have gone. It seems there is a lack of coherent financial paperwork ― inflows and outflows do not match. Shocker.

Among the missing equipment was one ballistic missile, last seen headed for Hawaii.

December

Bitcoin appears close to joining Beanie Babies and Longaberger Baskets in the annals of short-lived investment fads. Investors in the so-called “crypto currency” spent their real money buying shares of an imaginary currency supported by “blockchain technology.”

Last year at this time, one “bitcoin” was trading for close to $20,000. Today, the imaginary currency is worth less than 20 percent of that amount.

A much safer way for investors to lose money would have been to do what I did and buy stock in General Electric.

Happy New Year and watch out for those incoming ballistic missiles.

Randall Poulton lives in Winterport. His columns appear every other week in The Republican Journal.


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