The storm that wasn’t and the shutdown that was

David Atwood Points of the Compass
Posted 10/11/13

Last week was unique. Anxiety and uncertainty filled every day as we anticipated a tropical storm, or worse, and a government that threatened to shut down. One happened, the other did not, but we are still fraught with emotion.

As I sat in a …

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The storm that wasn’t and the shutdown that was


Last week was unique. Anxiety and uncertainty filled every day as we anticipated a tropical storm, or worse, and a government that threatened to shut down. One happened, the other did not, but we are still fraught with emotion.

As I sat in a local eatery Monday, a week ago, I heard several worrisome topics of discussion among my fellow diners. Most talked about the Federal Government shutdown as patrons wondered how Congress’ action, or lack of it, depending on how you turn that particular rat’s nest of twisted twine, would affect them. I heard worries about Social Security payments, the VA health services, and concerns for a half-dozen other programs. Someone mentioned the national parks and monuments closing. There is a potential upside to that one.

If Congress declared the entire US-Mexico border a national park, would it close too? That might do some good, whereas closing the Statue of Liberty and the Washington Monument will not, other than giving WWII Veterans one more fortification to storm. Closing the border would not do much for the Customs Agents, or the thousands living on the Mexican side who commute from towns like Juarez and Tijuana to jobs in the US. For illegal aliens, it would be horrible, but not such a bad thing for our economy, which is collapsing under the burden of benefits paid to non-citizens.

It also occurred to me that a good way to fund all these programs and keep our federal employees’ checks coming would be to suspend foreign aid for the duration of the shutdown, and to demand payments from those nations not current on their loans. One simple question here; if we have money to send to Syria so they can continue to find ways of killing and maiming each other, why can’t we fund our own government that pays our own people who are trying to feed their families, and who pay taxes that in turn pay the salaries of Congress and the president? Makes me wonder about the smarts of those we sent to Washington. Where is Will Rogers when we need him?

I can hear a worldwide cry of, “Hey, you can’t do that!”

Oh, yes we can, and should. It is time we take care of our people first, and then if there is any left, we take care of our neighbors, but to those who burn our flag and hate us, forget it. You are as shut down as we are.

Also among the dining populace, I heard, “There’s a storm coming.” That one got me going. There isn’t a thing I can do about the government. It is in the hands of idiots at least until the next election, and there isn’t really anything I can do about the storm, but I have more options with it.

I started through my checklist of all I needed to do to get ready for a big, direct blow projected to come right up into Mobile Bay. It was, as it somehow always is, a formidable list. You would think after a dozen or so storms that I have lived through that it would be a short list, and I would be well prepared, but that is not the case.

The next day the Admiral and I spent enough money on gas to boost the Gross National Product a couple of points. We filled all the cars. Why, I do not know. I refuse to run from a storm again, but big gas tanks make for excellent storage. We also filled several gas cans for fuel for the generator. I am waiting for my personalized “Thank You” note from OPEC.

I also made sure we had plenty of batteries, charged all devices that would take one, and inventoried all the extension cords for use with the generator. I overhauled the carburetor for the generator, checked out the lanterns and cook stove, arranged the garage and shop to be able to put cars in them, checked all the water storage including the rain barrels, and checked all stored food. Outside, I cleared a path to the drain in front of the house so the street might not flood, cut limbs the Admiral deemed too close to the house, which amounts to near deforestation within a 100-yard radius, and on the seventh day, I rested, but not really.

I was too amped up to rest. I was on guard, chainsaw in hand, generator at the ready. Come on Karen, you big bad storm. I got this covered. Pant, pant, I am ready; breathe deep, plant my feet, don’t blink ... the storm didn’t happen. I hate to admit it, but part of me is disappointed.

I mean, after all that work and expense, all it could do was rain enough to settle the dust? Come on, I worked so hard, blow a little, do something, don’t just come unglued out there in the Gulf. Then there is part of me that says, “Prayers answered,” and I give thanks, but it is still a letdown.

Here I sit, a week later, let down by a storm that didn’t happen, and faced with a government that shuts down the wrong departments. I have visions of a storm shutting down the government, but I guess that really isn’t such a good thought. Some bureaucrat would survive and let the contracts to rebuild go to the Chinese. When dealing with the federal government, Murphy’s Law, in a form, applies. If it can get worse, it will.

David Wilson Atwood may be contacted at