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My Take on Breathmints and Long Winters

by Dear Jon
April 6, 2009

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Dear Jon,

If I carry breathmints like Altoids or Tic-tacs, I'm very self-conscious about rattling noises when I'm walking. Other people don't seem to make the same noises when they carry these mints. Am I walking funny?

Dear Nameles Mintman,

You don't hear them because no one else carries breathmints around. The only person who has bad breath is you.

Ha ha. That's a cheap-shot aimed at the subtle paranoiac tendencies that clearly plague you based on your question.

Ha ha. That's another cheap-shot. Even if you are paranoid, I have no competency to make that diagnosis. So don't worry about anything. I'm sure your breath is just fine and that no one REALLY notices the racket your mints make as you waddle like a duck down the street.

All right I'm done now. I find I jangle my keys or loose change when I walk, and I am also one to appreciate having breathmints on hand, especially in the mornings after I've had my coffee for the day.

The trick is to carry those things in pockets that are stuffed with other things that stifle noise, such as handkerchiefs. Of course then your pockets are bulging so that you look like a kleptomaniac trying to escape the store detective at Amazing Savings, but the alternative is to walk around with bad breath, and that's no good either.


Dear Jon,

Is it me, or are winters longer and drearier than they've ever been?

- Cheesehead Dave

Dear Cheese,

It is Sunday, April 5th, 2009. Winter storms are passing through northern Illinois. Snow outside my house is accumulating.

I have to admit, as the 1990's were underway, I really did wonder if global warming was the threat that people were talking about. It seemed like winter would hardly arrive before it was gone. Snow at Thanksgiving in Chicago was rare. At Christmas it was prayed for just to make things beautiful. I believe it was the winter of 1990-91 that I first heard the phrase "January Spring." It seemed like the groundhog would appear on February 2nd and yawn. We called it winter because the nights came early. But it was really just a long gray season of 46 degrees and rain.

Don't get me wrong. Those winters in Chicago were not pleasant by any stretch. Dreary was the order of the day in those winters. But snow on Valentine's Day was almost as rare as a man remembering and beginning to prepare something special before 4 PM.

The winter of 2008-2009 is the second in a row that we are pulling out snowblowers after the ides of March. Last year the kids at my church had to cancel their ski trip. That had happened before--because of lack of snow. THIS time, there was lots of snow, but the weather was dangerously cold.

This has happened just after Al Gore won his Nobel Prize. Can that committee ask for it back? I have not watched his movie "An Inconvenient Truth" yet. I'm been waiting for the plows to clear the way to Blockbuster Video.

As for dreary, I can't speak for Cheeseheads, if by Cheeseheads you indicate that you are living in Wisconsin. What I can say is that in Chicago, snow is preferable to the alternative winter climate, which is a sleet-like drizzle that no one quite knows how to dress for.

There ought to be a law that in all places occupying the latitudes between Wichita and International Falls, snow is permitted to fall on Thanksgiving morning (so as not to disrupt Wednesday night's travel plans), and all snow must be gone by March 10th. Then we should emit just enough carbon pollution to make sure that happens precisely. If we're not polluting enough, so that winter extends into April, then Congress bans all car-pools until the pattern rights itself. If we are polluting too much, so that on Christmas morning Chicagoans wake up to a muddy, murky drizzle, then Congress forces everyone to walk to work. (But not on Christmas Day, of course, that goes without saying--You get my point.)

We can do this because we have all learned that human beings have this kind of cause and effect relationship to our weather, right? Theoretically, my idea is not silly at all. Right?

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