Tuesday, February 23, 2010


January 2010 saw an unusual rash of blizzards across the entire continental U.S., whether it was Snowmaggedon, Snopacolypse, or Snowtorious B.I.G., if you were a fan of winter weather you called it one thing: sweet. Arizona was no exception. Granted what was three feet of snow everywhere else turned into 3 inches of rain in Phoenix, but in Flagstaff it was anywhere between 3 and 6 feet of snow over the second to last week of the month. NAU closed its campus on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. I-17 was closed W-F and most of Saturday morning. Snowbowl closed its slopes Friday morning and wouldn't open again until Saturday afternoon and even then only the lower runs. FOX News reported that roughly ten million had died in the storm and at least half of those went out Donner Party style. It was the most snow Arizona had received in a three day span in several decades and a plan was hatched.

The Kahn Man called with a crazy idea; we could spend the night in Flag with friends, rent skis, and hope they opened the rest of the mountain on Sunday. The thought process being that even if they didn't open the rest of the mountain, we'd at least get in some solid skiing and have an entertaining Saturday night in Flagstaff. The call went out to all winter enthusiasts, but only the Spartan decided to join us. This turned out to be an ideal mix as topics of discussion ranged from merkins to education to ejaculate to foreign languages, and why the UP wishes it was actually part of Wisconsin. The group arrived an hour before the rental location closed its doors and were greeted by a friendly operator happy to have someone to talk to as he described his Friday morning skiing in fresh powder up to his armpits. An hour later sees our troupe exit the rental location loaded with skis, boots, poles, helmets, and freshly purchased snow pants and gloves. Another half hour (and several wrong turns later) we were tracking snow into the house on whose couches we would be spending the night. Then we promptly headed for the bars. 2 am sounds the closing bell and finds our heroes in the street walking home, determined to be up by 7 and at the mountain by 8:30 (it opens at 9).

The incessant sound of a cell phone alarm rippled through dreamworld and created enough of a disturbance to pull at least one person off the couch. The time: 7:30. A little late, but there was still time for oatmeal...after cleaning a few mugs out (seriously, there were no bowls to be found - at least, no bowls out of which you could eat cereal, soup, or oatmeal). There also wasn't time to completely heat the water which caused at least two of the campers to complain and stick their breakfast in the microwave thereby allowing radiation to warm their food! We received a call from one of the housemates that had to work on the hill that day around 7:50 and in his words, "we're getting fucking slammed today. We're a mile from the mountain and the road is a parking lot." A flurry of activity and we were out of the house by 8:15. To get to the slopes we would have to take the highway to a small, barely paved road and 8 miles later we would be in the parking lot.

We made it to the highway and - promptly made a wrong turn. Not a big deal, we got GPS! After a few minutes we (no fewer than 4 degrees mind you) figured this out and turned around, total detour time: 15 minutes, maybe. At 9:15 we turned off the highway to a confusing site, cars were going towards Flagstaff with skis and boards on their roofs. Denial began to set in. Maybe they had spent the night in the resort and had to return their gear this morning or had long drives home or were flying out. Or maybe they heard their house was on fire. We turned off the highway, the passenger caught a glimpse of an electronic roadside about a quarter of the mile up the road and since traffic was crawling, the passenger leaned their torso out the window, read the sign, and sat back down, speechless. A few minutes later the trio would arrive at the sign: "Mountain at capacity. Parking lot full." And two employees kindly telling everyone to "GO HOME."

And that, ladies and gentlemens, is Fail Skiing

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

2 (per)cents

So the Phoenix City Council has approved (6-3) a 2% sales tax on grocery items (Story). These are items like milk, bread, eggs, fruits, and vegetables. The council indicates that the tax will be used to prevent layoffs of first responders (police and firefighters) and other city workers AND that the tax will sunset after 5 years. The mayor cites a Census study to say the tax will cost a family of four ~$240/year. Food that is purchased with food stamps will NOT be taxed. The tax goes into effect April 1st (are they joking?), but the Council will be holding 15 public budget hearings over the next month to "gather input".

Obviously my knee-jerk reaction is similar to those in the 'comments' section of the article, if not a little less vitriolic. I understand the need to fund the police and fire departments and that this tax will raise roughly 60 million of the necessary $140 million shortfall the city is facing through FY 2011. So in the end, cuts will still have to be made, just not as severe. If I were to attend any of these hearings I would have one two-part question a.) Obviously you're concerned that fewer police on the streets will have a negative impact on the crime rate, how much of a spike in crime do you expect to see if this tax is not enacted and the police department is forced to make sweeping cuts? b.) How much of a spike in crime do you expect to see if this tax IS enacted and makes it harder for people to buy milk, bread, and eggs?

Judging by the comments section of the article other citizens will bring up some equally relevant points like, "Where the hell did all that money from the photo radar zones go" (I'm betting a significant chunk of that goes to the state). And the ever popular "ZOMG. Tax and spend libera-faci-zis! We's gonna vote yallz out!!1one".

Personally I don't have a problem spending an extra 2% on groceries. I do; however, worry about the number of families that ARE out there living on meager wages and not on food stamps (think illegals). For these people an extra $240/yr might well be 2% of their entire income, and I'm never in favor of making it harder to buy daily essentials like milk and bread (and cheese, yes, it IS essential). It just doesn't feel like the City Council has really thought of all the options available to them before approving this tax - but I suppose that's also why it doesn't go into effect until April 1st (seriously?)

I think the only truly ridiculous part of this is the idea that the tax will "sunset" after 5 years. Yeah. Right. The Council argues that they're trying to reduce the $140M they have to cut by the end of FY 2011 (June 30th, 2011), and if that's the case then the tax should sunset after TWO years, not FIVE. If it were truly meant to be a temporary relief then it should expire once it has served it's purpose, and if it turns out the city is still in dire straights in 2012, then re-up the tax for another year. Five years. HA. Ha. ha.