Trying to fit in with every other state

Friday, February 4, 2005

Ten items or less:

* In their second month of distribution, Nebraska's new license plates are appearing on more and more cars. The plates, with the light blue edging and dark blue letters, replace the previous orange and red plates of the past three years.

Some previous critics are hailing the arrival of the new plates because they -- and this is true -- the plates match their cars better. I say, What about all those people with orange Pintos, who liked the coordinating colors?

Actually, my opinion of the new plates is not very favorable because of the unoriginality. The first time I saw the new plates on a vehicle, I thought the car was from Iowa. That is how closely Nebraska's new plates resemble one of the Hawkeye's 387 plate choices. (I'm just kidding. They only have 116 plate designs to choose from, compared to Nebraska's two.)

When combined with the light blue plates from Kansas, residents in southeast Nebraska aren't going to know with a quick glance whether the car parking next to them is from Kansas, Iowa or Nebraska. We won't even get into the similarity with Montana.

The only upside of the new plates: We only have to change them every five years, rather than every three years. I'm still holding my breath for the lifetime plates.

* I've said it before. The severity of weather is always relative. While residents of California tried to deal with the 17 inches of rain over two weeks last week, residents in a Washington state town don't even bother with umbrellas when it rained 18 inches over four days. Of course, Quinalt, Wash., also receives 140 inches of rain each year, so 18 is just a sprinkle -- relatively.

On the other hand, residents of Raleigh, North Carolina, including the mayor, are calling for the heads of local weather forecasters, who got their predictions wrong late last month.

Students were stranded in school overnight because buses could not reach the schools; motorists were stranded on the roads for more than eight hours as they waited for road crews; and police responded to more than 1,000 accidents, fortunately none of them fatal.

The city was in chaos because people left school and work early, jamming the streets with traffic rather than letting road crews do their winter maintenance.

Where did the meteorologists go wrong, causing the town to cripple? They predicted a mere dusting of snow, when instead an inch, a whole inch of the white stuff fell, later turning into ice.

Snow was predicted a few days later. No word on whether every one just stayed home.

* The Super Bowl is a just a few days away and people are waiting with bated breath -- for the commercials. I know that I'm not alone in taking my restroom break during second and third downs, so that I'm in my chair for the next Budweiser ad.

While most of these commercial are funnier than the commercials that run throughout the rest of the year, are they $2.4 million funnier? That is what advertisers are paying for 30 seconds of air time during Sunday's game. I think $2.4 million could be spent a lot wiser, perhaps with samples sent to everyone, such as a can of Pepsi, a bottle of Bud, a Ford Explorer.

Extravagant spending is not just limited to the commercials. Those poor fans in Philadelphia realize they may not make it back to the Super Bowl for another generation and are paying dearly for it. The package deals for Eagles' fans are triple what followers of the New England Patriots are paying -- perhaps because the Patriots make it to the big game more than once a generation.

Either way, I'll watch the game -- just to see if half-time entertainer Paul McCartney has a wardrobe malfunction.

* St. Patrick School in McCook wrapped up Catholic Schools Weeks on Thursday. As part of the celebration, students were encouraged to bring in food pantry items in the weeks leading up to the activities. The items were going to be used to build a miniature golf course in the elementary school gym, plenty of incentive to bring in non-perishable items.

My seven-year-old son took the project to heart. Every day, he would ask for an item to take to school. One day, he asked to take two or three items. I told him we would run out of food before the end of the drive arrived and I ended the discussion there -- or so I thought.

A few days later, I opened my pantry doors, organized in lines by product, only to see entire rows of food missing. Every box of pudding, Jell-o and cake mix were gone.

I confronted my son on the missing items and he confessed that he had taken them to school because he wanted to help with the golf course and plus he received a piece of chocolate for every five items brought in. His true motives were revealed.

Although the ill-gotten food items were offered to be returned, they ended up as the edge of a pond at the end of the first-graders golf hole.

If only he had taken one item from each group of foods, I probably wouldn't have noticed anything missing. But I won't be telling him that.

-- Ronda Graff is still using the old license plates, wants it to snow three more feet of snow this winter season and doesn't know where she'll watch the Super Bowl. It just won't be at home -- because she doesn't have any food left there.

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