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This global warming isn't so hot

January 04, 2007|by TIM ROWLAND

Commentary

Count me among those unimpressed with this year's annual Potomac River "Polar Bear Plunge." I blame global warming.

Yes, 100 people leaped into the drink for charity on Monday, but you have to admit, the event just isn't the bracing challenge that it used to be.

Like, what was the temperature Monday, 50? Forget the wetsuit, bring the SPF 15. It goes on like this, and the danger from the plunge isn't going to be frostbite, it's going to be sunstroke.

A decade from now, what's the news story going to say: "One hundred members of the Polar Bear Club braved 85 degree temperatures to take a New Year's dive into the Potomac River?"

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This is weird. I'm hearing people who hate cold weather wishing for a little snow, or even a heavy frost. Whitetail has to be hating this. In early December, as the temperature continued to rise, they said they had nine trails open. They still might, if they're counting bicycle trails.

The only people loving the climate trend are women shopping for winter coats. Halston can't give 'em away. You walk into Macy's and buy a value pack of Chanel and you get a full-length Pamela McCoy faux seal for free.

By 2020, we're going to be nostalgically telling our incredulous grandkids stories about goose down. The North Face is going to have to change its name to Southern Exposure and start marketing hooded bikinis.

I'm torn. We were sitting around the newsroom on New Year's Day waiting, and waiting and waiting for the first baby of the year to arrive - and concluded that the mild winter is nice, but ...

A little snow might not be such a bad thing either. Over in Dubai, which has an average temperature that would make a doorknob mushy, the sheiks built a shopping mall that includes an indoor ski slope.

Kind of kills the spirit of the great outdoors if you ask me, but we may have to do the same thing here - a big, domed theme park called SkiWorld.

And, of course, it's not beginning to look a lot like Christmas, even now. White Christmas is definitely just for dreaming.

Junior: Daddy, what's a "sleigh bell?"

Senior: Well, you see, before we depleted the ozone layer ..."

So either we're just not going to have any winter to speak of at all, or we are due for one heck of a cold snap and a major blizzard.

Which, of course, gives me an idea.

If we wish to preserve the romantic notion, or hold out any hope, of a white holiday, we need to move Christmas to Jan. 25. At least that gives us a puncher's chance. And no one really knows the exact date of Jesus' birth. A lot of scholars think it was in March, so historical accuracy is not an issue.

And there are other obvious benefits as well. All of America decides to celebrate Christmas on Jan. 25 - and then we don't tell the retailers.

So we don't have to buy any presents until Dec. 26, when everything goes on rock-bottom sale. Talk about a win-win.

It wouldn't help me, though. I needed some housewares, so I went out on Saturday bright and early at 9 a.m., before the crowds. The parking lot was empty, and I was congratulating myself on my cleverness. Until I found out the stores didn't open until 10.

Back in the old days, I could usually count on one snow before Christmas, which - if you had an all-wheel-drive vehicle - was the perfect time to shop, because most people stayed home. Since crowds terrify me, these snow-free Christmases leave me with no recourse but to not go shopping at all. Which kind of limits your gift-giving to ink-jet-printed coupons for cheeseburgers, downloaded off the Internet.

So Whitetail isn't the only one who has it rough.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2324 or via e-mail at timr@herald-mail.com. You can listen to his podcast, The Rowland Rant, on www.antpod.com.

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