WOSTER: C'mon, legislators — Here's a law we really need
If our Legislature had a lick of sense, the members would pass a law prohibiting this kind of weather.
I'm writing this at mid-day on Tuesday, so it isn't really that cold — yet. It's below zero with some wind, sure, but we've seen that before. That keeps the Californians away.
For several days, though, the meteorologists have been so excited about an approaching cold snap they can hardly catch their breath. They get that way when they have a chance to say "polar vortex,'' and they've been saying it a lot.
Or maybe that breathless thing is just practice for the standard cold-weather outdoor shot. You know the one. Someone has to be outside in the street in the pre-dawn darkness, bundled up, stocking cap, scarf, heavy mittens holding the microphone. See, it's cold, the image fairly screams. The inside weather person has just told us the wind chill is minus-48 degrees or whatever. Then the camera switches to the outside person who tells us the same thing only with watering eyes and shaking voice. That lets the indoor person wrap up the shot with a bubbly, "Stay warm now.''
None of this would be necessary if the Legislature outlawed any temperature below, say, 20 degrees and any wind speed greater than, oh, 15 mph. I'm open to amending both numbers, as long as we don't write "polar vortex'' into law.
I know what you're thinking. Weather can't be legislated. You want to say, "Are you crazy? You can't outlaw cold weather.'' I can hear you saying it, and what I'm hearing is that Paul Newman voice from "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.'' The two bandits are trapped on a ledge high above the water. Sundance doesn't want jump because he can't swim. "Are you crazy?'' Newman roars. "The fall will probably kill you.'' That's the voice I hear you using.
I'll tell you this. If legislators can't outlaw weather, they don't match the Perkins County Sheriff's Office. Perkins County is west of the Missouri and right at the North Dakota line. The other day in that fierce wind, the sheriff's office tweeted: "Dear wind, State statute limits speeds to 65 mph throughout most of our county. Don't be thinking you're exempt from that law. Cool your jets and slow it down to a nice breeze. Sincerely, Deputies trying to hold on to their patrol-car doors in this wind.''
Where I live, a couple of bursts of wind that day clocked 66 mph. Just a ways north, the radar gun (or whatever they use) caught one gust at 71 mph. Then I saw the Perkins County caution, and next thing I knew, the wind had throttled back to 20 mph or so. I hope they let it off with just a warning.
But our legislators, instead of taking care of the polar vortex, are dealing with thorny issues such as making the accordion South Dakota's official state musical instrument. Never mind that we have a state law designating the fiddle as the official state instrument. This bill proposes to strike fiddle and insert accordion. It's been assigned to the House State Affairs Committee, which handles weighty state issues.
Session laws of the Legislature indicate the fiddle received its designation in 1989. That was the year South Dakota celebrated its centennial as a state. I'm not sure we should be messing with centennial laws.
I have nothing against accordions. I like them, in fact. My dad played one. I used to watch Lawrence Welk regularly, mostly to see Peggy Lennon, sure, but I didn't mind watching Myron Floren play accordion, either.
When the Standbys were still playing dances, our lead guy played electric guitar, keyboards and accordion. As a young boy, he took accordion lessons from Myron Floren. I'll tell you, the old-time waltzes and polkas always sounded just a little better with an accordion in the mix.
And much as I'm reluctant to mess with the centennial state fiddle, I never noticed our lead guy's accordion going out of tune in cold weather the way a stringed instrument will. If I were pushing the accordion bill, I'd mention its durability in a polar vortex.