As I left the Junior Miss Shamrock Pageant on Sunday, I was greeted with heavy snowfall, blowing wind and slippery streets. The following morning, I beat the plows out and unintentionally helped smooth the drifting roads with my low-riding car. I somehow managed to make it to work without getting stuck.
Over the last week, I have realized I am done with winter. I generally enjoy the snow, but there comes a time in the year when I'm ready for the next season. Now is that time. I'm ready to find the lost dog toys in the semi-frozen lake that is our front yard and ditch. These last doses of winter weather got me thinking of the unfavorable conditions we endure, by choice or otherwise. Living in Iowa, one has to be ready for anything the weatherman throws at you but there are some situations that people jump into willingly.
Take for instance, the billionaire who plans to send a married couple to Mars in 2018. The mission would send a spacecraft around Mars and would last 500 days. They would spend a year and a half together in a 14 x 12 foot spacecraft, accompanied by supplies ranging from more than a ton of dehydrated food to 62 pounds of toilet paper. The organization is planning to select a middle-aged couple that is willing to risk fertility from being exposed to radiation for a prolonged period. Oh yeah, there's also no back-up plan if something goes wrong. Would you volunteer to be on that mission with your significant other?
I'm sure most people have heard the personal accounts and lawsuits from the disaster Carnival cruise this February. A fire in the engine room left the ship without power in the Gulf of Mexico for four days. Passengers endured days of unsanitary conditions with little food and extreme heat as they were stranded at sea.
The compensation package included a full refund for the cruise and travel expenses, reimbursement for nearly everything they spent on board the ship, a credit good toward a future cruise, plus a check for $500. Many lawyers said that unless passengers suffered major injuries or other losses due to negligence, they would be better off accepting the compensation from Carnival. I'm not sure how I would have reacted in this situation. I would have most likely exited the ship as quickly as possible and vowed never to take a cruise again.
You may remember another cruising calamity that occurred in early January of last year. The Costa Concordia capsized off the coast of Italy, killing 32 people. My husband and I went on our first and only cruise shortly thereafter in May. By that time, we had already made our reservations so it was too late to change our plans. We took Royal Caribbean from Seattle and sailed the inner passage of Alaska. I'm happy to report we did not have any newsworthy catastrophes. We actually had functioning bathrooms and most likely put on a few pounds at the buffet.
Luckily for late night television, the Carnival cruise line and wacky Mars mission supplied hosts with an endless supply of jokes. Although the cruise was an accident, the disaster may have helped some people after all. As Jay Leno said, "For those of you who are not Catholic, the idea of Lent is to give up something so you can experience suffering. Or you could just go on a Carnival Cruise."
We can't always be blessed with perfect conditions but we can always count on accidents happening as well as the weather getting better. That's good news for this weekend's St. Patrick's Day celebrations.