Photos: Grandma Schneider, center, 100 years old. Flanked by daughters Ardella (L) and Ardeen. Snow covered aircraft at Minn-St. Paul Airport
Made it back from frigid Minnesota, after moving fast to avoid an incoming ice/freezing rain/snow storm front. They had to de-ice our plane but it was only an hour late taking off.
It's 50 degrees warmer here. Yes! Thank God I DIDN'T have to drive on ice or freezing rain in the dark from Mason City to Minneapolis at 6 am yesterday. Those who stayed found the Mason airport shut down due to fog and had to drive the 120 miles to Minneapolis-St. Paul airport in falling ice/snow to get out.
But the storm hit the airport before the flight left. Snow began falling hard. One guy saw me film a plane loading passengers that was covered with snow, and asked if I'd never seen an airplane before. LOL.
As a pilot, you are trained to know that snow and ice can kill you when taking off. I told him that seeing a dozen snow plows disappearing in a white-out was an unusual sight for someone living in Houston, which hit the high 70's on the same day a Minnesota airport worker stood perched in 25 degree weather in a crane basket hoisted on a truck sprayed de-icing chemicals on aircraft just before take off.
Remembering the Weather channel special about the Florida 90 aircraft that crashed into the Potomac in DC in 1982 due to pilot error and failure to de-ice the aircraft properly, I was quite happy to be delayed an hour while they de-iced our aircraft.
On the other side of the planet, the Chinese are still freezing and running out of food on trains stuck in the worst snow in over 50 years. Their entire power grid went down because power poles were placed so far apart that the weight of the ice and snow easily brought them down. Penny wise and pound foolish - and now millions are without power in extreme temperatures.
In Iraq, Al Qaida has stooped so low as to use mentally disabled women -- with someone else pulling the trigger remotely -- as human bombs. No wonder that even the extreme Sunnis became disgusted by Al Qaida's low regard for even Muslim life.
Meanwhile, Africa from Chad to Kenya is starting to burn with ethnic killings, and worldwide there is a "surge" in extremism in religions, including Hindus, etc. The Economist wrote a fine article on the extreme intolerance that is growing everywhere.
Even the Chinese government has decreed that the Dalai Lama "shall not reincarnate without State permission." Yikes, I guess that in China, with a rapidly growing religious body searching for something more then atheism, that "no second coming" is allowed without State permission.
But is that any more crazy then the people supporting our administration that wanted Iraq to set up a biblical Armageddon? All of this sets the stage for difficult days ahead unless we have fresh leadership with the ability to tone things down -- because instability in other parts of the world does impact our economy, as when wars slow oil production and people kill each other at the cost of their own tourism and trade. Who wants to tour Kenya to see people being cut with knives?
All of this brings us to this "Super Tuesday." The next President will have to deal with all of these messes on January 20, 2009 -- not just part of it. All of it. I think any of the remaining three potential Presidents (Obama/Clinton/McCain) would be more skilled than what we have had for the last 7 years. We can do better than the guy on vacation more focused on chopping wood and his agents more focused on how their shirts looked on TV than the people drowning in New Orleans during Katrina.
This year, the Democrat nominee will still be up in the air in our Texas March 4 primary, while the GOP nod looks wrapped up by McCain, so no big mystery there.
The real history is going to be made by Democrats -- either the first Presidential candidate nominee who happens to be a woman, or the first Presidential nominee who happens to be black. Versus the seven or so white guys on the GOP side -- not even a woman among them. That is the great thing about America in a world where it is usually the same elites trading seats.
It's exciting to have a real election for a change. Turnout is immense. It's great -- unlike what is happening in Kenya, Chad, Russia, China, etc.
Our next President will have to deal with all of this -- as well as fix our economic disaster from years of running a war on borrowed money and a corrupt housing financing system that got out of hand. Like the Titanic, our leaders pushed the limits despite reports of icebergs ahead.
This is America at its BEST. Stay tuned world.