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Ice, ice baby 

Brrrrrr! Let me say it again: Brrrrrr! You don't need me to tell you that it's been cold enough to freeze the something off a something else lately, but I'll do it anyway. Talk about frosty!

It's been so cold, I haven't just been able to see my breath, I've been able to touch it. It's been so far below zero, when someone I was hitting on at McCarthy's gave me the cold shoulder the other night, I actually felt warmer. It's been so chilly, I think I saw a wooly mammoth wandering around on the Dalidio property. It's been so freezing, my windshield each morning has been about as transparent as a Copeland Properties window on Morro.

It's been so cold, everyone from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to Sen. Abel Maldonado has been stamping feet and blowing on fingers and looking for legislation to help farmers, who've literally been watching their profits freeze up. Avocados, oranges, farmworkers themselves everything's been withering because of the weather.

I suppose that a few of the more off-kilter political folks out there will use this cold front as "proof" against Al Gore's warnings of warmings across the globe.

"I can store Rocky Road on my driveway!" they'll say through layers of scarves. "How can anyone think this planet is getting hotter?"

I'm no expert, but I imagine that the law of averages will balance out this little winter wonderland. Next January, we'll probably all be swimming in the nude in Pismo Beach, just to cool off.

Still, I've been so teeth-chatteringly and toe-numbingly icy lately, I seriously considered trekking up to that grassfire near Diablo Canyon to thaw myself out though I'd probably get taken down as a terrorist-popsicle before I got near enough to feel the flames.

Is it just me, or could anything else happen to Diablo Canyon? Don't answer that. I don't think I really want to know. Still, the domes have been under such duress lately, I'll bet spokesman Jeff Lewis is glad he's getting out while he can. He's off to greener, less-scorched pastures, I hear. Best of luck to you, Jeff.

In the meantime, fires, lawsuits, and more have been dogging the power plant for what seems like months now, and someone called New Times the other day to ask whether anyone here knew if we should be worrying about the smoke from the burning vegetation. Great. Like I need one more thing to worry about. I'd start wearing one of those surgical masks like Michael Jackson did, but I'm a little bit afraid that it would freeze to my face.

The San Luis Obispo County Air Pollution Control District has apparently been monitoring the plume, and someone from there said there wasn't enough particulate matter in the air to issue a health advisory. So breathe easy, everyone but not too deeply. A lungful of cold air hurts.

On a completely unrelated note though I'm still desperately cold I heard that some muckety-muck fuddy-duddies were sort of scowling at SLO planning commissioner John Ashbaugh for asking too many questions related to the downtown SLO height increase at a recent meeting. He's practically a lone voice speaking out against raising the roofline willy-nilly, but too many questions delay the process, see? If everyone just sat down and accepted what they were spoon-fed, the whole thing would be over in a jiffy of a tiffy, and we'd have five-story buildings up the wazoo, which, coincidentally, is where the sun doesn't shine.

John's not one to take things quietly, however, and pointed out that towering hotels or condos or what-have-you with tippy-top pools will basically shut out the commoners on the street and present views only to the people who can afford to pay premium dollars to lounge around above our heads. In theory.

The up-up-and-away decision-making seems to be driven by as-yet-unrealized downtown development, but the city and other bigwig-type decision-makers putting the tall cart before the commercial horse isn't surprising, at least to people like me.

I'm not a gloom-and-doom prophet. I have no dire predictions of the sun being blotted out by looming edifices. Still, I gotta admit that I like me some light. especially now. If I'm wrong and we're not all naked and bobbing around in the briny blue this time next year, I hope that I'll still be able to feel a few rays on my face to chase away the chill. Can you imagine shopping in a shadowy icebox? I can't. Well, I can, but there are penguins waddling down Higuera in my mind, and that's just silly. You should never peek into my imagination.

And speaking of recent meetings, which I was a while back, Mayor Dave Romero apparently made a big hit at the Jan. 10 budget hearing. In an effort to move the process along, I hear, he reiterated in excruciating detail the fact that they needed to move things along. He took up a chunk of precious time to repeat some ground rules in order to save a chunk of precious time.

I'm no scheduling wizard I couldn't tell you if Train A would ever get to the station before Train B, no matter how much information I had but I do know that if you're trying to hurry a meeting along, it's best to back off and be concise, not say something that's already been said. Of course, I'm long-winded myself, and I do like to repeat myself to make sure my points are getting across. To that end, I'd like to say once again: Brrrrrr!

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