PAT NEAL COLUMN: Winter forecast

AUTUMN MUST BE my favorite time of year.

Already there was a dusting of fresh snow on the Olympics that always looks so beautiful above a pallet of red and yellow leaves.

The geese, ducks, sand ­hill cranes and shorebirds are flying by at a dizzying rate. The deer are getting shaggy coats.

The spiders are large, hairy and numerous. The corn husks are extra thick.

There is a disturbing over-abundance of cones on the trees. The old guide’s woodpile is large enough to be seen from space.

The mornings have an odd chill.

All are leading indicators of a winter of such bitter cold and duration that it could tip the global balance back into the Ice Age.

It causes questions to be asked:

Whatever happened to the theory of global warming? Was that just another politician’s promise to be sacrificed on the altar of budget cuts? I was really looking forward to global warming.

Unfortunately Mother Nature still plays hardball around here, if last winter was any indication.

It takes a village to get ready for winter. Preparation is the key to disaster preparedness.

You may want to form a block committee to make a list of things your neighbors should have in case you need to borrow them in an emergency — like batteries, bottled mineral water and videos.

The good news is that bad weather often brings people together with a common sense of purpose.

Neighbors who haven’t spoken in years will be glad to see you when you show up to pull them out of the ditch.

The bad news is that winter weather can often leave us without electrical power for many minutes at a time.

This can be traumatic since people are forced to endure being trapped together in the same home without television.

With no television, people cannot talk about what is on TV, so there is no conversation. I mean, what else is there to talk about?

Without conversation, people are often forced to read.

Reading is out of fashion. Americans rent two videos for every book they check out of the library.

Going without TV can affect your quality of life.

In the average American home, TV is more than just a baby sitter; it may be the most important member of the family.

For example, the average American child spends 3.5 minutes per week having a meaningful conversation with his or her parents.

Meanwhile, the same kid spends 1,680 minutes a week watching TV.

Children go to school an average of 900 hours per year. They spend 1,500 hours per year watching TV.

So who is really raising them?

By age 18, the average American child has seen 40,000 (TV) murders and 200,000 other violent acts.

While some concerned parents protest the violence, indecency and foul language, TV generally helps shape our children’s self-image by combining inactivity, a high-calorie diet and an average viewing of 20,000 30-second commercials a year that are mostly for fast food.

Some people complain that television commercials are stupid, but that’s why they work. TV commercials are a multibillion-dollar industry that is vital to the economic health of our nation.

In addition, TV can fulfill a vital role as a sedative for our children to keep them off the streets and on the couch in front of the tube, where it’s much easier to keep track of them.

That is why my winter forecast is vitally important.

People need to know if weather conditions during the coming winter could create a ripple effect that might impact the quality of their TV viewing.

Unfortunately, it is my duty to inform you that the winter of 09-10 is going to be a bad one. This winter will be cold and wet and dark.

It could be a real challenge to keep the TV on all winter, but I think it’s the least we can do for the children.


Pat Neal is a North Olympic Peninsula fishing guide and humorist. His column appears Wednesdays.

Pat can be reached at 360-683-9867 or, or see his blog at

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