John Harrigan: On bad drivers, gun laws and helpful weasels

JOHN HARRIGAN February 15. 2014 8:33PM

At the end of last week, I had two missions in mind; Go to a meeting in Portsmouth on Thursday, and then an overnight in Concord and a meeting Friday on the growing popularity of locally raised pork and beef - and the desperate need for conveniently located FDA approved slaughterhouses.

This would enable producers to market home-grown meat to third parties, as in restaurants and hotels and other retail outlets where they are likely to get the very best prices for their long hours and hard work.

It snowed, as predicted, and by mid-morning on Thursday I canceled the Portsmouth visit, and early Friday, when it resumed snowing hard, I cancelled the Friday session, as well.

It was not that I feared the weather, as I explained to listeners on Jack Heath's "New Hampshire Today" show on WGIR during my regular Friday 8:10 a.m. stint. With the best deep-tread winter snow tires I can buy on the all-wheel-drive Subaru, and four big studded snow tires on the four-wheel drive truck, I hardly ever let the weather stop me from getting where I need to be.

My reason for canceling both trips was the deteriorating and downright dangerous driving behavior of other people on the road. In particular, Dover-to-Portsmouth's stretch of the Spaulding Turnpike was not a good place to be, and traffic conditions (the drivers, not the snow and sleet) are downright horrendous on both the Concord and Manchester beltlines.

I've never figured out the mental short-circuit of tailgating even in dry conditions, which transcends to outright insanity on roads covered with snow, sleet or ice. What is in someone's mind to tailgate within a few feet of your back bumper, allowing absolutely no chance of stopping in time if you have to hit your breaks? Tailgating is madness, the stuff of morons. And we won't even get into the idiots who swerve back and forth across lanes, with close misses and nary a turn-signal, as though slaloming at the Olympics.

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Pie in the sky department:

What I've been waiting for - but have not seen - is someone pointing out how ridiculous the current spate of proposed "new" gun laws is. There are already hundreds of gun laws on the books, and nothing new would be needed if we enforced what's already there. Even the one suggestion that makes sense - access to medical records to winnow out those who are mentally unstable or insane - is running smack into medical ethics and privacy issues.

Gun laws affect only honest, law-abiding people. Criminals have no regard for laws and can get guns as easily as buying (or stealing) a piece of fruit from a sidewalk stand. And before even considering new gun laws, we should find out what the anti-gun crowd proposes to do about the estimated 2,000,000 (that's right, 2 million) handguns that are already out there in circulation. The gun-control people never seem willing or able to address that one.

But okay, what the hell, let's pass a whole new bunch of gun laws to placate everybody, and then we all can feel good about "doing something," and maybe even link arms and sway, and sing Kumbaya.

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The best mouse-trap ever devised is a weasel. Veteran camp owners and occupants of far flung homes and farms know that a weasel is a mouse-eradicating gift from the gods - as long as you don't have chickens.

Best friend Jeff Fair, a loon biologist here and now doing the same and writing in Alaska, has had a weasel winter over at his cabin now and then, and he tried to keep it around by feeding it tidbits, but not enough to survive on, so it'll still have to work its little black-tipped tail off by patrolling for mice.

A reader from south of the notches sent a note along with a photo of an ermine, the winter phase of our lesser weasels:

"Caught this little guy the other day nibbling at my suet. Believe it's an ermine (lesser weasel) in winter coat. Pretty neat. Jim Viar, Canterbury.

John Harrigan's address: Box 39, Colebrook NH 03576, or

John Harrigan

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