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Snow drivers and other life hazards, blazing a path into the civic ditch

Odds/ends from the editor's office floor

Falling snow obscures the view of Holly Street Wednesday morning
Falling snow obscures the view of Holly Street Wednesday morning (Hailey Hoffman/Cascadia Daily News)
By Ron Judd Executive Editor

Odds and ends from a clean sweep of the editor’s desk on day three of the Whatcom/Skagit Snowpocalypse.

Newb jams. After the surprisingly well-predicted meteorological events of last week, let it be said: It’s not really surprising, to local folks, that many of the town’s newbs don’t — how do we say — operate a vehicle efficiently in the snow. What’s surprising is that so many of them are from Colorado or Montana, where it … snows. (Yeah, yeah, it’s drier snow; big deal).

We kid the people from Colorado and Montana. At least a little. But seriously the secret to driving in the snot-slick conditions of Western Washington snow can be summed up in four words: Don’t Use Your Brakes. Unless absolutely necessary. Seriously, try it (in an open space at first, not the parking lot at Trader Joe’s, thanks).

Mettle, lack thereof. It was hard to notice that at the first trace of flakes on Tuesday night, Jan. 16, Western Washington University, which back in the day seemed to take some sort of perverse pride in never, ever, ever cancelling classes, wound up shutting down classes for two days. Simple surrender.

This never happened back in the ’80s, when some of us were forced to go on daily marches into northeasterly gales, the icy wind shear literally ripping away at our faces with the force of a gaping suck hole in a Boeing 737 MAX 9. (Not to mention: It was 8 miles through the snow, most of us lacked shoes, uphill both ways, dodging mastodons, etc.) 

But seriously: They don’t make Red Square snowball fights like they used to. 

Caffeine inflation. This is going to upset some folks: The best deal in town on a latte, especially without waiting in line for lazy-butt people polluting the atmosphere outside in their Big-Arse Buick SUVs at some spots (not to mention names, such as Starbucks), is at Whole Foods on Lakeway. You heard it here last. 

The agony of expectations. So here it is, the cusp of February, and incoming Bellingham Mayor Kim Lund has not completely and fully solved the local unhoused problem. Could not have seen that coming. 

Seriously. What has Heronner Mayor Lund, in the political eternity of several weeks, done about the skyrocketing cost of car insurance in Washington state? (Have you checked out your renewal recently for the obligatory 35% bump?) And what about the Resurgent Tyranny of Plastic Bags? The suddenly seemingly fragile electric and natural-gas grids? Inflation? A universally accepted method of constructing a London Fog drink? The indefatigable sprouting of Soviet-Bloc architecture on every street corner in Bellingham? The heartbreak of psoriasis?

It’s just that some of us had hoped for so much more

The Port(al). We’ve turned up the heat in this space on numerous occasions on the Port of Bellingham, the would-be developers of Bellingham’s post-G-P waterfront complex. Which is why we gave their executive director space on our facing page today to make his case for the Port’s ongoing progress. Check it out, let us know.

Breaking-road-news department. Some answers finally, are arriving about the question of who is most to blame for the great Bellingham Interstate 5 decaying Model-A infrastructure complex of on/off ramps — a subject beaten to near death by your editor’s alt-ego, B. Hammer. (This is a two-goat contest, mind you, between the Washington Department of Transportation and the City of Bellingham.) But you’ll have to wait for a bit more reporting to get the entire story. 

I know, it’ll be a struggle. Breathe deep and distract yourself with complementary streams of a fine Icelandic vodka and Scandinavian murder mysteries. More to come. 

Retail progress. Raise your hand, south ’Hamsters, if you can no longer bear the indignity of shopping at the Sehome Village Haggen store, which claims the ignominious distinction of being the rare supermarket to undergo a lengthy, expensive rehab that made it both far worse and more expensive. 

Out went the meat/fish counter, a functional deli, and other nice things like the folks around Barkley — and even the “Dark Haggen’s” on Meridian (if you go, you know) — get to enjoy on a daily basis.

With the remodel, in came several hectares of the dread self-checkout stands (“Hey, anybody got the code for kohlrabi?”); newly disjointed, cross-purposed, corn-maze-inspired aisleways that follow few logical food-group patterns; and (granted this one tugs our strings a bit) a massive walk-in beer cooler room of sufficient size to be sublet for a pickleball match or two. (Hmm.)

Add it all up? Big net loss. The place is almost unshoppable. Get it together, chain-store-owners-masquerading-as-locals.

Lack-of-noise complaint. In closing, it’s now possible to determine with some degree of confidence how yours truly will meet his maker, and where: In the plasticized grill of some newfangled EV with a passenger in the front seat masquerading as a “driver.” 

The newer vehicles attempting to course through the blocked arteries of local streets are increasingly electric, which is great, but also increasingly silent, with only the scrunch of rubber against century-old streetcar tracks to announce their impending arrival in the paths of pedestrians.

Raise your hand if you’ve almost had one take you out on a city street or in a parking lot or alley because it snuck up behind you.

The bright side: Future victims of stealth auto tech can at least go to the big EV-charging lot in the sky knowing they have done their part to support the resurgent American auto industry, in its new, post-pandemic profit-feeding phase. While nobody was really paying attention, the average price of an electric vehicle — the shiniest of all objects to many self-appointed urban progressive car shamers — sold in the United States recently hit $58,000, according to Kelley Blue Book. 

A silent killer, either way you look at it.

Ron Judd’s column appears on Fridays; this one is a nod to longtime legendary Seattle Times/Post-Intelligencer news columnist Jean Godden (thanks for reading, Jean!) Reach him at; @roncjudd.

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