Greg Dennis: Making a wish list for spring

My current springtime list of things to do starts with this small mountain:
•  Buy electric lawnmower.
•  Mow grass the thickness of dreadlocks.
•  Regret that I didn’t buy a bigger electric lawnmower.
•  Try to remember where I stored my bicycle and summer car tires.
•  Send fly rod for repairs after I jammed it in a car window.
•  Buy new fishing waders to replace the ones that balloon into fat-man pants every time I step into a river.
•  Try to remember how to catch fish.
•  Wade through volumes of email from people who hate me because I think wind energy is a good idea.
•  Count to 10 before replying to emails like the one that compared wind energy to the Black Death.
•  Dream yet again of taking up the extremely frustrating game of golf.
•  Come to my senses and realize I really don’t want the frustration of the game of golf.
•  Begin planning my vegetable garden.
•  Ponder whether it really wouldn’t be simpler to take up golf instead.
Other springtime ramblings:
Yahoo has to be the worst email program this side of Nigeria. We laugh at those friends stuck in the 1990s with AOL email addresses. But judging by my experience, Yahoo is the true Sad Sack.
Microsoft hasn’t done well in recent years. But the smartest decision they ever made was not to buy Yahoo.
Some years ago I visited Yahoo headquarters for a meeting on behalf of a business client. This was when Yahoo was seen as smart and trendy, and before it became a punchline.
The attitude of the employees was essentially, “We’re Yahoo. Who the hell are you?” So when the company began to falter, those of us who had dealt with Yahoo could see the fatal arrogance behind its stumbles.
And yet I hold on to my Yahoo email address. I stare at Gmail all day at work, so I’d rather not use it for personal email. Besides, it seems like too much trouble to notify everybody I’m switching, and to lose all the emails that will trail behind me.
But AOL is looking better every day.
Even most hardcore skiers and snowboarders are glad to see the grass turn green. But the habit of heading to the hills every weekend dies hard.
The season ended for me on a high note a couple weeks ago. Expecting a day of spring skiing, S. and I headed up to Sugarbush through rain in the valley. We arrived at the slopes to find it snowing — hard.
And so it continued all day, bringing us five inches of new snow and conditions that improved with every single run. It was, to our amazement, the best skiing we’d had all season. Which made it all the more difficult to stow the sticks until next winter — especially when there’s still (marginal) skiing to be had.
The Snow Bowl shut down at the end of March, even though the trails were blanketed with artificial snow. Nonetheless, a few truly dedicated skiers spent much of April climbing to earn their turns at the Bowl.
Sugarbush, after ceasing daily operation last Sunday, plans one last hurrah this weekend.
And at Killington, the lifts are still spinning every single day. But the resort’s website cautions that due to patchy snow, “Some walking may be required.”
* * *
The movement to get colleges, pension funds, and others to divest out of fossil fuels was launched by 350.org, which was founded in Middlebury. But it’s others who are taking the lead now.
At least two colleges and about a dozen cities around the U.S. have recently moved toward withdrawing financial support from oil, coal and natural gas companies.
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously supported divestment. And we’re not talking small numbers here. San Francisco has an estimated $580 million invested in fossil fuel companies.
The city “can divest responsibly without affecting the fund’s security or yield,” said Supervisor John Avalos. “This is a great time to make a statement about how we can hold the fossil fuels companies accountable.”
Divestment is still up for debate at Middlebury College, however — even though the college positions itself as an environmental leader, and even though the dollar amounts are much smaller.
Seven very articulate Middlebury students were on the college-sponsored panel that debated divestment this past Sunday night.
At the Rhode Island School of Design, by comparison, students on Sunday night were making final plans for the protest sit-in they launched on Monday, in the waiting room of the president’s office.
Middlebury College students staged a sit-in over divestment, too. But that was back in the mid-1980s.
The sit-in was part of a morally inspired, and eventually successful, attempt to pressure college trustees to withdraw their investments from companies invested in apartheid South Africa.
This past Sunday night’s panel reinforced the point that students overwhelmingly favor divestment. Many faculty members do, as well, including those featured in a new video about why the college should divest. (See the trailer at https://vimeo.com/65067574.)
College President Ron Liebowitz has done an admirable job in promoting campus-wide dialogue about divestment.
But it remains to be seen whether the trustees themselves will do the morally right thing and withdraw college investments from companies whose activities, every single day, are destabilizing the climate on a global scale.
Gregory Dennis’s column appears here every other Thursday and is archived on his blog at www.gregdennis.wordpress.com. Twitter: @greengregdennis. Email him (for now) at [email protected].

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