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Sunday, April 20, 2014
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Published: 2/10/2014

COMMENTARY

Winter’s great for the lakes; a custom-made swimsuit issue

BY THOMAS WALTON
BLADE COLUMNIST
Walton Walton
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Three things you already knew: the Pope’s Catholic, bears go in the woods, and this is one of the nastiest winters on record in Toledo and Lucas County.

January set a record for snowfall, with more than 40 inches. February has started out much the same, with the predictable result that our winter snow season is already moving up the list of all-time snowiest winters.

The bone-chilling temperatures only make it worse. Punxsutawney Phil says winter has a long way to go, and the same gloomy prediction comes from our own HuckyToo out in Holland.

Misery loves company, so we can take comfort that we are not alone. It’s been brutal throughout much of the nation. Even the deep South was hit by a snowstorm, if you can call 2 inches of snow a storm. They called it names far worse in cities such as Atlanta and Birmingham, which are just not equipped or prepared for such weather emergencies.

But I saw a report out of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that reminded me just how bad the Midwest, especially the upper Midwest, has had it the past couple of months.

According to the newspaper, and the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory in Ann Arbor, the Great Lakes’ ice cover this winter is the most widespread in at least a quarter century. Nearly 60 percent of the five lakes is under a cover of ice.

Up at Isle Royale National Park in northern Lake Superior, researchers are watching to see whether an ice bridge forms between Ontario and the Michigan island, home to a gray wolf population. The last time that happened was six years ago.

Compare this year to last winter, when the lakes’ ice cover was just 38 percent. Over the years, the laboratory says, the long-term average for the Great Lakes is roughly 50 percent.

According to a chart that accompanied the story, Lake Erie, the shallowest of the Great Lakes, is almost completely frozen over, while the other four lakes still have large areas of open water. Lake Michigan has the least coverage, about 38 percent.

Lake Superior is 57 percent covered. Its depth — it’s the deepest of the lakes — and strong westerly winds make it more difficult for ice to form.

I’m no scientist, but people who are experts speculate that all that ice could turn out to be a blessing for Lake Erie. A year ago, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reported that Lake Erie and Lake Michigan were at their lowest recorded water levels ever. The ice could have a beneficial effect by slowing evaporation from the lakes.

I guess we have to take our silver linings where we can find them.

I wrote a while back that commercial flying was no longer fun and had become an ordeal. Will the romance ever come back? I asked. Then I observed cynically that “I think you’ll see the New England Journal of Medicine swimsuit issue before that happens.”

Point being, of course, that there is no New England Journal of Medicine swimsuit issue.

Wrong. Dalynn Badenhop, director of cardiac rehabilitation at the University of Toledo Medical Center, saw that column and decided to hand-craft what certainly is the first, last, and only copy of the NEJM swimsuit issue for 2014, and I must say, it’s stunning.

Gracing the cover is the dream girl of millions of young American males of my generation, Farrah Fawcett, and the iconic red swimsuit poster that sold 20 million copies. You remember the poster, I’m sure. What beautiful teeth.

Inside are revealing photos of Elizabeth Taylor, Ursula Andress, Sally Field, Annette Funicello, Bo Derek, Raquel Welch, and Brigitte Bardot, all of whom held varying levels of rank in my personal pantheon of female favorites during my adolescence and early adulthood. How did Mr. Badenhop know?

There’s not a Miley Cyrus picture anywhere, for which I am grateful. I’ve got shirts older than she is.

Each of the women featured in the 2014 issue is relatively undressed, though by today’s standards all of them are positively demure. Each photo is carefully pasted alongside a story about things such as hematologic toxicity, fatty acids, and something called antiphospholipid-antibody syndrome. I don’t know what that is, but I pray there’s a vaccine for it.

You might think there is no place in a scientific journal for babes in bathing suits. But you would be wrong. If the New England Journal of Medicine were to reproduce Mr. Badenhop’s creation for the masses, we’d see all kinds of helpful studies emerge for future issues about the male libido and the aging American man. I look at these pictures and I’m certain there is solid science there.

Of course, I only read the Journal for the articles.

Thomas Walton is the retired editor and vice president of The Blade. His column appears every other Monday. His commentary, “Life As We Know It,” can be heard each Monday at 5:44 p.m. on WGTE-FM 91.

Contact him at: twalton@theblade.com



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