Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Charles Owens

November 27, 2013

Two vehicles, one jammed door and a celestial light show for the holiday

— — Have you ever noticed how vehicles work perfectly fine all summer long, but then magically experience a multitude of problems as soon as the cooler winter months arrive? I own two older model Jeep Cherokees. They are both paid for. I should trade them in for a newer model but the thought of a monthly car payment doesn’t seem very enticing at the moment.

Why trade them in when both run perfectly fine? Well, as vehicles get older they inevitably develop a plethora of problems. Some can easily be fixed, and others require taking the vehicle to a dealer’s shop for repairs. Of course you have to schedule a time and a date for such repair work, which will normally conflict with the work schedule as well.

As I stated earlier, I’ve been lucky in that both vehicles run well and continue to operate with minimal problems. Or so was the case until last weekend. A late evening out in the red Jeep ended with a bit of a surprise. The driver’s side door suddenly wouldn’t reopen after being locked. And I might add that just a few months ago that same door had been repaired at a price tag of about $200 or so. After repeated attempts to open the now unlocked door proved unsuccessful, I ended up having to crawl through the passenger’s side, and across the dash, in order to drive the vehicle home.

Repeated attempts at the house to get the door open also were unsuccessful. As of this writing, half of the driver’s side door panel has been torn down, a Jeep Cherokee manual has been purchased, and the door is still not opening. This, of course, would happen right in time for the holiday season and Black Friday in particular — when I’m hoping to save money in order to purchase all of those Christmas gifts that must still be bought.

In the television series “The Dukes of Hazzard,” cousins Bo and Luke would often get in and out of their customized 1969 Dodge Charger — better known as “The General Lee” by sliding in and out of the driver’s side window. I am starting to think that I may have to consider doing the same with the red Jeep — if I’m ever going to be able to drive it again. Bo and Luke made jumping in and out of “The General Lee” look so easy. But I doubt that would be the case with a Jeep Cherokee. For now I’m still driving the green Jeep, and the doors work fine in it.


As I mentioned earlier, the 2013 holiday shopping is now less than 24 hours away. Most of the big stores are opening early on Thanksgiving Day this year, and some of the biggest sales of the year will be found tomorrow evening. But of particular interest this Thanksgiving Day — at least for those of us with an intrigue for science — will be a celestial encounter in the skies high above.

A comet named ISON will zip within 730,000 miles of the sun on Thanksgiving Day. Astronomers quoted in a recent Associated Press article say they are uncertain whether the comet will survive its blisteringly close encounter with the sun. I don’t think we’ve ever had a close encounter between a comet and the sun on Thanksgiving Day.

It seems scientists have been following this particular comet for quite some time. The light show this comet is expected to provide could last as long as January — provided of course the comet survives it close encounter with the sun tomorrow. The comet itself is a 3-mile-wide chunk of ice and dust that has journeyed billions of miles over billions of years just to make an appearance above our skies on Thanksgiving Day. Interesting.

Throughout history, some have viewed such celestial bodies as harbingers of doom or omens of disaster. Comets have prompted emotions of dread, fear and amazement in different cultures. Some passages in the Bible are believed by some to predict future events that could be interpreted as a comet or asteroid striking the planet. But scientists say ISON isn’t expected to cause us any problems — other than possibly providing a celestial light show just in time for the holiday season. Rather than being an omen of pending doom, I would like to view the arrival of a comet just in time for Thanksgiving Day as something rather unique and special.

Charles Owens is the Daily Telegraph’s assistant managing editor. Contact him at Follow him @BDTOwens.


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