You go along life’s path.

You show up bright and early Monday through Friday, you work hard but eventually learn not to raise your hand too quickly when the boss has a new idea. You pay the bills, volunteer at church, cheer at soccer games at what seem like the right moments even if you have no idea what’s going on.

You fall in love and learn to say “Yes, dear,” even though that can have dire and unforeseen consequences. But you learn that not saying “Yes, dear” can be quite a lot worse.

You learn who can be trusted to fix your car, cut your hair, fix the plumbing when those little crises arise. You begin to think you’ve got this figured out.

You are so wrong.

The sense of having things all figured out – in addition to being illusory – puts on you on that fine line between being on the top of your game and sliding into a rut. As it should be, the world is full of surprises.

Then again, there are those among us who can’t leave well enough alone, and the mischief they cause is great.

It’s not enough to tell us that it’s going to be seriously cold for a few days. Someone had to foist upon us the idea that it was “polar vortex.” What is this? New terminology for weather? Is this going to be on the final?

“Polar vortex” is not a new phenomenon or a new label, but it’s a bit of weather jargon that in the last couple of weeks managed to slip into the wider consciousness and language. As if we needed that. Given the way “perfect storm” has stuck around for a generation and has been massively misapplied as a metaphor for anything bad, one fears we’ll have legislative vortices in Congress and a spending vortex or two on Black Friday.

What is new, or at least newish, is the naming of more and more types of storms. That deal we had last week – the one with the vortex – that was Winter Storm Ion. I don’t mean to be against progress, but how exactly is this widening humanity’s understanding of the universe? Does this make it easier to sell the movie rights? Does Ion have an agent? Honestly, nothing at this point would surprise me, and, as discussed above, that’s not good.

Let’s not lose sight of the basic, relevant facts at hand. The forecast was this: It’s going to be wicked cold and windy for a few days. Stay inside. Too cold for the kids to stand at the bus stop, so include that in your calculations, too. Stay warm and stay tuned.

The rest is fluff and chatter. Name all the storms you want, but that’s one pop quiz I’ll skip. My brain is already full. Just when I thought I had this all figured out.

Jeff Fox is The Examiner’s business reporter and editor. Reach him at or 816-350-6313. Follow on Twitter @FoxEJC or @Jeff_Fox.