Wednesday, November 29, 2006

More tales from the Frozen North

This is an actual email (edited to remove personal details) sent by someone I work with. It is a delightfully accurate (and funny) description of what things are like here when water gets solid.


A blistery, snow blown winter day. I remember thinking a little snow is fun but a sheet of ice is hell. Winter jacket, hat, gloves and boots. All set. I headed out with full knowledge the traffic was light today. I checked and cross checked several Internet traffic cams. Others fear of snow is an advantage. It keeps the roads a little less hazardous for risk takers. Ready, Steady, Go.

Started the engine earlier to get the ride warm and defrosted. Got to plan ahead for these things. I headed off on the regular vanpool route. Damn, need gas. Guess I'll have to plan better next time. Something smells funny and a strange noise. Ah, the emergency brake is frozen closed. It will probably unstick itself by the time I get to the gas station. The route is going to be a little late today.

I was right, the ebrake broke lose but there is something wrong with the fuel gauge now. It isn't registering that I just put forty bucks of gas in. Oh well, I know it is there. Back on the road, windows defrosted but still frozen shut. It is cold out there anyway.

Now for some fun, the gulch by ****'s house on 192 street. Car in front just lost it. Several in the ditch. Tow trucks are going to make a killing this month. That one is up-side-down. How did they even manage that? I guess anyone can get a license. Time to make my attempt down the little hill and up the big one. I wonder if I should get a run at it. Looks too iced over and the vehicle graveyard says otherwise. I'll go real slow, controlled. Hum, I'm not in control anymore. Better stop. I said stop. Whew. Steering is useless. I can not move without going to the apex of the hill (and a big pile of cars). Guess I'll pull the chains out of the back and see if I can drive over them for steering traction. Nada. These things are worthless on ice. I'm going to slide into that ditched Camry if I try to move again. Time to stay put and give this some thought. (five minutes later)... Sweet, a sander. I didn't know Renton had a sander. All of us who are stuck are going to need to move enough so he can get by the graveyard. I can't move. Guess it has to be the guy in the Civic stuck trying to go up the little hill. No English? Perfect. Maybe one of these other people know Spanish. No? Time to play charades. (five minutes later)...

Lucky we had enough chains to make a track so we could push the Civic nearly into the ditch. I think he is going to need a tow truck. Here comes the sand. Awesome.

Huh. There is something you don't see everyday. Sand truck driver hopped out and his rig is rolling away without him. He is pretty good at running on the ice. I think I would break my neck if I tried that. I can't believe he caught it. Ok, here he comes and now he is sideways. All 14 wheels of his sander are sliding sideways down an iced over hill at the Metro Van that is nearly up against the Camry in the ditch. Not good. At least he is still spreading sand as he slides down the hill.

Good recovery. Sander missed the van by an inch. Scoop some sand from the street and pack the van's front tires. Lay down the chains. I'm on the road again. I'm feeling pretty lucky but I think I'll stop while I am ahead. 25 more miles of this isn't going to happen.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

An Excess of Weather

We here in the soggy corner of the map are having just a bit of excitement. To answer the amused questions from the other coast, yes, we have snowplows. I think we have two. We can't use salt because that would discombobulate the salmon or something. Sand is allowed but for some reason I haven't seen much in use--possibly because I am stuck in my house, possibly because they are using it all on the freeways. We get these storms about every 10 or 15 years, meaning we have a whole crop of newbies who have never seen snow here or know what to expect. I'll just say my commute Monday evening took 8 hours from Seattle, and I had to walk part of the way. Lots of abandoned cars, some in extremely awkward places.

The most amusing part of the whole business (besides watching the kids have a blast playing in the snow) was the people who thought that having a four-wheel-drive/SUV/Hummer/ginourmous expensive truck exempted them from the laws of physics. Just so you know, four-wheel-drive on ice is just as much a hocky puck as a Geo Metro. I've lived in Maine, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania so I know how to drive on ice and snow. It does NOT involve stomping on the gas pedal and hearing your tires whirr as you go nowhere.

Ode to Two SUVs My Venerable Neon Passed One Miserable Snowy Evening

O, once so proud to block my view,
Contemptuous pride of vehicle immense,
Now immobile and in awkward pose,
Half-tilted in a friendly ditch
Move, I implore thee, big fat-assed car
I must go home to starving cats
Even now calling Missing Human Hotline
What do you mean, you can't?
I thought thee powerful and studly!
Untroubled by glaciers and tornadoes, if you believe the ads
My little cheap car, driven well, moves on
Without skidding.
Noble generosity of spirit
Prevents me from grinning until out of view.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

A few snarkish items of note

  • It has been SNOWING, off and on, ALL FREAKING DAY. Here in the soggy Pacific Northwest, it customarily does not snow, if at all, until January. Global Warming my left foot. Can I send my heating bill to Al Gore?
  • Never mind the draft. Everyone should be forced, FORCED I say, to take and pass a basic shop course so they know better than to fasten wood trim with nails the size of railroad spikes. Really, it isn't structural and has no plans to wander away. Finish nails may strike you as less manly or something, but they do the job just fine and don't require a crowbar to remove (in the event someone else buys your house AND all the fine detail work you inflicted upon it.) (No, I'm not bitter--I just had to spend four days to do something that should have taken a few hours, at most. Fie.)
  • Those highly trained, keen-eyed, sharp-thinking journalists at the AP seem to think it is perfectly normal to accept verbatim the story of six Sunnis burned alive from a single, unverified source who claims to be an Iraqi police captain but the Iraqi police never heard of him. Can we call them bloggers now?
  • Dear Auto Dealers with Reading Comprehension Problems: When I click on a link that says "Get a Quote!" I expect to get a quote, NOT just an invitation to call or visit your place of business. I know how to use a phone and I know where you are. I don't *want* to call or visit, that's why I clicked the link. I guess you really didn't want my money after all.
  • Civil order in chaos! Ineffective government challenged by rebels! Angry crowds, burning cars, overwhelmed troops, journalists targeted and killed, etc. etc. and etc. Face it folks, Mexico is a quagmire! (I blame Bush.)

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

A war we can all agree on

In the interest of encouraging a spirit of bipartisanship and a recognition of the core beliefs we all hold, I would like to suggest the following petition:

We, the undersigned, while realizing stores are not charitable concerns and need to make money;
That Christmas comes but once a year;
That it is right and proper for those who enjoy Christmas to revel in decorated trees, glittery objet 'd art, and really tacky mugs with demented snowmen on them;
To every thing there is a season, and the Christmas one does not start at 12:01 a.m. November 1st;
That it is a hissing and an abomination to have anything that a Reasonable and Prudent Person would consider to be a Christmas design in view of children, pets, the elderly, the middle-aged, and me UNTIL the Thanksgiving dishes are being washed;
do undertake to refrain from purchasing, whether for our own or others, any such Christmas paraphanalia UNTIL the last Friday in the month of November, known in the common parlance as Black Friday, in the hopes of teaching said stores a lesson or at least bringing a halt to the creeping advent of the Christmas displays which at this rate are going to be showing up in July if we don't Take Steps.

(signed) Snarkatron

(Note: non-Christmas-celebrating types get extra credit for signing and doing what they would normaly do anyway. Cool, huh?)

Quicksnarks for Liberals

where "liberal", for the purpose of this post, is defined as anyone bouncing up and down with glee after the recent elections ...

  • Please take careful notes on how your conservative colleagues are handling the disappointment. No sulking in bed for three days, no demands for Zoloft, no fevered vaporings about emigrating, no wild-eyed claims of massive electoral fraud. This is how grownups behave when things don't go their way. We would like you to give this a try the next time your side loses. (Oh, yes it will.)
  • Can we, at long last, have you guys publicly admit a) elections work and b) the previous elections were legit? Otherwise you are kinda leaving yourselves wide open to a charge of being stupid in public. Your call.
  • Let's be clear about what actually happened. You elected people who agree with you. You did NOT elect a new reality. Facts are facts even when you don't like them or they make you feel bad. A Democratic Congress is not going to make the terrorist threat go away or make the Europeans like us. Sorry.
  • If you remember your Spiderman comics, you know that with power comes responsibility. Guess what? You can't snipe from the safety of the sidelines any more. We are all anxiously awaiting the unveiling of your detailed plan to Solve Everything--you know, the one you said the President didn't have? You get two years, tops. Please write clearly and legibly and show all your work for full credit.