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As I was walking home from campus today an old man in a van pulled up next to me and asked me if I wanted a ride so I didn’t have to walk out in the cold. To be fair, it was about 10 degrees outside but it still was a little surprising and slightly creepy. Of course I declined politely because I learned my Stranger Danger lessons long ago. Plus I had Tom Petty’s American Girl playing on my iPod at that particular moment and it was all just a little too “Put the lotion in the basket” for me.

In related iPod news, listening to the Beach Boys in an effort to trick yourself into feeling warmer outside SEEMS like it would work, but it in fact does not. They Might Be Giants works better.

And, in keeping with today’s music theme, I have had this song stuck in my head for about 3 weeks, and many of you know how dangerous it is when I get something stuck in my head. Warning: Don’t press play unless you want to be infected as well.

Remember how exciting the snow days were? Now comes the inevitable hangover. The snow plows have finally come through town so the streets are relatively clear but at a dear price, I’m afraid. Little Red Car got the brunt of the plow-wake, the effects of which could not be undone even after I sacrificed my arms and back to the Shoveling Gods. That car isn’t going anywhere, at least not until the temps rise above the current 2 degrees (Feels like -11! Thanks cheerful weather robot.) Sidewalks are hit or miss – I had to walk to campus down the middle of a four lane street today because the drifts on the sidewalks were over my head, but lots of the neighborhood walks are clean.

The campus area walks are actually fun because they have mostly been tromped down by hundreds of students and so are uneven masses of snow and ice about six inches above the actual sidewalks. I think walking on these are a good time, trying to find the footholes that will work best for your route, forging new ones when your path suddenly hits a wall of snow. It reminds me of when we were little and my sister and I would play in the backyard snow. We used to pretend we were homeless (yeah, I don’t know) and we’d set up pathways and pretend they were “rooms” in our outdoor house. Then we’d pretend to cook our dinner over the metal garbage cans near the garage and sit around complaining about how the government has created insurmountable obstacles for the non- and under-employed to overcome, forcing already marginalized portions of the population to even more dire living standards. Okay, not that last part. But we would have I’m sure, if we had been more than 8 years old.

So remember last week when I declared a snow day for myself? This week Mother Nature decided to show me what a real snow day looks like (a la Crocodile Dundee’s “That’s a knife!”). The University officially shut down both yesterday and today due to blizzard conditions and I’m very excited, not because I get to miss classes (I have none on Tuesdays or Wednesdays), but because this is the first time in my entire life that my school/job declared an official snow day. Honestly, for 3 decades in the Midwest, that’s a pretty good record. And so I’m all a-flutter. A sleepy flutter.

All day I watched the teensy snowflakes being whipped around in the wind and thought it looked pretty nasty outside, but disappointingly the snow didn’t seem very deep. Around sundown I noticed that the car I’d been using as my snow yardstick throughout the day no longer had a hood, but rather just a windshield and roof popping out of a snow drift. Uh oh. I knew I had friends out and about in the weather and worried how they would get home, especially after the local news said that the city had pulled the snow plow fleet off the roads because conditions were too dangerous for them. It’s easy to forget in the fun of cancelled responsibilities and all tucked away in our warm homes or offices with the Internet and TV just how powerful and merciless the weather can be. I think we get sort of brazen in our confidence that we can keep ourselves safe through human ingenuity and sheer will and forget that a small window of carelessness or false security can be truly dangerous and even fatal. One hundred, five hundred, one thousand years ago, winter storms were terrifying because they almost always meant loss — of life, of food, of livelihoods. I don’t want to be too much of a bummer (It’s a snow day! Hooray!), but every time I heard the sirens going yesterday afternoon, it was a reminder that something very scary was happening to someone out in that nasty blizzard.

All that said, I OF COURSE ventured out on foot around 9 last night to join some friends for food and drink. It was beautiful and still, sparkley and delightful. We had to walk down the middles of the streets because the sidewalks were a foot deep or more and, in some cases, the roads were too. We saw handfuls of other adventurers, witnessed car-pushing and snowballs fights and a couple of ridiculous slow-motion falls. My apartment was completely boxed in by snow drifts coming up almost mid-thigh so my much taller friends forged a path for me to follow to minimize risk of me disappearing completely under the snow and all the while laughing so hard that I almost couldn’t keep my balance. It was a good day, indeed.

Another Sunday afternoon creeping slowly toward the dark, letting me know that another harried, busy week is about to start. My schedule this semester is already taking its mental toll, and I find myself dreading Mondays in a way I haven’t in years. On the up side, this makes the weekends a fun exercise in getting lots of nothing done. At this I am an expert. This weekend I manged to include catching a few guilty pleasure movies (Running Scared being the ultimate for me), talking to Toffamy in China for 4 (FOUR!) hours, and eating an entire hollow chocolate toad in between the house cleaning and studying.

The studying is interesting at least. My Language Development text told me that one of the reasons humans can speak and other mammals cannot is that the human larynx is much lower in the throat. Though the authors didn’t explain WHY this makes language possible, they did say that this is the reason humans often choke on their food while other mammals do not. Huh. I never really thought about it, but it is true that I’ve never seen a raccoon or elephant choking in the wild. Nor my dog or cats at home…though I guess it could be that non-human mammals just have better manners and can manage to not try to talk with their mouths full. The text also said that because of their relatively high larynxes, other mammals can shut off part of their esophagus and do things like drink water and breathe at the same time.

I think this is just showing off and that it smacks of crappy ventriloquism. You know — if they could talk. Which they can’t.

[edited to include the correct Running Scared link. Gregory Hines and Billy Crystal in short shorts and roller skates is WAY more my speed than whatever weird Paul Walker vehicle I linked to the first time. ]

Today I declared a snow day for myself. I didn’t have any classes but did have to go to my practicum about 15 miles away. However, as the happy weather robots kept giving me more and more specific instructions on all the places and activities I should avoid today, I decided that for my safety/sanity I would just stay home. Good thing too since I burned myself twice whilst making breakfast, scraped my finger open with a knife and then slipped down some stairs doing laundry. I’m fine but all weirded out, thinking that all that accident-proneness would have oozed out somehow, if not while doing chores then while hurtling across the interstate at 75 mph.