Snowed under.

Kate got a snow day today. I’m flabbergasted. The superintendent here is notorious for never closing school; you look at those “you know you’re from Grosse Pointe if” things on Facebook and they all say, “…you hate Suzanne Klein because you never got a snow day.” From where I sit, it looks as though we got five or six inches, remarkable only because it’s taken this long to arrive. And they cancelled school. This is surely a sign of the apocalypse.

Frankly I don’t blame her for being a hard case. All schools are local here. There are no buses. And half the student body has at least one parent who drives a hulking SUV that could scale Mt. McKinley (at least, that’s what the commercials imply). Plus, duh, it’s Michigan. I tell her she doesn’t want the Fort Wayne model, which was to cancel or delay schools at the first sign of a cloud crossing the sky, which makes all the kiddies happy until the end of the year rolls around, and the days have to be made up. Knowing what happens around here at year’s end — in which learning basically ceases after Memorial Day, replaced with a round of picnics, parties and in-class movies — I wonder why state legislators even bother fussing about this stuff.

So, anyway, snow day. I made chili last night. Used my own chuck (ground by moi), added a basket of corn muffins. There are lots of leftovers. Stop by.

Which reminds me of a story someone once told me: A couple of his acquaintance gone to see Branford Marsalis perform in (I think) Bloomington, Ind., and as they were leaving, walked past the stage entrance, where Marsalis was hanging around, talking to the fans. Little by little the crowd dwindled until it was Marsalis and this couple, and he said, “So, what’s a good place to eat around here?” They suggested a few places, and then the man added, “My wife made a pot of chili before we left. It should be pretty good by now. You’re welcome to join us.” Marsalis said OK, that sounded good, and they drove him home with them, and then back to the tour bus. I’m not sure what to make of this story, other than a) the Marsalises are jes’ plain folks; and b) one should never underestimate a touring musician’s longing for home cooking. I think it’s probably a little of both.

Does Branford’s more famous brother still do his great radio show? I forget the name of it, but it should have been called “Master Class with Wynton Marsalis.” I would catch it on Columbus’ public-radio station when I was traveling there often on Friday evenings. It was a really engaging lecture with lots of records, aimed at that precise point where a trained musician would learn something new from it, but an untrained listener could easily follow it, too. He’d tell you why Thelonious Monk was important, play a record, explain why he was a great composer, play a record, drill down into particularly engaging key changes, play a record, etc. By the end of the hour you felt a) entertained; and b) smarter. That’s a hard line to walk.

Add me to the I Hate Facebook club. If it weren’t for the fact many people consider FB my de facto e-mail account, I’d drop it entirely. They’ve retooled it yet again, and it’s the usual train wreck — reload your home page three times, and you’ll get three different news feeds, and one of them will be from two days ago. I think what they’re struggling with is success. I now have nearly 300 “friends,” many of whom I couldn’t identify in a police lineup, but are still pretty good FB players, in that they post good links and can be funny in a status-update line. Other people are far better friends in real life — my best friends, in fact — but lousy on FB, and somewhere there’s an algorithm that will let you sort them out, but Facebook hasn’t figured it out yet. What I need to do is sit down with all my 300 and do a great big cull. I did a targeted one over the weekend and friends? It felt good.

Bloggage? Oh, not very much:

I thought this Henry Paulson book excerpt from over the weekend was remarkable in the story it told about John McCain’s spectacularly dumb move in fall 2008, but the intro was one of those “huh?” moments:

With the stock market in freefall and the country headed for a crippling economic recession, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson proposed the $700 billion Wall Street rescue plan to Congress on Friday, Sept. 19, 2008. By the following Monday, the Troubled Asset Relief Program was meeting resistance on all sides. Mr. Paulson’s next few days, marked by little sleep and no exercise, were frantic with meetings and private phone calls on behalf of the legislation.

I know many, many people who consider a daily workout necessary to remain on top of their game, mentally. I know I feel better when I exercise than when I don’t. It’s also the first thing to fall off the schedule when I get busy. I think it’s remarkable that the editor of this piece, in sketching out the condition of Henry Paulson during a truly scary stretch in his work history, would single out the fact it cost him his workout. If I’d learned that he still made time for the treadmill while the world’s financial system was teetering on the brink, I’d be pissed. Thoughts?

First Toyota, now a Honda recall? The Detroit auto executives must feel like a boxer on the mat at 7 on a 10-count, looking up through the blood and sweat to see their opponent suddenly suffer chest pains.

Betty White’s Super Bowl ad is giving her a little career lift. Ha ha. It’s funny to see the old-bag veterans of Mary Tyler Moore’s show get a second, third or maybe fifteenth wind. Cloris Leachman was all over Comedy Central for a while, working blue-blue-blue at some roast a while back. She called up some young hunk and planted a soul kiss on him, and don’t think that didn’t rock the house. There’s nothing funnier than a horny old lady, as Betty already knows from having chased Lou Grant back in the day.

And with that, I think I’m out of here. Happy snow day, all.

Posted at 10:56 am in Current events, Popculch |

62 responses to “Snowed under.”

  1. Jeff Borden said on February 10, 2010 at 11:17 am

    Yesterday was one of the loveliest, snowy days I’ve enjoyed in Chicago. The Lake Shore Campus of Loyola University, which is small but picturesque save for one massively ugly, modernistic concrete building, was blanketed with the white stuff. The wind was coming in hard from the lake, which is frozen fairly far out, but the general mood of students and staff was ebullient. I heard virtually no cursing of the weather, even from students who drove in from the ‘burbs.

    None of my colleagues can remember the last time Loyola ever closed because of the weather. It will certainly take more than the foot or so we’ve gotten.

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  2. Sue said on February 10, 2010 at 11:27 am

    The odd thing about yesterday’s snowstorm (or should I say the Monday-Tuesday 36-hour event) was that for the first time ever I heard a local weather forecaster say it was no big deal, this is Wisconsin, deal with it. Usually they are all OMG WHITE DEATH HIDE HIDE HIDE BUT SHOVEL YOUR WALK FIRST. I think the recent DC weather is making them feel inferior.
    We got about 10 inches, but as I said it was spread over 36 hours, so yeah, no big deal. You can keep up with that easily. School closings were spotty and mostly based on bus vs. windy country road issues.

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  3. Peter said on February 10, 2010 at 11:31 am

    Jeff, I know Loyola closed during the big snowstorm in early ’79; I found it funny that all of the schools closed because no one could make it to class but everyone made it to La Mere Vipere.

    Speaking of making it in the snow, I may be whistling by the graveyard, but our Outback and goldendoodle are loving the snow. The only drawback is that the house reeks of wet dog.

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  4. Julie Robinson. said on February 10, 2010 at 11:41 am

    The schools have all closed around here for the second day, neither of which was necessary, IMHO. In the rural area of Illinois where I grew up snow days came out of our spring break and they didn’t call them very often. That wouldn’t work these days when so many people travel over their breaks.

    When I called my Mom about the earthquake, her response was “what earthquake?”

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  5. brian stouder said on February 10, 2010 at 11:54 am

    Julie – good to hear the quake update; but while we disagree about the snow-day, our daughter agrees with you. She was OK with the 2-hour delay, but disappointed with the closure.

    But the roads are genuinely terrible

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  6. Scout said on February 10, 2010 at 11:58 am

    No snow here in Phoenix, but plenty of clouds with rain in the forecast, making it chili and gas fireplace weather.

    My parental units, however, live in South Central PA, where after the foot of snow received over the weekend, they got 14″ more since last night with no sign of stopping. Later today a Nor’Easter is supposed to rip up the coast and the drifting and power outages will commence. Mom is whipping up a nice beet soup pureed with apple and potato and served with horseradish sour cream. Dad is keeping the fireplace tended. It kind of sounds like fun. I’d love to be there for the actual storm but would require to be airlifted out and returned to the desert before the aftermath!

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  7. judybusy said on February 10, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    Scout, that’s way too much snow–after a while, you can’t put it anywhere!

    Here in Minneapolis, I’ve loved how the snow gets deeper and deeper in my garden, slowly erasing any memory I have of green grass, flowers and ripe tomatoes. It makes spring and summer all that more amazing. Really, in just over two months I’ll have chives and sorrel on my eggs again?

    I also went out XC skiing Monday as the snow was coming down–just to a golf course near the house–following in tracks made by other skiiers. It was beautiful, and I brought along a chocolate chip cookie to munch while staring out at the lake bordering the course.

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  8. vince said on February 10, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    Portland goes nuts with a few flakes of snow. We’re a city prepared for rain, but nothing else. A line of hills 1000 feet high stands to the west of downtown. It’s to that highway pass all the TV reporters and their live trucks run to hyperventilate about the latest storm.

    It’s funny because they do it with such seriousness, even when the snow is barely yet falling.

    I prefer unadulterated, over-the-top, hype for hype’s sake:

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  9. Sue said on February 10, 2010 at 12:23 pm

    judybusy, the good thing about this winter is that we’ve never really lost the snow insulation. The January Thaw didn’t even make it to 40 degrees. So, not as much heaving and hopefully fewer lost perennials next spring.
    I tried forcing bulbs for the first time this year. I now have a dozen blooming tulips in my bedroom window. Pinks and purples, very nice. This is now on my official list of ways to make it through the winter.
    My son is the kind of person who has that great endorphin thing with exercise. He can XCountry ski well past the time his pals have to turn back, then go out for some relaxing ice fishing while they are all back at the cabin groaning and napping. The downside is that he actually needs the exercise to keep his spirits up. So recent long days at work without time for even a quick gym workout have affected him more than most people. Me, I wouldn’t know an endorphin if it slapped me on the butt as it ran past.

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  10. Jeff Borden said on February 10, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    Peter, thank you for the historical note. I’m certain that was the storm that not only buried Chicago, but also Mayor Michael Bilandic.

    Vince, at least out there, snow is unusual. And coverage of the Mid-Atlantic states falls into that category, too. It’s an unusual occurence. But we get the same kind of weather coverage in the Midwest whenever the snow is going to be six inches or so. The standard shot is the reporter in hooded parka on an overpass above one of expressways. I’ve always wished I could be near one of those live shots with a large snowball.

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  11. Sue said on February 10, 2010 at 12:35 pm

    Jeff Borden, don’t forget the shot of the reporter with a ruler. “Now see, here is where it’s been shoveled but if you go here” – wades onto lawn area – “the snow is, oh goodness, have we had eight inches already? And more to come. So get your shovels out, folks and if you have a snowblower remember to be a good neighbor and help your neighbors out. Back to you, Nicole.”

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  12. Rana said on February 10, 2010 at 12:36 pm

    Sounds like the snow commentary is pretty well covered, so I’ll touch on the exercise. If said exercise, performed by said Treasury Secretary, consisted of things like golf or squash or sea kayaking, I’d say that you had a point, as all of those are time-consuming and usually entertaining.

    But treadmill work? That’s a profoundly boring form of exercise – I’ve been forced to it since I’m unwilling to run in slush in my un-waterproof Fivefingers – but it does have one advantage. It is so boring that it is wonderful for thinking, much in the same way that a long walk can free up ideas that have gotten stuck. Also, given that 20-30 minutes is about all it takes, two or three times a day, that doesn’t sound like too much. Personally, I think that if a person is so stressed out by the responsibilities of their job that they can’t take a mere hour a week to do something other than work (anything, not just exercise), that’s a person who shouldn’t be in that job, if for lack of time management skills alone.

    I mean, one can take it too far – as in Bush’s 8pm bedtime – but I find it disturbing that the measure of a dedicated worker these days is often not “Is this person accomplishing the needed tasks in an efficient and effective manner” but rather “Is this person sacrificing sleep and health and breathing room to meet their responsibilities”. The latter’s tolerable for short-term emergencies, but when that standard becomes the norm, we’re all in trouble.

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  13. Jeff Borden said on February 10, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    So true, Sue, so true. It’s cheap and easy video, which is par for the course in these days of shrinking media budgets. We may not be able to keep tabs on the scoundrels in City Hall or the General Assembly, but we can definitely handle a snow report.

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  14. Joe Kobiela said on February 10, 2010 at 12:50 pm

    Flying in this stuff is not to bad. Visibility goes down,but you don’t have to worry about ice. A neat thing that happens is at night the static electricity build up and you get saint elmo’s fire. Try and touch the window and you get a green flash on your fingertips. Startels you if you are not ready for it.
    Pilot Joe

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  15. Sue said on February 10, 2010 at 1:06 pm

    Weren’t we talking about this the other day?
    Here’s the best and saddest quote:
    “Naturally, in the face of such trenchant criticism, the Democrats are giving up. Senate Energy Committee Chaiman Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., more or less conceded the debate to the igloo: The snowstorm, he said, may be the final nail in the coffin of environmental legislation this year.”

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  16. kayak woman said on February 10, 2010 at 1:07 pm

    You can bet they never closed the schools when I was a kid in the Upper Peninsula. The only kids that were bused were the “country” kids and school went on with or without their presence. I’m sure it’s different now that many more people live in the “country” and there is probably “safety” busing, etc.

    I also could never figure out why they bother scheduling school after Memorial Day. Actually, when my kids got to high school, it seemed like nothing much happened after about Christmas. Snow days, sick days, MLK Day, semester exam week, mid-winter break, spring break. And that’s on the Planet Ann Arbor where all the helicopter parents are constantly trying to outdo each other with the prestigious colleges their wonderchildren are applying to. (If there are any A2 folk reading, that was a lame attempt at humor.)

    Exercise: If I go more than a couple of days without at least an hour of walking (or x-c skiing or kayaking), I start getting twitchy. It really does help me process my thoughts and can therefore be a more effective problem-solving tool than sitting there banging my head against my keyboard or whatever. I’ve never seen the inside of a gym. I go outside in almost any weather.

    And finally, I don’t hate Facebook. But I do agree that the user interface is highly confusing. I can never figure out that news feed stuff either and I am also finding that everybody seems to be using it as my email.


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  17. Julie Robinson said on February 10, 2010 at 1:45 pm

    I’m frustrated with FB too although I’m still so new at it that I never really learned what I was doing the old way. But my correspondents back home in Sycamore did not all sleep through the earthquake; one thought their house was exploding and another said everything hanging on the walls is crooked. There was a small quake 20-some years ago here in the Fort, same New Madrid fault. At the time I was convinced a car had run into our house.

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  18. del said on February 10, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    I’m with you Rana and kayak on the exercise. Exercising helps thought, it’s not an either/or proposition. You can do mental work while exercising. Unless you push yourself so hard that you can only focus on not dying. I’m like Sue’s son. Endorphins, gotta have ’em.

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  19. Dexter said on February 10, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    No fond recollections of snow here. I am sick of it. I have posted here how I am a year-round cyclist, and that has gone away from me…six miles total in the past 70 days. At least shovelling snow for exercise serves the greater good.
    I read yesterday’s FTW comments and I have another onion for the stew.
    A co-worker transferred to our plant from the Toledo operation, and he brought with him a slightly different window to the world. Tough kid, drafted into the US Marine Corps ( yeah they surely did draft men into the US Marines) , sent to Vietnam and then “sentenced” to serve on a Navy ship at sea, and the brass wouldn’t tell them where they were…several months out there before hitting a port, living the big mystery, kept in the dark.
    He left the Corps and copped a big attitude, returned to work , and bought his first Harley Davidson motorcycle. He was a strange guy, he has this beautiful, immaculate home in Toledo, and he lives a hard lifestyle on the edge of everything, constantly drinking a can of beer, always looking for the next adventure in his retirement.
    I asked him about his large FTW tattoo. I was ignorant as a babe. He told me “Forever Together Wherever”. Some time later I told another what he had told me, and was told I had been played, as everyone knows it means fuck the world. And Snopes don’t know nuthin’ ’bout it.
    Still, a mystery to me.

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  20. brian stouder said on February 10, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    Regarding Toyota’s toils and troubles, I saw their “we’re so, so sorry” commerical last night, which tries for a sort of nostalgic feel – and that struck me as tinny and flat.

    Someone hereabouts (was it Dexter?) made an excellent point about these increasingly computerized, software dependent cars – which is that in any workplace such a potentially dangerous machine would have an emergency “STOP” button.

    Does anyone else here have an uncomfortable reaction to the car commercials (for Mercedes, I think) that tout the cars ability to DO THINGS YOU DIDN’T TELL IT TO DO – such as apply the brakes when it thinks it should, etc?

    I think two big lessons in this Toyota fiasco are that uncommanded actions by your car may not be such a great idea, and emergency kill switches should be mandated

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  21. LAMary said on February 10, 2010 at 2:20 pm

    The snow level on the local mountains is lower than I’ve seen it in years. The view to the north looks like Colorado.

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  22. judybusy said on February 10, 2010 at 2:24 pm

    I only began XC this year. Went twice with rented equipment and went out the next day and got all the gear. Due to my perhaps misplaced desire to be close to family, I’ve lived in this state a long time and ALWAYS bemoaned the winters. Now I plot how to re-arrange my work schedule so I can ski more. Today, I’m resentful of one of my cat who has to go to the vet on a minor problem, depriving me of ski time. Which is a long way of saying that I only wished I’d followed up on my half-a**ed commitment to try XC before this year. I can’t believe how much happier I am–and I’m pretty chipper at baseline.

    Re: Facebook: it’s helped me connect with some casual acquaintances, but the shine is definitely wearing off. On it, I am a fan of Minneapolis Snow Emergency, so I know when to move my car after a major storm.

    Sue–looking forward to a great garden this season, with all the insulation!

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  23. ROgirl said on February 10, 2010 at 2:51 pm

    The snow wimps are everywhere. I think every school in metro Detroit was closed today.

    Toyota’s problems have been around for a number of years now, and they have been coasting on their vaunted reputation for quality while the American companies have been blasted for their many sins and boneheadedness. Toyota has lost its corporate image in a very short time and it will have to work hard to gain even some of it back.

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  24. Bob (not Greene) said on February 10, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    That 1979 snow storm — man we got the only snow day I remember in high school. Which, of course, meant our swimming coach called to say get your butt to school, because without classes, we’re having two practices today instead of one.

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  25. Mindy said on February 10, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    I’m a charter member of the I Hate Facebook club. Five of my six friends are local relatives that I joined FB to keep up with since I don’t get to see them often. It works well except for dear cousin Steve – neither of us has ever posted anything.

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  26. Jen said on February 10, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    They’re certainly snow wimps around here. Almost every school canceled yesterday, despite the fact the roads were absolutely fine until about 4 p.m. or so, at which time most kids would already be home. If I were a parent who had to figure out what to do with my kid while I worked yesterday, I would have been pissed. Today, I could understand, because I did snow a lot last night and side roads were still getting plowed out. A storm like this dumps a bunch of snow on us EVERY YEAR. You’d think that we wouldn’t have to completely shut down every time it happens. Although, perhaps I’m just bitter because I have to go to work no matter what the weather is doing – I drove 28 miles in the snow Friday night for work, too.

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  27. alex said on February 10, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    Does any­one else here have an uncom­fort­able reac­tion to the car com­mer­cials (for Mer­cedes, I think) that tout the cars abil­ity to DO THINGS YOU DIDN’T TELL IT TO DO — such as apply the brakes when it thinks it should, etc?

    Brian, I just heard a story the other day about the Lexuses (Lexi?) that parallel park themselves. They seem to have a habit of trying to park themselves when their drivers have no intention of parking and there isn’t an override mechanism. Heard this from a friend who knows someone who just cancelled a lease on a Lexus because the dealer refused to accept that there was anything wrong with the car, which purportedly got banged up trying to parallel park itself while under a drive-thru porte cochere.

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  28. brian stouder said on February 10, 2010 at 3:24 pm

    Alex – on one hand, that’s funny! – but on the other, how long before we see a story about a tragic death at a charity car wash, when one of these things tries to parallel park itself onto an 18 year old cheerleader, as it’s befuddled older driver (for example) struggled to stop it?

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  29. nancy said on February 10, 2010 at 3:28 pm

    Since it’s a Lexus, maybe the parking problem will dovetail with the stuck accelerator, and friends? That would be something I’d pay to see.

    I think the Freep auto columnist test-drove one of the self-parking Lexii. As I recall he was unimpressed. It took forever. I’m grateful to my driving instructor, who taught us a technique for parallel parking that hasn’t failed me yet. I can still get into almost any spot of adequate size on the first try.

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  30. judybusy said on February 10, 2010 at 3:37 pm

    Nancy, for us parking-challenge, are you going to share “this time-tested parallel parking technique–from a mom!”? (Parodying those ads about teeth-whiteners invented by a mom….I’ve always found those really puzzling. Why would a mom have any expertise in this?)

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  31. Deborah said on February 10, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    I used to parallel park every day for years and years, often more than once a day. That was when I lived in St. Louis. Now that I rarely drive anymore and live in Chicago the thought of parallel parking makes me break into a sweat. I love that scene from the movie “Annie Hall”: ANNIE I live over here. Oh, my God! Look! There’s a parking space! With brakes squealing, Annie turns the VW sharply into the parking spot. Annie and Alvy get out, Alvy looking over his shoulder as he leaves the car. ALVY That’s okay, you … we-we can walk to the the curb from here.

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  32. paddyo' said on February 10, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    Funny, all this sudden reporting of problems with Facebook, particularly what Nance’ said about reloading your home page and getting different news feeds? I assumed that was “normal,” because it’s been that way for me since I joined Facebook in early 2008. I chalked it up to Facebook being not necessarily a bad application (all that Farmville crap notwithstanding), but its technology realllllly sucking. Now I hear everybody else seems to be getting what I’ve had forever, so: Welcome to low-technological-expectations Facebook, everybody . . .

    Here in Denver, we had a long, dry patch after all that early season (Oct-Nov-Dec) snow, but this week we got maybe 5-6 inches total in a couple of storms and it has been a lot colder. So, hey, it’s winter. And hey, in winter, even DC gets snow. You could look it up.

    But I’m with Sue in the sad-sad-sad dept., about those idiots (both in and outside the halls of Congress) who fundamentally misunderstand (or understand and just want to be demagogues) the concept of climate CHANGE.
    OK, yeah, “global warming” is a more descriptive way to say it, and certainly, there’s a general trend toward warmer in northern climes — just look at the Arctic, where polar bears have to swim for miles and miles between ice floes.
    But sheesh: The climatologists have been telling us for YEARS that climate change means more EXTREMES in the weather, not just more summer heat waves and winter warm and dry spells, and no-snowpack-in-the-parched-West, blahblah. What they’re shoveling on the Eastern Seaboard right now is extreme WEATHER. Over a decade or two or 10, we’re dealing with climate.
    Next week on Ask Mr. Ex-Weather/Climate/SuperDoppler Reporter Guy!:
    Why do hurricanes and tornadoes always sound “like a freight train”?

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  33. Snarkworth said on February 10, 2010 at 4:07 pm

    Why do hur­ri­canes and tor­na­does always sound “like a freight train”?

    Good question, paddyo’. I’d also like to know how people described them before there were freight trains.

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  34. Dexter said on February 10, 2010 at 4:55 pm

    paddyo’ , Snarkworth: Add earthquakes to freight train lore. I read about a hundred comments in Da Trib regarding the quake…but only one freight train sound was reported.
    “We have a rail line behind our property approximately 100 to 200 yards away. I first thought there had been a derailment when I awoke and heard the noise, but the noise and movement felt too close to the house.”—Trib comments—

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  35. Jeff Borden said on February 10, 2010 at 5:10 pm

    Oh, mighty proprietress, still your voice about your mad parallel parking skillz. When I was in college, I purchased a 1966 Chevrolet Bel-Air for the princely sum of $900. It was a blue metallic four-door with dog dish hubcaps –it looked very much like an unmarked police car– equipped with a straight six-cylinder engine and a two-speed automatic. The previous owners had ordered only two options: an AM radio and the automatic. There was no power steering. Parallel parking that bad boy –for you youngsters this car had a trunk that could carry Paris Hilton’s luggage for a month-long vacation and an interior that seated 12 for dinner– was the equivalent of a half-hour on the ellipticals.

    The Chevy was slow, but the torque was amazing and the absence of power steering meant you could tell when you were on dry or slippery pavement. I was roundly mocked for having the most uncool automobile in my circle of friends, but whenever it was time for a road trip, they always wound up in my boat.

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  36. Kim said on February 10, 2010 at 5:15 pm

    Bob (not Greene) – I remember that snowstorm in 1979 and can tell you my suburban Chicago high school did not call off school that day and we all had a gas driving home in it. No one wrecked, as I recall. In fact, I never had a snow day, not ever, when I was a kid growing up in Chicago and the suburbs.

    My own children, on the other hand – probably five days off so far this year because there’s something like one plow on the Virginia peninsula (think Williamsburg). Click here for an awesome, narrated YouTube video shot this morning on the Interstate here. A 200-car pileup is what today’s magic entailed. No injuries, btw. That’s a true miracle.

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  37. Rana said on February 10, 2010 at 5:16 pm

    brian – good point about the kill button –

    That’s one thing I appreciate about driving a manual transmission – in the worst case scenario I can kill the engine and yank on the parking brake and come to a full stop. I’m suspicious about cars with full-auto steering and automatic windows for similar reasons; I always envision losing control of the steering and brakes and ending up trapped in a pond somewhere, unable to get out.

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  38. jcburns said on February 10, 2010 at 5:16 pm

    What did it sound like, sir?

    “It wuz like some sort of loud, thundering, rail-based transportation system that has yet to be invented!”

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  39. nancy said on February 10, 2010 at 5:18 pm

    Kim, that pileup is all from one chain-reaction accident? Lawsy.

    And actually, I have no problem believing there were no injuries. “ER” lost big verisimilitude points with me in their first season, when they devoted an entire episode to the aftermath of a huge snowstorm in Chicago. The ep was one long trauma scene, with people coming in with serious, horrible injuries from car wrecks. Um, no. Snow slows traffic to a near-standstill, and accidents in snowstorms are far more likely to happen in slow motion. It’s why police don’t bother responding to snowstorm fender-benders.

    In my screenwriting class, one of my classmates staged his big climax as a chase scene in a blinding snowstorm. He had cars screeching around corners, going 90 down residential streets, etc. I told him the chase would be over after the first corner, because his hero would spin out into someone’s yard. Poor kid was crestfallen.

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  40. Julie Robinson said on February 10, 2010 at 5:25 pm

    One last earthquake story from my hometown–at least one building had a cracked wall, and someone has already started a facebook page for DeKalb/Sycamore Earthquake Relief.

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  41. Kim said on February 10, 2010 at 5:34 pm

    Indeedy-do – one spun-out car and BAM! Or, more appropriately, whoooooshhhhhhhhtap. I say amazing there were no injuries because people, as you can see in that video, don’t slow down for snow or ice. They presume all is well and that the magic car, coupled with their mad NASCAR driving skills, can handle it. But Julie gives me the great idea of starting a Facebook page for snow relief here. If only I could bring myself to actually use my Fbook account. That is totally funny about the young screenwriter – sorta like the writers of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off having Bueller all over everywhere in the span of a couple hours.

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  42. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 10, 2010 at 6:16 pm

    My version of the parallel parking trick — taught me by a grizzled old downtown Chicago salesman of the latter period Willy Loman type — is to get your steering wheel even with the steering wheel of the car in front of your space, while poised about one foot between your car and the parked vehicle, crank hard right and back up, only swiveling back when your steering wheel is even with their rear bumper, and then just gently backing into your spot. With certain SUVs and pick-ups and of course thrice-cursed Hummers, you have to adapt, but with most civilian vehicles, that sequence works like a dream every time.

    Did it first on Michigan Avenue back when you could park on it, second and third times on State (ditto). Handy now even in little ol’ Granville, Ohio.

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  43. Jeff Borden said on February 10, 2010 at 6:48 pm

    I had never heard of “touch parking” until I arrived in Chicago, but I now understand it very well and use it on occasion, particularly since our automobile is almost 11 years old. Basically, you squeeze your car into a spot and (hopefully) gently make contact with the bumper of the car to the rear, pushing it back as far as it will go. Then, hit the brake. Shift into forward and do the same thing to the car in front. I’ve shimmied our car into spots where others feared to tread.

    Virtually all automobiles in Chicago have the tell-tale scrapes and scratches on their color-coded bumpers, whether its a rusty old beater or a C-class Mercedes. If only we still had chrome steel bumpers, lol.

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  44. James said on February 10, 2010 at 6:53 pm

    This morning, my first thoughts were how beautiful it looked out the back porch windows as I was readying to fill the bird feeders again. Our feathered friends need to be cared for in these snowy days while normal food sources are buried or otherwise inaccessable.

    Here in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area we received about 9 inches of snow, no big deal though some rural schools did close. School administrators use a worst case scenario crystal ball and hope it is the right guess. A coin flip might work too.

    I find it amazing how quickly people forget that it is winter in Michigan and return to driving habits suited for warm dry weather. Slide-offs and wrecks all over the area. Dum-da-dum-dum… some of these drivers could qualify for a sequal to Jackass, The Movie – part xx.

    After filling the feeders, I usually give a little whistle to wake up the birds to come by for a snack. The chickadees are the first arrivals, usually followed by a cardinal or two. I love feeding the birds when they need it the most.

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  45. Jessica said on February 10, 2010 at 7:20 pm

    The radio show you’re thinking of is probably Jazz at Lincoln Center Radio. Wynton Marsalis hosted some of the shows, Ed Bradley others, and another guy whose name I don’t recognize did some more. Here’s the archive page where you can listen to many of them.

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  46. alex said on February 10, 2010 at 7:56 pm

    I’m not even conscious of what I do re: lining up with steering wheels, etc., but twenty years in Chicago made me a parallel parking pro. Of course, in Chicago, more often than not I had to use bumpers for their God-given purpose. In fact, I remember one night attempting to fit a Honda Prelude into a tight little space on Wellington Avenue during an ice storm. I bumped a Mustang parked ahead of me. To my surprise it took off sliding down the street, stopping squarely in front of an alley, from where it was doubtless towed and the owner fined. I would have made an effort to find the owner, but in a high-density neighborhood like that one it would have been impossible.

    Heck, finding a car’s owner can be as difficult as finding your own car sometimes. I knew a woman whose car disappeared. She was a stoner so it was a reasonable assumption that she forgot where she parked it. She walked the side streets for several days, before finally giving up and reporting it missing to her insurance carrier. They paid off her car loan. Then the car turned up several weeks later in a metered spot on Halsted not far from where she lived. It had several thousand dollars’ worth of parking tickets piled on the windshield and she was held responsible. She hired an attorney who determined that there had been a water main break on her street right in front of her building and that the city had relocated multiple vehicles due to the emergency. If I recall correctly, she got out of paying the fines.

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  47. LAMary said on February 10, 2010 at 8:19 pm

    When I used to do sales calls all day every day in Manhattan I got really good at parallel parking. Here in LA I use it less but impress the locals like crazy with my ability to get into tiny spots.

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  48. Brendan said on February 10, 2010 at 8:46 pm

    GPPSS Superintendent is not getting soft. Today was “Count Day”. If we had gone ahead with school and it WAS our Count Day AND a slew of kids don’t show because of a little snow it could have cost us hundreds of thousands in state funding. This was a smart move.

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  49. basset said on February 10, 2010 at 10:47 pm

    I cannot understand how anyone could possibly enjoy running. Biking, playing basketball, doing something that involves running, sure, but just going out to put in however many miles – I don’t get it.

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  50. Joe Kobiela said on February 10, 2010 at 11:16 pm

    I can’t understand how anyone CAN’T enjoy running. I’m 52 and Iam in better shape an feel better now than at 18. I run around 35 miles a week. After a hard 10 miler you just feel empowered,and it’s a natural high.
    Pilot Joe

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  51. joodyb said on February 11, 2010 at 12:04 am

    oh, no. a window for my hank paulson rant. sorry, everybody:
    that “interview” w/WBuffett yesterday (thanks, CNBC) was embarrassing on so many levels, not the least of which, Warren shoulda disclosed his sizable role in the book. Paulson, given his lack of articulation, must get very little sleep ever. AND, a la cheney, he’s awfully talkative lo these many moons after the fact.

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  52. joodyb said on February 11, 2010 at 12:07 am

    oh, i think Jazz at Lincoln Ctr has migrated to RealJazz70 on XM. at least the reruns.

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  53. MarkH said on February 11, 2010 at 12:25 am

    Gimme a break, Joe. basset, I’m with you.

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  54. Dexter said on February 11, 2010 at 12:41 am

    I too am a whiz at parking. I learned the skill in training, right from the book. I learned quickly and never got hung-up halfway parked anywhere.
    Years ago it was legal to park near Wrigley Field, Chicago, and I would always find a spot on Wilton Avenue, south of Addison Street and north of Cornelia Avenue. No one ever gave me any trouble; now it’s an automatic tow and a helluva recovery fee. I could even glide my ’66 VW Microbus into a hole and have hardly any space between my bumper-mates. JeffBorden: what’s the towing-recovery fine nowadays? I know you ride a bike to the games, right?

    jcburns: That’s funny there at 38! Yep.

    I went to a game in Yankee Stadium about 25 years ago. We exited the subway at 161 St. and walked past about a dozen police cars parked in a plaza, and I had to pause and look for a moment, because all these cop cars had scratches and deeper dings over damn-nearly every exposed metal surface on the cars. Late model cars with big push-bumpers, just all beat to hell.
    I had a sudden appreciation for the cops who drove them…they surely earned their money.

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  55. Denice B. said on February 11, 2010 at 1:14 am

    In Detroit as well as most schools, today was Pupil Count Day that determines funding for schools. I suspect that superintendents did not want to risk having no-shows on count day. Better to postpone till every student will show than risk the count. Hopefully, that will work.

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  56. John said on February 11, 2010 at 8:22 am

    I can’t remember the last time I saw a “curb feeler” on a car but they were supposedly a parking aid.

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  57. jcburns said on February 11, 2010 at 8:59 am

    There was a moment–in the mid-sixties somewhere, where ‘curb feelers’ were the hulu hoops of the moment on McLain Road in Grandview Heights, Ohio. First the Reitermans’ car had one. Then the Walters’. The Valentinos’. Then the Bucks’. Then, my dad bolted them onto our Ford Falcon and Chevy BelAir Wagon. Late afternoon, when the Dads came home, the neighborhood was filled with scraping-on-concrete sounds. For a short while.

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  58. Jeff Borden said on February 11, 2010 at 9:16 am


    If you get the hook, it is $165 for the tow and storage plus whatever the cost of the ticket. Last year, I parked at a meter downtown while I donated blood at LifeSource, but I failed to notice it was a street cleaning day. When I returned, my car had vanished. I walked to the impound lot on Lower Wacker Drive, stood in line for about an hour listening to various and sundry sob stories as other drivers begged for their cars, then paid a total of $215. You want to talk about no good deed going unpunished? My pint of blood cost me $215.

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  59. Julie Robinson. said on February 11, 2010 at 9:17 am

    I’ll fess up that I’m lousy at parallel parking and never was any good. It was the one part of the driving test I was nervous about, and the examiner had me do it on an empty street, so I got lucky.

    I’m also lousy at pulling into our garage, which is on the back side of our house on a narrow driveway. I have never mastered the 90 degree angle and have scraped the sides of every vehicle we’ve owned on the garage, as well as bumping their backs into the neighbors’ fence. The DH pulls in and out in one quick motion while I take 3 or 4 tries, halting and jerking and holding my breath. As many times as he goes over it, I just can’t comprehend it. Pitiful, isn’t it? Did I mention we’ve lived here for 20 years? Do they make a 12-step group for people like me? Hello, my name is Julie and I can’t park my car.

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  60. Dorothy said on February 11, 2010 at 10:05 am

    Deborah – my hubby and I have been quoting that line (That’s okay, we can walk from here) for years. One of my favorites. Another Woody Allen line from (I’m pretty sure) Love and Death we love: Woody and Diane Keaton are all starry eyed, talking about their future together, and Diane says “Let’s have 3 children!” and Woody replies “Yes, one of each!”

    James I counted 8 cardinals at the bird feeders we have off of the kitchen yesterday. I keep cleaning off that porch so I can get to the feeders and keep the birds fed. It has the added bonus of excitement for our cat, who sits on the screened in porch and watches all the commotion with shivers of excitement. She can’t get to them, and they’re happy to eat – win/win for all.

    And finally – I’m a bad-ass parallel parker as well. Thank you, Eugene Rotonto, Wilkinsburgh High School parking teacher.

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  61. Rana said on February 11, 2010 at 6:42 pm

    Joe – the problem is getting to the point where one can actually put in a “hard ten miler.”

    I’m lucky if I can go three miles before collapsing in an exhausted heap – and that’s a lot better than I was in the fall, where I was running a block, walking a block, for months before I finally built up strength and wind to run farther. I understand eventually one reaches a point where the endorphins kick in, but one has to be fit in the first place to run far enough to reach that point.

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  62. basset said on February 11, 2010 at 10:43 pm

    Running appears to me to be kinda like fly-fishing and Republican politics
    – a big part of the fun of doing it is feeling like you’re better than the people who don’t.

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