Monday, February 22, 2010

Bring on the Cherry Blossoms



If I could go back in time, say 4 months, here are a few things I would do differently:
  1. Buy a serious pair of all-terrain boots.  Nobody (not even the weather experts) could have predicted that my current shoe inventory (dress shoes, running shoes, flip-flops) would have failed so miserably this winter.
  2. Buy two serious snow shovels.  Specifically the type that don't snap where the shovel meets the handle.
  3. Replace my 2006 South Florida Special Edition 4Runner with something that can spin all 4 of it's wheels.
  4. Minimize the amount of smack talk I did on both occasions when the blizzard predictions started rolling in.
  5. Park my car in a parking garage for the storms - or at the very least, on a level surface instead of a hill.  
  6. Don't rely on the Food Star for any kind of food.  Whatsoever.
  7. Build an ice fishing shack and put it out in the middle of the parking lot.  Just for fun.  When people came knocking, I'd act like they're the crazy ones and pull a fish out of the hole.
  8. Start a private plow business.  Hire Conan O'Brien as the driver.  He's unemployed, and it would be good for sales.
I'm no stranger to the wrath that mother nature can cast upon us.  In 1985, I survived Hurricane Gloria which pummeled New England, with downed trees everywhere and widespread power loss for several weeks.  In 1991, it was Hurricane Bob.  Then, while living in South Florida, we endured 4 hurricanes in two years:  Frances, Jeanne, Katrina & Wilma.  After our windows were blown out, I spent several hours with 5 of my closest friends in a room no bigger than a small closet waiting for the storm to pass.  Weeks upon weeks without electricity.   You know how many storms South Florida has had since I left?  Zero.  Nada.  Niente. 

If that wasn't enough to convince me that I'm the problem, three weeks after moving from Florida to Rhode Island, in December 2007 one of the largest snowstorms since the Blizzard of 1978 hit Providence and stranded thousands of motorists on the road (including Holly).  Children were stranded on school buses for hours and hours into the night.  The Governor declared the State a disaster area.  Since I moved?  Well, it's been a "mild winter" so far.  


Now I'm being told that this winter is the worst winter ever on record in terms of snowfall for Washington, DC and the Mid-Atlantic region.  Well over 70 inches of the beautiful white stuff has fallen on the Federal District this winter, causing a myriad of cascading problems for local and regional governments to handle the influx of precipitation, the likes of which most people here have never seen.

Why am I not surprised?  Because bad weather has been following me around the globe for the better part of two decades.  It's only fitting that I would bring mother nature's blessings and all of her glory upon this city.  

Now bring on the Cherry Blossoms.  Or, what's left of them.

Don't laugh, because you never know - I could be coming to a city near you!


Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Neti Pot




Here's what being snowed in for a week will do to you:  Holly convinced me to invert my head in the bathroom sink and use a miniature teapot apparatus to pour warm salt water solution up my nose.  Apparently this "Neti Pot" is renowned for it's ability to relieve sinus and nasal congestion - and a small amount of internet research reveals that this is so.  

Let me just tell you - if you enjoy breathing copious amounts of water up through your nose while swimming in the ocean, then Neti Pot is for you.  This sadistic little contraption needs to be returned to the barbaric world from whence it came.  Shame on you CVS/pharmacy.

Here's an open suggestion to the ruthless Proctor & Gamble R&D clowns who created this device and distributed it to the mainstream world:  rebrand this product at once.  The box should be marked "Danger: Portable Waterboarding Apparatus".  Use extreme caution while deploying this apparatus to your prisoners of war. Simulated drowning should only occur in the presence of trained professionals; or at the very least, someone who can observe your misery in utter amazement.  I have to admit, it's effective at one thing - causing immediate regret and pleadings for mercy.  Within moments of application, this thing had me proclaiming secrets from my early youth.  


"I will tell you anything you want to know, just make it stop!"      

As salt water poured out my opposite nostril and downwards into my eyeball, I began to see the light. And I'm not talking about the 60-watt GE Ultra Soft bulb above me - I'm talking about the last light any of us will ever see.  With the pearly gates off in the distance, I received total and complete consciousness (so I've got that going for me).  My entire life sequence played out before me like a movie in High Def.  I recalled conversations that I overheard while in the womb.  I considered each and every person I need to apologize to before I die.  As the saline carved a path straight down my face into the sink like a river of death carrying corpses through a post-apocalyptic nightmare, I realized that through this experience, I received the Truth.  


What I did not receive, however, was a clear nasal passage.  




Monday, February 8, 2010

Fatigue Setting In



Our arms were still sore this morning from clearing off 30 inches of snow from our SUV. The Federal Government and Fairfax County Schools are both closed today, which means another day off from work.

Over a cup of coffee, I'm contemplating the most recent forecast (see above).

There's just no rest for the weary.


Saturday, February 6, 2010

Snowmageddon


According to some experts, Snowmageddon 2010 may be the worst snow storm to ever hit the DC Region. Here's what it looked like from our vantage point:


2:30pm - Friday, February 5, 2010


3:15pm


4:15pm


6:00pm


7:15pm


9:00pm


1:45am - Saturday, February 6, 2010


4:00am


5:15am


8:00am


9:15am


12:30pm


3:15pm




We lived!


Friday, February 5, 2010

The Storm Before the Storm



For anyone that's not familiar with the climactic tendencies of the Mid-Atlantic, let me just say that what we're seeing here is highly uncommon. To put it in perspective, ponder this statistic: as of this morning, more snow has fallen this winter on Reagan National Airport than all three of the last winters combined. As I sit writing this, we are mere moments away from the beginning of another storm promising 18"-24" of snow and blizzard-like conditions, which by Superbowl Sunday will make that statistic even more impressive.

For what it's worth, I'm from the Boston/Providence area, so I'm no stranger to voluminous amounts of snow dropping from the sky. Even after living for 6 years in the Sunshine State, it didn't take long to get my snow-driving skills back up to par.

Yet, I work in a business where preparation is paramount. Eight guys from our Technical Services department will leave their families to fend for themselves and call the Residence Inn their home away from home for this weekend. They are charged with the enormous duty of clearing several hundred thousand pounds of precipitation that is forecast to fall on my property in the next 36 hours. They will use two pallets (2,400 lbs.) of ice-melt that's primed and ready to be spread; a brand new, Honda OHV commercial-grade snow blower fueled, oiled and at the ready with the capacity to clear up to 60 tons of snow per hour; two more snowblowers, a dozen shovels and ice chippers are out from storage and in position. Our security team is ready to respond and fend off any potential threats on the property that may come as a result of a weakened law enforcement response. Cleaners and other non-essential staff are finishing up their light duties for the day, and heading for home. To save energy, HVAC services have been reprogrammed so they will not turn on as usual. Sometime over the next few hours, the buildings will close up, lock down, and ride the storm with the rest of the region.

But for now, and until that time comes, the place is buzzing. The atmosphere smells different, there's an unmistakable apprehension or excitement in the air. It's not all that unlike what used to happen prior to a hurricane, the key word is preparation.

Schools are closed. The Federal Government will close in 40 minutes. The President is cancelling his agenda for today and will leave the District to spend the weekend in Fort Myers. Regional and local communities are sending alerts to citizens, filling up shelters, and preparing their own response teams. The last few flights from Reagan National are pushing back now.

In just a few short hours, all will be silent.

See you on the flip side.


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Punxsutawney Phil



How did we ever get to having a groundhog predict the weather? Each year I'm more baffled at the whole idea of a rodent (Marmota Monax, more specifically) making a prediction of seasonal weather conditions based solely on whether or not the sun is shining on a given morning.

Perhaps it's our insanity that actually keeps us from going crazy.

An interesting point to note of Phil's 113 predictions on record so far, he has predicted an early spring 14 times (only 13%), and has never done so in consecutive years. As to his accuracy, according to the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club Inner Circle, he is 100% accurate. However, according to the StormFax Weather Almanac and records kept since 1887, Phil's predictions have been correct just 39% of the time. Think the PGCIC could be a little biased?


I'm going to start ironing my shorts now. It's going to be an early Spring.