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Journal memfree's Journal: 1000 cu. ft. of snow 25

Yesterday, I spent 6 hours shoveling my sidewalk (1st priority -- required by township law), the doorways, dog houses (they couldn't get into their outside shelters), the fence gates, the car, and the drive way. All told, I figure it was about 400 square feet @ a depth of 1.75 feet plus another 100 square feet @ a depth of 3 feet where plows had showed all the snow from the road onto the sidewalk and into the driveway.

That last 100 feet really sucked to move -- very compact, hard, and heavy. Worse, most of that last 100 had to be moved twice because the first round of pitching it out of the way only got it to a temporary location that would have blocked a neighbor's car.

The rest was fluffy, which would have been great if it hadn't formed drifts onto everything I was trying to clear (the car looked like an extra white sand dune with a drift rounding one side up to 7 feet tall).

So ... water weighs about 62.4 pounds per cubic foot, and this snow was about 20 inches snow per inch of water, so we're talking over 3000 pounds of snow (someone check my math -- simple as it is, I'm not feeling 100% today).

I say all that to explain this: I'm sore.

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1000 cu. ft. of snow

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  • but it's so purty!

    Seriously, I'm sorry. And thanks for the math. It's always cool to see something with such strong subjective effects converted to objective, usable data.
    The Data Omnivore expresses his appreciation.

    But it *was* still much fun to run around in! Especially recreating a battle of the War of 1812 as a snowball fight with a bunch of Britishers. (They held the heights but my ballistics and arms were superior!)
    • the War of 1812 as a snowball fight

      Ah, you lucky bastard! Snow here around Philadelphia wouldn't clump enough to make decent snowballs. I suppose we could have added water to it for ice balls -- but that might violate some weapon-of-mass-destruction treaty for snow fights.
      • Oh, the snow here was too dry and powder-y too. That's what got me into it in the first place.

        I saw a bunch of folks throwing wimpy clouds of fluff at each other and derogated their technique. This, of course, required demonstration, at which point (btw, after two hours of moving heavy furniture and boxes for a client) I discovered the sad state of affairs. Uh-oh.
        Having already opened my fat mouth, I then had to back it up and ended up flailing at the three Britons while we all looked for more satisfying methods.
        Eventually we discovered that there were big, firmly-packed clumps along the edges of the taller drifts so we started throwing ten to twenty-inch cross-section lumps at each other.
        Of course, since there were three of them and only one of me, I usually had plenty of ammo. As long as I dodged fast (they were throwing down towards me from atop a ten foot or so stone platform) I could just pick up their own "rounds" from the fluffy snow around me and send them back to deserved oblivion.
        Far too many hours of assorted ballistics games on my Mac paid off as I could sometimes throw upwards and hit without even seeing them, leaving them in the tricky situation of seeing something almost through its trajectory right before it hit. Watching the snow spray in every direction from four or five feet up (in other words a hit on shoulders or head) was delightful.
        Of course, the whole time we were all cackling like maniacs. I did, though, have to correct them on their references as they started out screaming that this was their chance to do over and win the Revolutionary War. I had to remind them that the situation was, as I mentioned before, far more like the early 1800's dynamic. They agreed and we happily clobbered each other for a while longer.

        After we were all out of breath they headed off and I spent about another half hour walking in the snow along the water (The river walk at the northern tip of Battery Park City), feeling the icy breeze and hearing nothing but the wind and the lapping of the water. Exhilarating.
        Down by the Winter Garden I found that the dark grey paving stone was exposed by the twisting, rushing wind, so the whole place became a monochrome of white drifts, black paving, and grey silhouetted plants. The only color was a bit of straw-looking grass exposed here and there, making the whole effect even more satisfyingly stripped-out and bare.

        The whole experience made my blood rush, my mind clear, and my perspective saner. It made me so very hungry to get out of New York and moved to somewhere proper, where such experiences are common. Some treats thin with exposure; I know from my winter in Milwaukee that, for me at least, this one doesn't.
        I walked into the triumphant warmth and prosperity of the Winter Garden. Triumph indeed! The disgusting, cowardly little fuckers may have hit us, but a year later the very ground of their attack is an even more formidible showpiece of the unmatched glory and competence of modern, pluralistic, progress-minded, western society. Ain't nothin' like this in Osama's world, baby! Only way he would ever has seen it is when his contractor daddy was learning how from REAL innovators. In fact, much of the Bin Laden work depended on innovation done right across the street from my apartment. Mitchell-Guergala (sp?), yet another obscure bunch of New York professionals making the stuff for which others take credit.

        So out from there, past the construction site at WTC.
        It was snowing up there, into the stadium lights, as the wind blasted up the sides of the dig into the air along the edges. Watching the snow drift up past the scaffolds and equipment was spectacular.
        Of course, New York being New York, work was going on anyway. Takes more then some thinned out frozen water to shut us down. Bulldozers were keeping the paths clear, I saw a few trucks make deliveries. Modern capitalism at its functional best. Neither black of night nor storm nor much of anything else can keep the wheels still for long.

        So I walked around downtown a little longer, savoring the quiet, the graceful drifts, the transitory and powerful sculptures created where wind had met barriers and etched out hollows, valleys, swooping curves and ridges.

        It wasn't until later that I discovered clumps of ice frozen into my beard.

        Eventually I got on a train and headed back to my apartment, collapsing as my arms and legs and back all went limp, dropping my coat where I stood.
        And went on with my life.

    • Dude, I didn't realize you were another Manhattanite.

      Completely off topic for this journal, but show up in #slashdot on EFnet (try

      We need more people in #slashdot, and a few of us from the City have started considering starting a small consulting firm to make some money on the side (because our jobs are okay, but we need more money, and we're quite competent and have good contacts, etc.).

  • Every time I am reminded of these STUPID ordinances requiring a homeowner to remove snow that is on ground controlled by the government annoys me to no end!

    Well, it annoyed me more when the anti-gun nuts invented a comparison between gun manufacturers and gun deaths being the same as the above relationship between homeowners and snow/ice on the sidewalks, but I digress.

    Anyway, glad you made it through your ordeal with nothing but soreness. Here in VA I just put the Jeep into 4WD and drove out of my apartment parking space. We had powder the past 2 days and I did prep the day before by sweeping it off the Jeep and from in front of my space, then drove in and out a few times. Still, yesterday I had a couple of feet to deal with.

    When I got back home last night I could not get to my building because someone was trying to dig their way into a parking space and blocking the way, so I had to park by the clubhouse in a spot that had been vacated by an apparently large truck. It still had a couple of feet of snow and getting out today I had to use 4L, but it was fine.

    Today seems to be "abandon or crash your car day" in the DC area. There was not much of that yesterday, lowest abandoned car count I had seen in years, but today they are getting the tradition back in gear.
    • Normally, I don't mind the sidewalk ordinance. I figure if owners didn't do it, we'd have to pay for it in taxes. The part that bugged me was the road crews dumping additional snow onto the walks, then trying to find a place to put all of it.

      I watched someone down the street try to back out his Ford Expedition (4WD) without shoveling the driveway. After making less than a foot of progress in a 1/2 hour's time, he gave up and went inside. This morning I noticed he'd dug his car out, too.

      "abandon or crash your car day"
      Why do people bother getting in their cars if they're going to ditch them? I mean, they have to know the raods are bad -- the news is full of it. Who does this??
      • Who does this??

        Hundreds of people in the DC area! I don't know why, but they do as soon as the first flake of snow appears.

        Also, they rush to the stores and buy all of the milk, bread and toilet paper. I am not joking, I may be laughing, but that is what they do.

        I called this area "The meatlocker of the nation's common sense" when I got here 8 years ago and nothing has changed. They are the most self absorbed morons that I have ever seen.

        Won't even get into the "everybody in DC wants the same barstool" thing, unless you are so bored that you ask me.
        • Won't even get into the "everybody in DC wants the same barstool" thing, unless you are so bored that you ask me

          Congratulations! I am bored and this sounds like a great story where I can laugh at the stupidity of others. Do tell ^_^
          • Everybody in DC wants the same barstool

            This long-term study began during one of my trips to the DC area, prior to beginning work here, with my then girlfriend, Helmet Head. We will call her "Helmet Head", as everybody in the UTK [] College of Business called her that, so we can too. It has something to do with her Sevier County hairstyle, known in other areas as "mall hair", "Jersey hair", "Manassas hair", "Maryland hair", etc.

            Anyway, when we were having a late lunch at Pizzeria Uno" [] right after she inked the deal on her new apartment []. The dining area was EMPTY. We were seated with TONS OF EMPTY TABLES surrounding us. Nice, quiet, it would have been romantic too, but . . .

            The next couple that came in sat themselves RIGHT BEHIND ME! I am not the smallest of men and he sure as hell wasn't either. I spent lunch with my chair being bumped constantly from behind.

            After this experience, I went back to Knoxville to finish another semester, graduated, we broke up and both moved to the DC area. The Uno's event was just a funny memory, until I moved . . .

            For some reason, I did not notice it right away, but often when I went to a bar, especially "empty" bars, if I left my seat for anything, someone else would be: standing behind, standing next to or sitting in my seat! I began leaving more "clues" that it was an occupied seat. Smoldering cigarettes, cigarette packs, keys, freshly ordered food, jackets, etc.

            The culminating moment was in Bistro! Bistro! in Reston, VA. (no longer in business) On a Sunday afternoon, nobody in the bar but me and the staff, my jacket on the stool, glass of wine and smoldering cigarette on the bar, I went to the bathroom to return to THREE young men occupying my seat and the adjoining TWO! Now I finally began remembering the other times.

            For some reason, asking these idiots if I may resume my drink and smoke moves them away a little bit. They are ALWAYS suprized and apologetic and move, but STILL!

            Another gem was in the same bar. Granted, it was crowded this time. I came in, occupied the last remaining seat (asking the others if it were "open" btw), ordered dinner and a drink, lit a smoke and waited for the salad to arrive. I had spoken briefly and nicely to the people to my left and right, then went to the bathroom after my food arrived. Leaving a LIT CIGARETTE, FULL DRINK AND A PLATE OF FOOD, I went to the bathroom. As I returned, some young lady was speaking to the people I had sat next to, then SHE STARTS DRAGGING THE BARSTOOL TO THE OTHER END OF THE BAR! I briskly walked over to her, gripped the barstool and said "Excuse me BABY DOLL, I am still using this." Then carried it back.

            She was SHOCKED and said "Oh I did not know, those guys said nobody was using it." I just glaired at her and went back, sat down and ate. The IDIOT to my right said "Oh, I did not know you were still sitting there!" I replied that "Yea, right like I did not leave enough clues." I was pissed and this guy was acting like *I* was ther rude party!

            Skipping tons of other similar incidents, I will skip to a more recent one.

            In Chantilly, VA, not far from the NRO [], I had lunch at a nice, newly remodeled, buffet type pizza place. The "bar" area was EMPTY, but people do go there for takeout orders, so I figured there would be some traffic. Right after ordering the buffet, jacket over the barstool, I turned to load up on salad. When I turned back around, some ditzy woman (more on her in a bit) is LEANING ON THE BACK OF MY BARSTOOL, GRIPPING MY COAT AS SHE BABBLES THROUGH FIGURING OUT WHAT TO ORDER CHANGING HER MIND 10 TIMES! No, I did not claim a barstool in front of the register, I was almost at the other end, but still towards the middle.

            With a plate full of salad, the staff noticed their nutty customer was in my way and set a place setting another seat over. I tried to go that way, but space-case shifted that way too, so I said "excuse me" a few times and she looked at me like I was nuts. Then I pulled my jacket from under her hands and put it on the back of my new barstool. She looked at me with a rude look and did not scoot over an inch.

            Finally, she left, I finished a load of salad and was just polishing off my second helping of pizza, she returns for her takeout order. Something important was on TV, the sniper news or something, and she starts trying to start a conversation while I am chowing down on pepperoni pizza. It was some of that quasi Leftist (NOT the informed variety) claptrap that I was NOT in the mood for, especially while I am peacefully eating lunch alone.

            Resisting the urge to grab her by her frizzy hair, drag her to the kitchen and grill her head, I just sat there and ignored her babble until she left.

            These are not the only examples, just the most entertaining ones. I can eliminate any physical attraction to me as I have never gotten laid from some chick blocking my barstool. I am certainly not disappointed that the guys scoot away quicker than the girls either. It can not be my coat, as this behaviour spans my entire coat collection. All that I can conclude is that Beltway people are afflicted by a combination of stupidity, self-centeredness and an urge to stand in line like Russians in the old Soviet Union ("what is this line for?" "I have no idea but the person in front of me wants whatever is here"), arguably with the false manners of a french diplomat.
  • You should live up here with me in Rochester NY where we get 2 feet of snow every other day. It is what they call "Lake Effect" One good thing about lake effect snow though is that it is really fluffy and a quick pass with a snow blower will move most of the snow efficiently. But then there is the dreaded plow mess at the end of the driveway. Err ... damn town dumping their snow on my driveway the nerve of them.

    Anyways sorry about the soreness.
    • I'd like it back in Alaska, too -- where we just drove on snow it instead of shoveling. After a few storms, we were always parked on a platform of compressed snow/ice at least a foot above the actual driveway. I miss that sooo much.
  • (Short answer: No!)

    We have little teeny John Deere snowplows (some with wing-blades, some with v-blades, and all with glassed-in driver's compartments) that come around and plow the sidewalks for us. We also have enough snowplows that when a big storm hits, traffic is slow for a day or so, but nothing really shuts down. Since they perfected the art of scrambling the plows several years ago, even the fabled "snow day" is mostly a thing of the past. (Students can take heart in that we still get a lot of "black ice days" and "fog delays.")

    On the other hand, I live in London, ON, so we're used to lake-effect streamers and those cold, Canuckistani winters! ;)
    • See my reply to RedWolves2 :-) The big thing here is a lack of equipment and strategies to deal with snow.

      Curious: how does your snowfall this year compare to the averages?

      I ask because I was in Alaska during the biggest storm to ever hit the Philadelphia area, and we (in Alaska) had so little snow hat they were talking about cancelling the sled races. This year (possibly 2nd biggest storm for Philly) its not only been a low-snow winter, but southern Alaska has warmed above freezing, and they have to run the best-known race, The Iditarod, from *Fairbanks*!

      I'd have loved to be there for that -- the Yukon Quest is coming into my old home town, and the Iditarod is going out. If I had the cash, I'd have flown up for it.

      Anyway: I'm wondering if there's a connection between temperate weather across Canada/Alaska and atypical snow along the East Coast.
      • temperate weather across Canada/Alaska and atypical snow along the East Coast.

        Er, I'm way closer (in SW Ontario) to the East Coast (of both Canada and the US) than I am to Alaska, which is about 4650 km away (3000 miles, give or take), so not all of Canada (a very big place) is having "temperate" weather. We've had heavy snowfalls here, and set some record cold temperatures over the last month or so. In fact, having been down to NY state in late December/early January, I'm willing to bet the weather here has been colder and snowier overall than anything the US eastern seaboard has gotten so far.
        • Always seemed to me that the weather in Saskatoon was closer to that in Alaska than was the weather in Vancouver, BC. Yes, I understand that you're nowhere near Alaska, or Dawson or Yellow Knife or Ft. Providence, but I'm looking to see how far/how extensive the tie-in between Alaskan/U.S. East Coast freak-weather extends. This is completely unscientific, but you're in the general path between my two points of interest.

          My understanding is that the weather above the general range of the Great Lakes is governed more by Arctic and Central Canadian air masses than ones coming across the Central U.S. or up from the Gulf ... but that is trend information, and it could be wrong. You tell me. Besides, I guess it wouldn't really matter from your position on the globe, as neither references to above or below the Lakes quite work.

          Radar [] seems to indicate that *current* weather across Canada is in a shared band with Alaska's weather -- but I understand that this doesn't mean it'd normally be so. Still, I'm thinking how this last storm didn't really hit my grandmother in Michigan (who gets Lake effect snow from Lake Michigan -- not Huron or Erie). She did, however, get an Artic air mass about ... oh, maybe 5 days earlier that hardly touched my area -- but I think that cold missed Alaska, too -- they're getting abnormal Pacific weather right now. I can't remember the last time she got snow from Atlantic/Gulf storms -- seems the tiny hills that are the Appalachian "Mountains" [] buffer all that (and I'd expect it to keep you from getting chunks of weather, too).

          What other areas get the same winter weather as you? Hudson Bay? Chicago? Novia Scotia? Boston? Scratch that. When the winter weather is atypical, who else is getting atypical weather?
    • I think I have a new favorite name for my friend from British Colombia, Canuckistani, the Canadia and Quebecois jokes were getting a little stale. The kicker is she's living in Orlando, Fl and I'm stuck in the ice world known as Kentucky, tell me how that is fair, damn you Amanda.
  • I just got back from a 7 day ski vacation in the Kootnay Mountains in BC, and there wasn't as much as a flake of snow when I was there. Sure there was a lot of snow already on the ground, but not fresh snow. That area of North America is supposed to be the powder capital for skiers. Except when I am there.

    The eastern coast has no need for large amounts of snow. Of course, the day after I left it snowed out West. And here.

    At least you don't live in Toronto where the city doesn't really plow the sidewalks anymore. Of course the main streets and walks are done, but not the suburban area where I live. The last major snowfall we had (which was before Christmas) , the sidewalk in front of my apartment wasn't shovelled. Then it got really cold and the compacted snow turned to ice. And then it rained and the whole thing was a 4cm thick sheet of ice.

    See, I told you I was bitter.

    • I wouldn't mind if we didn't plow the sidewalks. I have the boots to deal with that. I admit that yes, it sucks when it turns to ice, but I'd figure that wouldn't happen too frequently.

      P.S. I like Toronto, and think all of Canada has a better understanding of what to do with snow than any East Coast government in the U.S. -- but of all the Canadian places I've been, Montreal remains my favorite.
  • (The Independent)
    Man in ski gear, skiing across Time Square.

    Nuff said, really. :)
    • cool :-)

      A guy was running his snow-machine down my street, but personally, I was too tired from shoveling to break out the x-country skis. They're waiting for me -- calling to me -- but, dagnabbit, I bet it all melts before I get a chance to use them (late at work tonight conference tomorrow, etc.).
  • So through the grapevine, my wife says that Maryland has NO enforcement mechanism for that "keep your sidewalk clear of snow within 24 hours" law. (we haven't checked yet... ) But without an enforcement mechanism, that law is as good as STUPID.

    Don't get me wrong, I like my mail-person, so I keep it clean, and yes I am sore after 3 days of shovelling (I even went to sleep dreaming about shovelling!) but do some research on this accursed law. It may have NO BITE.
    • I admit that I haven't checked to see if there's a way to enforce the law. I've assumed the home owner would get fined/cited by local police, but -- like you -- courtesy for others who use the sidewalk has kept me from violating the ordinance, so I haven't seen what happens if there's a failure to comply. I figure the _least_ that'd happen is I'd piss off my neighbors. I wouldn't want that even if a number of them weren't so prone to aggression.

      I'm thinking all us sore people should band together and promote the idea that when a given snowfall exceeds... say a foot before there's a 24hr break in the storm, that everyone agrees to *not* shovel and just walk on the build-up. If we could get everyone to agree to that, then we'd save ourselves a lot of needless effort (especially since it looks like the East Coast snow will be melted by Friday).
      • I think this is the wisdom that the north dakotan's use.

        Actually, it'd be pretty easy to do... just print something out that kinda looks like it came from a HOA and say "We're advising people not to shovel" and add some information about how more accidents happen due to snow shovelling (heart attack, hypothermia, etc.) and how the only weather related disaster that claims more lives than shovelling snow is tornados. *

        *(I got this dat from ABC/NBC news weathermen... I'm sure google could give you actual sources)
    • In DC one of the enforcement mechanisms is anybody calling in an injury by slippin on ice, the record is then used in the later civil suit against the owner.

      I believe they also run about giving citations to owners, even if they have to wade through drug dealers to do it (according to the only home owner I knew in DC, she was in SE DC, but she did not say it like that).

      Somehow, through some magical head spinning speedy legal mechanism, DC "suspended" the shoveling law this weekend. At least it was announced, by DC officials, on WTOP-FM sometime this weekend.

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