Yikes

Photo by Jason Wagner.

Midwesterners are occasionally not very smart people.

I was starting to get ready to put the boy to bed last night when suddenly the civil defense alarms started going off. Normally the alarms don’t happen until after the National Weather Service has already kicked out some watches and warnings, and I hadn’t seen anything, so I posted a quick message to Facebook asking if anybody knew anything and we went about our business. It took maybe another 10 minutes for my phone to start blowing up, and even when it did, it was all “radar indicates rotation” type of stuff and no actual someone sees a tornado types of warnings. I feel like now that they’re doing “radar indicates rotation” as a threat level, we need a new word for that. Tornado warning always meant someone has actually seen a funnel cloud to me and I don’t know how seriously to treat your radar tornadoes.

Anyway, we didn’t go hide in the bathtub, and we didn’t go into the basement. I’ve been living in tornado-prone areas for 3/4 of my life and I can count the number of times I’ve actually taken shelter during tornado warnings on one hand. I have never in all that time seen one with my own eyes, and the last time we were having tornado warnings I was literally outside taking video on my phone because the clouds were cool.

I am not alone in this, mind you. This is a Midwestern thing. We are used to this shit– if anything, too used to this shit. By the time the warnings were really starting to show up, it was barely even raining at my house any longer, so we didn’t go anywhere.

So, uh, that building in that picture up there is maybe a five-minute drive from my house. It used to be a day care– not my son’s day care, but we’ve tried to get him in there a couple of times because it’s more convenient to where we live than anywhere else we’ve installed him. And it’s, uh, gone now, because tornado. Luckily said tornado was at 8:30 on a Sunday night so the building was deserted.

Maybe next time we’ll go hang out in the basement for five minutes.

Okay I’m ready to go back to work now

45 below zero yesterday, forty below zero this morning, and I’ve been to school one day this week and twice in the last nine days. I went outside for a couple of minutes yesterday just to feel what -45 degrees felt like, and it is not something that I would recommend– not because of the cold, oddly, but because of the weird shit that happens to your skin after spending even just a couple of minutes outside in that shit and then coming back into a 68 degree house. That’s a temperature shift of somewhere in the neighborhood of a hundred and ten degrees in seconds, and it turns out that it’s a bad idea.

It’s possible that there won’t be school tomorrow either. I don’t know that it’s terribly likely for a number of reasons– objectively, it’s still gonna be fucking cold tomorrow, with a windchill below zero, but the actual air temperature will be positive and I think after the last several days they’re going to look at that and go meh, good enough and have the day. Attendance will be shit because a lot of parents are going to shrug and let their kids stay home anyway but it won’t add another day in June.

(Goes and looks at the forecast)

Jesus H. Christ this shit is NOT NORMAL:

-25 on Wednesday (yesterday,) 53 on Monday, then a low of 6 again on Thursday. This is Goddamned ridiculous.

Anyway, one way or another I’ve been stuck in the house for a bit too long at this point and everything is starting to bore and/or aggravate me and despite the fact that it’s still currently -8 outside I may need to leave the house this afternoon just for the sake of my sanity. I’m maybe an hour or two away from beating Dark Souls again and part of me thinks I should just roll straight into DS2 for the third time after I finish that. The rest of me is starting to think this is borderline unhealthy and hey you have all this free time maybe finish writing a book?

That’s the stir-crazy talking, obviously. Clearly it’s all nonsense. What are y’all doing to stay sane while outdoors is trying to kill us?

It’s still cold as hell outside

…just in case anyone was wondering. I walked out to the mailbox in jeans and a zipup hoodie a few hours ago just to see what would happen, and by the time I got to my mailbox my mustache had frozen.

I look forward to the inevitable videos tomorrow of people tossing boiling water into the cold air and watching it freeze. Maybe I’ll even make one. Just remember, folks: always throw your hot water downwind, and make sure that’s not where the cameraperson is standing.

In which I almost die because I’m stupid but then I don’t so it’s okay

I have made a number of very bad driveway-related decisions in the last 48-72 hours, guys.

BAD DECISION THE FIRST: I did not get up at five this morning to clear the driveway before going to work. This ensured that a day and night’s worth of wet, heavy snow was on my driveway– the type of snow that doesn’t basically disintegrate back into fluffy snow when the snowblower tosses it, but limply splats back onto your driveway a few feet away, ensuring that you just have to move the same snow over and over again and that the job gets harder and harder the closer you get to being done.

BAD DECISION THE SECOND: I did not clear the driveway of the relatively small amount of snow that had fallen in previous days either– basically I should have hit the driveway at least twice instead of zero times in the last four or five days– which ensured that under the wet, heavy snow is now a layer of hard-packed, days-old, repeatedly driven-on ice, meaning that at least twice I got a split-second holy shit I’m about to break my leg and die out here scare while clearing the driveway. Now, neither time did I fall and break my leg, but another inch or so of sliding either way and something really shitty woulda happened.

BAD DECISION THE THIRD: I had on my beastcoat. Understand that I have two articles of cold-weather outerwear: a “winter coat” and a Winter Coat. I wear my “winter coat” most of the time and I rarely button it. I am Of the North and the cold generally does not bother me very much, but all of the talk of fifty below wind chills over the next couple of days has somewhat thrown me off of my game. My Winter Coat is rated to sixty below zero, and I need you to understand that in the most literal sense possible my Winter Coat possesses no chill whatsoever. It’s a Carhartt, for those of who who will understand that. And I need to be careful when I wear it, because most of the time it’s way too goddamn much coat for what I need. For example, if I’m going to wear it in the car I cannot have the heat on. I’ll be sweaty by the time I get out of the car, even on a short drive. Opening the windows is actually not a bad idea.

Wearing this motherfucker outside, with a sweater on underneath, on what isn’t really that cold of a day (yet) while performing strenuous work– another disadvantage of the ice is that the wheels on the snowblower don’t work at all and I’m basically just ceaselessly shoving it through 6-8″ of, again, heavy wet snow– meant that I realized halfway through the job that I was feeling kind of woozy because of, no shit, impending Goddamn heatstroke.

Yeah. My wife wasn’t home yet and my son was inside by himself doing who knows what, so if I break a leg and then die in the driveway I’mma stay leg-broke and dead in the driveway until she gets home, because it ain’t like he can move me, or that he’d even look up from the iPad long enough to notice my dead ass out there. So I went inside for a few minutes, let my heart rate slow down, took off the sweater and the beastcoat, and swapped my soaked-in-sweat knit winter hat for a regular baseball cap. And then made …

BAD DECISION THE FOURTH, which was going back outside before mopping my stupid, covered-in-sweat body off. Because what with all of the sweating and dying from roasting myself alive inside my fucking Beastcoat I’d forgotten that, while not much by historical standards, it was actually fucking cold outside, and that you really do not want to be outside on even moderately cold days if you are soaking fucking wet. And while I can’t be trusted to say whether the temperature had actually dropped while I was inside– it’s not like I was feeling the actual air temperature anyway– I can sure as hell state with certainty that the wind picked up pretty substantially while I was inside, meaning that any residual body heat I had left was gone, gone gone within minutes of getting back outside, and I still had half the damn driveway to do. Eventually I had to come back inside and put a third hat on, and the first thing I had to do when I finally came back inside for good was mop off my beard, which is super fun.

On the plus side, now that I’ve survived all this stupid bullshit, warmed up and cooled off and dried off, I’m going to go take a shower and then change into sweatpants and a sweater and I am not going outside under any circumstances for the next three days, whether work calls off or not. Chicken soup time, motherfuckers.

In which we’re all gonna die

Eagle-eyed and observant readers may have noticed that yesterday’s non-music-related post went up at about 2:30 PM, which is a time when one might expect me to be at work. As it turned out, yesterday was a snow day; we got ourselves a nice little ice storm Tuesday that went through into the morning hours and basically every district nearby called out, so the boy and I were home together all day.

Honestly, I suspect that the cancellation was less due to icy roads than icy school parking lots; the walk to my car after work was genuinely fucking terrifying, and while the roads get salted and plowed all night, the parking lots of the many schools we have in town do not, and it only takes one person slipping and breaking a hip and then the district is out a huge amount of money.

Today, there was school. Tomorrow … well …

Twenty below zero wind chills is gonna mean no school tomorrow. There are legitimate safety issues with kids who walk to school or have to wait outside for buses when it’s that cold. It ain’t happening. I’m sure they’re gonna make us wait until 5 AM and all that like usual when they make the call-off, but … nah. It ain’t happening.

Next week? Yeah, this is next week:

JESUS CHRIST, WEDNESDAY, WHAT THE FUCK DID WE DO TO YOU?

Now, the 20 below thing tomorrow morning is wind chill. The temps on that image are actual air temperatures, meaning that Wednesday is gonna be fifteen below before the seventeen mile an hour winds get taken into consideration. I would not be surprised if we lost the entire back four days, and Wednesday and Thursday are Goddamn guaranteed unless the forecast changes substantially. That’s “the air is trying to kill you” territory right there.

So, yeah. If I suddenly stop posting next week it’s because the entire Midwest is frozen fucking solid. So we’ve got that to look forward to.