Saturday, March 22, 2014

Winter of 13-14

Spring arrived two days ago according to Google and it's none-too-soon after the winter we've had. It was a winter of snow-maps, ice-storms and our new friend: polar vortex. 

I watched as the snowfall totals for the year shot up the charts like a new Lady Gaga record, finally settling to number two on the charts (with a bullet) at 65.5 inches after a St Patrick's Day 4.7 inches fell. The bullet being that they are calling for Snow on Tuesday. 

The Snow started in earnest on December 8th and I was due to fly out to Las Vegas for a conference that very same day. I guess you can see where this is going. I was the most prepared I've ever been for a trip but was shocked to see snow falling in giant flakes from the Eagles pre-game coverage on live TV. 40 minutes later, stuck on 295, I knew this day and week were not going to go as expected. In the end there was no trip to Vegas and I ended up watch the Eagles play in 8 inches of the white stuff from a local TGIF with 4 other people.

Lesson Learned: In today's tight scheduling of airline flights for the most efficient use of labor and equipment, A stiff breeze or a wet leaf will disrupt schedules for a week. 

It was the winter I bought a snowblower - and returned it 24 hours later. Of course I did the same amount of research on snowblowers as I did for the Emerson MW8998B which you may recall consisted of me pointing and saying "I'll take that one". The next morning I proudly wheeled that machine out to tackle the 8 inches, started it and cleared out exactly two 24 inch pathways before it stalled. That started an hour of dragging the dead machine back to the garage, plugging in the starter and using the electric start until it started again, clearing a single path until it died again. I called the 800 number for the manufacturer and they told me pretty much that unless you got the gas that was used in the machine that very morning, forgetaboutit. 

Foreseeing 20 years of this ahead of me, I put the snowblower back in the car and returned it. I'll wait until they make a fuel injected or electric version. 

Lesson Learned: Today's small gas powered engines are not built for today's ethanol based fuels, especially in winter. 

Then there was the cold. In January we had 10 days where the high temperature exceeded 32 degrees and February had 6. Since I burn the equivalent of liquefied gold to heat my home, I watched as dollar bills shot through the heat registers all winter. I also spent a lot of free time figuring out exactly how much oil I used with the Raspberry Pi based External Oil Burner Hour meter I built.This is like watching your house burn down, but having the satisfaction of knowing exactly how hot it was in there. Maybe the winter took it's toll on me in ways I have yet to understand.

Lesson Learned: If you have the chance, convert to natural gas. 

This was also the winter that AWA or Alternative Work Arrangements kicked into high gear at my job. AWA means working from home where razor blade usage goes way down but home coffee consumption goes way up. White T-shirt usage is way down but I can't seem to have enough sweat pants in stock. AWA also limits your social interactions to the point where you fully understand why Tom Hanks talked to Volley Ball for 6 months. By March I was seriously considering sewing two buttons onto to one of the many unused black socks to make my new friend "Mr. Blacksock".  

After the winter we've had, I end up looking like this:
Lesson Learned: I love taking the train and going to work. 

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