The Lights of Home


When you have a seemingly iditarod-like commute to work, it does give one time to think. After doing it for three years now, if I had any brains, I’d have Rosetta Stone loaded and teaching me French by now, but I digress.

It doesn’t take much in Western New York weather terms to cause that 45 minute regular commute into something out of The Odyssey. Maybe it was an accident last year, maybe it was realizing that just because one can go 65 m.p.h. on the rolling hills of New York State Route 20A does by no means mean that one should. I know a minivan driver who executed a perfect snowstorm arabesque last winter would now agree with me.

But, after heeding the warnings of the morning weather and traffic folks and knowing these backroads, one can settle one’s mind a bit and sort out conundrums like:

Why are the visible snow plows in the area always going the other direction while the lane I’m in still covered in muck?

Why did the prius driver in front of me only use his wipers to clean his car off? It can’t be because the car is too tall.

Did the guy in the admittedly cool looking mustang realize what rear wheel drive was going to be like on a snow laden commute? If he arrived alive, he got a hell of an arm workout.

While I do work, you can hear the tell tale sound of deer season in the distance, the occasional shot gun blast.

If ever I needed a reminder to slow it down on these nasty roads of ours, it was the sit of a chevy pickup in the ditch on the media the other night. I believe there were other cars there as well as the emergency vehicle count was around a dozen. Betting the non emergency vehicles were tempting the fate of Mother Nature. She apparently doesn’t like that.

I do pity others as there is a speed trap underneath an overpass that requires the officer involved to twist in his driver’s seat and aim the radar gun, blow dryer, or whatever in the opposite direction. So, window down, snow falling, 20 degree temps, that is a back ache waiting to happen.

It’s bad enough when the daylight or lack of daylight savings time comes into play and messes with our collective circadian rhythm. I didn’t even no what that was until Star Trek explained it to me. Now, it is responsible for the xannax in my diet.

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When the good weather and traffic folk say on their broadcasts that “it’s nothing we can’t handle,” they are usually correct. Whenever I hear it, it makes me cringe a little as an example of somebody who can’t handle it will be found at least once on the road to or fro.

Ever notice that when you are driving into lake effect snow, the net effect isn’t hyperspace a la Star Wars but more along the lines of barbeque smoke. No matter what direction you are driving, you are driving into it. Somehow, it knows.

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After Christmas, the thrill is gone.

 

 

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I Miss El Nino


I’m tired, Lily Von Stupp tired of driving in the snow. The return to old school Western New York winter isn’t sitting well. We didn’t get any January thaw to speak of, and temperatures have been single digits for so long that if we get a heatwave of 15, I walk out thinking, this isn’t so bad. What the hell?

The publishers of the coffee table book, Wall of Snow, might be able to make some money if there was so much of the crap still around. When the temperatures were in the negatives to start last week, many road ways just froze. My commute on a regular run of the mill day is 20 minutes. That’s pretty good, almost pleasant. You can relax from the busy day or get your self geared up for the day ahead with some tunes, what have you. Not these days, when snow, freezing rain, and wind have regularly turned the trips into 75 minute white knuckled, gird your loins, hunched over the steering wheel, burn a hole through the windshield with your concentrated gaze, feats of road terror.

Now, I don’t have road rage, I have road expectations. The road has set its standards pretty low. But the pleasant drive has turned into that joke Robin Williams used to make about marathon runners at the end of the race “I’m,…I’m alive.” During the latest cold freeze, random roughly 30 foot sections of the Interstate 190 along Lake Erie decided to freeze, so caked in ice the Buffalo Sabres could have tanked on them. So frozen that doing anything other than aiming the car. Don’t stop, don’t accelerate, just aim. Anything else and you were headed to the ditch. Even safe passage caused the back of my sportage to shake like a dancer at Club Marcella’s after too many espressos. After seven or eight randomly spaced out instances of this, you arrive at the promised land, the toll booth of the South Grand Island bridge, the scene of another large accident.

Traffic of course stops. I look and you see a ice trail up the bridge that would make a great luge run going down, or so it would appear. I see an exit to sneak down River Road, but who the hell knows what does on down there. I summon the courage and go through the toll. A group of about 40 cars and trucks seems to take the trip in unison like the Donnor party. We all reach the peak of the bridge and start to descend down, all hoping it is just a wet surface leading to the flat ground of Grand Island.

It made me think of the people who whine about not getting a storm, missing snow, or griping about schools being open, or schools being closed, reporters who can’t describe snow as anything other than winter wonderland, or snow days you didn’t get in 1983 and how all of the aforementioned need a slap up side the head.

That’s the thing. The sky and the surface have matched each other for so long, it’s harder to differentiate. Somehow, we all land on Grand Island, and sonofabitch, it’s a different ecosystem there. Sun is out and roads are passable. If you haven’t stopped for PTSD treatment for the first part of journey, it’s like hitting Brigadoon. You could drive (and breath) like a human. I heard my radio once more. I was conscious of the jamoke who didn’t knock the snow off his car, silently receiving curses from me. You could see the guy who cleaned his car by running the wipers once.

Until we left Shangra-la to cross the next bridge, where the frost giants awaited…

I miss El Nino.

 

Baby, It’s Cold Outside


Lots of weather out there.

In this age of social media, I’m amused how basically having a place to post a gripe, complaint, witticism, that we don’t all have the equivalent of a digital barstool to mutter from atop of.  For every weather related facebook post or tweet showing how much snow landed, there is somebody else grousing that they didn’t get any.

Guess the Western New York snowbelt is living up to its name. Here is North Buffalo, we are looking at pavement. Hamburg, Orchard Park are looking at a foot or more. This, to me, isn’t anything dramatic. I might have even lost my wonder to a degree, because I’ve seen it before. I think that makes us the snow waistline.

That song, think about it, somebody is getting slipped  a mickey, but this is still the best version.

That said, it feels a bit like old school western new York winter. I took this photo on the way into the sabres senators game this week.
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You could hear the water getting colder, but the wind chill was at your back at least. The walk back to the car? Not so pleasant.

So, I don’t get a little awed by the big snow fall that the southtowns are wrasslin with because that is sort of well, normal. When we got a few inches a week or so ago, we’ll instagrammed the beauty of it, but it didn’t slow anybody down at all.
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Despite the “Battering” that CNN says we took, the four inches basically amounted to a condition my dad labels Wednesday. I suspect NBC and CNN covered not for the snowfall, but because our wings are better than the ones where the snow was really falling.

It’s beginning to look like Christmas? No, it looks like Buffalo usually does in December. Winter Wonderland? No, single digit wind chills aren’t part of that song.

Even as I write this, (morning on December 12) and can still see pavement, the Today show talks about Buffalo being hit by snow. It would be more accurate to report that half an hour south of Buffalo they got some snow. Those of us in the city were just cold.

In these days of shortened attention spans, that’s an important thing this city resident got out of my car, walked to my door and didn’t hit snow at all.

As the Snow Flies


So, there might be snow in Buffalo. This really shouldn’t be news at this time of year or reason for much of anything other than trying to remember where you put your good winter gloves when you last needed them, May probably. I saw a little snow while out for a ride and the weatherdudes correctly noted that it was going to get cold (30 outside while I write this), and none of that should really be earth shattering at this time of the year. Our former mayor offered his “grab a six pack” advice and practically seems a sage now, as when the weather forecasts have “lake effect” featured in them prominently, that is apparently code for “get to the grocery store and buy as much milk as you possibly can.” I don’t believe there has been a driving ban longer than a day or two since the Blizzard of ’77. So, I’m not sure where the “Better stock up” strategy came from. Sunday could be ugly, but we all got to go to work Monday.

It’s mostly amusing as the snow is fine at this time of the year. We had a couple of whacko storms and everybody gets a little edgy. Facebook fills up either with “hey, where’s ours” complaints if we don’t get any, and grumblings if “it is really accumulating.” I promise not to take a picture  out my window as you all know what snow on ground looks like.

A cashier at the grocery store (I actually needed stuff, don’t judge) said something about it being the holy trinity of busy days: a saturday, the saturday before thanksgiving, and the saturday when the weather guys said lake effect a lot.”

It’s winter, let’s relax, breathe regular. You stay warmer that way.

Couldn’t Stand the Weather


In the school of thought about Western New York weather, I like all the seasons, but this area is having a collectively weirder reaction to news of snow storms. Not to go old man on you, but when I was a boy….

I had to lampoon the last mishagas of tweets and warnings that were flying through social media today. The thanksgiving snow storm in 2000 and the “surprise storm” of 2006 have understandably made folks a little jumpy, that “we have to remember our winter driving skills,” etc. It seems like when we get a taste of winter instead of just dealing,we do tend to overreact a bit. I made a little good natured mock of that on Facebook and was busted by one of the fine weather dudes. I felt a little bad about that, but wasn’t mocking the forecasting. I was mocking how weather angst can cause people to hear a forecast on a monday, and go on a stock the shelves mission like snowmageddon is setting up over us. It’s like the old story about the professor who tells one student a short story and instructs the student to pass the story along. By the time, the story gets to the tenth student, it is a completely different story.

A couple work colleagues were teasing me because I was a little indifferent to whether or not we received a white christmas. Given I’ve seen 48 of them now, whether or not snow makes it, isn’t that big a deal as it has shown up plenty of times previously. We did get a little spoiled about 10 or 11 years ago, we did get seven feet of snow between Christmas and New Years‘s and I don’t seem to recall it slowing us down at all.

Winter rain has no soul at all so some snow would be nice for the pictures, for the snowmobilers, snowboarders that I know of among my friends. Then, like the days getting longer (screw you, mayans) be gone before January.

Now that my daughter made it home for the holidays, it can do whatever it likes as nobody has to be anywhere tomorrow. I think the consequences of some of those other storms provided just enough variants that it messed with our mojo a bit. When the School district calls a snow day, I’m fine with it as with the 2000 storm, kids were trapped on buses and some spent the night in a supermarket on the west side. Better to be safe than sorry in that regard.

Supposedly, we might get some wind and snow tomorrow. If we don’t, somebody is going to grouse about that too, like it is an affront to the area’s manhood.
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That said, I did get some milk at the store tonight, right before I got to the beer aisle

Bipolar Winter


A weather forecaster actually said that Buffalo isn’t used to this snow the other night. I nearly did a spit take on this. Yes, snow in January is pretty flipping unique and certainly noteworthy in Western New York (please tell me that sarcasm was evident as you read it).

Sure, it hasn’t been a traditional Buffalo winter and I’m okay with that. Change is good. We got no break at all last year, which made the season stretch to the point where Spring might have been offended had we had one.

It cracks me up to read things like “Now it looks like January” or “Where’s ours?” when a storm does come through but picks on other portions of the region, like it’s a threat to our collective manhood that we don’t have driveways full of the stuff.

Now, I don’t have a particular interest one way or the other. I like all the seasons just fine, but I’m not feeling gyped by how often I have to clean off my car. In fact, it was nice to know that the sounds of windows being scraped on Monday didn’t include me (as my car was nestled in the garage).

When we do get walloped, it seems like the Buffalo mojo is a little askew in recent winters. I don’t the snow over the weekend seemed to confound people like the forecaster. I don’t know if the Thanksgiving storm in2000 permanently warped us, but to open my facebook list and see people bitching about temperatures in the 50s does make your head shake.

My winter coat got the day off. That is a good thing.

Happy Now?


There was an awful lot of whining going on about when are we going to get ours in terms of snowfall? I really wanted these people to shaddup because if in Buffalo you ask for snow, chances are it will still be in here in APRIL! It’s less charming then, in fact, after the holidays, I’m sort of whatever. But some things are certain, death, taxes, the Mets sucking, Snow in Buffalo? Settle, it came.

So, it never ceases to amaze that there is somebody driving down Elmwood, with a few inches of snow covering their car, windshield barely defrosted, no lights on.

I don’t mind the snow, just what can happen mind sets. Having four wheel drive is the key to NOTHING and there are few folks in the city who think having a four drive car has given them the powers found usually with residents of Krypton.

It’s the little things that make it even more interesting.

The traffic light on my street took on disco light flashing, which brings an even busier intersection that much more of a mess as we all forgot the four way stop rule they teach you in driver’s ed.

There isn’t that much snow as I write this but somehow folks are already in the streets.

It is what makes the “Where is our snow” facebook status updates and tweets sort of laughable.

“It’s here!”

 

Six Degrees


Alright, I need a word with you, yeah, you, the yahoo who posted on his Facebook or Twitter feed to “Bring it On!” with the forecasts of cold and snow.  You, dear sir, are a schmuck! You complacent, commuter cup swilling, jug head. I thought of you while waiting for AAA this morning. I enjoy the seasons to be sure, but those who somehow measure their manhood by snow piles I think need to be smacked back to consciousness, preferably with something frosty. Yes, we have handled snow just fine, but 6 degrees is cold, too cold to enjoy the snow for very long.

It’s cold, especially if you develop a car issue, as mine did, on the way to work, for the first time in almost a week, on a busy street, during rush hour, with a grumpy teen in the car.

While waiting the admirably fast AAA folks, (helpful dude showed in 30 minutes) all I can think about were the yahoos who filled social media spots with “Finally” “Bring it On” “Bout Time.” There will be time for all the fun stuff as we enjoy Winter until May, then have near winter, not winter, then near winter again. So, settle down as the tire that might need changed tomorrow morning might be yours. Don’t go tempting Karma like that, she’s burn out a headlight in temps like this and make you drop the most important screw into a dark corner that you can’t see into and your fingers will be too big too reach.

It snowed in real numbers in the southtowns. Go there, but settle down, we’ll get ours.

Snowjob


So, we have some snow in December in Buffalo. That certainly is a stop the presses kind of headline ain’t it? I think the first feature reporter to use the phrase “Winter Wonderland” on their broadcast needs to pay me a $1 penalty for trite cliche use.

All the folks who are doey eyed today probably won’t feel that way when it lingers in the spring. Despite the hyperventilating of the tv weatherfolk, it was meh.

As the picture from the Buffalo News shows, no big whoop. It’s not the snow that bothers me, it’s the folks on the road who are all “SNOW!” like it’s never happened, instead of every flippin year, we were just a couple weeks late this year.

So, yeah, it’s winter, in Buffalo, all seasonal, all Courier and Ives and all things wonderous, but it happens every year so keep your eyes on the road.

Driftin’ and Hopin’


I’m full for this. Yes, this is another weather gripe.

My landlord has either Ray Charles or Stevie Wonder plowing our pathways, so since the last rounds of snow have landed, you are basically luging your way out to the end of the driveway. That wouldn’t be a completely bad thing if the snow there hasn’t been shoved into 5 foot tall drifts, which on an elevated lot, makes hopping down on to Delaware Ave during rush hour a challenge worthy of Steve McQueen in “Bullit.”

I think the prolonged cold is making us all a little loopy. For three days now, a decent looking toyota was parked on the road leading into work. As snow has been removed, it was revealed that the car was in the ticket attracting middle of the road. Parking spaces have become less distinct. I took my son into school and noticed one of the faculty was so possessive of their spot, it mattered not that a pile of snow was occupying the bulk of it. The SUV is question was plastered on it.

A bus rider decided standing in the plowed street was better that being on the curb. He was giving each driver including me stern talking tos as we were clearly in his space.

People were taking some serious chances in changing lanes, makes you think we’ve been cold too long. No january thaw, just a day every ten days that nudges 30.

Sad, when 20 makes you think it’s a heatwave.

Spring, bring it!