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The new snowcialism

Another storm coming. They come every three days now. Here in Nome-on-the-Potomac, our nerves are getting frayed as we hear talk of another foot or two of snow. Hard to believe, but not so long ago the meteorologists referred to possible snowfalls in terms of inches. Soon they will switch to the yard as the unit of measurement.

This next storm could separate the men from the boys. The cross-country skiers from the downhill skiers. The glove-wearers from the mitten-wearers. Some people feel good because they have their own generators and abundant supplies of gasoline. Others feel even better, because they have their own personal nuclear power plants. Some of these lawyers around here have the uranium brought in by private rail.

The city has done a bang-up job so far, I must say. I heard the snowplow before dawn this morning, scraping up the street. Such things are marvels of the new Washington, a city that in the 1996 blizzard did not manage to send snowplows to the neighborhoods until roughly June. Back then, the city's major strategy for dealing with snow and ice was to pray for a heat wave.

Snowmaggedon has actually been a pleasant experience so far. People help one another in Blizzard Country. The snow crisis has led to an efflorescence of snowcialism.

If someone is stuck on a snowy side street, we all rush forward to push the motorist along his or her way, feeling good about ourselves, and knowing that, in just half a block, an entirely new set of Good Samaritans will have the opportunity to push the very same stupid person.

We constantly get phone calls like this: "Jenny's car is buried, she can't get to the store, and she's completely out of portabellas." The neighborhood swings into action.

What's most striking is that all the sidewalks are shoveled. Of course, you can get fined if you don't shovel. No doubt the Republicans in the neighborhood find this Draconian. You know what they're thinking: The sidewalks are an intrusion on what ought to be private property. The government takeover of sidewalks has been covered up by the liberal media. If the liberal media had its way, the sidewalk would run right through your living room.

But look at the results of the new snowcialism: You can walk for blocks without sinking up to your knees in snow. The only tricky part is at the street corners, where a marsh of slush accretes in the crosswalks. No one shovels the slush-marshes. Not yet, at least.

Snowcialism shows us that we do not live, in fact, in a dog-eat-dog world. But let me check the weather forecast again. It could yet turn into a man-eat-dog world. Just for reference, I'm digging out my book on the Shackleton Expedition.

curmudgeonsgrill.jpgCurmudgeon's beloved grill

aceshoveling.jpgRD Padouk's shoveling masterpiece

By Joel Achenbach  |  February 9, 2010; 8:02 AM ET
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Next: The Snowmaggedon snowcap


Good morning, y'all.

It's snowing in TWC. About 2-3 inches so far and still coming down. Schools and businesses still open. Most folks driving sanely, according to anecdotal reports.

By now you all know what to do, so do it again, and with a big heart.

Posted by: MsJS | February 9, 2010 9:52 AM | Report abuse

I'm thinking of a long-ago winter in Delaware when it snowed every Wednesday and Saturday for a month. The Philadelphia Inquirer is headlining "Snowzilla v. Flakenstein: The grudge match between Snowzilla from the Midwest and the Flakenstein Monster from the south has them stomping all along I-95 with a foot to 18 inches of snow as the fallout."

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | February 9, 2010 10:02 AM | Report abuse

Jicama, star-fruit, plantains, Joel. And nopales. Chicken feet. Think outside the box! SURVIVAL.

Posted by: Jumper1 | February 9, 2010 10:13 AM | Report abuse

Oh Joel, your "pushing the stupid person" paragraph had both my wife and I laughing hysterically. Of course, maniacal laughter is becoming increasingly common. I expect it will soon become the dominant form of communication.

As I mentioned, we had two young men stuck in front of our house on Sunday. I went out and helped them get going because I am an altruistic person. Of course, I also really, really didn't want them stuck in front of my house when the plow came through again and gave us more than a single narrow lane of passable road.

That, of course, was back in the days when I believed that the snow plow would one day return. Oh, to have ever been that young and naive.

And now there is more snow on the way.

Which I am trying not to fret about too much. I keep feeling as if this snowfall is a problem that I need to solve.

Which is, of course, insane.

The skies will do what they will do and one needs to either except it, or go insane. So I am trying to find a sense of inner calm and acceptance. A state of mind that Joel has inspired me to call Snowacism.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | February 9, 2010 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Offer Jenny a turnip.

Portabellas are the food of the bourgeoisie.

Posted by: edbyronadams | February 9, 2010 10:17 AM | Report abuse

At 9:52, MsJS wrote:

Good morning, y'all.
It's snowing in TWC. ...

Where is TWC?

Posted by: ajsmithva | February 9, 2010 10:24 AM | Report abuse

Instead of a musical, we need to write a existential pastiche of Mamet and Beckett called "Waiting for The Plow".

Posted by: yellojkt | February 9, 2010 10:25 AM | Report abuse

The sidewalks in my neighbor are long gone. We were digging out our elderly neighbor and one of the guys tried to cut a path between his yard and hers and hit lawn instead.

Our sidewalks are underneath a six foot tall glacier that extends five feet into the road and provides the feed water for the ice slick that goes all the way down the hill to the mailbox.

Posted by: yellojkt | February 9, 2010 10:31 AM | Report abuse

The Wintery Conclave
Third World Country
Tiny White Chipmunks
Tawdry Willing Concubines

I'm not very good at this.

Posted by: yellojkt | February 9, 2010 10:33 AM | Report abuse dog? Joel... WHY???
Puppy eyes, stick in mouth, wag--
Man's best friend, not meal!!


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | February 9, 2010 10:33 AM | Report abuse

Ha Ha!!!

The common mushroom (Agaricus bisporus) is the food of the bourgeoisie?


Posted by: russianthistle | February 9, 2010 10:34 AM | Report abuse

Our street has been plowed! During this brief window of opportunity, I shall go forth in search of victuals. Also beer, more snow shovels, and maybe some snowshoes, if Princeton Sports still has them.

Posted by: ScienceTim | February 9, 2010 10:36 AM | Report abuse

TWC is "The Windy City" ... .

I have this sinking feeling that I'm not gonna get out to the grocery store this morning. I'll try again maybe on Friday. It's apparently already snowing lightly in Loudon County.

Yeah, yeah, it's pretty and all that. My crankiness coefficient is ratcheting up. Good thing the Olympics starts this weekend (of course I have my own issues (negative) about the Olympics) -- and I hope the power holds.

Posted by: -ftb- | February 9, 2010 10:38 AM | Report abuse

TWC = Chicago
(The Windy City)

Posted by: rickoshea1 | February 9, 2010 10:38 AM | Report abuse

Would anyone mind frightfully if I issued a front page alert?

The various weatherheads say 6-12 inches here in TWC (which is nowhere near Washington, DC, but rather nestled along the shores of southwestern Lake Michigan, also known as The Land of the Stinking Onion but that's a frightfully long-winded name and I much prefer short and to the point rather than drone on and on unless it's really funny or has a major point to make which this doesn't, sorry).

Posted by: MsJS | February 9, 2010 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Pat Robertson's small and shallow "god of love's" wrathful vengeance for Virginians electing his misogynist protege Governor.

Posted by: coloradodog | February 9, 2010 10:57 AM | Report abuse

Famous snowcialists in history:

Eugene V. Flake, union organizer and leader of the Pul-my-finger Strike
Emma Snowman, fiery feminist leader of snowcialist movement
George Snowell, author of "19.84 Inches" and "Penquin Farm"
George Bernard Galoshes, author of "My Fair Snowplow"
W.E.B. DuPlow, famous black snowcialist leader and writer
Bertrand Schussell, mathematician and snowcialist philosopher
Sacco and Flurrietti, accused bank robbers of possible snowcialist leanings, often thought to be anarchists
Victor Luge-go, French author of "Mess Miserables"
Albert Einsnow, physicist and 1986 Lake Placid Silver Medalist in Speed Skating
Susan B. Snowthony, another famous feminist snowcialist leader, has her face on the krugerrand
Helen Sledder, famous deaf/blind snowcialist who was taught to read by Annie Snowivan

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | February 9, 2010 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Am I the only person in the area who owns tire chains? They're only 40 bucks or so. The deep snow hasn't been a problem. I get the worst traction on the slushy gel MoCo left everywhere.

Posted by: Wallenstein | February 9, 2010 11:02 AM | Report abuse

stocked the bunker. coffee is on.

Posted by: -jack- | February 9, 2010 11:02 AM | Report abuse

I went to the grocery store yesterday to restock on grapefruit juice and condensed milk (more snow cream tommorrow!). Random sections of the store were completely denuded and looked like the aftermath of a Soviet era food riot while others were brimming over.

For example, there was nearly no bagged shredded cheese at all but you could get all the yogurt you wanted.

I broke down and bought a tube of sugar cookie dough just because it seemed in short supply. My wife taunted me by trying to actually bake it. She knows I don't *cook* cookie dough.

Posted by: yellojkt | February 9, 2010 11:05 AM | Report abuse

I don't have tire chains. Never learned how to put them on (and this has sometimes been an issue). They won't do much about the fact that the snow is higher than my bumper.

Posted by: ScienceTim | February 9, 2010 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Saw the mighty entertaining Bad Blake (no fluffy flakes, though) yesterday and ran errands. Said to my husband, as we were about to reach our destination, the sky up toward Boerne looks pretty threatening. On the way home, hail. Haven't seen diurnal hail in quite some time (as we're making the quick transition back to diurnal from having been noctural critters lately). The Bad Blake soundtrack features, on its second track, a song by Bakersfield's Buck Owens. *w*

Lance gave a powerful talk last night and took all questions--the Q&A lasting about 45 minutes, his entire time on stage about an hour and a half. I found Lance to be smart, literate, funny, and nice.

Dustin Lance Black refused no one the opportunity to ask him a question, nor did he shy away from any topic. His elementary and junior high school days in Live Oak (northeast San Antonio), the family move to Salinas, Calif., his unusual family, lawyers Boies and Olsen, Brokeback Mountain (speaking of Gyllenhaals [see Bad Blake]), Milk, the DownLow among Hispanics and Blacks, favorite book in high school (Catcher in the Rye), failure, leadership, the Matthew Shepard Act. This young screenwriter and passionate advocate does not look 35--and the black tennis shoes he wore were a hoot.

I could give additional details about Black--however. there is a write up about Black in today's paper (local TV writer Jeannie Jakle does a commendable job--, but its drive-by Boodling from me today, I'm afraid. There's a built-in microwave to be installed...

At this year's Academy Awards, will O. Bad Blake be handed the Oscar by came-out organizer Harvey Milk?

Posted by: laloomis | February 9, 2010 11:08 AM | Report abuse

10:58 LOL

Posted by: laloomis | February 9, 2010 11:11 AM | Report abuse

Unlikely. Milk's been dead for 31 years.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | February 9, 2010 11:12 AM | Report abuse

SciTim - I'm glad you got a snow plow! I shouldn't complain because we do have the ability to get in and out. It's just a bit scary, since only one vehicle can get through at a time. And there are no rules for who must back up when encountering an oncoming vehicle. It's traffic control via intimidation.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | February 9, 2010 11:13 AM | Report abuse

*spoiler alert*

The scenes of New Mexico in "Crazy Heart" are worth the price of admission alone. However, I have a very strong hunch that the beautiful casita in the film is in Los Angeles (something was filmed in L.A., according to the closing credits). It just struck me as I was watching the film that the vegetation surrounding the casita is just far too green for Santa Fe, N.M.
I may be wrong about the locale of the casita--or I may be right, but I'm awfully curious to learn the details.

Posted by: laloomis | February 9, 2010 11:18 AM | Report abuse

11:12 Psssst *wink, wink* ...Sean Penn

Posted by: laloomis | February 9, 2010 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Joel - what planet are you on? TONS of sidewalks and streets have NOT been cleared! Are you on Fenty's payroll??? Also, throwing out the GOP in the article? In the red states (that you have never been to), this stuff would have been cleared in a day. Shut up.

Posted by: joeshabadoo2391 | February 9, 2010 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Yello: I'm with you. If I want cookies, I bake from scratch. Tubed cookie dough is eaten as is or a la mode.

Mudge, I'd forgotten about some of those folks. Thank you for the timely reminder.

Posted by: MsJS | February 9, 2010 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Here is an even better snolapse than the feeble one I made:

Posted by: yellojkt | February 9, 2010 11:22 AM | Report abuse

"efflorescence of snowcialism" it!

Joel, you are at your best with humor. BTW yellojkt, it was 53F driving to work here in SD (and that's not South Dakota).

Posted by: Windy3 | February 9, 2010 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Red states... clearing snow, ... that's called a warming trend.

Posted by: russianthistle | February 9, 2010 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Jeepers joeshabadoo2391. Whether or not the DC has done a good job is a legitimate question. But to throw in those other assertions totally undercuts your argument and just makes you seem kinda cranky.

But snow can do that.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | February 9, 2010 11:27 AM | Report abuse

I've always wondered about those rubber boot crampons that I see offered in catalogs. Do they actually accomplish something?

Snow removal is very efficient on the left coast.

Posted by: edbyronadams | February 9, 2010 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Snowalicious! Howdy y'all. Our huge fat flakes accumulated for an inch or two yesterday but melted by evening. We still have some remnants piled hither and yon but may have escaped precipitation for a while. Of course we exchanged it for a viciously cold north wind. Chilly times.

Joeshabadoo,empirical evidence suggests your claim for Red States is faulty, or at least overbroad. Few states are Redder than Oklahoma and I guarantee you streets here are not timely cleared. Highways, yes. Main roads, usually. The side streets, at least in one of the two major cities, may not be plowed at all. This is why our public schools were closed for four days after the last Icepocalypse/Snowmageddon: neighborhood streets were too bad to get the kids to school. Remember, many Red States are also Southern states and we're just not set up for these now-frequent Extreme Winter Weather Events.

Posted by: Ivansmom | February 9, 2010 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Ah, Sean Penn. OK, now I understand.

Joe, our Joel was born and raised in a Red State. And I know for a dead-solid fact he has traveled through at least two Red States, although it was a long time ago, and he wasn't paying attention. I believe he may also flown over several of them, but I'm not sure (I know, I know, you're just gonna say flying over them doesn't count). But to your larger question: yes, he is on Fenty's payroll. Due to the declining newspaper industry, he has been forced to take a part-time job flacking for the mayor during snow emergencies. It doesn't pay all that well, and it is admittedly just seasonal work.

I'm quite pleased to learn that Red States are so much better at snow removal than Blue States. Too bad Red States harbor so many ill-mannered, humor-impaired readers.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | February 9, 2010 11:37 AM | Report abuse

I hate it when my wife or one of my daughters calls me and asks me to bring home a box of crampons.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | February 9, 2010 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Look at that gap forming in the storm over West Virginia. Hope it stays a gap and passes over you.

Posted by: Jumper1 | February 9, 2010 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Modern Indoor Rock Climbing, Mudge.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | February 9, 2010 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Joe, may I present a bit of snow removal history from one of those unRed states.

Back in the winter of 1978-79, Chicago got about 88 inches of snow, much more than the usual.

The mayor experienced technical difficulties in keeping the city's streets passable.

In the spring of 1979, he was up for re-election.

He lost.

Ever since then, mayors around these parts take snow removal verrrry seriously.

It's been snowing here since midnight and my local street's been plowed twice.

Posted by: MsJS | February 9, 2010 11:52 AM | Report abuse

You really got to admit, "crampon" would be such a good word for a slightly different product than what it actually is.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | February 9, 2010 11:52 AM | Report abuse

Spoken like a man, Mudge.

Posted by: MsJS | February 9, 2010 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Thinking of TWC led to thinking of some of those three-letter airport initials that have become a bit puzzling. Here's the intro info at the website for Orlando airport:

Orlando International Airport (MCO) - It's the real McCoy!

Orlando International Airport (MCO) located in Orlando; in Orange County, Florida; is the closest commercial airport to
Orlando's world-class attractions, the Orange County Convention Center, and the downtown business district.
Please note that other airports using the "Orlando" name are not located in Orlando, or even Orange County, and therefore
will require significant driving time, tolls or other ground transportation costs to get to Orlando if you choose an airport other than Orlando International Airport (MCO).
The website's nasty words are directed at Orlando-Sanford, which has become a popular airport for charter flights from Europe, and for at least one small airline that connects snowbound northerners to Florida sunshine.

MCO was once McCoy Air Force Base, whose super heavy-duty runway is still in use.

If Orlando-Sanford is a success, why doesn't someone find a nice runway south of Chicago, build a modest terminal, call it Chicago-Something (or even The Windy City) and snatch business from O'Hare?

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | February 9, 2010 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Joel, I'm glad to hear that your street is more like a NorthWest Passage than the Donner Pass.

Also, it seems that some do not appreciate snowcasm and suggestion of a possible relationship between snow- and humor-removal.

For the record, past performance may not be a reliable indicator of specific future results. Your mileage may vary.

Will get back on the higways around Our Nation's Capital and environs shortly, as reports are filtering in that precip is starting on time...


Posted by: -bc- | February 9, 2010 12:01 PM | Report abuse


I invite you to web-search the phrase "Peotone airport."

You will be inundated with material about the decades-long attempt to build a large airport south of TWC.

Ain't Gonna. Happen.

Posted by: MsJS | February 9, 2010 12:02 PM | Report abuse

good morning all
I have just been informed by work that I am needed back tomorrow for another long stretch. but first i need to get through this next storm at home,so I don't worry about joe's moma.a fairly large branch of our holly tree broke off from the weight of the snow and is dangleing,i am going to try and pull it down.

I can't imagine this next storm being any worse then the first. But i have been wrong in the past. And where praytell are we going to put this next batch.The snow piles are already way too high.

Ok,out to the PO and find some provisions.
good luck everyone.

Posted by: greenwithenvy | February 9, 2010 12:04 PM | Report abuse

bc evokes Donner Pass.

Here I sit wondering if there is a shipment of Ribeyes waiting for me at the store.

Posted by: russianthistle | February 9, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

One of my metaphorical neighbors made the Daily Dish View Out Your Window feature:

This is the season where we are glad we don't have a deck.

Posted by: yellojkt | February 9, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

I don't know where you were, but when I dug out my car in Silver Spring last weekend, the guy parked beside me was shoveling his snow behind my car when I got there. When the people on the other side of him protested as well, he just threw all the snow behind him into the parking lot. Guess he was one of the Snowpublicans, and he probably drove around Monday with a foot and a half of snow still on top of his SUV, flying into the windshields of other motorists as he sped down 95.

Posted by: joshlct | February 9, 2010 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Where are the religious nut jobs when you need them? Clearly these storms are an indication of GOD's wraith at the unfaithfulness of our elected Officials and their corporate Masters; the inscrutable misbehavior and thinking of SCOTUS; and Hot Air spewing forth from Republican miscreants!

Posted by: Chaotician | February 9, 2010 12:19 PM | Report abuse

All Canadian airports' codes start with Y.

Y? Because we apparently missed the memo on the code handout day, that's why. So for example Toronto gets the highly descriptive YYZ.

On snow shovelling, in most places people don't own as much of their property as they think. Here, the "real" property line is about 8' in from the sidewalk so not only is the sidewalk not on a homeowner's property, the first bit of lawn as well. There is a legal issue about civil liability for falls on sidewalks outside a home - is the homeowner responsible? They are fined if they don't do it - doesn't that mean they're responsible? Magic 8-ball says Outlook not so good, at least here. Statutory breach does not equate to civil liability for failure to adequately maintain property not owned by the person.

Posted by: engelmann | February 9, 2010 12:21 PM | Report abuse

God has wraiths too?!? Is there no end too his minions?

Posted by: Boko999 | February 9, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

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