Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Life On Hoth: When Snow Just Keeps Inviting Its Relatives

            I know I promised y'all my friend's guest blog post, but for technical reasons, he wasn't exactly able to make a draft for me.  Not to mention he has a job now, so he'll have less time to do the post.  So, I suggest that we all wait patiently for him as I share my bullshit with you to tide you over until then.  The optional theme song for this week is a Red Hot Chili Peppers "Snow" Remix.

            If you haven't read my post about the Polar Vortex from earlier this year that made just being outside completely dangerous, I suggest you PAUSE on reading this current post in order to catch up on weather issues.

            All caught up now?  Good.  *AHEM!*

            Being a resident of the Northeastern (specifically Mid-Atlantic) region of the United States does have its perks a bit, mostly because we actually get all four seasons: Spring, Summer, Autumn/Fall, and Winter actually take place here.  I've experienced heat waves, the odd stray hurricane, freezing cold and snow, as well as unusual weather patterns such as tornadoes north of me in the mountains and the unusual declaration from school of "flood days".  But right now, everything seems off balance thanks to the fuckers who are not helping us at least slow down the global warming we have inflicted upon the planet.  Not only do we have more and more dangerously hot weather every Summer (which should just be called Tatooine season at this rate), but now we are facing a ridiculous Winter.  In fact, I'm pretty sure that this is why Punxsutawney Phil, the famous meteorological groundhog of PA, predicted 6 moreweeks of winter (would should just be called Hoth season at this point); I actually did wonder why he "saw his shadow", but now I know:


Yes, first it was the Polar Vortex in early January; then it was Winter Storm Pax last week (which is pretty funny because it not only is Latin for "peace," but it's also the name of some gaming conventions that happen periodically every year, with PAX Prime in Seattle, PAX East Boston and now PAX Australia!), and this past weekend it's another storm called Winter Storm Quintus, which I'm sure was named after the Pennsylvania Lottery game known as Quinto!

            Since when is it okay to advertise by having snow storms be named after what you're trying to sell?  Since when is it okay to control the DAVROS-DAMN weather?!?!  I'm frustrated and tired and coming up with ridiculous conspiracy theories, because, now, the snow isn't going away!  People are barely shoveling sidewalks, putting down salt, and not giving a fuck about bus stops I use!  And that's not the only danger!

Life On Hoth Just Got a Little More Dangerous

            We've faced below freezing temperatures, sleet, freezing rain, snow, thundersnow, rain, frostbite dangers, and driving winds.  At a couple of points, it was colder here in the U.S. than in Sochi, Russia, where the Olympic Winter Games are being held (or were held if you're reading this in the future)!  But now there's another couple of issues that are not exactly being covered in the news just yet.

            For one, we've got structural damage to buildings, which is hurting business!  Yes, I said structural damage, but only because a building in Easton, PA (or its surrounding neighborhoods) has actually started to (or already did) collapse under the weight of the snow that refused to melt!  We're also running out of room to put it all!  Seriously, Mother Nature, can't you give us a fucking break?  Or did someone steal Sean Connery's weather machine and fuck around with it, making us suffer the consequences?

            You see, deep down at its core, EVERYTHING is made of the same "stuff," which scientists call matter or mass.  And you can't really just erase matter from existence; it can be transformed from one state to another, converted into energy and back, but it can't be destroyed or removed from existence all together; it just stacks itself upon itself.  All we can do with this STUFF that is currently called "snow" and "ice" is to move it, mostly onto bigger and bigger piles of snow and ice.  We're running out of room to put the snow so it can stay out of the way!  In fact, I just recently found out from sources of mine that on Saturday, February 15, 2014, the city of Bethlehem, PA, closed off part of Main St. that runs through downtown in order to remove a giant nuisance pile of snow by way of two backhoes and a dump truck!  They even closed off the bridge that goes into that section!  Which isn't helpful considering that the historic Hotel Bethlehem (complete with its own room with a "boo") is RIGHT THERE!

            One woman I've chatted with about the weather while riding home on the bus actually asked if the snow is being dumped into the river that separates South Side Bethlehem from the rest of the city.  I am not sure about this info, but I'm kind of leery about it.  You see, streets are indeed made from asphalt, but it's also often soaked in petroleum products, like oil and whatnot.  This "street-oil" is actually what lends cause to a driving phenomenon known as hydroplaning, where the car just slides along the surface of the street in wet weather with loss of traction and some control, mostly because oil tends to float on the water that seeps into the asphalt whenever it rains and lubricate the surface even further.  So, if you're plowing snow out of the way, you're also scraping up not only pieces of asphalt but this oily residue stuff with the snow.  Which means that it might not actually be safe to be dumping into the water, I fear.

            (Also, yellow snow is an issue, but it's easily identifiable, and not as prevalent as a problem.)

            But another issue with the added mass of snow that isn't melting or going anywhere at the moment is the combined weight of it.  You see, you have layers of snow and ice and snow and ice not just landing in the streets and on top of cars, but also on top of buildings.  It's not necessary to remove snow from the rooftops—that is, unless the structure of the building is unable to hold the weight of the snow.

            Just this past Tuesday (February 18, 2014), a carousel building at the old, abandoned, historic, hard-to-restore amusement park known as Bushkill Park actually collapsed under the weight of the snow.  I kid you not, I was like, "NOOOOO!" because I actually went there and skated at the roller rink!  It's like, your favorite tree on your property getting cut down and it stings quite a bit because it was a part of your life.  At least the carousel wasn't damaged and nobody was hurt; in fact, the carousel wasn't even there: it was sold a long time ago already, according to my half-Vulcan Spockish father.

            I also heard from him that fairly recently, in the Bethlehem area, the 24-hour Wegman's off of Center St. had a collapse scare.  One day, the manager showed up to work to find out that the steel pillars of +25 roof support that are located throughout the store have started to flex "near the roof"!  I'm not making this up!  He actually freaked out a bit and said, "WE  NEED THIS CHECKED OUT!"  The fire department showed up and kicked everybody out for safety reasons!  The store was closed for 17 hours (overnight) while the employees and manager had to wait for an assessment of the structure by an inspector.  The inspector said that the place will hold the weight, despite the weirdness of FLEXING STEEL POLES (that aren't from Poland; sorry for the stupid pun), and they reopened at 2:30 PM EST on Sunday, February 16th, reassuring everyone that it will be okay.  However, I'm typing this while having images in my head of that Wegman's being the center of a story about how an inspector gave the green light on the structural safety, only to have the building collapse days later with some casualties.  Of course, this was out of concern thanks to media influence sensationalizing such stories and making it near impossible to think "Just fucking trust the inspector," without thinking about the possibility of false structural positives turning into bad news for people working in that building as it collapses onto their heads.

            So I beg you, with this in mind, BE CAREFUL!  Make sure that the tops of your cars, trucks, buses, SUVs, etc, are cleared off so you don't wind up killing people with frozen blocks of snow falling off the roof of the vehicles/shipping containers/buses on bridges only to slam into the cars trying to pass underneath.  Stay warm, and make sure you keep an extra supply of tauntauns on hand and share if people need them!

BONUS!  Ascent of the Cubes: A Way to Make Sure You Don't Go to Bed On Time

Oh, my...Davros/Cthulhu!  This poster is full of WIN!
            Just recently, I've been listening to one particular episode of the Nerdist podcast over and over (because I enjoyed it a lot), with Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson as the guest.  And in the episode, he described higher spacial dimensionality.  Please, allow me to share his ideas so that you may experience the liquification of your brain!

            Once you've listened to that, let's take it further: if the four-dimensional cube has eight three-dimensional cubes as boundaries, isn't the five-dimensional cube bounded by ten four-dimensional cubes, which each have eight three-dimensional cubes as boundaries?  *offers tissues for bleeding noses and painkillers for readers who can't quite grasp that concept*  It's so crazy to think about!

            Anyways, I shall leave you writhing in agony like that, while I go hunt down some chocolate to celebrate a belated Singles Awareness Day by myself.  Please don't hate me for making your brain constipated.