Pharyngula

Friction-free morning

This is my least favorite time of the year in Minnesota. I hate early spring.

Everything is melting during the day: there’s a constant drip-drip-drip, puddles everywhere, the snow is shrinking away from all those untrammeled areas surrounding us, and during the day, the walkways are all like shallow streams. And then at night it freezes again.

Which brings me to by big complaint: I get up early in the morning, and I step outside, and the sidewalks are all these beautifully smooth sheets of ice; it’s like a Zamboni has gone down the streets of Morris, polishing everything. There’s this path through some trees that I take to work, and it has a very gentle downward slope that makes it like a luge track, and I just know that some March day I’m going to step on it and find myself rocketing at a 100 miles an hour down to the row of lampposts at the bottom.

I was spared that this morning, though. Instead, as I was walking down my sidewalk, I hit one of those glossy smooth ice spots at my usual barely conscious amble of about 3 miles per hour, and whooosh, I was momentarily airborne, and made a perfect landing flat on my back, knocking the breath out of me and jarring every joint in my body. Nothing was seriously damaged, but even now I can feel every muscle slowly knotting in protest at the rude treatment they received — it’s going to be a painful day, I can tell.

And worst of all, my morning coffee flew out of my hands before I’d even had a sip. Do you hear me? I spilled my coffee. There is no god.

Comments

  1. #1 AllanW
    March 14, 2008

    Well, obviously there IS a God and he’s pissed-off at you for the things you say.

    Does saying these stupid things qualify me to join a fundamentalist church? Or even become a Catholic now?

  2. #2 kcanadensis
    March 14, 2008

    It’s the same up here in the Michigan U.P at NMU. And we don’t use salt because it’s bad for the lake so… falling is a common daily activity. And now we have the same daily melt-nightly freeze going on too. Sigh.

  3. #3 DC
    March 14, 2008

    Or there is a god. And he is sending you a message.

  4. #4 Divalent
    March 14, 2008

    “There is no god.”

    Yes there is. Pain is just God’s way of hurting you. It’s a sign of his presence.

  5. #5 LisaJ
    March 14, 2008

    I feel for you. Good luck with those sore muscles. I had almost the same exact even happen to me last early spring. Spilled my coffee all over myself – my IPod was forever scarred with a nice set of scratches across the screen.

  6. #6 Alan
    March 14, 2008

    There are lots of gods, the one that got you this morning is named Loki.

  7. #7 Matt
    March 14, 2008

    If I slip on ice, I do my best to land on my arse… less painful that way than hitting the hard pavement on your back, which is choking, paralysing pain.

  8. #8 MAJeff, OM
    March 14, 2008

    Get the to a Caribou!

    I love coffee, but for some reason I need cold drink in the morning. Diet Coke bottles come with a little cap that helps avoid such spillage–and you still get the caffeine, plus a little tooth rot!

  9. #9 rmp
    March 14, 2008

    Same basic story
    1) I’ve went airborne, hit my head hard upon landing and got a concussion.
    2) My brother fell on my steps after a refreeze and ended up getting back surgery as a result.
    3) My wife is mostly paralyzed below the waist do to falling on ice.

    I HATE ice.

  10. #11 Bart Mitchell
    March 14, 2008

    I’ll second the product Spurge is hawking. Here in Bend, OR, we can get nasty melts like you get in Morris. The shoe cleats roll up into a nice small ball.

    As an added bonus, when your local church gets brand new wood floors, you can stop by for a visit and ‘forget’ to take them off. :)

  11. #12 genesgalore
    March 14, 2008

    no to fret PZ. the killdeers have made back to the 45th parallel this morning. in two weeks all will be better.

  12. #13 andrea
    March 14, 2008

    Oh, you’re LUCKY if you only get Landscape Zombonification in the spring. We have repeated freeze-thaws all winter long, and almost as many sleets as snows. It’s even more fun when you have hypermobility and land with your shoulder subluxated. Again.

    Then again, I can’t imagine setting out into the cold, cruel world without having at least started on my coffee. The first sip of coffee or tea is a sacred moment!

    andrea

  13. #14 Linda
    March 14, 2008

    If it makes you feel any better, here in Ottawa we’re nowhere near spring.. they’re predicting snow for the weekend, and we’re just a few more centimetres away from a new snowfall record. So I get to walk not on glare ice, but on bumpy, uneven, snow-powdered glare ice!

  14. #15 genesgalore
    March 14, 2008

    no to fret PZ. the killdeers have made back to the 45th parallel this morning. in two weeks all will be better.

  15. #16 genesgalore
    March 14, 2008

    good maple syrup weather.

  16. #17 erik
    March 14, 2008

    That’s nothing. I had to entirely give up coffee recently. Do you hear me? I had to give up coffee!

  17. #18 Andy James
    March 14, 2008

    If there be a god, that god hath no mercy.

    Spilled coffee is proof #459204 of the nonexistence of the Christian god.

  18. #19 Monado, FCD
    March 14, 2008

    Something similar happened to me last year, without the coffe, one November evening. The passers-by who rushed to pick me up turned out to be two of my cousins, one of whom was visiting from Mexico. There _are_ ancestors.

    I recommend always wearing a hat just to provide a little padding when you fall.

    Or get YakTrax. In fact I think I’ll put some on before I go shovel some of our heaps of snow away from the house before it melts and ends up in the cellar. In Toronto, Canada’s banana belt, we still have snow but it’s starting to thaw. I don’t know if we’ll get the 12 cm more we need to beat the winter of 1939.

  19. #20 maxi
    March 14, 2008

    Please explain something to a poor UK citizen…

    Why don’t you salt your pavements?

    The UK isn’t good with ice, or snow, or any type of weather in fact, so we tend to salt at the first signs of subzero temperatures. And as soon as it snows (though I’m being gracious by calling it snow, minute amounts of pussified dandruff is probably more accurate) the gritters are out and about covering my car with a delightful brown sludge.

    Maybe that is because I live in Edinburgh, and like I said, we’re paranoid of weather. But I spent a portion of my youth in New Hampshire, and still remember never slipping on ice because the gritters has already gotten there godammit.

  20. #21 ajay
    March 14, 2008

    #20: I think the idea is that if you’re walking in the US, then you are not really a person, and deserve everything you get. Buy a car, loser!

  21. #22 DeamonCohln
    March 14, 2008

    Maxi:

    A lot of the Great Lake’s states (Such as my Michigan and PZ’s Minnesota) don’t like salt cause it can enter the soil and somehow make it’s way to the lakes. Another reason is a lot of states are running out of salt from all this sporadic snow.

    Or it’s lazieness.

    I’m going with that one.

  22. #23 pough
    March 14, 2008

    Maybe god is on the west coast, where ice is in rinks and in stories from places east.

  23. #24 ElJay
    March 14, 2008

    Finally, a good reason for me to be living in Memphis.
    Have you ever thought of getting a small toboggan to go to work on. Drag it back up the hill of an evening?

  24. #25 rmp
    March 14, 2008

    #20, Trust me, we go through a lot of salt. But the thaw/refreeze is a bitch. The time I fell and gave myself a concussion was when I was out salting the ice.

  25. #26 Wm Annis
    March 14, 2008

    The same thing’s going on in Madison, WI –and we have a lot of snow to get through. Honestly, I’m never sure if I should let myself fall more often. At least then it’s just impact injuries. The gyrations I go through not to fall more often than not mess up my back for a few weeks.

  26. #27 Gray Lensman
    March 14, 2008

    YakTrax work here in Denver. ‘Way cheaper than a busted shoulder like the present Sec’y of Deefense.

  27. #28 Andrew
    March 14, 2008

    wear a helmet and some protective padding.

  28. #29 Beowulff
    March 14, 2008

    Maybe you should make the best of the situation and actually get yourself a luge? Great fun and it gets you to work in record time too.

  29. #30 Holbach
    March 14, 2008

    Ah, coffee and the weather; what a combination. Coffee is
    a daily must with me, at least 3 cups to get me going, but
    enjoying it at the same time. Weather is another factor
    that influences my life, and years ago Spring was always
    my favorite season as I would always take hikes in some
    part of Maine and Vermont during thr first two weeks in May. I tolerated the black flies for a while, but then they
    got to be more numerous during some particularly weather-
    influenced Springs, and it made hiking and searching for
    wildflowers an uneasy and annoying ritual. Spring is also
    the birth of myriad flying and ground insects which also
    renders Spring not the ideal season. I cannot tolerate
    Summer with it’s enervating heat and intolerable humidity,
    and winter is relegated last on my list. That new freshness
    and rebirth and that etheral green is most appealing despite the aforementioned annoyances of the Spring, and so
    it is my second favorite of the seasons. Which leaves
    Autumn, the season of seasons, and my undisputed favorite.
    What a time to be alive, with beautiful color, no heat, no
    humidity, ideal temperatures that require no heating or air
    conditioning, the Summer vacations are over and most people
    are back to work, and the schools are open once again to
    render getting about a lot more easier with the daily grind
    of shuttling all those kids around with the obvious effects
    of constant movement. Autumn is the only season which makes
    me so attuned to living, as it is the only season which
    does not have any annoying appurtenances to mar it’s appeal. Of course there are many people who belabor the fact that Winter follows and the trees are losing their
    leaves and it is melancholy. I don’t dwell on these always
    inevitable facts, but just enjoy and am thankful to nature
    for this most enchanting and emotional of seasons. Autumn!

  30. #31 Cardinal Shrew
    March 14, 2008

    At least it is Friday. Once you make it through today, you will have the weekend to nurse your sore body.

  31. #32 ShavenYak
    March 14, 2008

    You could always move to Alabama. Your chances of slipping on a piece of ice here are pretty much zero unless you work at an ice skating rink. And, you’d have more creationists to toy with.

  32. #33 Benjamin Franz
    March 14, 2008

    maxi: Why don’t you salt your pavements?

    People often do. Reasons for not doing so:

    (1) When you have several inches to feet of snow every few days, you don’t ‘salt’ the pavement, you snow plow it. Sometimes even the plows can’t keep up.

    (2) When it is cold enough, salt doesn’t work any better than sand. It can even work worse when it only warms up enough to partially melt the ice and snow and refreezes.

    (3) Sometimes salt isn’t used because it is causes corrosion on cars.

    (4) Sometimes it isn’t used because it accumulates in the nearby soil , poisoning it (every hear of ‘salting the earth’?)

    (5) Sometimes it just costs too much.

  33. #34 Russell
    March 14, 2008

    I love this time of year. Those many minutes of winter cold are gone. It’s cool at night, and warm during the day. And everything is blooming.

    Of course, I live south.

  34. #35 wheatdogg
    March 14, 2008

    You need to cultivate the falling skills of W.C. Fields. According to his mistress/biographer, Fields fell down a flight of stairs without spilling a drop of his martini.

  35. #36 The Barefoot Bum
    March 14, 2008

    Could have been worse: you might have spilled your beer.

  36. #37 Rey Fox
    March 14, 2008

    Where I went to college, the University of Idaho, they had heat tunnels installed under most of the sidewalks on campus.

  37. #38 rmp
    March 14, 2008

    On a lighter note, when some people look out on a warm day and see nothing but slop and mess, I see DEAD SNOW.

    It pleases me.

  38. #39 Interrobang
    March 14, 2008

    Here in the microclimate of Southwestern Ontario (hint: In Toronto you are not in “the banana belt”; it stops on the Windsor side of Kitchener), we get a lot of the same thing.

    May I say for posterity that I loathe ice?

    As someone with balance problems and a physical disability, I recommend trying to fall into snowbanks. If you’re going down anyway, you might as well go down into something relatively soft. Winter is the most degrading time of the year. I have, however, been resisting pandering to the disability by buying a cane.

    Matt, the last time I fell on my rear end, I broke my coccyx. It hurt like hell at the time, which was over two years ago, and I still get twinges in it from time to time. So I don’t recommend it as the low-pain alternative.

    I also don’t recommend those YakTrax things, either. I got a pair right before Christmas, wore them out on a slippery day, and arrived at my destination to find only one of them was still attached to my shoe. I never found the other one. At $30 a pair, they’re a bit steep to be a one-time-use item. (According to the box, I purchased the right size, too.) Not only that, but they’re hellaciously hard to put on your shoes and can’t be worn indoors on most flooring surfaces, which means wrestling with them at least four times daily…

  39. #40 Deepsix
    March 14, 2008

    Move to the south. The weather is better here. And I’m sure you can find a good pentecostal church to join.

  40. #41 Crudely Wrott
    March 14, 2008

    I know what you mean, PZ. We had a spell of glare ice here in Ohio about two weeks ago. I stepped out of the house onto the pavement and instantly found myself horizontal and descending rapidly. Landed hard on the only bit of padding I have, my butt.

    I bounced back up, walked mincingly to the van, which exhibited better traction than my New Balance sneaks, and drove to a gas station. Before I got out I looked at the ground and saw that it had been well salted and was covered in slush, not ice. Thus emboldened I got out, walked around the pump towards the store and whoosh! a repeat performance that landed me on exactly the same spot of padding. Elapsed time: six minutes. Bruise duration: a week.

    I told my daughter about it during a phone conversation and we laughed at how hilarious it must have looked to see a person suddenly levitate, rotate to horizontal then plummet helplessly. A few days later she called back with a worried voice saying, “Dad, you know that falls are more dangerous as you get older. If you ever need to, you have a place to stay with us here (in North Carolina).”

    My atheism was subtly shaken at that. I have probably fallen down more than the average person do to risk taking, work environment, and a healthy boyish attitude. But twice on ice in mere minutes while trying not to? Then having it suggested that I should move to a kinder climate and be watched and coddled by my own offspring while still spry and flexible? It’s all so insidious that I began to suspect that such indignity couldn’t happen from natural causes. Only a meddlesome ISS* could possess the resources and the twisted sense of humor to cause such a state of affairs. But I have since doubled my resolve by doubling my time spent at atheist blogs and have eliminated an outbreak of incipient faith.

    Yesterday I worked outside in shirtsleeves under sunny skies swept clean by a warming breeze, noting the swelling tree buds and the fist green shoots rising from the thawing soil. Ahh, all back to normal and I don’t believe in no spooks again.

    Take heart, Professor. Too soon we will all be sweltering and finding reason enough to dislike yet another season! Take what respite you can in the temperate days to come, for the evil of the season is sufficient.

    *Invisible Supernatural Spook

  41. #42 maxi
    March 14, 2008

    I now have a better knowledge of the gritting practises of North America, thanks everyone!

    Ah, what I wouldn’t do for feet of snow… Although I do remember my parents having to dig their cars out every morning while my brother and I frolicked in our home made snow tunnels. So maybe I’m remembering New England winters through rose-tinted specs.

  42. #43 James
    March 14, 2008

    I hit one of those in Tornoto a couple of weeks back, running to get to my wife’s car. Landed square on my iPod, leaving lovely bruises all across my hip and down my leg, and crushing the iPod into a nice gentle crescent shape.

  43. #44 Bob
    March 14, 2008

    And worst of all, my morning coffee flew out of my hands before I’d even had a sip. Do you hear me? I spilled my coffee. There is no god.

    I’ve been laughing at this for about ten minutes straight…

    Man, I really need a break from grading exams…

  44. #45 Lilly de Lure
    March 14, 2008

    Maxi said:

    Ah, what I wouldn’t do for feet of snow… Although I do remember my parents having to dig their cars out every morning while my brother and I frolicked in our home made snow tunnels.

    ARGGHH! Be careful what you wish for – the UK grinds to a panicky halt at the merest dusting of snow as it is! I don’t even want to think about the media response to feet of the stuff!

    *shudder*

  45. #46 Niobe
    March 14, 2008

    I’m on the other side of the ocean and global warming makes sure I need to drug up on antihistamines before valentines. Obviously since mother nature is a moody bihach, these days are interspersed with storms.

    It could be worse though, the dikes are still holding up. (Fingers crossed)

  46. #47 Winter Toad
    March 14, 2008

    Well, Grrlscientist had a similar experience a couple of weeks ago, and has a broken bone and ongoing great pain to show for it. Three years ago I slipped on some ice and wound up in surgery to repair the damage, a simultaneous dislocation of the shoulder and fracture of the arm bone at the head. My shoulder X-rays reveal enough threaded metal rods to hang four pictures and secure one bookshelf.

    This is a nasty time of the year. One more annoyance, this is when an entire season’s worth of dog droppings all become soft, wet, and fragrant at the same time.

  47. #48 SteveM
    March 14, 2008

    We here in New England have had quite a bit of snow and ice this season, and after 40 years of living in icy climates I have finally discovered the secret to not slipping on ice (without cleats and other paraphenalia). Walk on tip toe, or at least never put weight on your heel. I finally noticed after all these years that every time I lose my balance on ice it is from the heel. Walking on the front of the foot is nearly slip free, or if you do slip or slide you will not fall. This only applies to relatively flat surfaces of course, and it is hard to walk like that all the time, but it does work. For times that the ice is overwhelming, though, I use a pair of strap-on cleats from LLBean, I don’t remember the brand name, but should be easy to find.

  48. #49 Cat Faber
    March 14, 2008

    Sorry about your coffee. I don’t drink it myself, but I understand about the bummer nature of this occurrence.

  49. #50 Janne
    March 14, 2008

    You have an actual icy slope to work? You need one of these: http://sv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bild:Kicksledin2007.jpg

  50. #51 benjig
    March 14, 2008

    I’m so sorry for you but…

    Spring is the most pleasant season of all year! I always feel a revival at this time. Finally getting rid of winter…

    Thus, in the end, I’m not as sorry as I meant to be :P

  51. #52 AR
    March 14, 2008

    Use cross country ski poles, and hammer the steel tips into the ice with each step.

  52. #53 DiscGrace
    March 14, 2008

    I deeply hate daylight savings time. For a brief while there, the sun was up and my car was SLIGHTLY warmed by it before I had to go out and drive for school. Now I have to tiptoe out there in the dark and hope I don’t wipe out on the still-frozen mound of crusty snow that still lines the edges of our parking lot. I just have to remember how miserable I am now when it’s 105 degrees here this summer and I’m miserable again. (Wait, why do I live in Wisconsin again if it’s miserable here all the time?)

  53. #54 dogmeatib
    March 14, 2008

    And people ask why we moved to southern Arizona. It snows once a year. If I want to see snow I can drive up to the mountains, half an hour, 45 minutes, tops. If I don’t, I don’t have to.

    It’s 61 and sunny right now. It’s supposed to get up to 76 today, but tonight, bundle up, it’ll hit a low of 40. Tomorrow? 74, the next day? UGH, 52, 55, and 68, cold front moving through. But it’ll be back up in the 70s by Wednesday.

  54. #55 raven
    March 14, 2008

    OT He is back. Bolded emphasis added.

    Dear Prof. Myers,

    Thank you for posting my poem. Although it is not the most eloquent piece of literature, it does come from the heart, which is what counts. I guess you sensed that and wanted to share it with your friends!

    I recently read through the Ameican Declaration of Independence. I was surprised to see three references to a Creator God: (1) “When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.” (2) “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights;” (3) “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”

    Now considering that the Declaration declares God, our money is inscribed with “In God We Trust”, our songs sing out “God Bless America”, and our Pledge of Allegiance affirms that we are “One Nation Under God”, it seems that people who hold to atheistic views like Darwinian Naturalism (that nature created itself) are not only foolish scientists, but they are unpatriotic Americans as well!

    I am looking forward to the day when Congress will convene an American Inquisition to force scientists who believe in Devilution either to recant their views and to be properly reeducated or to forfeit their citizenship and to be deported to a place like Communist China, which will appreciate your atheism and hatred of God.

    Of course, it would be preferable for these scientists to willingly subject themselves to reeducation without resort to an Inquisition. But rest assured that the day is coming when the stubborn arrogance of the Darwinists, who hold themselves above normal scientific accountability, will force our society to take firm action to protect itself from their dangerous prevarications.

    But you can relax: unlike the Roman Catholic Inquisition, the American Inquisition will not burn recalcitrant sinners against true scientific reason at the stake; it will merely strip them of their citizenship and expel them from these sacred shores!

    Posted by: Michael Korn | March 14, 2008 11:03 AM

  55. #56 Deepsix
    March 14, 2008

    You should wear crampons to work. Ok, stop laughing you 12 year olds. I said CRAMpons.

  56. #57 Scott Hatfield, OM
    March 14, 2008

    Now wait a dadgum minnit.

    As I recall, one of the chief failings of theists is that they are quick to give God all the credit for the good things, and blame people’s screwups for all the bad things.

    Now, here you are, spilling your coffee. I am sure that if you had managed not to spill it you wouldn’t be crediting the Almighty, but would be patting yourself on the back for your dexterity. Seems inconsistent.

    Besides, how do we know that the coffee you were planning on ingesting didn’t have trace amounts of some powerful mutagen that would’ve been a particular good match for the cells lining your stomach? Mayhap Cthultu preserved you for his dark pleasure at some later date….

  57. #58 RichardC
    March 14, 2008

    I slipped on ice a few months ago here in Ann Arbor and broke my humerus when I put my arm out behind me to break the fall. Still haven’t got back the full range of motion of my arm despite much physical therapy, and I’m to see a surgeon in a few weeks. I’d rather have this, though, than a fractured pelvis or spinal injury.

    Using a cane or walking stick may help; at any rate I carry one now when walking in icy areas.

  58. #59 moon_grrl
    March 14, 2008

    Someone contact the Vatican. They need to add “Spilled coffee” to their list of deadly sins.

  59. #60 David Marjanovi?, OM
    March 14, 2008

    Ice is nothing. Ever slipped on grit? Grit that accumulates in thick layers in spring (or any of the stupid thawing phases in winter!) after several cycles of snowing and gritting, or when people (as usual) have been stupid enough to use both salt substitute* and grit?

    That sucks, even if you fall forwards rather than backwards.

    Recommendation: Enjoy ice. Don’t try to walk on it, skate on it — in order to get forwards, move your legs forwards rather than backwards. If you act too adult, you slip.

    * Yellowish powder that contains so much nitrogen nothing grows close to inclined sidewalks and only a few specialized plant species in the next belt.

  60. #61 David Marjanovi?, OM
    March 14, 2008

    Ice is nothing. Ever slipped on grit? Grit that accumulates in thick layers in spring (or any of the stupid thawing phases in winter!) after several cycles of snowing and gritting, or when people (as usual) have been stupid enough to use both salt substitute* and grit?

    That sucks, even if you fall forwards rather than backwards.

    Recommendation: Enjoy ice. Don’t try to walk on it, skate on it — in order to get forwards, move your legs forwards rather than backwards. If you act too adult, you slip.

    * Yellowish powder that contains so much nitrogen nothing grows close to inclined sidewalks and only a few specialized plant species in the next belt.

  61. #62 Seamyst
    March 14, 2008

    My city – which is a UNIVERSITY TOWN – doesn’t have any snow trucks. While we don’t get feet of snow, we did get between 10-12″ this winter (yeah, I know, shut up). With no snow plows or salt trucks, the streets were full of slush and compacted snow, with a nice layer of ice on top after the first day.

    Idiots.

  62. #63 Janine, ID
    March 14, 2008

    Now considering that the Declaration declares God, our money is inscribed with “In God We Trust”, our songs sing out “God Bless America”, and our Pledge of Allegiance affirms that we are “One Nation Under God”, it seems that people who hold to atheistic views like Darwinian Naturalism (that nature created itself) are not only foolish scientists, but they are unpatriotic Americans as well!

    Let’s see. “In God We Trust” was added in the 1950′s. That is one song, not songs, and it was written by an atheist for a musical. The original pledge did not have “Under God”. That was also added in the 1950′s.

    So Micheal Korn is still running about.

    I am looking forward to the day when Congress will convene an American Inquisition to force scientists who believe in Devilution either to recant their views and to be properly reeducated or to forfeit their citizenship and to be deported to a place like Communist China, which will appreciate your atheism and hatred of God.

    Also sound like he is making threats though not quite at the same level of physical threats as before. Good to know the authorities are getting those using the internet to make threats.

  63. #64 Elf Eye
    March 14, 2008

    We once had an ice storm that shut down both the city schools and the university for a week. We live on a hill, and our street turned into a luge, on either side heaped snow frozen rock hard. We left the sleds outside on the porch one night, and the next morning I took one and went rocketing down the hill. Couldn’t stop. Steered into the side of the luge–rock hard, remember, plus the sled was plastic and no doubt brittle from the cold. Sled shattered into pieces, and I went flying literally head over heals. Still don’t know how I avoided breaking any bones. Cool bruises, though. Daughter was impressed.

  64. #65 Kerry Maxwell
    March 14, 2008

    What is this, New From Lake friggin’ Wobegon!? Anyhow, I’m disappointed that you walk to work. I just imagined you ascend to the pinnacle of the squid-shaped tower of your lair, and fly using one of those squirrel suits. Only your’s has, like tentacles and stuff. Can’t the Evil Atheist Consortium For World Domination just send a limo?

  65. #66 maxi
    March 14, 2008

    Lilly: LOL! I know, we are petrified of weather in our tranquil little isle. Leaves on the line, anyone?

    David: ‘Tis true, don’t try to be an adult on the ice. Just slip slip along, as though you were on ice skates. You are less likely to fall if you keep your feet on the ice all the time. And as you have a hill it must be even better, as you can take a run up and sliiiiiide all the way to the bottom! Neat!

  66. #67 DSK Samways
    March 14, 2008

    “There is no God”

    What are you talking about, man? That’s the one time invisible deities come in handy.

    “Look what God just did to me!”

  67. #68 PZ Myers
    March 14, 2008

    Hey, I have a house practically right next door to my office. If I drove to work, I’d have to park in a campus parking lot, and would have to walk farther.

    Why should I fly to work when I basically keep a whole university campus in my back yard?

  68. #69 Sonja
    March 14, 2008

    On my walk yesterday, the blacktop path had a thin coat of water from melting snow, which was water in the sun, but ice in the shade. On blacktop, the ice and water are indistinguishable. At one point, my left foot stepped into the shade where it hit ice and just kept sliding, while the right foot remained in the sun and firmly planted. I’ve never been able to do the splits, and didn’t think it would be a requirement for walking. Ouch!

  69. #70 Vitis01
    March 14, 2008

    Yesterday it was sunny and high 60s here. Last night it rained just enough to wash the dust off my car. The bible-belters really need to get a clue and realize that if there is a god he lives in the Bay Area of California and he fucking hates them.

  70. #71 mothra
    March 14, 2008

    The pull-overs with carbide studs work great in most cases (I have been using them since dislocating a knee from an ice slip in 1997). However, If you live in a place that really gets cold, such as North Dakota, once the outside temperature is lower than -20 F the cleats no longer provide a good grip; at warmer temperatures, a thin layer of snow over ice defeats the carbide studs completely.

  71. #72 Scooty Puff, Jr.
    March 14, 2008

    It’s been a few years, but when I was an undergrad here in Iowa, I was walking into a building on my way to class one day, scalding hot coffee in hand. That particular entrance was as cold inside as out for reasons that are still unclear to me. Anyway, the built-in-floor-mat-drippy-thing was full to the brim from people tracking in similarly watery icy nastiness on their shoes. Because of the temperature in the entryway, much of it was still ice. I, of course fell backward, literally head over feet, and landed on my upper back. Oh, and the coffee? It performed similar acrobatics, separating from its lid like a booster rocket mid-somersault to dump hot coffee all over one arm. Fortunately, my coat took the brunt of it, but my right hand was not entirely spared.

    So yeah, I feel your pain, PZ.

  72. #73 Michael Woelfel
    March 14, 2008

    Certainly a lot of science has been developed since Darwin proposed his conjecture. Dark rabbits are easy prey in snow leaving only white rabbit DNA in polar areas; this type of natural selection within a species is rather irrefutable. Scientific American magazine stated that if the rough draft of the human genome were stored on compact discs stacked on edge in their cases, shelf space would need to be nearly one half mile long! Yet mutations- never having added ANY scientifically detectable NEW DNA, leave macro evolution wholly inadequate to explain such extreme complexity even given a great time span. Think about it, what is a partially formed heart good for? Really do you believe both human eyes evolved with 3d focusing… at the same time- TWO SIMULTANEOUS randomly formed eyes? The evolution theory is even more weird as each male AND female ‘randomly’ developed the same two type eyes, That’s four SIMULTANEOUS randomly formed eyes, dual random simulataneousness/duplicated!
    Perhaps the following analogy can lend clarity:
    Eons ago deep in the ocean iron ore began to develope and form into sheets, the sheets came together over time and formed holes- a process known to theorists as ‘mutealotofstuff’; soon a fully formed ship floated into harbor…PLEASE- Where there’s a watch there is a watch maker, where there is a world there is a world maker!

  73. #74 maxi
    March 14, 2008

    On this thread too? It’s called SPAM Michael.

  74. #75 Michael Woelfel
    March 14, 2008

    Ice-smice, let’s talk science. Certainly a lot of science has been developed since Darwin proposed his conjecture. Dark rabbits are easy prey in snow leaving only white rabbit DNA in polar areas; this type of natural selection within a species is rather irrefutable. Scientific American magazine stated that if the rough draft of the human genome were stored on compact discs stacked on edge in their cases, shelf space would need to be nearly one half mile long! Yet mutations- never having added ANY scientifically detectable NEW DNA, leave macro evolution wholly inadequate to explain such extreme complexity even given a great time span. Think about it, what is a partially formed heart good for? Really do you believe both human eyes evolved with 3d focusing… at the same time- TWO SIMULTANEOUS randomly formed eyes? The evolution theory is even more weird as each male AND female ‘randomly’ developed the same two type eyes, That’s four SIMULTANEOUS randomly formed eyes, dual random simulataneousness/duplicated!
    Perhaps the following analogy can lend clarity:
    Eons ago deep in the ocean iron ore began to develope and form into sheets, the sheets came together over time and formed holes- a process known to theorists as ‘mutealotofstuff’; soon a fully formed ship floated into harbor…PLEASE- Where there’s a watch there is a watch maker, where there is a world there is a world maker!

  75. #76 maxi
    March 14, 2008

    Broken record much? Your post is being thoroughly addressed on the other thread.

    Now, back to ice.

  76. #77 Rey Fox
    March 14, 2008

    Wow. He added a whole new sentence of his own in comment #74. What a remarkable improvisation.

  77. #78 Sonja
    March 14, 2008

    Michael,
    Following your logic, where there is a world maker, there is a world maker maker. Where there is a world maker maker, there is a world maker maker maker. Where there is a world maker maker maker, there is a world maker maker maker maker…

  78. #79 Infophile
    March 14, 2008

    Loot at it this way: By the standards of some religions, pulling off that trek makes you divine. You are walking on water, aren’t you?

  79. #80 Abby Normal
    March 14, 2008

    And where there’s lighning there’s a lightning maker. All hail Zeus, King of the Gods!

  80. #81 Brownian, OM
    March 14, 2008

    Where there is leukemia, there is a leukemia maker. Where there is Down’s Syndrome, there is a Down’s Syndrome maker. Where there is a necrotizing fasciitis, there is a necrotizing fasciitis maker….

  81. #82 VWXYNot?
    March 14, 2008

    My Siberian friend swears by gluing coarse sandpaper to the soles of her shoes for the duration of the winter.

    I turn into a shuffling little old lady on ice, especially going downhill, and I’m only 31. I am definitely going to have to move to Arizona when I get old.

  82. #83 MikeM
    March 14, 2008

    It’s been over 60 for weeks in Sacramento now. I’ve been riding my bike every day. In shorts. And dry pavement. Snow is an issue about once every 15 years here. And UC Davis is an excellent school.

    On the other hand, I bet you don’t get many July days over 108 in Morris.

  83. #84 Abbie
    March 14, 2008

    I hope somebody has already posted this:
    http://www.break.com/index/reporter-owned-by-sled2.html

    Professional.

  84. #85 Robert Thille
    March 14, 2008

    Well, first off, that’s what you get for living in such an icy hell hole. Secondly, why don’t you get some ‘yaktrax’ ( yaktrax.com ) for your shoes?

  85. #86 Janine, ID
    March 14, 2008

    Michael, being the kind and humane person that I am, I feel the need to warn you. Your posting of repetitive spam on multiple threads puts you in danger of being placed in the dungeon. Don’t believe me? Go to the top on the page and hit the dungeon link. I say this because I want you free to leave your messages. I like comedy.

  86. #87 slim
    March 14, 2008

    Move to Portland! It may rain every day, but it rarely freezes.

    Look at the bright side: you have an excuse not to do any manual labor this weekend.

  87. #88 rp
    March 14, 2008

    It’s usually too cold here and the thaws gradual enough to have a lot of trouble with ice. Some years though, we get freezing rain, and then a ton of snow, and then the temperature drops to -20C, resulting in three or four inches of ice on the roads. That’s too cold to salt, and even if it wasn’t, I doubt the city could afford enough.

    So what happens is that they try to grade it; the blade digs into the ice, and then jumps about 3 inches as the grader keeps moving, giving the effect of a corduroy road only in ice. Driving on it is a real test of the fillings in your teeth, and it’s really hard to keep the car going in the direction you want. Luckily, this only happens about once a decade.

  88. #89 Brownian, OM
    March 14, 2008

    Yeah, but that’s not the case now, rp. The streets are mostly dry, the river ice is starting to blue and break, and I can even see some grass on Connors Hill. It’s about as beautiful as early spring can get in Edmonton.

  89. #90 SEF
    March 14, 2008

    I was momentarily airborne, and made a perfect landing flat on my back, knocking the breath out of me and jarring every joint in my body. … I spilled my coffee.

    A padded suit might help a bit but, to protect the valuable contents of your noggin and your mug, you probably need a custom-made one of these (ie adapted to hold a coffee thermos thingy rather than beer etc cans).

    Alternatively, you need a horde of minions to crawl from your home to your work etc carrying you on their backs in a gyroscopically stabilised throne capsule.

  90. #91 Brownian, OM
    March 14, 2008

    Alternatively, you need a horde of minions to crawl from your home to your work etc carrying you on their backs in a gyroscopically stabilised throne capsule.

    I came up with an idea for this after watching The Toy. (Well, not entirely; I was only eight, but after watching Richard Pryor do somersaults in his WonderWheel, I thought a fully enclosed bubble would be better for riding down waterfalls, boating in the ocean, etc.) Basically, a transparent bottom-weighted spherical capsule containing a chair/throne in placed inside a slightly larger transparent spherical capsule so the one rolls within the other but maintains its orientation. It’s essentially applying Weeble technology on a grand scale.

    The tough part was figuring out how to maintain a fresh air supply, control the contraption, minimise friction between the two spheres, etc.

    Then I learned the Kiwis beat me to it, more or less.

  91. #92 Michelle
    March 14, 2008

    Oh come on, you know God is a jackass. You falling is the exact proof he’s there being the sadistic asshole he always was.

  92. #93 Dark Matter
    March 14, 2008

    Are there no skiers here? No snowboarders?

    Won’t someone think of the skiers? :-)

    (Well at least there’s early spring biking :-) )

  93. #94 Tim Fuller
    March 14, 2008

    Graduate Fort Dodge Senior High, IA. Know the pain. Relief is only a few states away.

    It’s a high of 81 today, and temps in the mid 70′s all thru next week.

    Jackson, MS. Nothing can ruin a good thing quicker than a little good press.

    Enjoy.

  94. #95 Scott Hatfield, OM
    March 14, 2008

    Where there is leukemia, there is a leukemia maker. Where there is Down’s Syndrome, there is a Down’s Syndrome maker. Where there is a necrotizing fasciitis, there is a necrotizing fasciitis maker….

    And where there’s a D’yer Mak’er, there’s a Jimmy Page.

  95. #96 Bee
    March 14, 2008

    Obviously, you need a plastic jesus, PZ, ’cause then, y’know, “You won’t care if it rains or feezes”. ;-D

    Seriously, it was so icy here a few mornings ago that the dog fell down when I let her out.

  96. #97 Kseniya
    March 14, 2008

    Without the wisdom of ice, men would be marrying their dogs.

  97. #98 iceboy
    March 14, 2008

    here’s another vote from upstate new york for yaktrax.

    weird story about your’s peeling off, interrobang. maybe you didn’t have the rubber stretched up and over your uppers enough?

    hasn’t happened to me, anyhow. and i *really* love how secure they are on ice.

    get some now-ish.

  98. #99 iceboy
    March 14, 2008

    also, i apologize for the errant apostrophe in “your’s” up above. that wasn’t supposed to be there. ice on the keyboard.

  99. #100 Kseniya
    March 14, 2008

    maybe you didn’t have the rubber stretched up and over your uppers enough?

    Ah-hah! I knew there had to be a reasonable explanation for the virgin birth!

  100. #101 Scholar
    March 14, 2008

    increase the coefficient of friction

    shoes for crews baby
    http://www.shoesforcrews.com/

    slip-resistant footwear

  101. #102 Chris
    March 14, 2008

    I think I see the problem, here. PZ, the problem is not the ice. It’s your footwear. No you shouldn’t wear skates, you need a curling slider, and a broom.

    I’m serious; ever see curlers in action? They’re zipping down the ice surface, pushing with one foot, sliding on the other, while sweeping like maniacs in front of a sliding hunk of polished granite! It’s a magnificent sight. Of, course, it helps to have someone yelling “Hurry! HARD!” at you as you slide! (It really sounds hot when women curlers shout. But, I digress…)

    So there you are: go to your local curling club, buy curling footwear, and sweep your way down the path to work! It’ll help cement your reputation on campus! Must go now – The Brier’s on tonight!

  102. #103 Rick Schauer
    March 14, 2008

    PZ, I agree it’s tough getting around right now…but evolution offers us some hope…perhaps in millions of years we’ll evolve skates or skis or perhaps “suction cups and tenticles” where our feet and arms currently are to assist us in the ardous task of walking during a Minnesota spring.

  103. #104 Knight of L-sama
    March 14, 2008

    You know, I’ve always wanted to see snow but reading all these stories has suddenly made me glad that I live in the sub-tropics where a single snowfall measured in millimetres would be making the news for a week straight.

  104. #105 ERV
    March 14, 2008

    I used to do a lot of martial arts, and what I hated the *most* was falling exercises. By the end of the night everything hurt. Every joint was bruised and scraped.

    Then I wiped out hard one icy day, and I automatically went into ‘fall mode’. Didnt feel a thing. No broken anything, no scrapes or bruises.

    I stopped bitching about falling exercises after that.

  105. #106 K
    March 14, 2008

    PZ-move to Florida. PLEASE!

    rmp-how many more lessons do you need before you move to Florida?
    Gee, you’d think I have a theme, huh…maybe a secret plan to raise the intelligence down here? Look, if you can spell your name without help, please move South, it’s that bad.

    Chris-thank you for the ah-ha moment. For years we’ve pondered the attraction of curling and couldn’t figure it out.

  106. #107 rmp
    March 14, 2008

    K, It’s the bugs, the heat, the humidity.
    I sweat like a fat man. Can’t imagine why?

  107. #108 BadMA
    March 14, 2008

    I used to do a lot of martial arts, and what I hated the *most* was falling exercises. By the end of the night everything hurt. Every joint was bruised and scraped.”

    I’m one of those evil martial arts instructors that actually teaches this stuff. They’re one of my favorite things to do. I’ve also fallen a few times, but the techniques do work if you can do them automatically. If you’re doing it right and relax, you won’t feel bad after class. Relaxation is one of the hardest things to teach students!

  108. #109 David
    March 14, 2008

    Anyone who leaves the house with a cup of coffee without having had three in the house deserves the falling fate.

  109. #110 Sven DiMIlo
    March 14, 2008

    dual random simulataneousness/duplicated

    I still say we owe Mr. Woelfel a debt of gratitude for coining this most excellent, in part because borderline illiterate, phrase. I truly believe it embodies a concept as useful and insightful as the “irreducible complexity” and “complex specified information” that preceded it.

  110. #111 Matt LaCrosse
    March 14, 2008

    You could always buy a pair of ice climbing boots, the kind with the metal spikes on them. You just have to remember to change them before walking inside someplace. I think they do make those removable spikes that you can just attach and detach.

  111. #112 BG
    March 14, 2008

    I am with the folks that say get YakTrax. They work well for me in Michigan. Get the YakTrax Pro, they have a velcro strap that goes across the top of your shoe so you don’t lose them. I have lost similar traction aids while walking so I made sure I got the pro version of the YakTrax.

  112. #113 Richard Simons
    March 14, 2008

    I’ve always wanted to see snow but reading all these stories has suddenly made me glad that I live in the sub-tropics

    If there has been a fall of snow in the night with no wind but the sun comes up to a clear blue sky even the most mundane place can seem magical, with every twig of every tree gleaming white and all the traffic noises muffled. The downside is when it starts melting and the roads get covered with a dirty, slippery slushy mix that quickly transforms every car and bus into a grey cardboard replica.

  113. #114 Ryan Egesdahl
    March 14, 2008

    Indeed, and God that would do such a thing is too cruel to be believable.

  114. #115 Sven DiMilo
    March 14, 2008

    As an undergrad at Michigan State lo these many years ago, we’d have an annual contest to tally the fewest ice-falls. Official rules: no fall counted unless your butt, knee, or elbow touched. Heroic gyrating self-saves were the best part.

  115. #116 Crudely Wrott
    March 14, 2008

    Michael Woelfel, you asked, “Think about it, what is a partially formed heart good for?”

    You once had one, though you can surely not be faulted for not remembering. But I’ll bet you do remember those touching videos shown in churches and on anti vivisection sites and programs and slide shows. You remember, the ones that show the fetal heart starting to beat. Inasmuch as the human body it beats in is “partially formed” as well as all of its systems and organs, this would be in fact a “partially formed heart.” I had one too, before it fully formed and it is currently ticking over like a clock. Yours?

    Your question brings to mind a famous rejoinder to just such a question. Look up the citation somewhere if you take a notion to: “Of what use is a newborn baby?”

    By the way, how ’bout this lovely spring weather?

  116. #117 Kevin
    March 14, 2008

    OH! so there is a FLY in your idilic existance!

    Well that should make all of us feel better….ja.

    myself I had a good commute today. slept in till 6:59. Took some pills and lay on the couch till 7:06. toast bagel, shower shave out the door at 7:31.pickup newspaper from sidewalk and drive wife to the ferry at 7:37. (she drives home) buy coffee get on the boat. read paper, drink coffee eat bagel, 8:10 get off boat, hop to subway get on train, switch train at 8:35. get out of train and take ESCALATOR upstairs to office at 8:53.

    50 degrees F no snow no rain…

  117. #118 Ichthyic
    March 15, 2008

    I for one, am tired of the woes of woelfel.

    I vote shenanigans.

    Isn’t it time to get the brooms out and sweep this refuse out of here?

    He’s a perfect fit for the dungeon.

  118. #119 Monado, FCD
    March 15, 2008

    It’s scary when I get out of the car and fall down: it means I didn’t know how slippery it was and should have been driving more carefully.

    In Montreal, now, they’re having houses collapse because the rooves can’t bear the weight of the snow. They closed the schools today until they can shovel off a bit.

  119. #120 Chris Dael
    March 15, 2008

    Our PZ speaks truth to the masses
    Bout why man is kin to the wrasses
    But since his smart seed
    Will likely succeed
    Looks like future’s full of bruised — egos.

  120. #121 Monado, FCD
    March 15, 2008

    Rooves? Roofs?

    I got up while it was still dark and went to a pool for an hour’s swimming. That’s pleasantly surreal. The trick to enjoying it is to find some soap that removes the stink of chlorinated pool water.

  121. #122 Desert Donkey
    March 15, 2008

    #37 Rey Fox, Those heat tunnels have the primary purpose of carrying heat from the woodchip fired generator up the hill to heat buildings. The collateral benefit is that they create melted trails in the snow and ice.

    Working inside those tunnels is nasty stuff. Very warm.

  122. #123 Glen
    March 15, 2008

    Though I despise the game, I recommend golf shoes. Those spikey things on the bottom can get you across the smoothest ice.

  123. #124 DiscoveredJoys
    March 15, 2008

    I suggest you move 7 degrees North (and 95 degrees East) where here, in the middle of England, we have had no snow this winter, every day exceeded 0 Centigrade (32 F), and only a once-in-every-25-years earthquake of 5.2 to bother us. Living on a island ‘bathed in the Gulf Stream’ may have something to do with our climate (to date).

    Hell of a commute though.

  124. #125 Brent Rasmussen
    March 15, 2008

    Obviously the only sane thing to do is to move to Arizona and live in John Lynch’s spare bedroom.

  125. #126 Sven DiMilo
    March 15, 2008

    The trick to enjoying it is to find some soap that removes the stink of chlorinated pool water.

    Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint. Also does a hell of a job on old VW grease.

  126. #127 Beth
    March 15, 2008

    Been there, done that in northern Illinois (minus the coffee ;)). In addition to the freeze/thaws that happened all winter, we got 6 inches of snow, which then melted one day when it got almost to 50 then re-froze that night when it was 16. The campus was a skating rink for weeks.

  127. #128 Marcus Ranum
    March 15, 2008

    Great. Now we can blame global warming on PZ: it’s God’s attempt to protect him ice.

  128. #129 PhoneFeminist
    March 16, 2008

    This is why you need to be more like your student and get up at 10, when it’s all nicely melted :-)

The site is undergoing maintenance presently. Commenting has been disabled. Please check back later!