Friday, March 8, 2013

STOP SNOWTCHIN'! Part III: The Conclusion

In my previous blog, I debated whether or not the use of a snow blower was a sign of hypocrisy regarding Chicagoans' latest attitudes and reactions to infrequent snow storms hitting the area. Well, the verdict is in:

"It depends..."

Here's the criteria to determine if you're being a punk-az regarding snow removal:

  • Your physical ability to remove snow
    If you're able-bodied, in relatively good health and are above the age of 10, you should be down for removing snow.  If you're pregnant, elderly, disabled, or a young child, you can forgo removing your own snow.
  • The amount of snow needing to remove
    This one is tricky as this is so relative to your environment.  I am going to say that if there is enough snow to keep an average car from traversing a path to a street, you probably should look at the snow blower.  If you're in an all-day blizzard and don't have the means to shovel during the storm, then a snow blower to dig yourself out of your home is probably a good idea.
  • The frequency in which snow needs to be removed
    The kind of goes in hand with the gauge above.  I had to manually remove snow twice during the recent storm and once after.  I'll go with a "4 or more times" rule - if you have to remove snow more than 3 times manually to keep your path clear, a snow blower is a good idea to use.
  • Environmental factors influencing snow removal urgency
    This one hits me close to home.  When my wife was pregnant with our second child, she was due any second.  Of course, the hospital was at least an hour away in good weather and we got a huge snow storm.  I had to keep the driveway clear to get her there during the snow storm.  At the time I didn't have a snow blower so I had no choice to but head out during the storm and remove the snow.  I have a 3 car garage-wide drive way.  I kept a path open for two cards to ge tin and out.  It also took me 5 different times every two hours to keep it clear.  I REALLY wish I had a snow blower that day.  Luckily, my father-in-law brought his over and helped clear out a space for a third car then next day.

    So, if you're going to be  in a relative life-or-death situation (I include child birth in that category), you should probably think of using a snow blower.
I ended up not using a snow blower to clear my driveway out  as it was all that deep and the temperature outside had risen enough to begin turning everything into slush. 

So, I'm not a hypocrite on this one folks! I braved the March 2013 Snowmaggedon!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

STOP SNOWTCHIN'! Part II: The Aftermath

In my previous blog, I ranted about how Chicagoans have become soft over the issue of snow.  Right after posting that piece of work, the snow finally hit my part of Chicagoland.  Now, I own a heavy duty snowblower that I bought off of my neighbor who bought it off the previous owner of my house (yeah, weird).  I haven't fired the thing up since I bought it.  Not even last night; I shoveled more to prove a point (and get some actual exercise in) vs. playing with one of the few power toys I have in the garage.

While my neighors were out with their machines, there I was with my lonely shovel and pure determination to clear out my driveway and sidewalk!  I've always wondered if my neighbors took pity on me.

"Oh, look at the Mexican out there with his little shovel.  Bless his heart," I'd imagine. "He so far from home and probably can't afford to get himself a snowblower after buying that big house."

OK.  I don't actually think my neighbors think I'm Mexican (maybe Floridian) and I haven't met one that is outright racist, but the pity factor has got to be there.  I'm probably projecting my fears of not fitting in onto them. 

I shoveled the drive and sidewalks twice and now have to clear it again after the winds knocked stuff off the roof on to the ground.   The conundrum I have is:

"Do I continue to shovel  to prove my point that I am no b*tch when it comes to snow or do I use my sleeping monster snowblower because I have sufficiently shoveled over the last 24 hours?"

I'm going to let the depth of what is on the ground determine my path.  If I do use it, am I being a hypocrite?

Tuesday, March 5, 2013


I'm a Texan boy.  Not born but raised in south central Texas.  I got used to the idea that the weather would be one of two things - hot and/or sunny.  Yeah, the temperature would drop a bit and we would get sleet every once in a while but we had basically two season to contend with and I lived that way most of my life.

One of the things I looked forward to when I visited Chicago was the fact that I knew there were seasons here.  I saw leaves turning beautiful colors on trees in September.  I felt the cool breeze mix in with the muggy, hot air in August.  I felt the heat waves in the summer. And, of course, I felt and expected the bitter bite of the infamous Chicago winter.

The first year I moved here, I was in my 1 bedroom apartment right off the lake.  I remember watching the news where they predicted roughly 24" of snow would fall.  I had no idea what that looked like or what havoc that would wreak.  I hunkered down by going shopping for food and drinks and cranked the radiator in my place to maximum and waited for everything to shut down.  I could work from home that day if needed and would be comfortable.

When I woke up the next day, there was a lot of snow, but when I looked out at the street, there were cars on the road!  People were walking around as if nothing happened!  I couldn't believe it.  The city was functioning!  Plow trucks were cruising up and down Lakeshore Drive, the maintenance crew were putting salt down on the sidewalks, and people were digging their cars out and moving them.  I was in shock.  If this had happened in Texas, a whole lot of people would've died due to believing wholeheartedly that one can drive a huge pick-up truck at regular speed in snow and maintain control.  Those that were smart enough to stay in, would've been holed up for days.  Nope - not Chicago.  This city KNEW how to handle snow.

Or so I thought...

We've been having mild winters here over the last few years.  One or two major snowfalls but nothing more than maybe a quarter of an inch at times.  It's enough to be inconvenient but nothing to cry wolf about.

Or so I thought...

Last night the weather forecasters were predicting around 11" of snow to fall.  Schools cancelled, mothers double-wrapped their children in layers of clothing, sleds were polished to provide the best rides, carrots and coal reappeared for future snowmen, and people expected the worst to happen.  I had colleagues calling me up asking whether or not they brave the horrible driving conditions in the morning or just stay home.

All of this got me thinking.  We all live in Chicago, right?  Snow does fall here year after year, right?  the city, surrounding suburbs, state, and independent contractors have ways of removing snow, salting streets, and opening up passages, right?  Then why THE FAWK are people acting like the world is going to end because of some snow?!!!!  GROW A PAIR ladies and gentlemen!  Yes, it may snow.  Tough.  Deal with it.  Yes it sucks.  If you're able-bodied (which almost all of my peers are), get a cot damn shovel out and start moving the shite!  If you don't like the snow, MOOOOOOOOOVVVVVVEEEEE!  The best part was that NO REAL SNOW FELL IN MOST OF CHICAGOLAND!!!  All of this hoopla was created over nothing.

The level of bitching about snow has become so bad I wonder if my initial feeling about Chicago being a working man's city was incorrect.   As I saw on a recent internet post, complaining about snow while living in Chicago is like going to a strip club and complaining that you saw a breast.

To my fellow Chicagoland brother and sisters - the city turned 186 years old yesterday.  It's seen the best of times and the worst of times.  Help me change this undercurrent of dissatisfaction with our great city.  We are Chicagoans - start acting like it.