Fairy Tail

sleeping dog

The dog is such a princess.

An eighty-five pound, 38 inches tall, deer-legged, red, short-haired, long-eared princess.

The past few days have been exhausting in the “doing his business” category. He needs to find just the right spot.

The ground’s been covered in snow, outside of a path in the center of the sidewalk and the plowed strip in the street. Somehow he knows that under those twenty-three inches of snow is sidewalk and not grass. He is obviously very picky about going only on organic matter. He’s like the princess, and the pee.

Sorry, dad joke.

Words Describe

shoveled walk with 2 feet of snow

The only thing that anyone is talking about today (and yesterday, and yesterday’s yesterday and, very likely, tomorrow and tomorrow’s tomorrow) is the snow.

There is a lot of it, to be sure.

It is a big event. Much discussion has been had about the naming of this event.

People were a little concerned about originality–we’ve had Snowmageddon in 2010,  and The Snowpocalypse in 2009. So you can’t go there. Some weather media conglomerate decided to make it a named storm, a la a hurricane. That didn’t catch on. [hmmm, nobody mentioned snowicane]. I’ve decided to use the Blizzard of 2016–kind of old skool.

Other words that we use to describe this snow include snow storm, blizzard, packing snow, powder, drifts, avalanche, moguls, glacier, flakes and flurries.

But people hunkered down since the snow started in earnest yesterday afternoon have many other words that they are using for it. Some of these names are not appropriate for your eyes, my Loyal Reader.

The words come out in inches and then feet. They speak of closings and delays. Words to describe back breaking shoveling and the schadenfreude of seeing the city plow itself stuck in the snow.

We have many words to share our experience, giving lie to the myth of the great Eskimo snow hoax. You know, when some amatuer linguist spawned

…the familiar claim about the wondrous richness of the Eskimo conceptual scheme: hundreds of words for different grades and types of snow, a lexicographical winter wonderland, the quintessential demonstration of how primitive minds categorize the world so differently from us. — Geoffrey Pullum, Professor of General Linguistics

See, it isn’t true that indigenous people of the north have hundreds of words to describe snow. Turns out that, in fact, people who speak English have the same or more words.

Dr. Pullum is quite critical of the full scale and uncritical adoption of this myth.

The prevalence of the great Eskimo snow hoax is testimony to falling standards in academia, but also to a wider tendency (particularly in the United States, I’m afraid) toward fundamentally anti-intellectual “gee-whiz” modes of discourse and increasing ignorance of scientific thought. 

How we describe things matter. Science matters. Critically and objectively looking at data matters. Making things up because they are more interesting or make you look better is fiction. Not truth. Okay Iowa?

SnowThing 2016


Here’s my report.

Brought in the cushions and the umbrella. I don’t anticipate coffee on the back porch in the next few days.

Made chili. Took dog out for a walk at 1:30 pm with no sign of snow. Dog did his business and, while not “news,” it was an important happening. For those of you who care, he did country AND western.

Sheltered The Spouse’s rose experiment by taking the broken Ikea picnic bench and turning it upside down to tent the miracle propagation. Cleared the front porch and dumped the butts and hid the hidden pipe beneath the basket. Also, moved the shovels closer to the door. I read those Little House books. I know that a few feet can be insurmountable.

After 3 pm, did my duty and walked the streets. Snow falling. The sidewalks were starting to fill, except for the stretch from Miss Alice’s house and around the corner of the apartment building. Good that the apartment building people are paying homage to Alice. She rocks. Also, it behooves you to not mess with her.

Found myself around the block at my neighborhood watering hole. Partook of local beers and infused whiskey spiked hot cider. I did this to be neighborly. It seemed to be appreciated.

Left as the snow was increasing. Was accompanied by a steadfast young man from the pub who may have served my beverages. Came home to eat the chili noted earlier herein. Snow falling, still. Drinking hot tea. Inside. Maybe 2 1/2″ on the ground. Waiting for the thunder snow.

Believe we’ll be fine.

Mo’ Money, Mo’ Money, Mo’

No, not THIS Michael Jackson, but the one from homeland securitySo, another top, highly paid official is leaving the Bush Administration, because he needs to make more money. This is on the heels of Tony Snow, recently White House Press Secretary, who left earlier this month because he “ran out of money.” He said he took out a loan to make ends meet, and can’t support his family of five on $168,000. That’s more money than 93% of U.S. households earn each year.

So now, another public servant who has been sucking $168,000 out of the federal trough has also had to give up public service.

“The simple truth, however, is that after over five years of serving with the president’s team, I am compelled to depart for financial reasons that I can no longer ignore.”

What is this guy saying? He is compelled to depart for financial reasons he can’t ignore? Hunh? Can’t live within his significant means? This is a guy that was called “whip smart when it came to budget and operational details, a real manager.” Yet he can’t figure out how to live on a salary higher than 9 out of 10 Americans. Like does he gamble? Lose a bunch of money in the stock market? In over his head with a subprime mortgage? Owe money to a loan shark? Bought alot of travel on his credit cards?

Or maybe he lost everything in Katrina and is suffering from a slow recovery process. Oh wait, it was his department that caused that whole mess. Enough worry about Katrina victims when you are having your own money trouble. Yeah, go get another job.


Turns out that the 12-year old isn’t allowed to touch the snow while at school. Even when they are on the playground for recess. Even when there is wonderful packing-style snow all over the place.

No snow touching.

Now I got the other touching thing, and watching out where the huskies go, but no touching snow?

“Why?” you ask.

Well, because you might put your eye out, of course!

We have really become a very scared people. And not just terror-wise. We have adopted these zero tolerance modes to protect ourselves and our kids–and the insurance premiums of schools, government, stores, etc.

We warn people that coffee is hot. We don’t allow kids to bring in sunscreen to pre-school without a waiver. We make toddlers take off their shoes and coats and take them out of their mom’s arms before being screened for explosives. And we don’t let them touch snow.

Yet, there is no shielding from pictures of Britney’s privates (sorry, no link to that). Or from the graphic violence in video games marketed to kids. Or from the sexualization of little girls. And we are still afraid to protect kids from sexually transmitted diseases.

This seems squirrely. Do we want our kids’ in a plastic bubble to keep them safe? Do we give up control of our kids to the “media”?

Wait, I am losing track–should I be afraid? Should I be strong? And where on this spectrum is yellow snow?

Let It Snow

It’s a cold, wet morning. The raindrops hit the car with a thud. They are big.

The 12-year old: Man, I wish this was snow.

Me: Well, it doesn’t usually snow in D.C. this early. When I was a kid, sometimes we would get snow at Halloween.
Him: At Halloween????
Me: Yah. But it wasn’t normal. It wasn’t really unusual, but not really common, either.
Him: Like it happened once?
Me: No, more like every five years or so. It wasn’t unheard of. But one of my favorite snows ever happened on Thanksgiving. At the J.L. Hudson’s Thanksgiving Parade.
Him: You had a parade?
Me: Yeah. I think they still do. But I was there with my sibs, and we were watching the parade and it was cold. And the snow started to come down. And each piece of snow was like the size of a frisbee. And each piece was big and very wet. And we were soaked through and my sister drove home and we had hot chocolate.
Him: I like hot chocolate.

Me too. Happy Thanksgiving.