Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Sub-Zero Wins

Since this weekend, the Pacific Northwest (just like, I gather, most of the rest of America) has been hit with uncharacteristically cold weather, with highs yesterday and today in the low 30s and a smattering of snow on Sunday night. On its own the frosty weather is familiar enough, even strangely refreshing. The other transplants from northerly and/or high-altitude climes (the Northeast, the upper Midwest, Idaho, Utah, Washington state, Alaska) with whom I come into contact during my workday find it pretty unspectacular too. But my current homeland, like Northern Virginia, proves to be an area unused to the idea of dealing with ice and snow. For instance, where a city in western Pennsylvania would respond to an evening snowfall of two or three inches with "salt the roads", Portland's response (and that of its more-rural hinterland) is "we do not salt the roads". And while this lack of salt may help to keep all those vintage Volkswagens out on the roads decade after decade -- that and Oregon's notable absence of vehicle safety inspections -- it does mean a few inches of snow can pretty effectively stop most people from driving anywhere.

I spent Sunday in McMinnville with Kyle and the evening there was reasonably lovely -- we walked out into it to buy some bread and wine to go with the chanterelle mushrooms we bought at the last of Portland's Saturday markets that we'll make it to this year -- fresh snowfall; the sounds of the occassional passing cars muffled; Christmas lights above the quaint 3rd Street drag reflected in the ice on the pavement; a comfy scarf wrapped around my neck to keep the wind from knifing mercilessly into my very soul. Yesterday wasn't much worse: The Oregonian's early-morning road report said something about requiring chains on Interstate 5 so, assuming the commute would be treacherously snowbound I hunkered down in Kyle's small but serviceable pad and worked remotely. One thing I've always liked about IT work is that it's generally flexible enough to do from home without any issues, though I did decide it was prudent to switch from my own laptop to the Kyle's when the friendly neighborhood wifi connection I was leveraging disappeared, to be replaced a few minutes later with a similar wireless network named "fuck off".

It's not predicted to get above freezing today but there was no new snow overnight, so I figured on driving up to my place early and getting into the office. The drive didn't take much longer than usual and the car's ABS hardly engaged at all (the big roads being dry and the snow on the smaller roads being at least tamped down), though the cup of coffee I bought at one of McMinnville's many coffee hutches sprung a leak and filled up my cupholders with about half an inch of mocha. This, sadly, seems to have killed the wireless hands-free device for my cell phone that was, like the cup, being held there, though at least the undrained portion of the mocha was recoverable once I got home. Having reached my apartment, it didn't seem like the 14 bus was running along the Hawthorne Boulevard ice-road with anything like its usual frequency, so I opted to work from home again. At least I'm working from my home today; I do feel as though I'm getting closer and closer to reaching the office and barring much additional snow I may in fact get there by midweek. Never mind that my office these days is an offsite location and from there I just remote into a computer at the main office anyway.

Anyway, that's my meandering story about why I get to spend my lunch break in my apartment, sitting directly next to the heater and covered up with various blanket/sweater layers. On balance my commuting needs seem to have bested the weather for now. I guess it's possible for the potentially icy powers-that-be to stymie my holiday travel plans over Friday night but it seems like bad luck to even think about it.

I'm also proud that I cleaned up the spilled mocha in my car right when I got home, rather than following my first impulse to let it freeze in the cupholders overnight and then chip it out tomorrow.


Blogger Jack said...

You're a popsicle stick away from a frosty, delicious morning-commute treat there, my friend.

Your icy nerd references have a glaring omission: shall we give the floor to the Governor for a minute?

Also possibly applicable: Steve Carrell's line in The Office about someone "hitting my soul in the crotch with a frozen sledgehammer."

12/16/2008 5:45 PM  
Blogger nate said...

It's weird but I didn't think of Mortal Kombat as a nerd reference. Probably because when I was in seventh grade, Mortal Kombat was a lot cooler than I was.

12/16/2008 6:26 PM  

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