If you’ve been reading this for any length of time, you know that I live in Minnesota, land of 10,000 lakes, 12 million mosquitos and snow. Depending on the year, we might get a little, or maybe like ocean waves, every 7th year or so, a lot. (I don’t know, I made that up. Don’t look it up.) But whether it’s a little or a lot, we always get some, and one thing is always a given: the first few snowfalls will always confound drivers, because of course none of us can remember how to drive in snow from the last time we did 6 or 8 months ago. In a typical year, however, after those first few snowfalls, we usually settle in nicely and have figured it out.
Something is different about this year, and I’m not sure what. I don’t know if it’s because we’re getting higher than usual amounts of late season storms, or if it’s because when it’s not snowing it’s been absurdly cold. You may have even seen stories of folks who ended up in the ER because they tried to turn boiling water into snow. Apparently everyone has seen the beautiful photo or video someone shot of a woman doing this while she was backlit against either a sunrise or sunset, throwing the boiling water over her head in an arc. Now everyone wants to do this and get a photo. The problem with it is, when not done properly it’s a wonderful way to get first, and even second degree burns. Take a note: DON’T DO THIS!! AND DON’T LET YOUR KIDS DO THIS, NOT MATTER HOW MUCH THEY BEG!! Throw the water away from you. It’s still a really cool science experiment.
I also wonder if we suddenly have had a bumper crop of idiots that have moved here, or if I’m just becoming an old fuddy duddy, but it seems to me with each new storm, I see really stupid people out who have no business driving. With all due respect to Bill Engvall, I really want to say to them, “Here’s your sign”.
I started a part time job last fall and work Friday nights until 9. It seems like there have been several storms on those nights, and so I as I’m cautiously driving home, appropriately slowing down on snow-packed roads, there are cars whizzing by me at normal highway speeds. I have all-wheel drive in my car and I’m not comfortable going that fast on a snow-packed road, because I don’t know where there may be a slippery or icy spot, and even though I have anti-lock brakes, who the heck wants to use them? Last Friday, in the midst of yet another storm, I counted at least 6 places where I could see cars had either gone into a ditch or crossed the median. 6! What is wrong with people? This isn’t rocket science, as my husband says, it’s just understanding the co-efficient of friction. When he said that I had about the same reaction you likely just did, so I looked it up. According to Wikipedia, “The coefficient of friction depends on the objects that are causing friction. The value is usually between 0 and 1 but can be greater than 1. A value of 0 means there is no friction at all between the objects.” In this case the objects are the rubber tires on your car, and the ice on the road. Rubber on dry asphalt has a value of 0.7, and rubber on ice has a value of 0.15, meaning there is a lot less friction, i.e. no flipping ability to stop when it’s icy out! (Here ends your physics lesson for the day.)
I think what seems so odd, is that this is normally what we see in the first weeks of winter, not in the last gasps of it. By this time we’re typically have learned to play nice on the winter roads, and not act like grade school brats. I do get it; we’re all impatient for spring. I’ve ordered my tomato plant seeds and am already planning for getting those started, and am trialing landscaping software so that I can start planning some new areas in our yard as well. But I want to be alive and healthy to enjoy those things. I’m chomping at the bit to get flowers on my patio again this year, and last year for my birthday hubby bought me a hammock. This year I’m getting a stand for it, and I can’t wait to just lay there with a good book, a glass of wine and chill out. If you kill me, and deprive me of those pleasures, I will seriously haunt you and your family for eternity.