The wonderful world of snowfall

snowfallThe projections for snowfall in the Albany area on Wednesday night and Thursday, even on Tuesday, were for between nine and fifteen inches. It ended up being closer to nine PLUS fifteen inches in my city.

It started to fall at an inconvenient time for my usual snow removal strategy. Usually, I like to shovel often, after four or five inches have hit the ground. But at 10 pm when I went to bed, there was really only a dusting.

By the time I got up a little after 6, there was well over one foot. After my Bible study, I went out for about 40 minutes, fully prepared, including sunglasses to protect me from the snow glare. It took 10 minutes just to clear the porch and the steps. I got only half way down the walkway.

After breakfast, including some hot tea, I went out for round two. And it was wonderful. Seriously. I got to talk to my neighbors, who were all socially distant. We conversed about things such as the fact that my wife, a teacher, had a snow day in her district, but my daughter had to do the mindnumbing online school. A couple of the neighbors had snowplows, but one of the machines stubbornly refused to start.

Is that our vehicle? I can’t tell.

After clearing the sidewalk, it was time to start with our vehicle, parked on the street. This is more difficult to liberate because I feel restricted as to where to put the snow. I don’t want to put it in a place that will make it harder for my neighbors to dig their cars out. You’re not supposed to dump it in the road. So I end up schlepping it farther. By the time I went back inside, it’d been another two hours. The snow had finally stopped.

More tea. After lunch, I asked my wife to help with liberating the car because she’d be the one who had to drive it to work the next day. Already, it was already getting colder. We didn’t want to have to dig it out the next morning when it’d be 9 degrees Fahrenheit. And about an hour later, we had succeeded.

A couple of snowfall notes. The mail never came. Given the stories I’ve heard about the Postal Service, I want to attest that this was the FIRST time this had occurred in years. And we did get that day’s mail the following day. The newspaper arrived the next day as well.

Apparently, our daughter had gone out at 1 a.m. and had shoveled the walk. So she had removed three or four inches before I had started. Thanks, dear.

My wife appreciates the fact that I shovel the whole sidewalk, not a shovel-width of it. That’s the way I learned how to do it decades ago. And as I get older, I HATE walking through those narrow channels that  some others call “shoveling.”

My hometown of Binghamton got over 40 inches from that storm. So we were lucky!

That day, we also took some pictures and recorded an Advent video. All in all, a great day. Well, except for my back. Where’s the Tylenol?

A meteorological winter lion

About 22 inches over two days

Winter.Amy Biancolli
c 2019 Amy Biancolli
A lot of folks complained about how early substantial snows hit the bulk of the US in 2019. I was reminded by something that Kiwis such as Arthur understand. December 1 is meteorological summer in New Zealand. This means it’s meteorological winter in the Northern Hemisphere. And it surely came in like a lion.

When we got home from a play on Sunday, the 1st, I shoveled the four inches that had fallen. But ugh. I woke up to about ten more inches. Little wonder why virtually every school in at least a seven-county area and the libraries were closed. Later that day, I helped my wife dig out the car from its on-street parking space. That packed snow is SO much heavier.

Then Tuesday morning, I shoveled enough to get to the replowed-in car, and we dug it out again. Not only is there about eight more inches of snow, but there’s also nowhere to put it. You don’t want to place it where it’ll be more difficult for others to get out of their spaces. One’s not supposed to put the snow onto the street, though surely several people did.

After my wife and daughter went to school with the two-hour delay, I went back to bed and took a nap for an hour. The joy of retirement. Then I attacked the sidewalk snow.


Historically, I’m from the “shovel often” school of snow removal. I learned this back in the 1980s, when I worked at FantaCo, the comic book store on the first block of Central Avenue.

“Shovel the walk” does NOT mean creating a path a shovel-width wide. I mean, clear the WHOLE sidewalk, walkway to the house and the steps. I mean, clear it so you can see the pavement. If you do it early enough, the winter sun will do the work and minimize the need for rock salt. I use it as sparingly as possible.

Mayor Kathy Sheehan recommended that drivers be wary of pedestrians. This is true because there are folks digging out their vehicles. But it’s really important to protect those who’ve abandoned the sidewalks in favor of walking in the road. The guy passing our house pushing the baby carriage, going with traffic, made me particularly nervous. If you’re walking on the road, you should go against traffic.

Some of the worst failure to remove snow was by some bus stops. One was a couple of blocks away, where Western and Madison meet. People were forced to go well into the intersection. The nearby gas station cleared around the pumps and the entrance, but the walks, not so much.

Too high

I have lost the ability to mountain goat. No way I’m going to climb over those piles of snow. Oh, I tried once and my shoe got stuck in a mound. Damn, that was uncomfortable.

Some folks complained that Albany didn’t call a snow emergency until Tuesday night. Alternate-side parking kicks in while the parking spots are plowed out. I was fine with that. Hey, at least my city didn’t have to call out the National Guard, as Schenectady did.

I’m not about to complain about meteorological winter. Now, I may complain about people’s poor response to it, but that’s a different kettle of fish.

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The year’s worst falsehoods and bogus claims

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Hating the poor in the season of giving

How to Hire Fake Friends and Family

Fiction from the New Yorker: Cat Person

Thousands Once Spoke His Language in the Amazon; Now, He’s the Only One

How ancient mastodon bones sparked a modern-day battle among scientists

Chuck Miller: When I caught the Times Union editing my blog headlines without my permission

RIP, Sue Grafton at 77 – Y Is For Yesterday: her last mystery series novel

Arthur answers Roger’s questions about the regime in DC and the nasty people in DC and blogging, and Kiwi language and his most evergreen post

RIP to Rose Marie, who was of an uncertain age; at least she was around for this; Dick Van Dyke has lost two costars this year, with Mary Tyler Moore passing in January

2018 US postage stamps: Musician John Lennon, performer and activist Lena Horne, America’s first woman in space Sally Ride, and children’s television pioneer Mr. Rogers

Mark Evanier has been blogging for 17 years this month, a site I check out daily

RIP Dick Enberg

Clifford Irving, Author of a Notorious Literary Hoax, Dies at 87

Quotable Kirby

Erie, PA Receives Record 53 Inches of Snow in 30 Hours

Now I Know: The People Who Protect Chewbacca and The Worthless $65 Million Masterpiece That Cost $29 Million and The Town That Pays Criminals to Cut it Out and The Accidental Masterpiece and The New York Police Department’s Giant Problem and The People Who Protect Chewbacca

What is it like to go through a car wash with the windows down?

Wise Old Sayings


What Do You Call a World That Can’t Learn From Itself?

This is the thanks he gets for “overhauling” the American tax system?

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The Nationalist’s Delusion

The United States of America Is Decadent and Depraved

Should We Care What Happens to the GOP’s Soul?

I Won’t Tolerate A ‘Different Viewpoint’ When It’s Based On Blatant Lies

The Whoppers of 2017: the year’s worst falsehoods and bogus claims

“Neoliberalism” isn’t an empty epithet – It’s a real, powerful set of ideas

How life is now in Puerto Rico

“Hope has two beautiful daughters: their names are Anger and Courage. Anger at the way things are, and Courage to see that they do not remain as they are.” – Augustine of Hippo


The Queen’s Christmas Broadcast 2017 and 1957

2017 is the best?

Instagram’s Favorite New Yorker Cartoons of 2017

YouTube’s highest paid stars – who ARE these people? I’m old

The Biggest Tech Fails of 2017

Turner Classic Movies’ annual Obituary Video

The Daily Show team looks back at the biggest events of 2017 in news, sports, and pop culture


RIP Keely Smith

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised – Gil Scott Heron

Keep On Doing What You’re Doing/Jerks On The Loose – Kelly Hogan and Nora O’Connor

Two songs from Björk’s 2017 album Utopia

Dmitri Shostakovich – Waltz No. 2

Regretro -Lifestyle album

The Last Day of Summer – Elyxr, ft Color Theory

Retrospect -Freen in Green, ft. Liz Enthusiasm

Heavensent – Bao


Sufjan Stevens, Chris Cornell, “Weird Al” Yankovic, Taylor Swift on longlist for Best Original Song Oscar

Dominic Frontiere, Composer for ‘The Outer Limits,’ ‘The Flying Nun,’ Dies at 86

Winter 2015-2016

The one thing I hate about the metric system is that one gets to below zero WAY too easily.

snowI know winter 2015-2016 is not over yet, but I’m intrigued by it so far. It was 71F/22C on Albany on Christmas eve, a record. We didn’t even have any measurable snow until a few days later.

Remember that monster storm that slammed the East Coast in the latter part of January? It crippled Washington, DC, Virginia, and eastern Pennsylvania. Even New York City got a couple of feet.

Do you know how much we got from that storm in Albany, 150 miles north of Manhattan? Zero. Nada. In fact, my sister in Charlotte, NC got worse weather than we had, as did my buds in Kentucky and Tennessee.

I note this because most folks in the United States have no sense of geography. Several times, even my downstate colleagues in New York City and Long Island asked, “Are you finished digging out?” Digging out from what?

As of February 20, we had less than a foot of snow (less than a third of a meter) for the whole season, a quarter of what we receive normally, and nowhere near the nearly 70 inches (1.75m) we had LAST year at this time. I haven’t shoveled the walk yet, although I’ve taken a broom to the sidewalk a few times.

And the temperature has been moderate. Not that it didn’t get cold. On Valentine’s Day morning, it was -13F (-25C), another record, though it cracked 50F (10C) two days later.

The pipes to the kitchen froze, which meant I got to wash all the dishes by hand, hauling hot water from the nearby bathroom, where the pipes, further from the external wall, did NOT freeze. I LOVED washing the dishes that way, though I must have tried a dozen times to rinse them with water from the unwilling tap.

I think this stuff is fascinating to me because, as we age, it’s much harder to distinguish one year from another. Last year WAS a brutal winter, with the average temperature for February 12F (-11C), when it should have been 19F (-7C), with several days below zero Fahrenheit. (The one thing I hate about the metric system is that one gets to below zero WAY too easily.)

I’m noting this now when it’s scheduled to be above 50F (10F), but that “just enough cold air may seep in at a key time to allow snow to fall during all or part of one or two storms from the Ohio Valley to portions of the mid-Atlantic and New England coasts during the Tuesday to Thursday time frame.” In other words, it ain’t over yet, even though the groundhog failed to see his shadow and we expect an early spring.

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