Having been raised in the warm communist heartland of california, I found that they have something here in the midwest that I had never seen in my home state of California - weather. While visiting my parents on my second day in the midwest, I saw something that I thought only existed in movies about the land of Oz, a tornado.
A siren blared, the horizon turned black, and a huge menacing funnel loomed in the distance, seemingly moments away from me... And to my surprise, everyone just sat on the porch, saying "Wow! That's a big one." All of the neighbors were outside watching the twisty tornado devestation with glee as well.
I quietly screamed as calmly as I possibly could that maybe we should go into the cellar or something, and everyone just pooh-poohed me. "Oh, it's still a long way off. Nothing to worry about." That was when I first learned that people in the midwest are immune to the ravages of common sense about things like weather.
They have this other thing in the midwest called snow. They do have snow in California, but it is a very different kind of snow. Snow in California is something that you actually pay money to go and see. On the left coast, snow is all about Christmas vacation and cozy ski lodges and hot cocoa and making snowmen and ski bunnies in brightly-colored ski-bunny outfits.
It's very different here in the midwest - you don't have to pay to see snow, in the midwest snow is free! It is right there on your freakin' doorstep. It's on the street. It's all over the parking lot at work. It's freakin' everywhere! I quickly learned that I don't like snow anymore. Never again will I pay money to go see snow.
And there is this all of this other stuff in the midwest called ice and sleet. It's kind of like that stuff on the walls of your freezer, except that it all over the place. I quickly learned that walking on ice and sleet is downright annoying.
The combination of ice and gravity and walking has a tendency to make people fall down and go boom. The inhabitants of this hostile land thinks that this is just an everyday part of their midwestern lifestyle, and they just go about their business like it is perfectly normal to end up ass-over-tea-kettle on a daily basis. When I was in college, I would watch a veritable slapstick ballet of students falling on their asses in the campus parking lot after a good sleet.
I find that the ensuing madcap hilarity that follows an ice storm grows quite tiresome very quickly, and so I sought out a technological answer to the midwest's vertically-challenging winter pastime of unplanned leaps and uncontrolled landings.
Seek and ye shall find! I discovered that the ancients had created a device called the crampon for just this set of circumstances. (Editor's note: No, a "crampon" is not the brand name of a feminine hygiene product.)
The first evidence of crampons can find on the Arch of Constantine in Rome. According to Tertulliano (160-220 AD) they were invented by spies in order to move with safety on difficult terrain. In fact they are called "the spy’s shoes" (caligae, elevatae, seculatoriae). [ Grivel's "The History of Crampons"
In the twentieth century, the crampon evolved into the cleat. Cleats are used for sports such as soccer or football. large metal studs are attached to the bottom of the shoe to assist in gripping the ground, preventing sliding and rapid changes of direction - particularly down.
Don't even try to buy snow cleats is midwestern stores. They will have no idea what you are talking about. You have to buy them on the internet.
And don't buy these spring-based snow thingies called Yaktrax Walkers.
They look cool, but they don't work very well.
I have also been told of another snow-and-ice traction device that can be used in winter weather. If you put socks or stockings over your shoes, it will have a similar "grippy" effect. I have not tried this yet, but I have been told by a confidential source that this works quite well in a pinch. This might come in handy under some odd set of circumstances.
So there you have it! The Dr. Zaius Approved Method
of Staying Vertical during the winter months in the midwest. Now if I can only figure out where to buy some saffron. The natives think that the way to make saffron rice is to add yellow food coloring!