Minister of Science and Chief Protector of the Faith

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Hey! Where's All This Global Warming Stuff That Al Gore Promised Us?


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.

They can also be modified for use as a snow-and-ice traction device in winter weather. Snow cleats can purchased for a nominal sum, and worn as protection against this midwestern stuff called snow and ice.

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!


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At Tue Dec 11, 07:07:00 AM, Blogger anna said...

Oh yeah, I live in a wacked out place for weather too: Alabama. It was in the mid 70's yesterday while everyone else is under an inch or two of ice. Weird. But I'd love to live someplace with real seasons.

At Tue Dec 11, 07:25:00 AM, Blogger FranIAm said...

Crampon does sound mysteriously like something that happens around the time when the other item is needed...

Just saying, although that is not the point, is it.

Personally I am pondering you in the dry heat of California with all that fur. Perhaps the midwest is best for you!

At Tue Dec 11, 07:38:00 AM, Blogger Randal Graves said...

Just you wait until the ice turns nigh invisible and sneaks upon you, verily thrashing your body to the black pavement! Muahahaha, The Midwestern Metriculator is foiled again!

At Tue Dec 11, 10:38:00 AM, Blogger dguzman said...

Stuck as I am in the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains, I am very excited to read of the "socks over your shoes" tactic. The other day I quite unintentionally did "the splits" in the parking lot, thanks to some ice next to the car. ouch

At Tue Dec 11, 10:49:00 AM, Blogger SamuraiFrog said...

And we get to enjoy an ice storm today! So, the hits just keep on coming.

However, after seeing news footage of wildfires, sinkholes, and mudslides, I figure we get off even.

At Tue Dec 11, 11:16:00 AM, Blogger Kelly the dog said...

As a former Southern Californian I understand what you're going through - on the other hand we happily live through earthquakes, brush fires and mud slides. And down on the Gulf coast they play with hurricanes. So its all relative.

I'll have to try to the cleats you mentioned. Kelly's nails dig in like cleats, but her real trick is the four legs. I agree Yaktracks just don't work. Mine wore out after two uses.

At Tue Dec 11, 01:31:00 PM, Blogger Jon the Intergalactic Gladiator said...

Or you could do what we do around here. Just keep slipping on the ice and falling on your can.

At Tue Dec 11, 02:48:00 PM, Blogger Comrade Kevin said...

As Anna pointed out, if ever was a case for global warming, it would be the fact that it is December and 77 degrees outside. Regular highs should be somewhere in the 50s. A week ago, however, it was barely 45 for a high and the low was 28.

We haven't had anything wintry in about six years--and over the course of my life I have seen snow and ice grow ever more infrequently. It never was a regular happening and now I wonder if we'll ever have it again.

At Tue Dec 11, 05:44:00 PM, Blogger Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

I cried because I had no snow cleats until I met a man with no fur covering his body.

At Tue Dec 11, 05:44:00 PM, Blogger Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At Tue Dec 11, 06:58:00 PM, Anonymous mwb said...

I feel your pain.

Many years ago I moved from Virginia to Boston.

I still hate the ice here with a passion that borders on Republican.

Strangely enough I like the cold. If I could have it without ice, I'd be happy.

- mwb

At Wed Dec 12, 01:24:00 AM, Blogger GETkristiLOVE said...

I have crampons... once a month.

At Wed Dec 12, 04:45:00 AM, Blogger Dr. Zaius said...

Anna: It was 70 degrees in Alabama yesterday? Jeepers! it's a freaking ice storm here.

FranIAm: The weather in California is perfect for orangutans! And they also have citrus fruit and avocados. The only bad part about California is the real estate prices.

Randal Graves: They it "black ice" out here. It looks like pavement, it smells like pavement, but try and walk on it! Yipes!

DGuzman: Ack! That sounds like a nasty spill. All the more reason to buy cleats! I can't recommend them enough.

SamuraiFrog: Ice storm for me, too. Trust me, it is far more dangerous in the midwest than it is in California.

Kelly the dog: You should get cleats! The cleats wear out after a while, but you can get inexpensive replacements to put in their place. (See photo.) Yaktracks suck!

Jon the Intergalactic Gladiator: That is not so much a plan as a concession, is it? Of course you can just fly over this crap in your Danger Sled.

Comrade Kevin: Right now I wish I had some of that global warming going on out in my yard. It's covered with ice!

Dr. Monkerstein: Ha! Good one. As a fellow simian, you understand. How can you be a superior race and not have fur?

MWB: I'm like you. I don't mind the cold. Ice and snow? NO THANKS!

GETkristiLOVE: Really, my dear? I shall alert the media. ;o)

At Wed Dec 12, 10:06:00 PM, Blogger BAC said...

I grew up in Indiana, so know what the midwest is like. We once had a tornado skip right over our house and destroy the building behind us. It sounded like a train.

I was never a fan of the snow and ice, which is why I stopped going home for the holidays.

Hurry back to CA, Dr. Z.


At Thu Dec 13, 07:54:00 AM, Blogger Dr. Zaius said...

I had never seen a tornado before I came to the midwest. Freakin' scarier than any earthquake! I hope that I can go back to California some day...


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