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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Dispatch from the Eastern Seaboard: we're not all dead.

As many of you know, I am a Californian who teaches at the University of Iowa and is spending this year in Princeton.  This has, as you might expect, given me an odd perspective on weather disasters (other than just hating 'em), and the people who suffer them.  

East coast: weather service predicts apocalypse.  New York City shuts down. Citizens enraged. Subway continues running, empty, through the night by mandate of Higher Authority, while citizens, barred entry to the safety and transportation to be found underground, race home on foot against the doom awaiting them from the heavens.  Roads are barred to traffic.  Stores are cleared of bottled water and canned goods.  Some make their peace with god, others shake their fists and rage against the skies.  Battalions of snowplows and ambulances lie in wait, engines running and crews on DEFCON 1 ready to scramble at the drop of a snowflake. Brooklyn hipsters make incredibly detailed pre-looting strategy maps of record stores, consignment shops. Life insurance companies draft bankruptcy filings in advance, move assets to the Cayman Islands. Martha Stewart releases book of recipes for cannibals.  National guard activates plans to impose martial law.  Anyone who can flees to a bunker in the mountains with gold, guns.  Nothing happens.  
Midwest: weather service predicts nothing.  Apocalypse happens. The weakest immediately die.  Basketball-sized hail rains down from the skies, knocks anyone who ventures outside out cold, then blizzard covers all populated areas in five feet of snow, promptly freeze-suffocating hail victims.  Tornados descend by the dozens, clearing the snow as well as any inconveniently placed buildings.  People notice that frozen corpses appear to be scattered throughout the streets, midwestern tidiness kicks in, they go outside to stack them in neat piles.  Corpse-stackers immediately struck down by lightning, then buried in more snow, floods add layer of ice on top of snow, malarial mosquitos weaken the survivors, who are then dragged off by wolves.  Nobody else notices, survivors somehow manage to walk without slipping across the eternal icy mausoleum of half of their neighbors to give homemade jars of preserves to the other half.  Just because it's the neighborly thing to do.  
If one must have profoundly horribly weather and charmingly absurd people, can I please have the Midwest people with the East Coast weather?  

Posted by Paul Gowder on January 27, 2015 at 10:42 AM in Odd World | Permalink


I live not far from Philadelphia, and you'd have thought that the world was about to come to an end. It was utterly ridiculous. Guess what? We live in a northern climate, and yes, it SNOWS during the winter! Imagine that! As an aside, what did we end up with? About an inch. What hype over nothing.........

Posted by: Ian Mark Sirota | Jan 29, 2015 8:38:28 AM

Washington DC:

Weather Service predicts 1-3 inches of snow. Evening prior, school sends out alert informing students that classes will be cancelled due to inclement weather. Students over 21 swarm Chef Geoff's and consume massive numbers of tallboy PBRs and supermugs (happy hour all night long!). Those under 21 go to frat parties to drink. Everyone wakes up with a massive hangover. Zero accumulation to be found on roads. Even the sidewalks have been cleared. Students check e-mail to confirm classes have not been reinstated -- they have not. ...Until e-mails begun trickling in from professors informing students of Blackboard discussion groups and virtual meeting protocols. Students rush to Yik Yak to complain about having to do work despite the official counterfactual of hazardous conditions. The flood of complaints crashes Yik Yak's servers. Students take to Facebook as an alternative, it crashes. Instagram and Tumblr follow. Exchange students from Cuba take the lead in creating a peer-to-peer network detached from the main web. Thousands of students finally cut the rest of their ties with the outside world, the only source of news from the outside being whispers overhead at Steak and Egg.

Posted by: Derek Tokaz | Jan 27, 2015 4:23:45 PM

Oh John. My cautionary tales from my own British mother were mostly about the dire consequences from misholding the fork at the dinner table.

Posted by: Paul Gowder | Jan 27, 2015 3:05:06 PM

Don't you Prawfs remember childhood? Some of us were brought up on cautionary tales for children - avoid the fate of vain squirrels! Did it do us any harm?!

Posted by: JohnH | Jan 27, 2015 12:28:07 PM

That, JohnH, was very weird. I kind of love it. Would never show it to a child though.

Posted by: Paul Gowder | Jan 27, 2015 11:16:30 AM

Moomin Prawf has the answer, Prof Paul:

Posted by: JohnH | Jan 27, 2015 10:56:04 AM

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