An Owl's 2 hoots

Monday, January 22, 2007


Whenever adharma rises its head over dharma, Lord Vishnu visits this lowly, mostly bluish planet called Earth (No!, this is not an after effect of watching the wonderfully made AaLvaar!). Recently the collective bad behavior of humans with some help from an entity called vague-reason is causing a not-so-trivial matter called Global Warming. Perhaps this time around, the avatar is incarnated in the form of weirdo weather phenomena. For instance, the ongoing winter storms in the US, collective rise and drop in temperatures, etc.

There was a snow storm in Seattle during November 2006 (it rarely snows here, I was told), while I was safely tucked away in India. Perhaps Lord Vishnu took pity on me since I was anyway getting married (just kidding!!). So I escaped that 4 hour commute back home which normally takes 30 minutes. Not to mention that plane services were cancelled. After a while, all was fine.

We came back, well rested and all and I started my usual cribbing about the evergray skies over Seattle when the wind god from the arctic (not very far from here, by the way) started pushing his way through, turning everything into white. My first thought was - Wow, my first snow fall!

So, the day came. Although impossible, the skies darkened even more. Then hail fell. Followed by rain drops. But these rain drops were mysteriously slow in falling. And they were white. SNOW! The initial snow flakes were too weak to coat the roads. That's a weak-a$$ snow fall. I didn't know why people were complaining about this.

Once frozen, twice thawed, our vanpool driver dropped us back home by starting early this time, although there were already accident reports near the passes and places situated in higher altitudes. All through the evening and well into the night, the snow flurries fell, bit by bit.

By morning, it was completely white. All white. At last, I had a chance to actually touch them in a perceptible manner. They felt lighter than what I expected. My colleagues asked me if I liked the snow fall. I vigourously nodded my head, little knowing that what a mess it is going to create in the next 2 days to come.

Because, you see, Seattle is not equipped enough to deal with snow storms. No salting, no sanding, very few snow mobiles (actually, they are garbage disposal trucks fitted with some sort of a contraption) to clear up the areas. And untreated snow, melts in the evening, and turns into ICE, if the temperature is low enough. I was expecting a frozen icicle or two. But no! the entire apartment area and the parking lot was iced enough to hold a skating competition. And the fun started!

Driving on ice is an art. Of course, chains might help, if you have one and if you are used to fitting them and are sane enough to stay outside until that time. We were talking in tongues by the time we cleared the snow/ice on the car. Luckily, my vanpool driver agreed to pick me up from my apartment complex, so I did not have to drive on ice. But there were several reports on the TV and radio of accidents on the interstate, state roads and local roads due to ice. We ventured cautiously that evening (or maybe the next) not going more than 25 mph. Right in front of us, there was a stretch which was glistening with ice and an SUV swerved and skidded on it. But somehow the driver maintained balance and it was fine. Our car has a front wheel drive and we managed without much trouble, although stopping and making a left turn was a bit hairy.

I was under the impression that the four-wheel drives were much safer, but most of the accidents (which came with photos) that happened in the southern ice storm featured these big SUVs and trucks. Perhaps none of the sedans ventured out that time? My friend told me that he saw a beemer SUV spinning in the same spot 360 degrees for quite some time and then the driver gave up!

The ice was the worst part of the storm, which later broke and mixed with debris and dirt becoming sludge. Driving on this was not very hard, as long as you don't have to change lanes. God bless your soul if you are making a left from the middle lane. I did not try it.

It was kind of sad and strange to see the car covered with snow. My first fear was that the car would not start. But thanks to the current technology, that was not a problem. Luckily, all through this, I did not have any major skids or engagement of ABS. For first timers like us, this link might be of help. For veterans living in the NE, idhellam sappa matters!


Monday, January 08, 2007

sappa matters -#7

SM1: The irony is unbearable. The very rain which was despised so much in Seattle area is now welcomed during winter months. Considering the alternative makes one's teeth chatter "Damn, I miss FL!"


SM2: Continuation of FL puraanam: I still use my FL area code for my cell phone, much to the chagrin of my local friends and colleagues who have to dial long distance to reach me. When we were getting an additional line for her, we were asked whether she needs a 425 or 206 area code. Ha! If that happens, then it would mean long distance between our phones (although it's mobile-mobile plan). Just to make T-Mobile's life "easier" (and thereby missing FL lesser!), we ended up creating a number with the same FL area code. Now who else has done that! Who else on earth?


SM3: Why is it still called "dialing" a number? And why am I trying to imitate Seinfeld in whining about nothing?


SM4: My very close friend is also leaving FL to pursue his career elsewhere. My last bit advice for him - put up a tent on the beach and spend the last 2-3 days there. Best of luck, BBT!


SM5: Visit to the zoo this time around was different in every aspect! Animals have taken a beating due to the cold, except the native ones. Took some pictures whenever our fingers were not frost-bitten. But it was an enjoyable trip.


SM6: Which home project could be complete without a fair dose of smashed fingers and fruity language? But the futon still holds our collective weights and there is a happy engineer in the cold North-West.