December 13, 2007


So, this is the first real snowstorm of the season here. It’s snowed before, but it’s not the first real one until you see people freaking out, or failing to freak out when appropriate.

The university, flying spaghetti monster bless its soul, tends to e really conservative about calling a snow day. It had no problem back in 80-whatever when “Hurricane” Gloria was forecast and they shut the campus down because there might be wind. There was always wind on campus, and some of it was hot air, but I digress!

Today, the forecast was pretty clear when I woke up. One hundred percent chance of it snowing like a motortrucker. The public schools in my town are actually pretty sensible about snow, which I appreciate, since I am a parent. “Think of the children” and all. But they made a go of it, collecting the kids on busses and taking them to school even as they had already decided to bring them back around noon.

But the university has its own method for making decisions on snow cancellation. I am not privy to the inner workings, but I used to have a theory. It went something like this:

  1. Carefully watch the forecast.
  2. Calculate when the peak of the storm will be. Find maximum with function that describes fluctuations in campus population.
  3. Lure students to campus.
  4. Wait for it.
  5. Announce cancellation.
  6. Hilarity ensues.

But that model attributes malice to the university where there exists none. So, I was forced to rescind that theory.

My new theory is based on evidence of today’s snowstorm, and some emails that were sent to the campus community.

Here are excerpts from the two emails:

Date: Dec 13, 2007 11:16 AM
Subject: Don’t Panic. CAMPUS CLOSED AT 2 P.M.

Due to the forecast of a major snow storm, UMass Dartmouth will be closed at 2 p.m. Don’t panic.

I actually received that message about 20 minutes before the snow started falling here1.

About 20 minutes after the fall started falling (hard) I received this message:

Date: Dec 13, 2007 11:56 AM
Subject: Oh Snap! CAMPUS CLOSED AT 12:30 P.M.

OMFGSNOW!!!!111 Run for yer lives!

Game over, man, game over! What are we going to do now!!!!!!?? I don’t know if you’ve been keeping up with current events but it’s snowing like a motortrucker2!

Every man for himself! It’s a trap! Aiiii!3

My new theory is that they weren’t paying close attention to the forecast. Still waiting for Maggie to make it home.

1 Actually, I did get two emails from the university about the campus closing, but only the times I quoted are accurate. I have used poetic license in representing the content of the messages based on my impression of the rapid re-assessment of the storm’s severity.

2 Yes, I am trying to make the term “motortrucker” happen.

3 You thought you were going to get Rickrolled? I wouldn’t do that to you.

Posted by James at December 13, 2007 12:53 PM
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I had to park on a side street last night, and this morning I went out to move my car to where I could see it after my neighbors left for work; I figured I might as well do my errands while I had my coat on and the motor running and everything.

I was very surprised by the level of mayhem at the store and on the roads. You would think we were preparing for the apocalypse or something. Most of this stuff is going to melt tomorrow, and Saturday is supposed to be clear too, so there's really no great emergency.

Posted by: Julie at December 13, 2007 3:05 PM

Same here...for some reason usage of milk and diapers spikes horrendously when it snows...

Dumbest snow-behaviors I ever remember seeing were in Fredericksburg, VA in 2002. I remember being in a Navy school in Dahlgren the day before a full 0.5" of snow was forecasted. The staff was telling us, not to bother coming in the next day. I think they were offended by the look on my face that told them they were really crazy.

So the next day I decide to go driving around because I'm bored as hell, and there's only 0.5" of snow on the ground and I needed some things anyway. The sheer number of Plymouth Neons zipping up and down I-95 at 70 mph and consequently running off the freeway was mind-numbing.

Posted by: Bull at December 13, 2007 4:49 PM

I love Southerners in the snow, Bull. I'm still astounded when my in-laws tell me UGA has shut down for a half-inch. That will likely melt almost immediately. Meanwhile, my kids are climbing 18-inch drifts because the wind chill is still at an acceptable temperature.

JP, did everyone have their towels? ;)

(and p.s. you forgot the Z in ZOMG!!!!11!!!!11!11)

Posted by: pippa at December 13, 2007 7:56 PM

ZOMG!!!!!111!1, you're right.

I rickrolled myself earlier today, and now I can't get the song out of my head. I accidentally clicked over to a site that hijacked my browser and made me listen to the whole thing. srsly.

Posted by: James at December 13, 2007 8:14 PM

Sorry to put this here, but articles as recent as Oct 18 seem to have their comments disabled. Just wanted to let you know that I followed your recommendation and picked up a couple of WD MyBook hard drives to back up my photos and other important data. These things are great! Thanks for the recommendation!

Posted by: Chuck S. at December 14, 2007 11:40 PM

Glad that's working out for you. Yeah - the blog is disabling month-old comments because that's where I seem to get a ton of spam.

Posted by: James at December 17, 2007 9:24 AM

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