When Idiots Speak, People Get Hurt

700 auto ‘incidents’ in the DFW Metroplex last night. 700. We caught the tail end of the big ice storm ripping through the nation. It all started shortly after everyone got home from work last night. My work had a delayed opening this morning, so Andy and I were at home watching the news earlier, drinking coffee, when a spokesperson for the AAA came on NBC news via a telephone broadcast.

Says Mr. AAA regarding how to control your car during a skid:

“… take your foot off the brake. Oh, and take your foot off the gas too. You want to decelerate. Otherwise, basically, you’re just a passenger in your own car at this point. Just slowly take your hands off the wheel and let your car find the next non-icy patch. Your tires are designed to straighten the car out, so let them do their job. You can resume driving as soon as you have traction again.”

Sure, you can start driving again, assuming that your car, now spinning 360 degrees with you holding your hands and feet suspended mid-air, hasn’t already taken out three lanes of traffic, hopped the Jersey barrier, and/or slid under a semi truck.

700 auto incidents last night. I repeat: 700.

Oh, the Weather Outside is… Frightful?

Anyone ever wondered what a snow day in Texas looks like? Well, look no further. I stepped outside to snap a picture for posterity. Andy and I can’t believe it ourselves. Okay, okay. I am mocking a little more than I should. We do have a pretty healthy layer of ice down there. I’ll refer you to yesterday’s post as to how I feel about that.

I went upstairs to check my email and get a quick weather report before I got ready for work this morning. The weather overview said “Wintry Mix” and it said that this mix would last until 6pm. Hmmm. I wonder how work feels about that. So I called our Bad Weather Hotline. Yes, we have a hotline for just such an occasion. Usually the standard is to delay the office opening. If the weather is really bad, they’ll delay and delay until they call off work sometime after lunch. But no, much to my amazement, the lady said we were closed for business today. Woot!

Andy’s office didn’t close, so he had to (try to) go to work as usual. But even the Road Warrior couldn’t make it safely out of our neighborhood. So that’s it. We’re “snowed in”. This really couldn’t have come at a better time, because I just bought the new Zelda game (finally found it in the GameCube format) last night and we have the first two DVDs of 24’s Season 4 to burn through. A day of complete sloth lay ahead. It’s the quintessential snow day

Public Service Announcement for the State of Texas – Re: Salt

Dear Texans,

I would like to introduce you to a miraculous compound called “sodium chloride”, more commonly referred to as “salt.” It’s cheap and it prevents ice formation in cold weather. This is a particularly important point for a state that ominously forbodes an “Artic Blast!” every time the temperature threatens to get down toward 32 degrees Farenheit.

I have been fully informed that the single truck you have reserved for such an occasion cannot cover the entire Metroplex in a 24-hour period of time. However, your newcasters predicted ice storms for this past weekend since Wednesday of last week. One would think that would provide plenty of time for “the truck” to make its rounds to major roads and even a few neighborhoods to boot. Unfortunately you insist on spreading dirt on the roads in lieu of something that actually does ANYTHING.

Dirt. I guess I should thank you for making everything filthy, giving my car numerous teeny-tiny scratches on the undercarriage, and giving me a satisfying (however pointless) crunching sound under my tires as they slide uninhibited on a sheet of shiny, polished ice. However, when I spun 90 degrees and landed halfway in a ditch yesterday, I wasn’t in a thanking mood.

Much to my amazement, instead of wondering why, in the 21st century, your major metropolitan area can be effectively shut down by this frigid phenomenon, you insist on defending your refusal to use salt. Here are your two primary, and grossly lame, reasons:

  1. Car damage:
    “We don’t want our cars to rust out.” or “We actually drive our cars longer than 5 years here and want them to look nice.” Tell that to the 16-year-old Debbie, who had to drive her parents’ ’85 Toyota minivan to school every day. That car turned heads, but that could be an entirely different blog entry. Okay, so hopefully it is reasonable for you Texans to assume that not every single American north of Oklahoma is driving a car from 2002 or later. It should also be reasonable to assume that you could run your car through an automatic carwash after your annual “Artic Blast!”. Right? I mean, Bubba runs his pickup through the 7-11 carwash after he goes “muddin'”, so I think that you could probably manage the same.
  2. Environmental concerns:
    “Are you an environmental terrorist?!?!” exclaimed one of my coworkers when he overheard my morning rant about the salt-ice scenario down here. WHA?!?!?!! Environmental terrorist? That’s pretty harsh. So I asked him what he was referring to. He took a deep breath and explained to this poor, naive Illinoisan that salt combines with the water and runs off the road into the surrounding vegetation. “It kills the vegetation! Plants can’t survive when they come in contact with saltwater.”

    So then I take a moment and think back to home. I think back to when I used to drive past rows and rows, acres upon acres of tall, lush cornfields on my way to and from college, work, Andy’s house, wherever. Illinois roads were consistently salted from November to February. It snowed, melted, snowed, and melted several times in a year. Somehow, SOMEHOW, we managed to grow a crop or two in spite of the deadly mineral we were irresponsibly spreading all over our asphalt.

I swear to every single one of you Texans, I’ve heard it all. “Our roads are made of different material than yours. We can’t salt!” “Because we don’t spread salt, we don’t have potholes like you guys do up north.” I’m tired of arguing, and I’m tired of biting my tongue. Salt your gall durned roads.

The Homeowners

That’s us! We moved up our closing appointment to avoid the worst of the bad weather yesterday, but really… the roads weren’t all that bad after all. At least not where we drove. The sellers didn’t fink on us, and well shoot, we bought a house.

The closing went seamlessly. Well almost. We had a tiny wrinkle early on. After the fifth or so paper that I signed, I noticed that the address number on one of the forms was wrong. Close, but wrong. So, if the correct house number were “1234”, the form read “1243”. No biggie right? Well, no… apparently the lender made a typo when entering our address number into their system. So every… single… paper… (sometimes multiple times on the same paper) had the wrong stinking address number on it. Oh goodie. Andy and I not only got to sign our names to each paper, but we got to cross out the address, write the new one, and initial the changes. I was impressed with the title company though. They called all the right people on the spot to ensure that this protocol would be acceptable to the lender and to make sure that we could move forward with the closing. I, personally, wanted to make sure we weren’t buying the house down the street!

After we handed over the big check and got the little key, the realtor took us over to the new house so we could get the key out of the lock box on the door. We were slightly delayed in leaving the parking lot because, after sitting in the title office for an hour, our windshield had a layer of ice on it. So Andy simply got in his trunk, got the ice scraper, and scraped down the windows. Now… Andy and I have gotten A LOT of flack for keeping those things in our cars down here, but hey… at least I’m not out there using my parking permit to chip the ice off my car. In fact, Andy walked over to scrape the windows on our realtor’s car. She laughed and said, “I don’t even own one of those!” Poor lady was sitting there waiting for her defroster to work. Hehehe.

That’s really it. We’re moving, cleaning, and unpacking this weekend. Give us a call if you’re local and want to visit. If you’re not local, now’s the time to come to Texas. Shake off the snow and get down here. We’ve got room for you in the new house!

Have an Ice Day

We’re having an “ice day” here. Well not really, because a true ice day would involve the closing of all local schools and businesses in the Metroplex. But it’s the first time I’ve really seen the media hoopla about cold weather.

An “ice day” is a day where it rains and gets down to 30-32 degrees and everybody runs around and freaks out about the impending ice. In fact, if you listen to the conversations around the office, the word “ice” comes up in every other sentence. Of course, Dallas has dispatched their two salt trucks, but alas? there’s a lot of ground to cover in a short period of time.

I’m sitting here worried about two things: 1.) That the title office will actually be open at 3pm this afternoon so that we can close on our house and 2.) That the pipes in our new house won’t freeze and burst before we can gain access and turn the heat on. I seem to be filled with irrational house fear this week. Last night my big concern was that the new house would be leveled in the awesome thunderstorm we had. When I expressed this concern to Andy he said, “Well… better tonight than tomorrow night!”

Jack Frost willing, we’ll be homeowners by the end of the day. We should be moved into the house by tomorrow night. I’ll get you all some pictures after this circus is over!