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Reversible Errors: Review - The End of the World As We Know It

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

It's the end of the world!

This, at least, was the general undercurrent in all the coverage of this past weekend's exciting weather.  Being a natural skeptic, as well as a product of Minnesota and Michigan, I wasn't entirely convinced that the snows were going to rise to the level I've had occasion to experience.  For example, would the power be knocked out for 3 days, like back in the winter of '96, forcing my family and I (then a teenage boy) to huddle around the fire and subsist on hot dogs and marshmallows?  Man, that was awful.  Probably owing more to my age and disposition than the actual situation, but still.

In hindsight, I was wrong.  This was definitely on par with Michigan blizzards and has rivaled the greatest hits of Minnesota winters (in terms of the snowfall-not the cold.  You don't understand what cold is until you've been to Minnesota in January).  And, as I write this, the snow is still falling and trees are still collapsing.

However, this has been no miserable experience.  Quite the opposite, in fact.  I therefore offer five highlights from Snowpocalypse, in no particular order.

1. The Grocery Store.  The Safeway on 17th Street is not, by any stretch of the imagination, one of the better grocery stores in town.  But it gets the job done.  Until this past Friday morning, when the checkout lines stretched from one end of the store to the other.  Upon seeing the lines, I decided that the milk, cereal, and V8 I had at home were adequate for my needs (I mean, that's like all the food groups right there) and I went to the liquor store instead.  Mmm, PBR!  On Saturday I returned to Safeway, more out of curiosity than necessity.  My curiosity was rewarded: for the first time, the Soviet Safeway actually bore a resemblance to its namesake.  I don't think there was a bottle of water or piece of meat in the entire store.  But there was still soup.

2. The Weather Channel coverage.  This is more of a perverse highlight than a cool highlight, to be sure, because The Weather Channel coverage actually stank.  Exhibit A: it named the storm "Winter Powerhouse."  That was the best they could come up with?  I mean, before the snow even started I'd heard "Snowmageddon," "Snowgasm," and "Snowpocalypse."  "Winter Powerhouse," my foot.  Dear The Weather Channel: you are a cable television station.  Please entertain me accordingly.  Love, Terry.  Still, it was tough to change the channel, given the crazy, utterly irrelevant things the reporters were saying.  I was also fascinated by the fact that the local weather coverage kept doing updates from the Jersey Shore.  Not the MTV show-the actual Jersey Shore.  But at least I know that it has been snowing there, too.  Thank goodness.

3. Walking in the Snow.  I took three extensive walks in the snow on Friday night: first, from Dupont to Mount Pleasant in order to play the rock music (shameless plug: Restatement of Rock is totally ready for DC9.  Come see us.  $6 at the door-cheap!); second, from Mount Pleasant to Dupont (well, halfway back to Dupont-I caught a cab at that point); third, from my place to Brickskeller.  It really wasn't all that cold, so walking in the snow didn't present a major obstacle, at least for the first walk.  The second walk featured the beginnings of snow drifts.  The third walk was the best, because by this point there was no traffic, so I could walk down the middle of Massachusetts with impunity, surrounded by a chorus of snapping tree limbs and the shouts of the people finding themselves suddenly entangled in said limbs.  It's rare that walking in the middle of Massachusetts is safer than taking the sidewalk.  But now I've seen it.

On all three of these walks, however, I was reminded of something about my fellow DC-area residents that troubles me: using umbrellas in the snow.  You don't use umbrellas in the snow.  Knock it off.

4. The Bars on Friday Night.  There is no better time to hit the bar than during a blizzard, assuming the bar is open.  You've been to the Brickskeller on a Friday night, of course, so you know that it can be tough to get a seat in there.  But when I arrived, at 10:00pm, there were only about twenty people in the upstairs portion of the bar.  Usually you have to last until about 2:00am for that to be the case.  I'm betting it was the same all over town.  I'm glad that most people are smart and stay in during inclement weather; it makes it much easier for nitwits like me to get prompt table service.

5. Dupont Circle Snowball Fight.  There were definitely snowball fights already taking place on Friday night-I saw at least one GW Law alumnus attempting to take a massive chunk of snow into the Dupont Metro station.  He did not succeed.  Anyway, these small things were nothing compared to the Saturday afternoon fight on Dupont Circle.  There must have been 1,000 people on the circle, shouting and whipping snowballs at each other with reckless abandon.  I caught one right on the jaw.  It was invigorating.  Apart from the sheer fun everyone was having whaling away on each other, the coolest thing was probably the fact that this was all taking place in the middle of a bona fide blizzard (trees falling down and all), and yet thousands of people were just milling around on the streets, having a good time.

Out of a possible 26 inches of snow, Snowpocalye '10 gets 26, maybe more, depending on the remainder of this afternoon's accumulation.