Snow. Extreme snow.

Snow being in the forecast tonight reminds me of a couple of stories.

The last time we got a bunch of snow, I spent about an hour clearing the driveway. The next morning, I was taking my 3-year-old son out to the car. He looked at the snow, and then he asked, “Daddy, can a bulldozer clean the snow off the driveway?”

I thought for about half a second and said, “Yes it can.”

“Daddy, you need a bulldozer.”

Of course I’m not sure the rest of the neighborhood would agree. They’d probably like me having a bulldozer about five days out of the year, but the other 360 days, it would probably be an eyesore in my backyard. Plus something for my sons to climb on.

But one of my coworkers had an equally extreme method of dealing with snow. It has the advantage of not requiring one to store a hulk of machine somewhere, but has the disadvantage of being more dangerous.

He was living in Canada at the time. It had snowed that day, and his dad called him, saying he would be home in an hour, and the driveway had better be clear when he got there.

He didn’t want to shovel snow, so he went to the garage, found a gas can, brought it outside, and zigzagged down the driveway with it. He then lit a match and dropped it, just like the movies.

The gas burned off and made quick work of the snow in the process.

The problem was that the gas didn’t evaporate the water or send it into some netherworld. Instead, the flood of water rushed down into the street in front of the house, where it promptly re-froze.

His dad came home to a clear driveway to park in, but he had to navigate an ice skating rink in order to get to it.

This should go without saying, but I don’t recommend this method of driveway clearing. My high school chemistry teacher pointed out more than once that gasoline is just as explosive as dynamite. You don’t set off dynamite in your driveway, so you shouldn’t use gasoline to torch your driveway either.

8 thoughts on “Snow. Extreme snow.

  • March 9, 2011 at 9:23 pm
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    refroze

    • March 9, 2011 at 9:51 pm
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      Yep. I guess I’ve been spending too much time listening to 3-year-olds talk. Either that or my brain checked out when I was writing that line. Thanks.

  • March 10, 2011 at 11:31 am
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    Is hyphenation proper in this instance?

    • March 10, 2011 at 8:15 pm
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      I think, technically, you can go either way. In which case no hyphen would be better.

  • March 10, 2011 at 5:10 pm
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    I’ve thought about making some downward-pointing super-flamethrower for the front of my car. Haven’t worked on the mechanics or the safety aspects yet. I’ll have to be careful not to use it in the fall, when there are leaves on the driveway.

  • March 13, 2011 at 1:59 pm
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    Mrs Erlinger was a grammar Nazi of the first water. She was also my fifth grade teacher. For the first six weeks of that school year we got along swimmingly until push come to shove over matters of punctuation, my prose returned having been defiled with red ink, bloodied in the harshest of strokes, gratuitous hyphenation bearing down with the same soul crushing weight as comma abuse. Little did I know how quickly things would take a turn for the worse.

    I felt my works improving while reveling in class standing and occasionally the teachers lounge if not the hot lunch line when called before my peers to address the desk and the Dark Angel of Discipline in demands for explanation of my degenerate self as promulgated by the wholly improper use of a semicolon. In my defense I offered that occasional errors in proper punctuation aside, people like to read what I wrote and that Mrs Erlinger, in her punctual perfection, had written nothing that anyone ever cared to read. The class concurred, and for this I was given a lifetime in-room detention. Lifetime. The class was awe struck. Nobody had ever received one of those before.

    Between a mothers intervention and time off for good behavior, I served six weeks confined to my desk and for the rest of the year Mrs Erlinger obtained but the simplest of uninspired yet properly constructed sentences and paragraphs completely devoid of creativity or joy. And no longer did anyone care what I wrote.

    This is not to say that proper punctuation is unimportant but that experience scarred me for a time and interferes with the writing process on occasion to this day. Refroze. You hyphenated the word when I had not so I asked the question in wonder if I had made a mistake. Subsequently I looked it up and resolved the issue to my satisfaction but the fact it bothered for a time was unsettling. Punctuation, like spelling error is something correctable on edit and should not in my estimation encumber the flow of creative writing even though it often does, the result being a leading cause of thought loss.

  • March 13, 2011 at 2:45 pm
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    Bill, that’s a recollection of an awful event. I wanted to say “awful story,” but it’s the event that’s awful, not the account of it.

    Grammar is a skill that anyone with enough determination can learn. We can even teach it to computers. But we are very limited in our ability to teach people how to write something that anyone would care to read. Generally speaking, you either have that gift or you don’t. And a great number of people have neither the gift nor the grammar skills, so if you have either one, you stand out.

    My mindset is to write as fast as possible, then go back and fix. I’ll pause to fix simple errors IF it’s less important than what I happen to be thinking. If I’m on a roll, I keep on going.

    My grammar skills are above average, but I would be a lousy teacher of it, because it comes too naturally. And although I can sit down and bang out 500 words in 30 minutes and not get any squiggly marks in a word processor’s realtime grammar check, I don’t test as well on grammar as I do on, say, vocabulary.

    I did help a lot of people write papers, especially in college. And I always told people to just tell me a story, then we’d fix the problems afterward. Some people are better at telling stories than others, but that’s something most people know how to do, so that’s a good starting point.

  • March 14, 2011 at 10:42 am
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    Oh it wasn’t that awful. Mrs Erlinger didn’t take no sass and I had it coming but it stuck. Not the punishment or matters of punctual refinement, rather in her rule bound criticality. At that I understood her reasoning being a teacher and myself in her charge. She wished me to sit a bit straighter.

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