When school is canceled, carpe (snow) diem

Published 7:50 am Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Just yesterday my wife made a comment to the effect “It’s cold. Isn’t it a bit daunting to think it’s going to be this cold or colder for the next five months?” Besides the fact her math is a bit fuzzy (or maybe she knows something the rest of us don’t about an unusually cold April 2010), her point was well-taken. What makes people choose to live in abnormally cold conditions for extended period of times?

A. That’s where their family lives so they stay in the cold to say close to family.

B. That’s where they’ve found employment.

Email newsletter signup

C. They love catching fish surrounded by walls instead of waves.

D. They are a professional on the Minnesota Professional Polar Plunge Tour (hint: not real).

E. Both A and B are correct.

F. Both A and C are correct

G. B and C are correct and D is 22 percent true

H. Dr. Christopher Shoff is a Minnesota Gophers football fan.

I. This is just the jerky teacher in me and I’m going through quiz-writing withdrawal. Sorry

The correct answer is I, although as nonsequiturs go, it is rumored Dr. Shoff takes a small interest in maroon and gold pigskin-flinging rodents.

If you’re still in high school, hence leaving you with little or no say in whether or not you live near bodies of water that annually freeze over, then winter weather like we’re supposed to get tonight and tomorrow is all about two words.

Snow day.

For me as a youngster, no two words set in such close proximity to each other ever caused the same level of heart palpitation as those. Snow day. When my mother would wake me and tell me school had been canceled — or even delivered the baby brother to that phrase, “School is two hours late.” – I would roll over in bed and do a Tiger Woods fist pump, although since Tiger Woods is about my age, I’m sure I didn’t refer to it then as such.

Safe to say, Woods never experienced his mother Kultida announcing he had a snow day being he grew up in Southern California. He’s not alone.

Think about it. A large percentage of the United States’ population has never experienced the thrill of a snow day. My nephew turns 4 years old in a few weeks. His family is moving from La Crosse, Wis., to Houston (Texas, not Minnesota) next summer. He may never experience what former Sports Illustrated writer — and Minnesota native — Steve Rushin once described thusly: “Instantly it’s Mardi Gras and V-E Day and the Lindbergh parade all in one, and the flakes falling outside look like ticker tape.”

Houston’s had snow of any amount 33 times in 115 years of record keeping. Of course, it’s only fitting that as I write this Houston is recovering from its earliest snow storm in history last Friday (Dec. 5) and schools all across the Houston area, plus the University of Houston, closed early.

Of course, technology has changed everything. (NOTE: Stop reading here if you’re not in the mood for a Debbie Downer-type story about how things just aren’t as good as they once were.) Now the Albert Lea Tribune, in its embracement of all-things-gadget, is sending text messages letting those who’ve signed up know of many things they allegedly need to know. Among those many things are school closing announcements.

Goodbye to scrolling alphabetical message along the bottom of the TV screen, and sayonara to the anxious waiting for your school to pop up … or not pop up. The idea of looking out the window and seeing Rushin’s “ticker tape” is as antiquated as the ink used to print this column, unless, of course, you’re reading this on a text message update to your smart phone, then never mind. Sigh.

That’s not all technology has done to damage snow day fun. Because of the accuracy of weather forecasting, my wife has been dreading for three days her drive home from Austin tonight. Yes, of course, it’s nice to know if bad weather is looming, but instead of fretting about it for one day she’s had to fret for three.

Please don’t mistake me for an anti-technology guy. I embrace technology in most facets of my life. I just don’t want my snow days digitized. Keep your keyboard off my snowflakes, please.

And when the snow starts coming today, locate your inner-child and cheer for powder up to the mail box. The beauty is we know it’s not permanent. According to my wife it’ll be gone by June. Heck, it may only last a day. But for the children, it’s a snow day.

Writer’s Note (kind of like an editor’s note, but different): Riley Worth used Wikipedia.com at least three times in the making of this column, just further proof he does, indeed, embrace technology. Just in case you’re still not convinced, here’s an emoticon for you: :-). Finally, you can contact him via e-mail with comments at rileyworth@gmail.com.