Monday, February 23, 2015

Now Is The Winter Of Our Discontent

So, we are back from Florida and enjoying New York in the Winter.


We got back on a Sunday in the early evening and it started snowing at about noon on the following Monday. This was bad because it meant more snow. It was good because it covered up all the filthy snow left over from the storm that hit New York as we were settling in in Florida with a blanket of white.

The Stevieling had been left at home with instructions not to burn the place down or allow the snow to set solid in the driveway. She had cleared what she could, she had told us when we called to ask, but the snow embankments were now bigger than she was so she was having difficulties shoveling.

"But why didn't you use the snowblower? " I asked. She replied that she had looked at it and seen that it had "three different ways to start it" and become intimidated.

Troll, the Snowblower of Supreme Spiffiness in fact has two ways to start it; the electric starter which involves an extension cord a switch flip and a button press, and the recoil starter which involves the same switch flip and twenty or thirty minutes pulling on the starter cord while chanting the Magic Start Words.

All this I had shown the Stevieling. Many times. But as usual when she is taking instruction from me she zones out in the same way Calvin used to become Spaceman Spiff when being lectured by adults. This is something she figured out how to do when she was a toddler and has used to good effect in many occasions, notably the Great Simultaneous Equation Homework Question Debate And Lack Of Graphpaper In A House Full Of Paper Fiasco.

And, it turns out, the How To Work The Snowblower lessons.

I rather hope the shoveling hell she went through after the threats on what might happen should we return to find the driveway access not wide enough for Mrs Stevie's bus on our return has had a Pavlovian reinforcement on paying attention, but I wouldn't put money on it1.

Of course, The Stevieling was so busy emptying the snow from the front of the house she had no time to so much as look out the back to see if there was a problem, so the tarp tent I had placed over the swimming pool to keep the leaves and rain out didn't get brushed off and, well, it turns out that thirty inches of snow is very heavy. Heavy enough to tear the securing ropes out of the little grommets and pull up one of the auger anchors (aka dog-stakes) I had used to tie it all down with. I went out on Sunday to see if I could pull the tarp out of the pool and rebuild the tent but the icebergs on each side were much too heavy to shift so it will have to wait until March when the water will thaw.

Time passes.

The Stevieling departed for Florida leaving us to ourselves about a week after the events hinted at above. It promptly snowed on us several more times, then the temperature dropped to -17 Degrees Fahrenheit in case anyone was feeling happy. Then it thawed so all the snow would turn into slush. Then it did it all again so everyone's driveway would become a skating rink.

Naturally, in such weather one is thrown back on one's resources and one's company. Mrs Stevie and I did some preliminary bickering and decided it was a great opportunity to rediscover why we got married in the first place since the kid was not underfoot. After some thinking and a few false starts we decided neither of us could remember exactly why we had got married, although it must've seemed like a good idea at the time.

I thought it might have been a case of Mrs Stevie needing to be able to access the coffee of England occasionally, while she felt that it had involved her feeling sorry for me. It was obvious we had both blocked the memories. We decided to watch some 80s TV using Netflix and see if those deeply buried memories could be forced to surface.

One show that had been popular with everyone except us had been Twin Peaks. Opinion was divided as to the value of this David Lynch "murder mystery". Everyone else said it was a brilliant surrealist's vision, I said it was "unwatchable drivel".

My friend Ralph was a particular fan and was constantly perplexed by my obstinate refusal to see the brilliance. Obviously, watching this show would create the proper ambiance and prove to be a great start to our Personal Rediscovery.

We were, I think, five episodes in when I announced my verdict: "Ralph's an idiot!"

So we switched to The X Files. Ralph like these too. I can't remember why we didn't watch them, but we would do so now. The X Files proved to be, in season 1, about 30% drivel. It seems I had seriously misjudged Ralph. Ignoring the Twin Peaks outlier his Idiot:Knows-His-TV ratio had zoomed to 70%.

I tried to do a complicated statistical analysis of this to definitively pin down the Ralph Factor so that it could be used to, for example, assess episodes of season 1 of Babylon 5 without having to actually watch them, but I took my usual wrong turn in the sums and ended up after an hour and a half proving that X=X+/- 0.0009, something of a triumph for Mr Brain and the death of Euclidean Physics.

I turned to Mrs Stevie and told her sadly that I couldn't figure out why we'd gotten married but she was busy talking to her friends in Australia via iPad and simply waved her "shut up" sign at me, so I played Bejeweled on my iPad until bedtime.

The pool is now half full of solid ice.

  1. Largely on account of not having any money after paying off the speeding ticket I picked up in South Carolina on the way back