Let It Blow

“Wow, it looks like we’ll be getting a lot of snow this weekend,” I thought. “It’s a good thing I have a snow thrower.”

See, it’s like a protection racket. The folks in charge of where the snow lands have a list of people who own snow throwers. If you have one, you’re good; they’ll pass your house right by and won’t even bother dumping any snow on your driveway.

Or at least that’s my understanding of the system.

Otherwise, my owning a snow thrower but keeping it in a storage unit fifty miles away instead of in my garage…well, that just wouldn’t make any sense, would it?


I manfully concede that this was a massive tactical error. I acquired the machine from my folks’ house back in the spring, when snow removal wasn’t high on my mind. Trust me, there’s nothing you can say to me that I didn’t say to myself this morning, when I searched the garage for something that wasn’t there.


Oh. Gee. Yes, I suppose I didn’t say that. You’re right.

Nor that.

Oh, come on. Don’t you think that’s a little meanspirited? A “crack-addicted gastropod” wouldn’t even own a snow thrower in the first place! Think!

Okay. Shhh. Okay…everyone? I’m just going to end the Q&A and continue with my piece here.

Well, we live and we learn. To my credit, I did plan ahead and buy a 200-foot extension cord for it last week. It’s a simple and common problem of “too many air molecules between plug and connector,” that’s all. Those of you who’ve never taken a computer to the Genius Bar before asking yourself “Is the keyboard cable seated properly?” should just sit down and be quiet.

Yes, otherwise, we’re nicely settled in for a Weather Event. In most ways, preparing for a big snowfall hasn’t changed. I have my shovels, I have my snow gear, I have three 12-packs of soda, I have movies to watch and I’ve lined up lots of things to write, just in case I can’t really leave the street for 36 hours.

And because it’s 2009, I’ve got Lilith plugged in and charging. My iPhone is docked and charging. My Mophie Juicebox (iPhone battery extender) is plugged in and charging.

Lilith 8, pulled from retirement, is plugged in and charging. My Windows notebook is plugged in and charging. My MiFi mobile broadband WiFi base station is plugged in and charging. The second, “loaner” MiFi, which (oh, crumbs) I probably should have returned to Verizon a while ago? Yup: plugged in and charging.

During a big storm like the one we’re expecting — at least 10 inches of snow is forecast — I can expect to lose power for a little bit. Usually it’s nothing…an hour, tops. The only real inconvenience is the need to shut down all of the desktops before the storm hits, and fix a bunch of clocks when the power comes back on.

But I’m ready for the worst-case scenario. If there’s a real disaster, I’ll have a total of 16 hours of reserve power for laptops, a minimum of 6 hours of mobile broadband (assuming that I use the MiFi’s untethered as WiFi base stations), and then about 8-9 hours of airtime and Internet on the iPhone and probably 6 on the loaner Droid that doesn’t need to go back to its owner for another few weeks.

I remember how my family used to deal with blizzards when I was a kid. Time stood still for the duration. With no TV, no newspapers, and a radio whose C-cells needed to be preserved, no information was coming in. The power would be restored and you’d learn that two days previously, the President had been forced to personally shoot two members of his Cabinet for reasons that were still distressingly unclear, and all of those National Guard vehicles you’d seen rumbling up and down the street had nothing to do with the snow emergency.


I think I have a radio somewhere in the house. I’m pretty sure there aren’t any batteries in it. But who cares? If a forty-foot ring of mystic fire were to surround my house and sever all copper connections, I’d still have phone service and at least four intact pipes to the Internet via two different carriers. I’d still get my news from where I usually get it. I’d still be in touch with my friends via the usual mechanisms, and I’d probably still watch movies from my iTunes library.

(Addendum: Oh! I forgot about my Kindle! It has a Sprint 3G radio and a web browser. So five! Five intact pipes to the Internet via three different carriers! Bwah-ha-ha! (thunderclap))

Honestly, I’m hard-pressed to think of ways in which my day would be different. Oh, wait: I use an electric shaver. So I’d probably go unshaven for a day or two. And you know what a fastidious groomer I am.

Oh, it’s so good to laugh, isn’t it? No, no, seriously, the only real difference would be that I’d spend that time eating nothing but shelf-stable processed foods instead of my usual diet of fresh raw vegetables…

(Stop it, Andy! You’re killing me!!!)

11 thoughts on “Let It Blow

  1. Isaac Church

    Sounds cozy. Wish I could be there with you to, you know do manly things like watch Numb3rs and play scrabble. OK, nevermind.

  2. sarah

    Ha, now I don’t feel quite so bad…we just discovered that we have no snow shovel. And no idea how this happened!! We could go get one if…we had a shovel to dig a path to the garage.

  3. Jeff

    Simply one of the best columnists of our age. Andy, I hope your years supersede mine because I don’t know what I would do without your writing.

  4. Noah

    Sounds like you’re well-equipped Ihnatko…something I naturally expected out of the likes of you. As for me, the only things I could really count on in the time of a power outage would be my sketch book and drawing supplies, Macbook Pro (nope, no cool name like “Lilith” yet…still thinking), my comic books, graphic novels, books, and a mag light…oh, and my 80gb 5th gen iPod (which will probably run until the Second Coming if I had my best guess).

    Thanks for sharing that.


  5. doubleusn

    Hi Andy

    As somebody just north of you in the tax free zone, I only had my iPhone pipe out, during last years 8 day power outage (ice). I now own a generator. Small ones can be had for not too much $. Make Leo buy it, so my Tuesday’s are never wrecked (mbw).

    Happy Holidays from a fellow New Englander.

  6. Charley Eastman

    All due respect, Dear Mr. I, I wonder what this very-humorous-somewhere-around-the-truth post says about your information addiction? Wait, no, I’m not wondering at all! I’m not someone who unplugs for the sake of unplugging, but I just want to put a place-holder here that says I’m SURE Mr. Ihnatko would, with a stable light-source from our still-strong sun, probably be working through a fair backlog of unread comics, novels and other printed materials. Having said that, I think there are probably many more folks who did exactly what you described here without finding the humor in it at all. I don’t think we’re headed for Wall-E type blobulousness; well, not most of us anyway.

    cold in Franklin, MA, but we’re at least we’re not in Alaska,

  7. Distorted Loop

    The weak link in your plan is the assumption that Verizon’s and AT&T’s service will not go down in the storm. Having lived in sunny Southern California most of my 50 years, I’ve got no idea how reliable cell service is in an extended blizzard. Actually, I really have no idea what a blizzard is; once per decade-or-two earthquakes, that’s another story, though, with similar concerns. At least your blizzards give you a bit of warning, those of us with natural disasters not so polite about announcing their imminent arrivals need to be a bit better prepared at ALL times.

  8. fairuse AKA Dutch

    To Dan: Indeed, unless the cops tell all folks to go to high ground. RE: Fran

    I slept all day and let wife shovel the driveway. Huh? Hey I did some real work and am used to that. Not pimping link here but it involved Star Wars TPM, a guy called RedLetterMedia and my HDTV blu-ray drive.

    My brain hurts. Adding Vienna Sausage & saltine crackers and a liter of Dr.Pepper as Rx.

  9. JS

    Buh buh buh Al Gore sworn that the planet was melting. Europe is also digging itself out from a mountain of snow What happened? Oh I get it, tails UN win heads you lose.

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