Wednesday, February 22, 2017

It's freakishly warm in Chicago, it's all my fault, now eat your noodles.

"Uncle Vanya," is at the Goodman Theater until March 19.
Marton Csokas as Astrov and Kristen Bush as Yelena. (Photo by Liz Lauren).

     And if you're wondering if it occurred to me that I was writing a column combining a Wisconsin snowblower and a Russian play, well yeah, it did. How did that happen? Well, it was warm, and I saw the play, and at first I thought of writing about just the play, and what it said about life. But the weather is such a big deal, or should be, and somehow the two fused in my mind. I think it's stronger than if I just stayed with the weather, or the play, particularly in these distracted times. Or maybe the weather is a lure. Everybody reads the weather stories; not everybody would start reading a column about "Uncle Vanya."

     You know what's not causing this freakishly warm February?
     Global warming.
     Whoops, I mean "climate change." The term "global warming" fell from favor because every time it snowed some congressman would gleefully sneer, "Twelve degrees outside! Some warming, huh?"
     So while it's possible that this heat wave is a symptom of our steadily warming planet, it isn't part of the mountain of science proving mankind's complicity. One piece of evidence isn't proof. Which doesn't keep those hoping to justify themselves from pretending otherwise.
     The explanation for this mid-winter week of springtime — 71 degrees predicted for Wednesday — that I've been offering to friends is: It's my fault.    
The might Ariens Sno-Thro 24

     This is how I did it. On Dec. 10, after years of resisting, I finally buckled to my wife's pleas and bought a snowblower. A massive, orange, steel, assembled-in-Wisconsin Ariens snowblower, with a halogen light and its own little shovel for clearing the chute. I think the little shovel sealed the deal for me.
     If I were Fox News I'd finesse the story so that as I muscled the thing into the garage, the sun came out and it never snowed again. In truth, which always puts bumps in your tale, I used it four times the first week, for minor snowfalls. But never again.
     In the years I didn't have a snowblower, I assumed that once I had one, it would make me an advocate for blizzards. That the machine sitting idle in the garage before a dry driveway would be a rebuke. But that isn't how it turned out. The machine is, as my wife points out, "insurance" and it's working fabulously.

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  1. It is known. The Theory of Uncooperative Climate Change has been validated too many times to count. The unbearable heat wave in July 1995 Chicago (106 degrees!) was motivation for many, myself included, to get air conditioning. The summers have been relatively mild ever since, Dieu merci.

  2. I'm the least superstitious guy in the world, the very least superstitious guy in the entire universe, no one is less superstitious than I, but the jinx, the terrible, terrible jinx, whereby the Cubs lost game after game because I celebrated an inning too soon, the awful, awful jinx that I laid on Hillary Clinton; I don't want to speak of it, but being the unsuperstitious guy that I am, I have to throw cold water on your warm weather theory -- it wasn't your purchase of a snow blower that did it, but my daughter's move to Seattle, the capital of drizzle, which got more snow a few days ago than we have had all winter here in Chicago. I can tell you that my jinxes are the worst jinxes ever seen on the face of the earth and you, Neil, can't can't come close to beating them, not a chance, not a million to one chance. And I'm not a superstitious guy. Global warming, pshaw! All I have to do is buy sunglasses and we'll have snow before I get out of the store.


  3. Probably the only more potent action you could have taken to ward off the wintry blast that defines life in our town this time of year would be to decamp for Florida, as many not deterred by the cultural wasteland thing (No 'Uncle Vanya' there.), do.

    Tom Evans

  4. NS-For next winter please purchase some cross country skis or a snowmobile.

  5. If palm trees sprout up I just may never leave this Shangri-La.

  6. I've read that it was Republican consultant Frank Luntz who advocated for pushing the use of "climate change" instead of "global warming," because he thought the latter sounded scarier. See, for example,


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