Winter Storm Seneca Blows Through

Last night I participated on panel about Women In Secularism for Campus Atheists Humanists and Skeptics at the University of Minnesota. My fellow panelists were Stephanie Zvan, Niki Massey – who did a guest post for Biodork a few months ago – and Chelsea Du Fresne. It was awesome – there were a lot of thoughtful questions from the (mostly male) audience. We had a chance to talk about microaggressions, how to build and support diversity in organizations, and how to recognize when you might be dealing with an MRA.

The snow had started to fall at about 1pm yesterday afternoon. The snowflakes were big and fluffy and full of water – perfect snowman snow! When we left the panel at about 10pm, we had acquired several inches of snow. But this is Minnesota and the plows were on high alert; many of the major roads had been cleared at least once.

Continue reading “Winter Storm Seneca Blows Through”

Winter Storm Seneca Blows Through

The End of Fall

It’s been a gray, chilly day. The seasons are moving from comfortable, cool autumn ever closer to the harsh winter freeze that I dislike so much. During our morning shift we clinic escorts discussed the upcoming need for layering and long johns. This afternoon the Hubby and I gathered up motorcycle gear and engine stabilizer and prepared to move the bike to its winter home in Mounds View, Minnesota – approximately 12 miles by highway from Minneapolis – where it will stay for the next six or seven months until spring rolls around again. We had barely begun our trip when the sky let loose with a torrent of frozen hail and rain. I was driving the truck behind a heavily bundled-up Hubby, mentally calling to him “Don’t get on the highway. Please don’t get on the highway.” At the last minute he veered right onto the frontage road rather than left onto the entrance ramp. Phew – mission aborted.

Here we go again: another winter.

The End of Fall

Twin Cities: First Snowfall 2011

Winter is here, and so is winter driving! Or, as one friend likes to call it: “The Season During Which Minnesotans Relearn Physics.”

Well, we knew we couldn’t avoid it forever. But man, things change fast up here! I mean a day prior it was a typical sunny, cool, fall day. And then on Saturday it was all like:

Photos in order are: 35W South, Driving Across the 35W Bridge, Downtown Minneapolis and the Stone Arch Bridge, Near Hwy 7 & Hwy 100 in St. Louis Park, Lake Calhoun, Uptown, Our Front Yard, and The Hubby in the Snow.

Yuck! But there are a couple of awesome things associated with the first snowfall of the year:

1) I made an appointment to get snow tires put on my car on Friday evening. If I was a day trader I would so have been buying stock in tire companies in Minnesota at the end of last week. I don’t know how Discount Tire in Eden Prairie managed to fit me in, but they did. Off came the worn, barely-acceptable-for-dry-summer-roads tires, and on went shiny new Michilin X-Ice 2s! Considering what the roads looked like at the end of Saturday afternoon, I felt really lucky to have gotten this chore done just in the nick of time.

2) We managed to get the motorcycle put away for the winter on Saturday morning just as it was starting to snow. We didn’t really make it to our storage garage in Mounds View before it got gross out, but we did manage to minimize the damage.

I was the driver for this little expedition and had to get all winter-geared up for the 15-mile drive in 25°F, lightly snowing weather.

I’m wearing thick socks, insulated ankle-high workboots, jeans, carhart overalls, a t-shirt, a sweatshirt, my leather motorcycle jacket, a carhart coat, lined leather gloves, a neck wrap, a fleece hood that covers my nose and mouth, and my full-face helmet.

I’ll start out by saying that we made it to Mounds View without incident. But the ride overall…what’s the word…oh yeah – sucked. The Hubby rode behind me in the car and I slowly made my way up 35W on the light layer of fresh, blowing snow. One thing that I discovered right away is that the snow was heavier and wetter than I had anticipated. I had to keep wiping snow off of my face shield, and near the very end of the ride it started icing over and had to be scraped off. Blergh. But, like I said, this was earlier in the day, so the snow hadn’t started to really accumulate yet and clog up the roads. And now it’s done.

That’s about it. The snow stayed overnight and through the weekend. It hasn’t melted yet, but the temperature is supposed to rise up to as high as 50°F by the week’s end, which should make Black Friday shopping a bit more cheery!

Twin Cities: First Snowfall 2011

Thursday Fog in the Twin Cities

Yesterday was foggy and warm(ish). When I left home at 7:45am it was actually drizzling lightly instead of snowing! The fog was very thick, especially in Chaska where I work.  Sure it was gray, dreary and overcast, but it had its own beauty.

Garbage Day in South Minneapolis

The Morning Commute

The road to work is shrouded in fog.

Fog behind me, too.

Can I call in lost for work if I can’t find the building?

Trees in the fog. Bonus: Photo-bombing coworker.

They were beautiful, these automobiles in the mist.

Thursday Fog in the Twin Cities

Twin Cities: First Snowfall 2010

This is a collection of photos and quotes gathered from my Facebook friends and Twitter peeps about Saturday’s roundhouse, no holds barred, smack you upside the head, first snowfall of 2010 for the Twin Cities and greater metro area.  Thanks to all of those who gave me permission to share your photos here.

From Brianne in Minneapolis

It tis a pretty white wonderland out there!  Love the first few snowfalls!  So pretty and why am I up so early?

WTF, snow?

Negative: I have to drive to Bloomington within the hour.  Positive: I’ve had snow tires on since May.

If you haven’t been outside yet: You don’t want to be outside #Slipocalypse

Snow is a four-letter word.

Heavy, wet snow.  We have a couple of inches and it is expected to fall all day; and we have an invite to a patio party this evening.  Life in Minnesota!

I want a f*cking award for driving to Bloomington in a #slopocalypse

From Annetta in Minneapolis

: SNOW! </giddy>

Good thing I allowed extra time to get to work.  Took me 12 minutes!  Double the norm.  God bless 4-wheel drive and anti-lock brakes.

Aaaand my little corner of Minnesota officially has snow!  WI is wet and cold, but the fluffy harbinger Old Man Winter is nowhere to be seen.

Ummmm…….. that’s a lot of freakin’ snow.  Good thing I planned to be hibernating today.

Today I get to go to Edmonton.  I snow.  IN SNOW.  I LOVE SNOOOWO+WWWW

Snow must be very heavy.  The tree branches are sagging.


From Annetta in Minneapolis

The kids were so excited to stuff themselves into snow gear and get out there this morning!

Plan for the day?  Stay inside while I love the hell out of the man outside shoveling.  Then curling up inside while we test this Netflix online thing.  Mmm, hibernation!

Five cars in ditch and one awesome dude if front of us who went into the median, FLOORED the gas and pulled a U-ie, drove into the opposite lane.  Lucky for him there was no oncoming traffic.  I cheered.  Might as well have been a Viking touchdown.

Nothing goes better with snow than a hot bowl of pho and happy hour drink specials until 5pm.  Cheers, Hai – Ngon Bistro

Holed up in my hermit cave with pizza fixins I picked up yesterday.  I sense baking madness shall overtake me today.  On this day of snow.

I really wish I could hibernate.

Alright!  Shoveling snow. I think my arms are pretty much disabled for the rest of the day.

From Lynn in Cleveland

I. LOVE. SNOW. And if you don’t, suck it up!

Snow is wonderful if you don’t have to go out in it.  I love snow, but after having to drive through the worst of it, work all day, dig my car out, and then shovel the driveway, I’m temporarily over it.  Maybe I’ll feel better tomorrow.

Need something to keep out the cold.  Is scotch and hot chocolate a bad idea?

This snow is very very wet and very very sh*tty to shovel.

It’s absolutely wild out there…streets here aren’t plowed yet and the snow just keeps coming.  We did make it to the store for necessities and are staying in today with a fire, games and soup.

Power just went out @ the mall.  Awesome!

Have one boy outside in the snow and one boy on the couch under a blanket watching Spiderman 3.  Got a whole bunch of wet jackets and mittens drying in the bathtub on a rack for the next go round.  I’m a little worried about my mom, her power is out from the snow.  I braved it and went grocery shopping and now it’s all about staying tucked in.

From Sunny in Shakopee

What a crappy day.

D. is literally trapped in her house because there are two trees blocking the exit from her street.

If it wasn’t so wet, if it wasn’t for the snow plow (twice), if it wasn’t for the depth….this shoveling thing might not be so bad.

Our awesome crew of Delivery Men and Women will passionately and speedily bring you piping hot Pizza Luce Pizza all the while making it look easy.  We RULE at delivery, especially when it snows.

Okay, freaking out a bit.  My gutters are now bending from the weight.  I’m hideously afraid of heights and can’t get up on the roof to clear out the gutters.  I’m worried they are going to bust.  DAMN IT!!!!!

Perfect day to be watching a marathon of “In Living Color”

This weather’s been messing with my sinuses all day.

From Forrest in Columbia Heights

i hate snow.

It’s a damn good thing F. got the lawn raked last night – cuz today he has to shovel up to 10 inches of snow.  God I love having a man around.

Worried about how heavy the snow is.  Anyone else having pounding on their roof from it dropping from tree branches?  Praying the power doesn’t go out!

It’s still 60 degrees in Chicago.  I will try to convince the weather to come with me when I return tomorrow.

Snow… blech!

Ok, I’ve already done my first round of shoveling for the day.  That’s the only way I can keep up with it, it’s so wet and slushy!  Sure is pretty though.

I think this definitely qualifies as a “storm”.  I’ve gotten so used to meteorologists trying to create drama with severe forecasts that I just kind of assumed there would just be a few flakes.

From Kammy in Minneapolis

Seeing a vivid-red cardinal in a snow-flocked tree reminds me of the beauty of the seasons.  I’ll be trying to remember that while shoveling!

It’s officially winter: Minneapolis declares the first Snow Emergency of the season.

F*ck you, snow.  Just f*ck you.

Mmmm…wine and a snowy evening snuggled in with my two favorite men.  Nothing could be better.

PLOW THE F*CKING ROADS – RT@MnDPS_MSP Of the 401 crashes today, 45 were with injuries

From Kammy in Minneapolis

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Being cold sucks, shoveling snow sucks, driving and walking in the snow sucks.. but it’s so beautiful!

meh….fraking snow.

Happy snow, everyone! *le SQUEEEEEEEE!*

It’s only 4:45.  Dark descending.  Surrounded by snow.  Lassie, go get Timmy!

Twin Cities: First Snowfall 2010

Weather ~ Links ~ ACES Tragedy

I don’t know about the rest of the country or world, but here in Minnesota Fall just came along and placed a major smackdown on Summer.  I can’t believe I wore a long-sleeve button-up shirt and a coat to work this morning.  It’s a pretty bizarre time of year because the trees and grass are still green and lush, but I step outside expecting 80°F and it’s only 55-60°F. 


I’ve added two blogs to my blogroll sections to the right:

AmeobaMike – I followed this blog home after it’s owner left a comment on one of my posts yesterday.  AmeobaMike is about science and science education.  Dude has ATP and Golgi in his popular tags section AND he’s got a cartoon for his blog avatar AND he makes science cards.  Silly and science always work well for me.   

Richard Wiseman’s Blog – I follow Richard Wiseman on twitter and always end up following his links back to his blog, so I decided to finally skip the middleman and get him up here on The List.


Have you heard about the tragedy at the crocodile sanctuary in Belize?  Two children who had been out selling limes went missing and they haven’t yet been found.

It gets worse.

Villagers received information from a local psychic that the children had been kidnapped and fed to crocodiles at the American Crocodile Education Sanctuary.  They went to the police and demanded action.  

When the police didn’t act fast enough for the villagers, they took the law into their own hands based on the “evidence”: The psychic’s tale and the fact that they saw limes in the kitchen when they peeked through the windows (remember that the missing children had been selling limes at the time of their disappearance).  The villagers stormed the sanctuary and burned it to the ground.  No humans were physically harmed, but it has been claimed that at least two crocodiles were slaughtered and over a million dollars of property destroyed.  Animal Policy Examiner has written up an account of the events leading up to the incident.

CNN also covered the story:

[cnnvideo url=’’ inline=’true’]

Now according to the psychic is being charged with “psychic pretense”.  None of those from the mob have yet been charged with any crime, and a public meeting to discuss the incident with the town is scheduled for Sunday.

This ain’t going to end well for anyone, is it?

Weather ~ Links ~ ACES Tragedy

Watery World

I love water.

I like to drink it, cook with it, swim in it.  I like showers, hot tubs, steam saunas, pools, lakes, ponds, rivers and oceans. 

I’m not picky – I’ll take chlorinated, fluorinated, fresh or salty water.  I like sprinklers and slip-and-slides, water parks, water rides at amusement parks, water guns and water balloons.

But water can also be annoying.  I don’t like slush, or even fresh snow that much.  I don’t like washing dishes or laundry, and sloshing water over the edge of a drinking glass onto my silk work shirt will usually elicit a very naughty swear word or two.

How about getting rained on?

Getting rained on can bring out the boorish, boring adult or the whimsical child in me .  Whether I get annoyed or enjoy the rain usually dependings on where I’m going – am I leaving work to come home, or am I trying to get to work?  Am I having a night on the town and it’s going to be raining all night anyway, so why put up a fuss?  Or am I on the way to the movies where I’ll be stuck in a dark theater with too much air conditioning for two hours?

This past Monday I was getting ready to go home from work.  I hadn’t been watching the weather so it came as a bit of suprise to me when dark clouds rolled in and covered the sky.  With very little warning, it was a deluge.  There was no polite falling of light rain which may have signaled a more insistent downfall, just suddenly blankets of rain sheeting down from the sky, bouncing off of the concrete patio and pounding on the glass windows of the office from where I watched all of this transpire. 

When I left the office, I cracked the door open and quickly parachuted my umbrella open into a shield against the onslaught.  I ventured out, and within seconds the ankles of my thin work pants were drenched and clinging to my shins.  I felt the rain start to penetrate my shoes and I knew that the soaking, squishing feel of water in my socks was imminent.  The umbrella was keeping my head, shoulders and back dry, but then I arrived at the car and my next dilemma: How do I get in the car, throw my bag inside, get the umbrella down and in the car, and get the door closed without getting drenched?

First I tried to position the umbrella over the hood of the car so that I could open the door under the protection of my waterproof dome, but the water bounced up violently from the roof and right into my face.  There really aren’t a lot of options in a situation like this, so

Phase 1: I readied my bag on my shoulder, balanced the umbrella and unlocked the door. 

Phase 2: I grabbed the handle, flung my door open and moved quickly into the space between the door and the inside of the car, keeping the umbrella position above.

Phase 3: I threw the bag and the keys into the car onto the passenger seat.  Score!

Phase 4: This is where things get tricky.  I had to manage to close the umbrella, slide into the driver’s seat, bring the dripping umbrella across my body and either into the backseat or passenger seat floor (minimizing drippage on myself) and shut the door.  Hopefully all done in one smooth motion. 

I closed the umbrella and immediately started feeling the rain saturate my hair.  I slammed down into the driver’s seat and pulled the umbrella across my chest and then pushed it down onto the passenger seat floor, soaking my shirt and lap and puddling an obscene amount of water on the leather passenger seat.  I shut the door, slowed my breathing and surveyed the damage.  I was soaked, the inside of the driver’s side window and door was dripping raindrops, and I had a veritable kiddy pool on my passenger side seat which was being adeptly soaked up by my cloth bag. 

I thought – Eh well, it’s just water, at least I’m inside now.  I reached for my phone to call the Hubby and…I reached for my phone…hmmm…that’s strange.  Something like horrified enlightenment bloomed across my face as I remembered my phone sitting on my work desk still plugged into its charger.  Inside.  On my work desk.  Across the sea that used to be my parking lot.  *sigh*  I had to have my phone.

With a grumble I started the car and moved it as close as socially acceptable to the front door.  I grabbed my badge and the umbrella with one hand and the door handle firmly – resolutely! – in the other.  I flung open the door, lept out of my seat and opened the umbrella and slammed the door shut behind me.  I ran up the walkway and made it safely inside.  I set the umbrella in the stand and then squeaked myself across the linoleum to my office and phone.  On the way out I opened the umbrella and stood outside under the safety of the narrow building overhang for a moment.  The sewer drains were having trouble keeping up with the sudden onslaught, and the water between my car and me was probably an inch deep. 

I remembered that my gym bag had a towel in it, and that made me happy, so I started walking back to the car.  Somewhere along the way, I was hit with the futility of trying to keep dry; my shoes and socks were soaked, my pants were wet up to mid-thigh, my lap and shirt were wet, and my hair was damp from the last times getting into and out of the car.   So…

Screw it.

I got to the car, tossed my phone and umbrella inside, and with the rain pouring down on my head I went to the truck and grabbed my gym towel.  I craddled the towel with my body and brought it to the driver’s seat where I spread it from the headrest down over the seat. 

Then I shut the door and played in the rain.  I kicked puddles, jumped in puddles, brushed drenched hair out of my eyes and squished the water around in my shoes.  I giggled and laughed and ran around like a complete psycho.  I took my shoes off and curled my toes in the wet grass, then stomped around in a slurry of mud and let the rain rinse my feet clean. 

It was Monday July 5th, and only me, one of my coworkers, a few people in another building and the security guard were on campus, so I had a good five minutes of uninterrupted good, rainy fun.  Then I strolled to the car, casually opened the door, sat down on my towel and headed home. 


Blog Note: The pictures in this entry have all been pulled from outside sources.  Links to the source photos are listed below. 

Photo Sources in order of appearance (top to bottom)
Glass of Water
Pool Underwater
Water Fight!
Rain on Patio
Girl Playing in Rain

Watery World

Minnesota Tornado Outbreak

Last night’s weather was wonky in Minneapolis.  We got about 60 seconds of either hard rain or hail – when we went outside 30 minutes later the ground was dry…  And the sky was yellow.  I mean yellow.  It’s hard to capture a cloudy, yellow sky with a digital camera – all of mine tried to auto-correct – but one of my friends managed to get a good shot and posted it to her FB account:

At 9pm it was so light out that it felt like 6 or 7pm. 

Tornados ripped across many parts of Minnesota last night, but in Minneapolis the weather remained fairly calm.  We did have some high winds in the early evening, but not much else.  At about 9:15pm The Hubby and I went walking in the oddly bright, balmy, 80-degree evening.  We found this telephone booth outside of an antiques shop on Lyndale Avenue.  It looked great with the dark blue, cloudy sky in the background. 

Details from last night’s tornado outbreak in greater Minnesota:

There is already a wikipedia page devoted to the Mid-June 2010 Tornado Outbreak.  Remembering that this is Wikipedia, and knowing that I haven’t fact checked the info, here’s what they have to say: 

Affecting mostly Minnesota and North Dakota, the system produced a total of 62 tornadoes reported across four states while killing at least three people, all in Minnesota.

The page also has a table started that is listing EF#, Location, County, Time and Comments/Damaged caused by the tornados. 


A funnel cloud forms near Grand Forks International Airport Thursday afternoon June 17, 2010. A number of tornados were reported in the northern Red River Valley of North Dakota and Minnesota into the evening Thursday. (Associated Press/The Grand Forks Herald: John Stennes)


A large funnel cloud touches down west of Albert Lea, Minn., early Thursday evening.

Youtube has several videos of last night’s tornados.  I thought this one of a tornado in Winsted, MN by mkastavitch was fairly decent:

And this video by SlayerWalleye (that’s a Minnesotan user name, eh?)  shows some of the devastation caused by a tornado that tore through Wadena, MN:

Minnesota Tornado Outbreak

Where’s the Sun?

Happy Grab Bag Random Lazy No Prepared Post Monday!

photo source

1)Is it June?  I could have sworn it was June already.  That means it’s the summer time and I want sunshine!  The average June temperature in Minneapolis ranges from about 63-83°C in June and 2010 seems to be on the lower end of that scale, but can I at least have some sunshine?  Brrrr….I wore a coat yesterday!  In June!


2)  Happy Flag Day!

Wikipedia sez:

In the United States, Flag Day is celebrated on June 14. It commemorates the adoption of the flag of the United States, which happened that day by resolution of the Second Continental Congress in 1777.

Cool poster from June 14th, 1917:

3)  On last week’s Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe I heard about the unfortunate side-effect of a brand of mumbo-jumbo being exacerbated by the South Africa World Cup in the story “Vulture Threatened by Pseudoscience”.

Apparently there is a type of South African traditional medicine called muti which relies on natural products from trees and other vegetation.  Some South African cultures integrate other natural products into their treatments, namely, body parts.  The body parts may come from animal or even human sources.

In the case of this story, the body part in question is the brain of South African vultures, an animal that is already in danger of extinction (7 of 9 South African vulture species are classified as endangered).  Gamblers are smoking the dried vulture brain in hopes of foreseeing the winner of the World Cup.  From Scientific American:

In addition to dreams of winning lotto numbers or sports teams, practitioners say the practice can give users an edge on taking tests or help their business attract more clients.

Photo Source

Don’t eat me, I’m a pretty African White-backed Vulture that eats icky dead things so you don’t have to deal with them!

Where’s the Sun?