Saturday, January 24, 2009

I do not know what to do about the ice.

The mailman left a note in my home mailbox this week -- and I presume in the building's other mailboxes as well -- reminding us to keep the paths to the mailbox clear of ice and snow at this time of year.

We're trying, we really are -- but the ice, in particular, seems inescapable.

Today's high temperature will reach 28F, which would feel quite warm if it weren't so windy. But it's a bright, sunny day, which means that the snow plowed into a giant bank at the edge of our parking lot is melting... into water that flows into the area in front of our mailboxes, where it freezes to ice in the shade.

Seriously, I think we need an engineer to come in and design a gutter system for the snowmelt. I'm guessing my landlords won't volunteer to pay for that. But it might be a good school project for someone ... anybody interested? I'd bake you some muffins and give you some free books.

What I Read This Week

When you read three or four books at a time, you tend to finish them in batches.

Francine Prose, THE LIVES OF THE MUSES. A look at nine women who inspired the prominent artists for their day, starting with Samuel Johnson's friend and biographer Hester Thrale and concluding with Yoko Ono. Prose avoids cliches and obvious choices (Alma Mahler is not here, nor is Dora Maar), and discusses the whole problematic idea of muses with sharp humor and insight.

Antonia Fraser, ed.; THE LIVES OF THE KINGS AND QUEENS OF ENGLAND. This was an audiobook, condensing 1,000 years of history into about eight hours of narration. Through portraits of individual monarchs, the book provides a comprehensive look at how the British idea of monarchy itself has changed, and makes a subtextual argument for its continued value.

Lisa Lutz, REVENGE OF THE SPELLMANS. The third in this series, and just as much fun as the first two -- that rarity of rarities, a thoroughly satisfying mystery in which no one gets killed, no one even gets badly hurt, and things end pretty well for everyone. I read an advance copy; it'll be out in March.

Robert Lacey and Danny Danziger, THE YEAR 1000. A short, fascinating look at life in England at the turn of the last millennium. People were taller then than in later years, but the average life expectancy was only around 40. Temperatures were warmer, it being part of a time called "The Little Optimum," which makes me wonder how much of our current global warming trend is actually manmade.


norby said...

What you need is an Eagle Scout. Some nice young man to figure out a better way for the snowmelt to flow so that it doesn't form ice under your postboxes. It will then be his project to re-route it so that he can earn his Eagle...

AnswerGirl said...

That's a brilliant idea. I will ask around.

Kevin Wignall said...

Is gravel practical for the area concerned?

As you know, I'm increasingly convinced that the whole man-made global warming industry is a big con. If the end result is that we end up with a cleaner environment and possessed of technologies that will help to control the climate during its natural fluctuations, all well and good. But I'm sick of the hectoring lobbyists who respond to any expression of doubt by yelling louder and telling you you're a moron. Ironically, they remind me of the creationists who portrayed Darwin with a monkey's body.

AnswerGirl said...

Gravel is a good idea, Kevin -- this is a paved parking lot we're talking about, but some well-placed gravel might be just the ticket.

Karen Olson said...

I love Antonia Fraser's bios about Henry VIII and Elizabeth.

As for ice, well, we've got the same problem. My mom fell on her steps two days ago and is all bruised. I'm just really careful where I step and how I step.

Anonymous said...

The city of Gardiner lets residents take winter sand from the Public Works lot for home use.


Archimedes Principle said...

You know that Antonia Fraser is Harold Pinter's widow.

She lives relatively near to where I do, but an altogether nicer part.