March 21st, 2013


The Three Seasons

In Which Our Hero Falls To His Fate

I hate falling down. Nobody outside of professional stuntmen and some athletes probably do, but being a klutz I'm no good at it. Also, with my size I worry about falling and doing some serious damage to myself. Hasn't helped that balance and good footing with my bad left leg nerve leaves staying upright a tenuous balancing act. (grin)

In truth, though, I don't fall down all that much, thankfully. Before this year, I think it was probably ten years ago that I slipped on some ice on campus and had to pick myself up. Now, you must understand that I sleep on a futon on the floor. And I have exercises twice a day and sit on the floor to change my socks. But there's a ready chair nearby for me to use to help me get up. Standing up in the middle of nothing, that's not easy for me.

Earlier this winter I fell in the middle of the night heading to the bathroom. Hadn't realized that my left foot had gotten wrapped in a blanket, so Down Goes Frazier. Sort of a slow motion fall, on carpet. I almost laughed, except that I didn't want to wake up Mrs. Dr. Phil -- of course she woke up when I went THUD, so there's that. But other than being a little sore, no real damage.

However, Tuesday as I was heading out the front door of Everett Tower to cross the windy gap over to Rood Hall and my 1pm Physics class, I opened the door and went to plant my cane and... underneath the fluffy white snow was very slippery wet ice. Cane slid and in midstep onto the slight slope outside the door my feet slipped and down I went. Funny thing is that I was carrying a wedge seat cushion for the hard metal chair in the lecture hall, and that might've been involved.

Actually my immediate reaction was that I was damned cold. Wet and cold. My hands, which slid on the wet ice under the snow were so damned cold. Of course that same coating of ice meant that there was not sand, salt or the rough surface of concrete exposed to tear up either my clothes or the palms of my hands. So... this is good? And while I could get on my hands and knees, I knew I couldn't even trust the cane to prop myself up with and get up. I assumed that I had to slide back to the windbreak outside the doorway and lever myself up.

But rescue came. Prof. Kamber came out of Everett and one of my students stopped by to help -- after he skidded to a stop and got off his bicycle!!! Really? Riding a bike on sheets of wet ice? Didn't we cover static and kinetic friction and its effects in class?

Once I had my left foot planted, I just hoped that the two gentlemen could hold on and support my unfortunate bulk. They held, and I managed to get up.

As I headed to class, I suggested that Kamber tell the secretary to call for salt. And indeed, coming out fifty minutes later after class, the ice was completely melted. When I left to come home, the sidewalks were wet and sloppy and the parking lot was something of a mess, but that was just on campus. All the roads were wet but clear. I didn't have to struggle with a long commute on a skating rink.

I don't think I really damaged anything. Though in the middle of the day on Wednesday, I realized that I'd forgotten I'd slipped on the ice the day before and that perhaps that's why I had odd aches and pains, so took some Advils.

But I hate falling.

Winter Blows In Again and Again

And of course the insult to injury is that "spring" was coming. When we lived in the U.P., we always seemed to get a major storm right about St. Patrick's Day, just like the last of our giant front yard snow pile up there used to melt on Mother's Day. Here in West Michigan, the St. Patrick's Day storm isn't as consistent. Mrs. Dr. Phil wondered if the weather we had at the end of last week was this year's version. Maybe not.

Meanwhile people to the north of us in the U.P. were getting serious snow -- 16" to 24" by reports -- and there are snow tracks from the Plains states through the Midwest south of us, and on into WV, PA and NY. So I'm not really complaining, as others have repeatedly gotten clobbered worse than us, and even the weather forecasts of areas around here getting clobbered haven't done so much of that, either.

Vernal Equinox

Supposedly it happened on Wednesday morning at 7:02 EDT. You couldn't tell that by either the color of the lawn (white) or the overnight temperatures -- about 14°F this morning, with wind chills about -4°F. Mrs. Dr. Phil was grousing about it being a cruel month of January this March. (grin)

At least I hadn't heard a lot of reports about either flowers coming up or lots of buds or blooms on the fruit trees due to unseasonably warm February and March conditions like last year.

So we'll let the March storms get it all out of their system and wait for a real spring day to show up. Eventually. They always do.

Dr. Phil