It's Finals Week here at Western Michigan University. Finals are two hours long and close packed together with a whole fifteen minutes between sessions. The very first time slot was Monday 8-10am. And guess what? That was the scheduled time for my PHYS-2050 MTWRF 9am class.
Now this is good news, because statistically students do better when the Final falls in their normal class time, which this does. Bad news, because who the hell wants to have a Final at 8am in the bloody morning? For me, I had decided long ago that it would be easier if I would just drive down to K-zoo on Sunday afternoon and stay overnight in a motel, rather than trying to get up at 4am and then driving down in the dark. This plan looked to be real genius as the big Midwest winter storm rolled through.
Not The Walloping That Minneapolis or Syracuse Got
But during the weekend it rained. Sunday morning the roads were wet and the temp still just above freezing. By 2pm, the temps were 25°F and dropping, and it was starting to snow lightly -- and the winds were picking up. Overnight a couple of inches was forecast, along with gusting over 40mph and zero-ish wind chills. Temps were going to be in the teens, below the effective temperature for the road salt chemicals. Peachy. When I left, the roads were already shiny -- you could get up to speed, but stopping was clearly an adventure, as were poorly advised high speed turns onto the highway from the side streets that I kept seeing. The anti-lock brakes chattered every time I had to slow for a stop light. Gear it down, 4WD, no driving like an idiot -- and it worked pretty well.
The communities right along the lakeshore have been repeatedly clobbered by lake effect snows. But some ten miles inland in Allendale, mostly all we've gotten is to see this wall of snow clouds off to the west.
Made It, Now What?
Eventually made it to Kalamazoo, mostly 10-15 mph below the posted speed limits -- only saw one accident on the side of the road. Before I'd left home I'd printed out the Kalamazoo 10 movie schedule, as that multiplex is just across the road from the Super 8 I was going to stay at. I'd hoped that maybe RED was still playing, as Mrs. Dr. Phil had seen it with her mom a while ago and I hadn't. But no. However, I checked into my room at 4:15pm and had plenty of time to make a 4:45pm showing of Tangled, the new Disney Rapunzel movie -- very cute. Came out of the theatre and had to brush off about two inches of very, very fine diamond dust snow off one side of the vehicle.
I'd gone ahead and made a reservation -- it was $49.44 at the Super 8 Motel site with AAA... and $50 at Motels.com -- but there may have been only one other guest staying there, based on the cars parked. (grin) Super 8 isn't a posh chain, but it's adequate. The Panasonic TV had a Zenith remote, probably with the wrong code number, as the volume controls worked but not the change channel. The room had one of those window A.C. units with a space heater in it -- the TV needed the volume up to 13 when the fan was on, 4-6 when it was off. Luckily, I did have the remote volume control. (double-jeopardy-grin) Watched some football, saw the finale of The Amazing Race and a new Series III Inspector Lewis on PBS.
There were a couple of tables and chairs in the lobby for the advertised continental breakfast. If you liked dehydrated blueberries, you had your choice of blueberry bagels or blueberry muffins. They had one of those close-and-flip circular waffle makers, but no batter and no one around. The cereal choices looked to be no-name Fruity-Ohs and nondescript corn flakages. I had a bagel with Philadelphia cream cheese. The guy in the white pickup I thought was the other guest pulled up to the door, came in and piled four muffins in a foam cereal bowl, and left. It was something. If I was desperate for a "real" breakfast, I could've driven five buildings down to the 24-hour Steak-n-Shake, which would've done fine real pancakes, but I passed. Besides, I bring cookies to my exams -- and name brand cookies for Finals.
A Clear Windy Dawn
I was prepared to dig the Blazer out in the morning, but not a lot of snow actually fell overnight. And the winds pretty much kept the windows clear. I thought the window washer jets were frozen, but later found that I was just out of blue fluid. Overhead was sparkling clear. Despite the bitter cold, the actual main streets were clear and wet. Side streets were slippery. I'd worried about what time they'd open the buildings up. But I got in around 7:20am and found both the classroom and the offices buildings unlocked, so didn't have to play ID card roulette and find out if my ID card was or was not currently programmed to open the doors after hours. (As a part-timer, they are always deleting us after one semester, but sometimes after they've added us for the new semester.)
And my finals were copied and left in the lock-up as expected. And amazingly, 52 students were there at 8am, out of 56 who'd taken Exam 3. 1 showed up at 8:10, and I knew 1 student was stuck in the U.P. with a breakdown and no mechanics open on the weekend. Of course I told everyone the storm was coming and that they shouldn't go out of town for the weekend, but they never listen to Dr. Phil. That errant student is taking his final as I type -- he's got about 17 minutes to go.
By the time I was heading back to Allendale at 2:30pm, it was blue skies, bright sunshine and dry main roads. Still a ground hugging vision of snow clouds off at the Lake Michigan shore, but we weren't getting the snow on Monday.
Now it's all over except for the grading. (triple-word-score-grin)