An Open Letter To The Department Of Winter


To The Department Of Winter, Michigan Bureau:

Hi.

So, let me start off by saying that while I’ve only lived in Michigan a smidge and two whiles, this is looking to be my fourth winter here. Also let me point out that I’m not some wimp who can’t take slightly abnormal weather. Weather-wise, I’m better-experienced than you maybe think. I lived almost my whole life in central New Jersey. There we get every kind of weather although not in such intense amounts as to be really inconvenient. Give or take the odd Superstorm Sandy washing away Ocean County. And I went to graduate school in upstate New York, with wholly different patterns of having an extra month of the lousiest parts of winter.

And then I even lived a half-decade in Singapore, which has a daily high of 92 Fahrenheit and a thunderstorm every afternoon between 1:30 and 3:00. If it doesn’t rain you can go to the Ministry of the Environment and get your hand stamped for a day’s free admission. Though if you tell them you’re there for a rain cheque they won’t smile. There, winter is kept in well-supervised ice-skating rinks. It’s available for S$6 the first half-hour and S$4 every half-hour afterwards. Or you can walk by a 7-Eleven because the doors are open and the air conditioning set to Popeye strengths. To find a 7-Eleven in Singapore first go to Singapore (critically important! Do this first!), pick a direction, and walk up to 250 paces in that direction.

But what I’m getting at is this has been a freaky December. I was expecting it to be a little colder than this. Like, I was expecting it to be cold at all. It isn’t that I have a particular love of the cold. The winter outside Albany for 1997-98, for example, was chilly enough that my toes still haven’t thawed out. And back the winter of 2013-14 Michigan put up a bravura performance of coldness, with a string of 84 days below freezing in January alone. The 16th of January that year (2014) was so cold the sun refused to rise because the lock to its heavenly chariot had frozen solid.

This December, though, has been bizarrely warm. The only time we’ve gotten near freezing was when I passed out from heat stroke over the ice cream counter at Quality Dairy. And while Mackinac Fudge Cider might be a great flavor, it’s just not wintery. It’s made a mockery of my putting up storm windows. And it’s hurt the feelings of my rushing to put the Christmas lights up outside when we had that nice day in the mid-40s. We’ve had date trees blooming into new fruits, and I’m pretty sure there aren’t even any date trees in Michigan. I think.

And it isn’t just making me feel silly doing household chores. It’s had major effects on the wildlife. For example, the squirrels are supposed to stuff themselves silly all autumn. Then they sleep it off through the coldest of winter. Then they sneak into the attic and try to burrow through our excess supply of Suave shampoo. But without a hint of cold weather they’re trapped in stuff-themselves-silly mode. It’s getting hazardous to step outside. Squirrels fattened up to sphericity keep losing their grip and plummeting. We have to take the groceries inside between cannonballs of angry rodents.

Even if we’ve waited for a good breeze to knock the squirrels out first we’re not out of danger. Red squirrels are cantankerous critters in the best of circumstances. When they’re stuck howling at the world for someone to roll them over onto their paws they get downright vicious, not to mention personal. I left middle school for many reasons, but mostly because I don’t need the kind of hurtful comments I’m getting from the red squirrel community. We’ve seen some similar results from the mouse community. And we suspect there’s a raccoon waiting for us to put the heater in the pond so he can hurl it back out of the pond and remind us who around here knows how to hurl stuff out of the pond.

That’s all stuff I suppose I can get used to. I mean, I got used to “winter” in Singapore, by knowing where all 42,000 island 7-Elevens were and maneuvering around the arctic blasts. What’s got me nervous is the sense of the other shoe waiting to drop. What kind of retribution is a month of outright balmy weather going to get us? Cold and snow is only going to go so far. This kind of weather earns us, like, a hail of frogs made of hail howling the things we’re afraid our loved ones secretly find disappointing about us.

So I want to say I’m enjoying the weather being so warm that it actually feels chilly, because it feels too silly to dress like it’s been December. But I’m afraid of what you have in store. I’d want to get out of this with retribution that’s nothing worse than, like, one blizzard they’ll be talking about for years and maybe a single weekend where the argon liquefies out of the atmosphere. Is there some way to get the winter adjusted so we don’t have anything worse than that coming up?

I know it’s a long shot, but I thought it only fair to ask. Thank you for your time and attention.

    Sincerely,

        Joseph Nebus

PS: Thanks for the help with that spider.

Rewritten by machine and new technology


To Whom It May Concern
YouTube Master Command
I’m Guessing Somewhere At Google, Maybe You Could Look Up Where, Thanks
Googleopolis, GO 900913

Dear May,

Sorry to give bad news but someone’s pretending to be you in e-mail, and maybe you’re not all that worried about this but you might want to check and see if someone’s sneaking in to YouTube Master Command after hours and messing around. Business experts estimate that nearly two-thirds of all corporate collapses are initiated by someone sneaking into Master Command after hours and messing around, so, just think about what your people are doing.

The e-mail, by the way, claims I got it because I indicated I was willing to receive occasional YouTube product-related mail. I’m willing to suppose that I actually have signed up for this, I guess because if found some way of watching videos that’s different to watching videos I’d find that interesting. For example, if you found some way to embed them subcutaneously as tattoos then I’d want to know that fact. While I might not be interested in having one, I could imagine thinking about getting a video embedded for example in the arch of my foot, so I could be endlessly walking on something, and selecting the correct video to endlessly step on could make for small talk at a party that’s gotten a little bit odd if it’s reached in-foot-video levels.

Also I don’t deny that the end of the year is an occasion, although it’s a little bit early to be calling this the end of the year and how do we know there aren’t going to be ten really big surprise hits over the next three weeks, mm? So that tipped me off there’s something fishy here. If they’d sent me it from a YouTube.co.uk address they might have claimed the occasion was it being 11/12/13, but obviously, that didn’t happen.

The e-mail congratulated me for being among the first twenty percent of people to discover one of the top ten trending videos of 2013. Yes, it was that “What Does The Fox Say?” video, which as of Tuesday afternoon had a recorded 518,6872,4316,47634,130506,4105 views. It’s had so many views they can’t even write the number in three-digit groups anymore, I know. And sure I saw it. It’s just there’s not any chance that I was in the first twenty percent of the world to see it.

See, I have not ever been among the first twenty percent of people in on any Internet thing. I’m lucky to be in the first 90 percent of people. Remember the “Where’re you gonna see lions? Only in Ken-ya” video? I learned of it when friends started sending me goofy parodies like the one where people in lion pajamas danced around to imitate the original video and they wondered what was wrong with me that I wasn’t laughing at all this. I first encountered “I Can Has Cheeseburger” when the captions were being stuffed into the discount books at Borders. I still haven’t even heard of River Tam.

My problem is that I’m a square. This isn’t some pose or affectation, thank you. I come by my squareness honestly: it’s the result of a lot of work spent trying to impose right angles on my natural rhomboid state. I have an almost supernatural ability to not be with whatever’s current. I’m still on Usenet, for crying out loud. I use terms like “square” or “pert near” or “hep” without a trace of ironic affection but just because they seem like the best ways to express myself, sad as that is, and I’m trying to get “twelvemonth” and “inst” back into English.

I don’t mind people who are all hep like I have never been and will never be. Many of them are quite pleasant and forgiving of my obliviousness, or they’re keeping me around because I’m cute to chuckle over, watching the with-it people the helpless way a guinea pig might stare at a heated debate in Model United Nations. I’m just not among them and shouldn’t be mistaken for one.

Anyway, all told, YouTube Master Command, someone is apparently going around sending fibbing letters to people about their watching “What Does The Fox Say”. I don’t know what you should do about fibbing like this, but you should do that now. Thank you.

             Yrs pert near truly,
             Joseph Nebus