i woke up at 8am to get ready to walk down to the cafe by 9am to begin a day of snow shoveling. there was already a few inches of snow on the ground but thankfully not enough to make walking difficult. however, title="korean instant ramen cup for dinner">the snow was falling at a fast clip, serious enough that i used an umbrella to keep myself from getting too wet. it was windy and my umbrella inverted a few times. there was hardly any traffic, mass ave a ghost town. the only footprints in the snowy sidewalk were mine. the only civilians i saw out were folks walking dogs, and i did see one jogger. when i finally got to my sister's place, i was already pretty miserable, my jeans soaked, my body sweaty inside my jacket. the day was just getting started.
it wouldn't be all bad, as i'd brought some food and was ready to stay warm and cozy inside the house, going out to shovel every few hours. the reality was quite different. almost the first thing i noticed when i set foot inside my sister's place were the flashing lights on the cablemodem alerting me to the fact that their internet was down. my sister told me it'd been down since last night. even if i called comcast today, they wouldn't be able to send someone out until tomorrow at the earliest. not only were we inconvenienced, but i felt especially bad for the astrophysicist tenants upstairs who shared our internet. one thing to inconvenience yourself, but it's another thing to inconvenience others.
we began our first round of cleanup around 9:00am. of the few businesses that were opened today, i saw they already had crew working to clear the snow. my sister worked the shovel while i manned the snowblower. you'd think the snowblower would make the work easier, but the initial stage of this nor'easter was wet snow, which clogged up the chute (despite my snow-jet treatment) and i had to manually break apart the slush every so often. we worked from my sister's place down to the cafe and to the parking lot. most of the businesses had closed for the day so there was no cars parked, which made the work of the hired snowplow truck much easier as he cleared the parking lot. but his vehicle couldn't get to the corners so we had to manually do those areas ourselves. returning back to the house, one of the astrophysicist tenants from upstairs came down to help us shovel. originally from beijing, they get snow there but nothing like this, and he seemed to be enjoying the novelty of it all (though he'd probably think otherwise if he's lived through new england winters for nearly 4 decades). we finished by 10:45am, nearly 2 hours later.
back to the internet issue: at first i thought maybe the problem had something to do with the wiring inside the house. i managed to run an extension cord and plugged the feed coaxial directly into the cablemodem but it was still flashing no connection. finally i called comcast tech support, figured it was better to book a service appointment early, beat the rush. that really tested my patience, because i didn't remember the account number and there's no corresponding phone number, so it took a lot of hoop jumping for them to finally verify me. once that happened, they walked me through the standard tech response where they reset my modem remotely. when has that ever worked? all i wanted was to make an appointment for a technician to come out and check the wires. it ended up taking me 30 minutes, and i nearly abruptly hung up because i had snow to shovel and this was a waste of time. i did make an appointment for tomorrow between 12-2pm.
the second round of cleanup happened at 11:30am, when there was already enough accumulation to shovel again. this time it went a bit quicker since we'd already done a lot of the ground work. we primarily went out to make sure the restaurant workers were parking in the right spots, so the plow truck can still do its cleaning. we were back inside less than an hour later for a lunch break. i ate the greek salad i bought yesterday.
a big part of snow shoveling is waiting. waiting for the snow to end so you can go out and start cleaning. but there's particular challenges when it comes to big snowstorms that last for an entire day. you have to shovel in stages, otherwise if you wait until the very end, there will simply be too much snow to handle. you have to time it so that there's enough snow to shovel but not too much that it'd bog you down. it's also a little demoralizing to see the sidewalk you just shoveled get covered up in snow just as soon as you finish.
waiting without the internet was like being stuck in boredom hell. all my beautiful plans - surf the web, download some movies, stream a few shows - were out the window. i could get the free xfinitywifi from neighboring routers, but the connect was weak and intermittent. the only thing left to do was to watch the non-stop nor'easter coverage on television, but even that was short-lived when my sister wanted to play one of her dvd's. her place also wasn't very cozy, sort of like a hoarder's apartment, with just a single office chair in the back of her bedroom where i could barely see the tv. the living room (my grand uncle's former room) was empty, the floor newly sanded/stained/treated, but it reeked of polyurethane. in fact, the whole place smell of it. i found myself pacing around the empty room, wishing time would go faster, or maybe a miracle might happen and the internet would come back. my jeans were also wet, but i wore a layer of wool underwear underneath that kept me warm. i figured i would just dry the jeans in situ using body heat. it finally got so boring i got the second HDTV which used to belong to my grand uncle and hooked it up in the living room. i got spotty reception using a paperclip antenna and watched the news sitting on the floor with my back to the wall.
unable to get online, i had no idea what the big news of the day was, which was trump firing secretary of state rex tillerson. i found out from watching the news. but the headlines kept on coming. i was shocked that danny amendola decided to leave the patriots and go to the miami dolphins for a two-year $12 million contract. that was followed by the news that malcolm butler signed a five-year $61 million contract with the tennessee titans. that was no surprised given how he was mistreated by belichick during the superbowl, i'm really happy for malcolm, 2-time super bowl champion, finally making the big bucks. then i learned dion lewis also signed with the titans, four-year $23 million.
we went out again at 3pm. i was a little dismayed that our 2nd aunt didn't call us to check the status. she's oblivious to the intricacies of snow cleaning, i imagined her to be warm and cozy at home, watching the snow fall, staying warm, while my sister and i were slaving away every few hours clearing the snow.
i had some instant korean ramen cup for dinner around 7pm for dinner, before we went out again at 7:30pm for one final round of shoveling, with the snow about to taper off by 8pm. afterwards i still had time to grab a 74 bus heading into belmont so i could shovel out my parents' place. when i got to the parking lot, there were half a dozen plow trucks parked haphazardly. i flagged my sister to come over, wanted her to call the tow truck company because obviously somebody had left these vehicles here as storage. but my sister said they could be restaurant customers, and went to the restaurant to check it out. that turned out to be the case, just a group of snowplow drivers stopping for dinner at the restaurant. one of them even volunteered to plow our parking lot for free before they left. they had a newer plow truck, one that cover pivot the plow head in all sorts of angle. when our own plow guy came by later tonight, he's going to be awfully confused as to why the parking lot had already been cleared.
we finally finished by 8:30pm. that gave me enough time to catch the 8:55pm bus heading into belmont. when the bus finally arrived, it was completely empty, i was the only passenger. we arrived at my stop fairly quickly since we didn't have to make any stops, like my own personal bus ride.
when i got to belmont i had to walk in the streets because not all the sidewalks had been shoveled yet. i was pretty anxious, looking back several times to make sure now plow truck was behind me. along the way i some a few houses were people were digging out. it was actually quiet beautiful and quiet, but as i still had a job to do, i didn't have time to stop and admire the scenery.
when i got to my parents' place, i had to dig out a trench with my boots over the plow-created snow bank, then walk in snow that was nearly knee deep to get to the front door. i spent the next 1-1/2 hours digging out, first the walkway, then the sidewalk, and finally a path to the trash bins as there was trash pickup scheduled for tomorrow. i also went into the backyard and cleared the steps. i finally finished by 10:30pm.
after i finally finished shoveling for the day, i stripped out of my wet clothes and went to take a shower. i knew it wouldn't be a pleasant experience, because i'm turned down the water heater after my parents went on vacation, and it was too much of a hassle to turn it back on again. the water was set to 90°F, lower than body temperature. it was liking showering in cold water in a cold room. i've experienced worse (taking a high elevation ice bath shower in a trucker's rest stop bathroom in western sichuan), but this was not the desired reward after a hard day's work. i noticed if i stood directly in the center of the water stream it felt a little lukewarm, but everywhere else it was freezing cold. i was so relieved to finally finishing my shower and toweling dry.
i ate the leftover general tso's chicken for dinner. by that point it was 11pm. at least there was cable tv and internet. later in the evening i switched to CNN to see the result of the pennsylvania district 18 house seat special election between democrat conor lamb and republican rick saccone. the final result was too close to call, with lamb in the lead by several hundred votes, with just some provisional and absentee ballots left to count, but lamb is in a good position to win.