January is the New February

February traditionally being the Month in Which My Daughter Doesn’t Get An Education, because of the high number of snow days at school. However, this year January seems to be making a run for the title, as she had two and a half snow days last week (the “half” being the days school started late/got out early because of weather conditions), and today school was canceled, not because of snow, but because it rained last night and then the temperature dropped below freezing, meaning that every road in my immediate vicinity is composed of black ice. Which is bad. So she’s currently down in the living room, watching Invader Zim. Which is educational in its way, I suppose.

What worries me is the possibility that February, jealous of January’s encroachment of its usual role, will strive to take back the crown, slamming us in bad weather, that Athena will actually not receive any schooling for four weeks straight and as a consequence will have to stay in school through July to make up for it. She will not be pleased. Although I suppose it would take care of what to do with her over the summer.

Anyway, this is why I’m online at the moment instead of working toward the daily writing quota. How are you?

60 Comments on “January is the New February”

  1. We are still waiting for Snowpocalypse 2: the Revenge here in Kansas. As an adult, I don’t get snow days, but will take a vacation day tomorrow if I can’t get up the steep road by my apartment due to eight inches of snow.

  2. I’m enjoying that other staple of winter weather: The Headcold That Just Won’t Die.

    Though I suppose that, after the way December went for us, this might actually be Headcold II: The Quickening. Today’s goal is to get as much work done as possible before enervation sets in.

  3. February, being my birth month, is naturally subject to my every whim and MUST OBEY. I’ll put in a word about the Ohio weather on your behalf to ensure Athena’s education is not neglected. However, be aware that eliminating all manner of precipitation in February carries a price. The atmospheric scales must always balance. Accordingly, please take care to prepare for the torrential June monsoons.

  4. I’ll trade you the two days of funeral leave I’m about to take for your icy, schoolless weather. No, wait, I take that back – the funeral’s in Ohio so I get the best of both. Yay me.

    When does Athena’s school normally dismiss for the summer? Here on the balmy southern shore of Lake Ontario the kids finish up in the third week of June, but they get a week off in late February plus the traditional Spring break in April.

  5. Southwest Missouri’s going to get socked starting around midnight, 4-5″ accumulation. I can’t wait. :-/

  6. I guess you aren’t in the Darke County school district that decided to experiment with turning snow days into telecommuting days. I remember reading about that last fall, and when I saw Darke County mentioned I wondered if you were affected. Would that work for you? Could you set Athena up with her own Internet connection so she could “attend” class without interfering with your own work?

  7. Doing alright. This being Denver, the weather’s actually pretty pleasant right now. We’re supposed to get a little snow later today, but I doubt it’ll be that much.

    I’m still scrambling around and making up for last week, where I was stuck in North Carolina for three extra days because of snow and ice. It was very weird.

  8. DemetriosX:

    Yeah, that’s not our district. I wouldn’t be opposed to the concept, however. I don’t suspect that I would have to get Athena her own Internet connection to do it; we have a pretty big pipe into the house. We also have more than enough computers here for her to work on one and me on another.

  9. Believe it or not, this makes me miss Ohio. (I’m currently living in Dallas.) I was born and raised in northwestern Ohio and attended Wright State in Dayton. I was 10 years old during the Blizzard of ’78 and have fond memories of sledding out of my second-story bedroom window because the snow had drifted that high. Of course, my mother probably doesn’t have equally fond memories of my repeated slushy trudgings through the house to accomplished said sleddage.

  10. Me? I’m fine thanks. But I am wondering why we don’t use the system that I know some northern states do: The FIRST 5 days you miss, you have to make up. Anything after that is considered serious disaster type stuff, and you DON’T make it up. It’s easier to schedule the end of your year, everyone goes in know they have to make stuff up, and the occasional year of horrendous weather doesn’t destroy summer.

  11. Well, since you’ve asked, it’s cloudy, drizzling and a positively balmy 52 degrees here in the capital city of Florida. However, I have a daughter who is training presently in an Americorps base in the big city of Vinton, IA (population 5,000 or so) where it is 10 degrees at present with snow.

    We have had a rash of freezing temperatures here lately, with some of our nights around 22 or so, which, for folks who have ONLY lived in Florida their entire lives, is COLD. I realize, it is nothing on you midwesterners, but we do make up for it in our high-nineties, 100% humidity summers.

  12. Here in central New Mexico (east of the mountains and Albuquerque), we normally only get dustings of snow before Christmas and then Jan/Feb are the heavy snow months. And, despite this winter supposedly influenced by La Niña, we’ve had 3 snow days so far in Dec. And now, the last 2 days, it hasn’t dropped below freezing, even at night. The ground actually thawed and everything (at least top 6″). Weird! Really hoping we don’t get a repeat of 2006 where we got almost 8′ total over winter. Talk about too many snow days. Poor kidlet is really bummed with warming temps here. P.S. Daughter found iPhone game: Pocket Gods and is really grooving on it. Athena might find it a nice diversion?

  13. Dave @ 5

    All over Ohio (and much of the US) schools let out for all of summer. Original rational was that kids had work to do in the fields. Current research tells us that kids don’t learn with poo when it’s too hot, either, so that reinforces things. Not that people don’t keep trying to go year round anyway – but it’s always really expensive, and never really helps the grades/test scores all that much.

    So, farm work and heat – why the kids get off in early June and don’t go back until late August.

  14. I am not enjoying my way-too-many-th day home with my children this January. One of them wants to know if Athena can come over. I assume she owns ice skates? On the other hand, my housework is in excellent condition.

  15. My wife gave her seventh-grade students the next two day’s homework assignments last week when we had a snow day predicted. They were not that pleased.

  16. February always has a chip on its shoulder because of all those size jokes.

    So Athena may have to go to school in July because of ancient Roman politics. Ironically, July is named after the guy who started this mess.

  17. Even though we’ve received a lot of snow in the past week, the only reason school has been cancelled was because of how absolutely FRIGID it was yesterday. -45C with the wind chill when I left for work.

    Of course, work wasn’t cancelled because of how freaking cold it was. How come we don’t get ‘snow’ days for work?

  18. Joel@18: I remember the last day of school being the first week of June when I was growing up in SE Ohio, but a lot has changed since then. (I understand they use Arabic numerals now. I never cared for that New Math stuff.) I wasn’t sure if the schedules were different now because of the fading agricultural economy.

  19. @Kevin Williams: Used to live in Springfield, kids/grandkids still there.
    In other news, far eastern WV and western MD are experiencing what passes for normal winter weather…the temperatures cycle back and forth around freezing with occasional snow.

    SInce I’m originally from the IL/WI area, their idea of winter here is more like fall. I don’t even get out my heavy winter gear unless we have a Snowpocalypse like last winter. They close or cancel school here for weather we wouldn’t even notice in WI.

    I wish someone had told me that my hourly job of technical writing tends to be slow and boring work most of the time. Maybe I’ll stir myself to see if I can compete with John. ;-)

  20. I’m with #7. When you mentioned Athena “wasn’t getting any schooling”, I was rather surprised. I know that most of the school districts here in the Houston area have just such a “telecommuting” scheme set up, to where if you take a sick day/weather day, all you have to do is log in to get your assignments. It’s too bad your particular district isn’t set up to do that.

    The other thought that occurs to me is that, if you (a general “you” in this context) live in a place where the weather’s bad at a given time of year, the teachers might say something like “If we let out early today/don’t have school tomorrow/etc, here’s the assignment for tomorrow/all this week/etc. If you have any trouble, you can email me at *email*.” If internet/phone goes out, Athena should have friends who can help her with given subject(s) if need be.

  21. #26: “They close or cancel school here for weather we wouldn’t even notice in WI”. Hear, hear! I grew up in Chicago and moved to Houston in March ’84, when I was twelve. My mother insisted that I board the plane wearing a blouse, sweater, blazer, corduroy pants, heavy socks and heavy shoes. I said “Mom, think about where we’re *going*.” She remained steadfast. When we landed in Houston it was 85 degrees outside.

    Several years later, when I was a junior in HS, we had cold enough weather to create a thin layer of ice on the ground–just enough that it crunched when you walked. They closed school for two days, and many surrounding businesses closed as well. We were greatly amused, but also grateful, because when native Southerners are confronted with weather/driving conditions that are utterly foreign to them, the unfortunate tendency I’ve noticed over the years is for the driver to *speed up* (god knows why), and to give the one-fingered salute to my husband as he’s creeping along the freeway at 40 mph.

  22. Jennifer@29: I went to elementary school in Northern Minnesota, and I only remember one snow day the two winters we were there. This was in an area where -40F was a normal january temperature.

  23. I’m hoping we get enough snow to call off work here in Louisville, but not enough to have me called in to help restore power (that ice storm in 2009 SUCKED big time).

    Of course, if it doesn’t snow enough to go sledding, it’s not worth snowing at all, IMO.

  24. The temperature dropped here in Portland overnight as well. It’s been raining for about 86 consecutive weeks, so there’s lots of ice every which way but alas, I still had to drive my butt to work. *pout*

  25. It’s a nice clear day in the Twin Cities today, but cold… -1F when I woke up. It snowed lightly overnight again; we’ve had only two days so far this year without any snowfall. Given that, it’s not too surprising that we don’t do snow days up here in MN.

  26. This is my kid’s first day back to school. My kid has attended school 3 times in the last *month.*

    We took a few days before Xmas break and after to go to my home state to see his dying great-gparents (one of who passed while we were there,) and then we came back, he went to school Thursday, Friday, (weekend,) Monday, and then came down with a terrible stomach virus on Monday night.

    So, four more days off of school, one of which was also a snow day, and then the MLK 3-day weekend.

    After which, Tuesday was a snow (black ice) day here in CT. Today was a 90-minute delay due to more ice, but at least he’s at school.

    Maybe I can get some typing done today.

    (BTW, finally got around to Old Man’s War. Wonderful book. I flashed through it while sitting next to my kiddo, who lay in bed, watching NickJr. Kudos on a great book.)


  27. RE: Jenn Zuko @12

    Scalzi wintering in Colorado. What an interesting idea.

    “Heeeeeere’s Johnny!”

    Here in West Central VT, the grandkids have only had a single snow day but a lot of snow. Two feet cumulatively which is a lot for this time of the year. Been worse in the South.

    Global warming.

  28. I totally second #12 idea. In Colorado we have had one of the driest winters in history, at least in Denver, in the mountains is an entirely different story, although I hear we have storm brewing that will drop 3 inches here tonight. This will surely be seen by many in town as a sign of the end times and driving into work tomorrow will surly suck.

  29. For all the stereotypes waged against the ‘Great White North’ that is Canada, it seems like quite a few States have been hogging all the snow to themselves for the last few years. Or at least, my region seems to have been getting royally shafted. I do mean shafted, because I have a big and hairy dog that would love to bury himself in some snow. Plus I got snowshoes whining about being stored in a closet for the last few years. Plus there is the wife who as a teacher has only been able to enjoy one snow day over the last two years, and that one was more of a preemptive scare of the city becoming a giant skate rink (which it did not, which meant for a non slippery day off yesterday).

  30. We’ve already had a week and a half of snow days… in Southern Tennessee! We usually only get one or two days at the end of February but we’ve already had two major (for southern Tennessee, granted) storms. I actually had to shovel my driveway. This is one of the main reasons I moved back down here from the north!

    And yea, southerners driving in snow are about as competent as folks from Michigan are at driving on mountain roads.

  31. Zim: “Come GIR. Let us rain some doom down upon the heads of our doomed enemies.”

    GIR (Singing): “Doom, doom, doom.”

    Anybody know if there are any Invader Zim books available? ‘Cause that would go over BIG in my house.

  32. #41 – Oh yeah, I lived in Memphis for a couple of years. The Nonconnah Parkway was a mess every winter. OMG, it’s a bridge! Floor it!

  33. I’m declining to sign in for comments over at the film-column site because the only options presented are via accounts on six other services (Google, Twitter, Facebook, Yahoo, MySpace and AOL). It’s not that I’m shy about using my real name on the internet, but I want to be the one who chooses how to link online bits of my identity.

    You probably have as much control over that as you do over the prices of e-book editions of your work, and probably even less interest, but I just want to note for the record that I think it’s no way to run a railroad. Or an online community.

    Otherwise, things are good Over Here on the southern fringes of the former Soviet Union, thanks for asking.

  34. The corporate world is finally catching on to this idea of virtual workplace. So that one the odd snow day, or the day when your child is sick, you can work productively from home.

    I think its past time for the educational system to catch up with the idea as well. They currently have online HS for kids who need to learn virtually for one reason or another. There’s no reason to make the school curriculum more flexible and allow for these kinds of issues.

    It would certainly take reorganization and revisiting the current teaching plans, but its not impossible. And it would certainly save money in the long run.

  35. It’s tough to believe that a day stuck at home in the Scalzi household is less educational than a day incarcerated in a school. Zim’s a promising upstart, but our school system’s had over a century to perfect the prevention of education. There’s no way he can compete.

  36. @ Sara

    Barriers to entry. Telecommuting for school is better suited in some districts than others, due to differences in how many households have computers and/or internet access. (And if the reason for school closure is weather- or otherwise safety-related, you can hardly expect students to make it to their neighborhood library, either.)

  37. What #46, Mike, sed,
    >It’s tough to believe that a day stuck at home in the Scalzi household is less educational than a day incarcerated in a school.

    That was my first thought, too. You have a house stuffed to the gills with books and an internet connection.
    If nothing else, get her back to sketching. I demand more Scarface graphix.

  38. Down in Greene county, we’re a bit luckier, in that today’s weather didn’t result in delays or closings.

    Tomorrow, I fear, is another story. And probably a lack of any story writing for me. *sigh*

  39. In South Central Nebraska, where I grew up they had a little trick at my school they would use to avoid using snow days and prolonging the year. They would declare that the buses would not run but school would start 1/2 hour late. All the kids on the surrounding farms would get to stay home and us “town kids” would trudge to school. No, it wasn’t “2 miles in the snow, uphill both ways” only 4 blocks in my case, but enough kids lived in town that the percentage of attending children would be enough to call it a full day. We had 2 snow days that I remember where the wind chill was -40 and we had a Nebraska ground blizzard and white out conditions. You could not see my Dads pickup parked on the side of the house from the living room window. Dad actually tied a rope from the porch rail around the house to the detached garage so we could go out there, keep the wood burner going, and feed the outdoor pets that were brought in for the duration.

    I live in Seattle now and Winter is one of the reasons why…

  40. I once lived in a school district that took the view that enough was enough. School ended on the Friday nearest June 3rd rounding up if needed to next Friday, NO MATTER WHAT. They would strip away holiday’s as required to make that happen, if school closings happened. If they only made it to 178 days, their view was “Oh well, the last week is a total damned waste of time anyway”. I liked that plan!

  41. In North Carolina, the oh, so wise General Assembly has mandated 180 days of school, 1000 hours of “instruction” per year. Then, under pressure from the tourism industry, they said school has to end no later than June 10th and start no earlier than August 28th. This doesn’t leave a lot of wiggle room if the weather turns uncharacteristically nasty. We already had a snow/ice event that’s resulted in two straight weeks of school on Saturday, and then, forced to the wall, they picked Good Friday instead of MLK Day for a make up day. You can imagine how well that went over here n the Bible Belt. Let me tell you when the racists and Fundies get together, it’s a Perfect Storm of poutrage and bitter denunciations of “political correctness”.

  42. Living in San Antonio after 38 years of winters in Minnesota. I have to ask my self why I didn’t move here sooner. It was 72 here today.
    I feel for ya in regards to your daughter missing school. Mine are just coming of age to attend school. I have thought would I let them have there free day or will I try (let me stress try) and dust off their books and have a lesson at home that day.

  43. As we rarely get snow in this part of Canada (though I did scrape some ice of the windscreen this morning) I am hardly qualified to comment. Snark insists that I should say that a place that gets snow in copious amounts around the same time every year should be prepared to cope with it but I also know how hard that can be. Reminds me of my youth and things like the railways having to cope with leaves on the line in the autumn and of the all-time favourites like “the wrong kind of snow” every January…

  44. I’m a retired teacher just north of Toronto, Ontario. We usually have had a few snow days a year up here, but for the past two years there have not been any (so far). It’s strange, because all around us, east, west, north and south, the weather seems to be pouring it on. Just a hundred miles north, schools have been closed for extensive periods (which, here, usually means that about 50 inches of snow fell). Like you, I’m just waiting for mother nature to strike this little island of sanity, making up for what we’ve had so far.

  45. Here in Covina, we’ll probably get a high temperature close to 90 (F), though the nights are so bitterly cold that a jacket is called for. And just a few weeks ago we got enough frost to blacken some of the tips of the Bougainvilla & tomato plants (for the second time in the past 15 years). Mind you, I spent the first ten years of my life in Ohio (near Toledo), back in the ’30s, and quite enjoyed the Winter, though I don’t recall getting “snow days” off from school.

  46. I grew up in Southern Nevada and never had a snow day until senior high. The kind of snow day that meant there was about an inch of snow – maybe. But being the desert and such, we Las Vegans had no idea what to with it. So they canceled school. Then came the discussions on how to make up the time because there were no provisions. Finally the wise school board came upon the brilliant notion of starting school an hour earlier and then adding ten minutes onto each class for two weeks to make up for the two days without school. It was ridiculous. The reasoning was that adding two days to the end of the year would be a waste since nothing gets done on the last two days of school. But those ten minutes? Those were just jam packed with learning.

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