Friday, December 11, 2015

Amid cries to "stop being lazy" and "do something already," Winter sleeps on.

MINNEAPOLIS, MN

With a gentle rain falling, Lavonda Smithson looked skyward and shook her head. She then pointed at patches of her lawn that had turned bright green. "I go outside and I can't tell if it's October or April. Then I realize it's mid-December and I'm like,well then where am I? The fact is, this is the kind of unreliable behavior we have come to expect this time of year. I'm tired of it."

Similar frustrations have been expressed throughout the Upper Midwest recently, amid growing concerns that Winter is not holding up its end of a longstanding agreement it has with the region. Trevor Davidson of Cloquet, MN, formed the "Four Months, Nothing Less Coalition," in an attempt to get Winter to uphold the minimum requirements of its agreement. "I know some people think it's great to have such a laid-back season, but we want it to make good on at least one of its promises. One. I mean, if you can't snow, be cold. Do something already, you owe us!"

Davidson's group is part of a larger movement that includes a wide spectrum of interests, from local grassroots activists, to deep-pocketed organizations supporting the controversial "3-3-3" bill, which would mandate three three-inch snowstorms per month for three consecutive months in every Minnesota county.

Although organizers have had little success negotiating with Winter, some feel that recent tactics have begun to work. According to Davidson, "We put emotional sanctions on the table, and that seemed to work: If you won't give us what you promised, then we're not going to talk about and complain about you, and you'll quickly find yourself in an unsustainable position, in which you are deprived of the feelings of importance you require to feed your enormous ego." 

Others, like industry observer Benjamin Rosenthal, are more cautious. "I appreciate what the FMNLC and others are doing, but you can hardly call it a success. Minneapolis is going to to get soaked this weekend. With rain. We are going to have record highs and thunderstorms in southwestern Wisconsin. Even next Tuesday's weather system, which is shaped exactly like a winter storm, may very well be 5 or 10 degrees too warm! We see a cool-down coming, but temperatures may remain warmer than normal the entire time, right on through Christmas, and possibly even the end of the month. So yes, I think it's premature to declare victory, and it's a bit shortsighted anyway."

Tensions between Winter and the Upper-Midwest escalated early last week, when leaked video posted to Youtube showed the season sleeping on a friend's couch during Thanksgiving weekend. In the video, an alarm is clearly audible, and rather than springing to action, Winter is seen shifting its weight, and then falling onto the floor. Media expert Ruby Krantz has described the video as "a horrifying and graphical display of seasonal lethargy not fit for the squeamish, decent-natured, or elderly."

Activists like Davidson say the video is proof that Winter is shirking its responsibilities. "You don't do that if you respect the agreements you have made, plain and simple."

Rosenthal, however, says it's not so plain and simple. "When Winter entered into those agreements, it had no idea that people were going to emit almost a trillion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. You can hardly blame it for underperforming in those conditions. I look at that video, and I don't see a lazy or irresponsible season, I see a season that is sick, and probably depressed from having lost its vitality. We might be asking a bit much of Winter at this point.

Meanwhile, the recent changes in Winter have caused neighboring and competing Fall to re-examine its strategy. A marketing executive who wished to remain anonymous because he was illegally sharing confidential information, said that Fall is planning for a range of scenarios, up to and including taking over the months of December and January. "There's a saying in business that you can either cry over your competitor's death bed, or you can exploit their vulnerable customers with almost no resistance. We prefer the latter of course, so we have launched an ambitious initiative to capture a greater share of the winter-spender's wallet."

Accordingly, the Fall website recently debuted several new ads, featuring forward-looking catchphrases like "Fall. It's what's for winter,"  and "Orange is the new white." According to the anonymous source, "sure, we loved winter too, but we also need to move forward and do what's best for our users. So, here's to a speedy and painless death, Winter."  

Lavonda Smithson, for one, isn't interested in Fall completely taking over the end of the calendar. "That sounds to me like five months of mud and gray skies. Are they putting that in their advertisements? I'd rather just hope for Winter and celebrate it when it does make it here, but maybe without expecting it or depending on it so much."


(PSST! If you happen to enjoy this sophomoric treatment of actual science, then you must join us on Jan 28th at Bryant Lake Bowl!)

(PSST v 2! I routinely send variations on this sort of nonsense as a newsletter. Sign up for it here!

15 comments:

  1. I can't make up my mind what I like more- "Fall. It's what's for winter," or "Orange is the new white."
    Both are genius.

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