newyorksubalien has evolved. New city, new life, new blog

newyorksubalien has evolved. New city, new life, new blog.

Yes, I’m still socially-insecure and still deemed too primitive a life form for a bank account. I still can’t say ‘water’ correctly and voice-recognition software still doesn’t understand my number 8.

Meanwhile Superalien is still as super (at least in my eyes), Male Mini-Me is taller than all of us and Mini-Mum has returned to the home of the Mini, only popping back from London to sleep, be fed and help balance out testosterone levels.

But in my new home of Chicago, I can at least lay claim to my own subgroup. I’m now Chi-rish as in Chicago Irish. Apparently the hyphen is important so as not to be confused with Chinese Irish or the town in Armenia. But I’m trusting my readers not to be churlish and to forgive these, my (hyphen-less) Chirish chatters…..

Monday, February 10, 2014

Dibbing, dabbing and nabbing - a Chicago winter continued

You’d have thought there wouldn’t much use for beach chairs in the snowy wilderness that currently is Chirish-land but you’d be wrong.

Walk along any residential street and you’ll see vacant fold-up plastic pews in bright green and orange, just waiting for their owners to return. This is the Chicago winter tradition of “dibs” – reserving your street parking spot on the basis that that hour you spent shovelling it clear entitles you to leave for an unlimited number of hours without anyone else taking it.

It doesn’t have to be beach chairs - upturned wheelie bins, kids’ outdoor sit-on toys (because they won’t be using them for at least another 2 months), there’s even a photo somewhere of a statue of Jesus saving the day – or at least the spot.

Calling ‘dibs’ is not legal. Chicago streets are public property but authorities usually turn a blind eye to dibbing after heavy snowfalls when it can take some time for side streets to be cleared.  But woe betide the brave soul who ignores dibs etiquette and nabs the spot. Reported “punishments” for offenders range from burial by snow (the car that is, not the driver) to the more extreme slashing of car tyres.

This winter already is in the top ten snowiest since records began in the 1880s so I can understand the frustration of the dibbers and the nabbers. Getting a car dug out is no mean feat when you have to contend with the walls of snow cleared from the sidewalk on one side and the bank of snow pushed to one side by the snow plows on the other.

So far we’ve had just under 62 inches of the white stuff this winter  – that’s over 1.5 metres to us aliens. And with temperatures well below freezing (today is the 20th  below 0 degrees Fahrenheit, that’s minus 18 Celsius in alien-speak), all that deep, deep snow isn’t going anywhere just yet.

But signs spring is around the corner are emerging on the snow-plowed streets. For in Chicago, the gradual approach of spring is heralded by the gradual loss of car springs - and burst tyres and bashed wheel rims, all thanks to the arrival of the pothole.

It's a bit like a Whack-a-Mole game except that you're swapping critters for craters. Some 625,000 potholes were filled in last year but we're off to a flying start in 2014, with 100,000 dabbed in already thanks to hard-working crews who are out 7 days a week. You can even plot their progress like some video game thanks to the special pot hole tracker website launched by the city showing their latest 7-day "score". 

I tried to find the website and was distracted by which markets “only the ripest and freshest crumbling asphalt from around Chicagoland”. With Valentine’s Day coming up, I was sorely tempted by the bags of PotholePourri or the chance to name a pothole after my loved one thanks to the International Pothole Registry.

So long as he doesn't interpret it as meaning our marriage has hit a bump in the road!