#142 Snow & Ice
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Snow & ice & unbelievably freezing cold weather
Living in Southern California, I cannot comprehend how cold it is in the midwest & northeast this winter. Schools are closed, postal delivery is halted, & sadly there have been several deaths related to the freezing weather & slippery roads.
Neither rain nor sleet…
I was given a great idea from a friend, to do this piece about the unbearably cold weather & name it after the “mailman’s motto”—
Neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet, nor hail shall keep the postmen from their appointed rounds.
That sounded like a great idea until I realized it’s all “nors,” not “ands” — no place for an ampersand! But the idea for the topic stuck, & I learned some interesting facts about that “motto” to relay here:
First, it’s not an official motto of the US Postal Service. There is, in fact, no motto for the agency.
What’s more surprising is that the original saying, “Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night stays these courageous couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds,” was said about 2500 years ago by the Greek historian, Herodotus. He said this adage during the war between the Greeks & Persians about 500 B.C. in reference to the Persian mounted postal couriers whom he observed & held in high esteem.¹
The reason it has become identified with the USPS is because back in 1896 – 97 when the New York City General Post Office was being designed, Mitchell Kendal, an employee for the architectural firm, McKim, Mead & White, came up with the idea of engraving Herodotus’ saying all around the outside of the building.¹
This unbearable & unsafe weather has even defeated the unofficial “mailman motto.” Postal service has been halted in the coldest regions. I don’t blame those mail delivery workers one bit. Mailmen & mailwomen are many people’s favorite service providers. Sometimes they’re the only human contact people have in a day. I’ve seen videos where cats wait for the mailman, either to rub an affectionate hello, or jump to the mail slot in the door to destroy the incoming “toys.” For all their dedicated service, including the friendly hellos, mail deliverers deserve to not go out & endanger themselves. I read that frostbite can occur within minutes with the current temperatures.
Baby, it’s cold outside
When I heard how ridiculous the flack was last Christmas season about the lyrics in the classic song “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” I was dumbfounded by how stupidly the PC Police have censored just about everything, just because some people are too frigidly sensitive or just plain foolish. It’s embarrassing. We’re talking about a classic song here, written in 1944 with a fun lyrical exchange, & winning an Oscar in 1949.
Seems that in this MeToo movement, every hint of a relationship between a man & a woman should be regarded as date rape. This is just too much. Get real. Especially when it is so cold outside. Baby.
Here’s a good article on the topic, by Inc. Magazine.
Snow & ice — what’s the difference?
Here are some meteorology facts about the subject of this AmperArt piece, Snow & Ice:
Is snow a form of ice?
Snow is precipitation in the form of ice crystals. It originates in clouds when temperatures are below the freezing point (0 degrees Celsius, or 32 degrees Fahrenheit), when water vapor in the atmosphere condenses directly into icewithout going through the liquid stage.
—National Snow & Ice Data Center
Why does frozen water appear as snow in some cases & ice in others?
Water comes in a variety of forms, or phases. Depending on temperature, the three commonly found are gas (water vapor), liquid (liquid water), & solid (ice). Snow & ice are made of the same material but snow is composed of crystals with regular shapes, while ice forms as sheets or solid chunks.
What is the temperature for it to snow?
The falling snow passes through the freezing level into the warmer air, where it melts & changes to rain before reaching the ground. When the air temperature at the ground is less than 32 F, the precipitation begins falling as snow from the clouds.
—University of Illinois article with illustrations
Why does snow sometimes sparkle?
Sometimes on a sunny day, freshly fallen snow may appear to sparkle or glitter. This happens because when light hits an object light, it can be absorbed, in which case the object is heated; transmitted, in which case light passes through the object; or reflected, in which case it bounces back.
—The Why Files
The artistic concept for this piece was obvious, but I did want it to be rather somber for those who are dealing with the cold & dangerous weather. One problem I had to solve was whether the common phrase should be “snow & ice” or “ice & snow.” I prefer the design of “ice & snow” but sounding it out, realized most people would probably say “snow & ice” because it rolls off the tongue easier (as long as their tongue is not stuck to a lamp post). Also, I think you have to have snow before you have ice, right? Or is it rain? I don’t know — I consider anything beyond a drizzle a full-fledged storm.
Maybe I’ll switch the words later & re-issue the piece. What do you think?
I was pleased with how the ice blocks stacked to form the ampersand. The typestyle for the words “snow” & “ice” — called Pelican (seems it should be called Penguin for this piece) — offered the perfect ice shard effect.
Hang onto this issue! Print & frame & intensely stare at it this summer, when we’ll have record-breaking temperatures on the other end of the scale. I could use some of those right now. Anything under 70 degrees is too cold for this So Cal beach bum.
I sincerely hope you, my ampersand friends, stay warm & safe this winter.
Production notes for #142 Snow & Ice:
Original size: 20x30 inches
Program: Adobe Photoshop
Ampersand: Chaz DeSimone, manipulated stock images
Stock images: depositphotos.com
¹The Phrase Finder, UK
Mailman illustration: atticpaper.com 1956 John Hancock Insurance ad
Other editorial credits as noted in article.
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