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  • Snowed In: Living the 2015 Boston Winter

    Through late January 2015, Boston’s winter was abnormally warm. December was the warmest on record, with temperatures nearly 4 degrees above normal. The city’s snowfall total was 60 percent less than normal.

    Boston WinterThat changed January 24. In less than four weeks, five storms dumped almost 8 feet of snow, obliterating records. Two of the storms were among the ten largest recorded. The eventual season total was 110.6 inches of snow, a record and almost 44 inches above average. The arctic weather brought arctic chill. The temperature didn’t hit 40 degrees from January 20 through March 3, another record.

    Andrew Thimmig and his wife, Julie, lived through that winter. They lived in Somerville, Mass., two miles northwest of Boston, in a three-story home converted into apartments.

    Here’s what they experienced, as Andrew described it. The interview was edited for brevity and clarity.


    Q: How did you prepare for winter?

    We didn’t do any extra preparation. We got snow boots – we didn’t have them – and heavier jackets. We bought salt, because when we were living in Rexburg [Idaho], salt was necessary. Our upstairs neighbor had a few snow shovels that they let us use, so we didn’t have to buy shovels. We had to get new tires after the first snow hit. Our apartment was on a hill, and our car tended to slide. We didn’t have a disaster preparation plan. I thought about it but never did anything about it.


    Q: What was the first storm like?

    I’d never had a work snow day before, so that was interesting. Our upstairs neighbor was outside shoveling, so we went out to shovel. We shoveled the car then had to shovel our way back to the door. It was just very, very time consuming and exhausting.

    Boston Winter

    We would go out there and shovel the car and make sure the stairs leading to the apartment were clear. It was a process. After the first few snowfalls, we had to repeat the process and there wasn’t room to put the snow. We eventually had to throw it in the street because the street got plowed.

    It was lots of shoveling, then ice removal after a time. The ice got pretty bad. Most of the ice was very thick because it was hiding under the snow all the time, so it would be an inch or so thick. I’d go out and hammer it with a metal shovel our neighbor had, chop it up and put it on the snow piles.


    Q: What else was difficult?

    We lived about a 15 minute walk to one of the metro stations, then a 20 minute ride to where I worked.

    Boston Winter[After the snowstorms], the sidewalks weren’t plowed for a long time. The neighbors didn’t shovel and there was ice all over, so I didn’t walk on the sidewalk. I had to walk along the side of the road while trucks and larger vehicles would go by. It was a little bit of a fun game.

    The orange [metro] line, which I used, was fairly reliable, but there were huge delays. I had to keep on top of the alerts. I tried to leave early in the morning around 6 or 6:30, and some days were awful. Every now and then I had to sprint or give up and wait for the next [train] to come. Some days it was awful. I had to skip a train because I couldn’t find an open car.

    [In Somerville], they kept most of the roads open, but it probably took twice as long to get anywhere.

    There was a fairly large intersection right outside our neighborhood that had lots of accidents and power outages. In our neighborhood there was no major damage. Our neighbor’s rain gutter broke off the roof when it got too much snow in it. That was very alarming, to wake up about two in the morning to a loud crash outside our window. One tree got knocked over on our street. Somebody’s truck got hit by a pretty large branch as well. There were power outages just across and down the street from us.


    Q: What did you do?

    Boston Winter

    They’d never previously declared snow days in my office, but for maybe 10 days the office was closed. Those who could, worked from home on projects. The network went down sometimes, which was a common occurrence.

    I got to spend more time at home with my wife, which was probably the best part. If I could, I’d work. If the network was down, my wife and I would watch TV – as long as we had internet. I’d go out periodically and shovel. On the days I did have to work, my wife would shovel, because at the time she was between jobs.


    Q: What did you learn?

    It’s better to be prepared for when stuff like this comes along. It’s always good to have some kind of situational preparation kit. Make sure you have a few good snow shovels, because one of them will probably break. Make sure you just stay on top of things, because it’s a lot easier to shovel a little bit of snow than a lot of snow.


    Did you experience the record-breaking Boston winter or other cold, blizzardy winter weather? What was it like for you?


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  • 4 Black Friday Myths

    Black Friday is just a few days away (hurray!), and since we just did a post about some Black Friday Facts, I think it’s time to debunk some myths. Ready? Let’s go!


    1. Doorbusters Are Only for Brick-and-Mortar Stores

    False. You don’t have to go to one of our Utah stores in order to get the amazing doorbuster deals (although that’s certainly an option). Our website has all the deals you’ll find in our stores, so if you don’t want to leave your house the day after eating all that mouth-watering turkey (or if you live in, say, not Utah), then head on over to beprepared.com to get your mitts on some absolutely amazing deals!


    1. You Absolutely Need That $300 HD LED 3D TV!

    A lot of times, shoppers get worked up over some pretty good electronic sales. As enjoyable as a big screen can be, they won’t be much use in an emergency. You’re much better off with a bunch of freeze-dried food, emergency water products, or alternative power sources. Actually, if you have another way of powering your electronics in the case of a blackout or other emergency, then that $300 TV might be useful after all. But make sure you have that generator first.


    1. It’s Called Black Friday Because That’s the First Day Businesses Go Above the Red

    1960s-traffic-jam - Black Friday MythsMany people believe that the name Black Friday references the point where businesses start turning out a profit (they go out of the red and into the black). But that’s no exactly true. Turns out, back in the 1960s, the term Black Friday referred to heavy traffic in Philadelphia. So if you do head out this Black Friday in your vehicle, you can drive with a smile, knowing you’re contributing to the day’s namesake.


    1. Emergency Essentials Is Going to Release Their Doorbusters Early!

    That’s not exactly true. However, we will be giving out some more information on Thursday afternoon as to when our Black Friday deals are going live, so be sure to check our Facebook page for that announcement!


    And there you go! Some fun Black Friday myths to impress your friends over Thanksgiving dinner! We hope to see you back on Friday when we’ll help you save big on a wide variety of products!


    What other Black Friday myths have you heard?


    BlkFri_SocialMed_Ad-3 - Black Friday Myths

  • 5 Black Friday Facts

    The day after Thanksgiving is renowned for its midnight shopping sprees, crazy low prices, long lines, and possibly violent crowds. But there’s a lot more to it than that. Many people believe Black Friday came about because that’s the first day (or close to) that retail sales go out of the red and into the black. However, the BBC report that there is no evidence of that. So what can you even believe? Well, here are five fun Black Friday facts to help sate your curiosity.


    1. Holiday Shoppers Determined Thanksgiving’s Date (Sort Of)

    While not necessarily about Black Friday itself, it does play a large role in the day in which we celebrate Thanksgiving. According to the BBC report, Thanksgiving was always on the last Thursday of November. Sometimes, this became the very last day of the month. In a tizzy, retailers petitioned President Roosevelt to move the date a week earlier so as not keep holiday shoppers back from their stores any longer. To this day, the holiday shopping officially begins the day after Thanksgiving, and for that, you can thank Franklin D. Roosevelt.


    1. Black Friday is a World-Wide Event

    The United States is no longer the solitary observer of this shopping holiday. Now, many countries throughout the world participate in the retail revelry. This is becoming easier and easier, since many companies are online. Countries that participate in Black Friday include Canada, the United Kingdom, Romania, Norway, South Africa, Panama, and many others.


    1. The Day’s Name Is Based On Heavy Traffic

    1960s-traffic-jam - Black Friday FactsIt’s true. At least In Philadelphia, the day after Thanksgiving saw heavy vehicle and pedestrian traffic. The term started in the early 1960s, and expanded out from Philly from then on. Other explanations also came about, but the blackness of the post-Thanksgiving shopping rush is too enjoyable a thought to dismiss, especially since that rush has only grown immensely over the years.


    1. It’s a Weeks-Long Camping Trip

    The record for longest campout in front of stores awaiting Black Friday deals is 22 days. This year, a man has already been camping out since October. If he succeeds in his camp, he’ll be living in a tent, in front of a store, for 33 days. But he’s also doing it to raise awareness for homelessness and is collecting toys and other things for needy local children, so at least he’s doing some good in the process. Other campers, like the ones who slept outside for 22 days, do it to be first in line. No matter what your goal, however, camping is camping, and you’ll most certainly want to have some good ol’ camping gear along for the ride (HydroHeat, anybody?).


    1. Grey Thursday
    Black Friday Store Times - Huffington Post - Black Friday Facts via Huffington Post

    It’s a thing. In recent years, big-name stores would open bright and early on Friday morning around 6:00 a.m. (or, if you’re crazy like Kohl’s, 4 a.m.). As the years went on, the time to open the doors for Black Friday got earlier and earlier until stores were opening at midnight, the earliest possible time while still being in Friday. But, pretty soon, that wasn’t early enough, and Black Friday faded to Grey Thursday, and shops were open late at night on Thanksgiving, then in the evening, and now…right after turkey.

    More and more stores are opening their doors to Black Friday deals on Thursday. Now, once the turkey’s been scarfed down, it’s out the door to wherever it is you're going that’s opening early. According to some, this makes the actual shopping experience less crazy. Hey, it’s something, right?



    Now while you wait for Black Friday to roll around, you can “wow” your friends with these nifty tidbits of information. You’re welcome.



    What other fun Black Friday facts do you have?



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