When did 'cold snap' become 'polar vortex'?
Did I miss another meeting?
And what the heck is a 'frost quake'?
Is that like a 'frost heave'?
Whatever, this has been among the worst winters in living memory.
And among other things, it has made a mess of our roads.
Road crews have already patched more than 4,000 potholes this year, compared to about 1,500 at this time last year.
There are stretches of the 401 where metre-long chunks of pavement have just disappeared.
And I'm not even talking about the sinkhole (pictured) that opened up on Bayview south of Finch last weekend. That was the result of a broken water main which caused the supporting soil to be washed away.
It isn't just Toronto, of course. Chicago had a massive weather-related sinkhole last year that swallowed up three cars.
And eight valuable vintage Corvettes were devoured when the floor of the Corvette Museum in Bowling Green Kentucky caved in. That apparently was caused by a previously unknown cavern beneath the building - natural caverns are common in that area.
The 'normal' potholes we are experiencing are caused by moisture seeping into cracks in the pavement. When the water freezes, it expands, breaking up the pavement.
So it's really the freeze/thaw/freeze cycle that does the damage.
Great - there would be an advantage if it just stayed ridiculously freezing cold all winter...
But I wonder - we've been paving roads in this part of the world for, oh, over a hundred years. Haven't paving companies figured out a way to stop this from happening?
The cars that drive on those roads are warranted for up to five years. Do our governments - do we citizens - who pay for this work get any such warranty for our roads? Do we not have some recourse?
You often see fairly recently re-surfaced roads where the pavement starts to break up after only a few years. Often, it's very localized, so surely there has been a flaw in the paving process?
Are paving contractors not duty-bound to fix them at no extra cost to the taxpayer?
The other major weather-related issue which initiates grave doubts about our transportation infrastructure is the ice storm over the holidays which literally broke our electrical grid. The massive blackouts lasted for up to eight days in some parts of our city.
I remember seeing a quote a while back from a senior official at Toronto Hydro, saying that if any significant proportion of our vehicles were electrics that needed to be re-charged overnight, our system couldn't handle it.
As if we needed further proof of the fragility of that system.
Have we built our entire system on the cheap?
And failed to look after it?
I am reminded of the old Fram oil filter commercial, where the mechanic says, 'You can pay me now, or you can pay me later.''
Maybe Rob Ford's Gravy Train has just fallen into a huge pothole.
E-mail me ([email protected]) a photo of your best pothole, and I'll see if I can find some car company swag to send you.