January 2018


Snowflake Warning
Issued: 8:55 PM CST Jan. 17, 2018 – National Weather Service

Snowflake warning remains in effect until noon CST Thursday.

* A single snowflake drifting lazily to the ground has been observed and confirmed.

* Prolonged exposure to the snowflake could lead to hypothermia and may harm pets and livestock. Exposed plumbing is in danger of being damaged.

* A patch of ice where the snowflake melts and solidifies is a very strong possibility.

Precautionary/preparedness actions:

* A snowflake warning means a prolonged period of snowflake-friendly temperatures is ongoing. These conditions will be dangerous to people and pets without adequate shelter and could damage exposed pipes.

* Inhabitants are urged to remain indoors and away from exposed windows and exterior walls.

* Do not travel unless absolutely necessary.

* School cancellations are likely and recommend.

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His hands were almost dead with cold. Oh, how much one little Fifty Shades of Grey removal might warm him!

If he could only take one from the shelf, ridding it from existence forever.

Besides, it was cold in the library, and the pages could be used to stuff even the biggest cracks

And then, an idea. Inspiration!

A jaunty stroll through the cold was warming in and of itself, but upon beholding the dumpster behind the Salvation Army, laden with One Hundred Thousand Shades of Grey

A most agreeable bonfire.

He felt the blazing dumpster might be a metaphor for something, but the thought passed with his last shiver of cold.

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To Whom It May Concern:

I promise this isn’t a suicide note. Or, at the very least, it was only academic suicide rather than the goopy kind. I am emailing to appeal my academic dismissal from Southern Michigan University. I was surprised, but not very upset to receive an email last month informing me of my dismissal. I would have responded earlier, but I wasn’t really paying attention over the break, but now I am and I would like to urge you to reinstate me for next semester.

I admit I had a very difficult time last semester, and my grades cratered as a result. I don’t mean to make excuses for my poor academic performance, but I would like to make some excuses for my poor academic performance. I knew that registering for 25 credit hours in the spring would require a lot of me, but I needed to earn the hours so that I was on track to graduate on time. Never mind that I have theoretically infinite time; I still think of college like second high school lasting four years even though that’s more the exception now than the rule. I also didn’t realize that I’d only gotten 36 of my 136 attempted credits, and that you have to be on probation for three semesters before dismissal. Oops.

Still I thought I could handle my workload, meaning both school and my actual day job at the dog spa, except that my grandmother became very ill in February. While she was home sick and unable to grandmother, I had to drive home every weekend and some weeknights to help out with household duties and to care for her. The ladies in the nursing home were kind of bitchy about this. Needless to say, the seven-hour-long drive each way cut into my study time, as did the chores I had to do.

Even when I was at school, I was very distracted with the situation and was unable to focus on my schoolwork. You might tell me that I should have talked with my professors, or even withdrawn from my classes. But I thought it would be a far more cunning strategy to avoid the professors altogether, and to double down by enrolling in an additional 1-credit course just before the drop-add deadline. I was sure that by zigging wen they expected me to zag, I could make it work.

I love Southern Michigan University, and it would mean so much to me to graduate with a degree from this school. It certainly wasn’t my fifth choice, and my application definitely wasn’t a form letter with University of Michigan taken out in a find-and-replace. Ever since I visited campus and saw all the ugly postwar Brutalist buildings, I knew that being a Grizzly was for me. Also, graduating would make me the first person in my family to complete a college degree. At least if you don’t count Uncle Stu, who graduated from University of Phoenix. I don’t count him.

If I am reinstated, I will focus much better on my schoolwork. I’ll take fewer hours, just one hour if I have to, and manage my time more wisely. For instance, I’ve spent a solid fifteen minutes on this this letter and you can’t even see the seams where I modified the sample I found online! Fortunately, my grandmother did not recover and is now a vegetable, so I should not need to travel nearly as often. Also, I have met with my advisor. Just once, and it was more of a brief encounter in the parking lot, but I will follow their advice about communicating better with my professors from now on. Once I ask for it, of course, since the advising offices are currently closed for winter break.

Please understand that my low GPA that led to my dismissal does not indicate that I am a bad student, even though it is essentially the only measure of academic performance available to you or anyone. Really, I’m a good student who had one very, very bad semester. And then another one. And also a third. I hope you will give me a second chance, which in light of my three bad semesters is really more of a fourth chance. Thank you for considering this appeal, and go Grizzlies!

Sincerely,
Unter Gräd

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St Hiddle-on-Botham Town Hall
Named after a local saint that was declared fictitious and removed from the Catholic saints registry in 1289, St Hiddle-on-Botham (not to be confused with the St Hiddle in Strothshire) nevertheless benefited from a stream of pilgrims to the site where St Hiddle reportedly beheld the divine llama. Its town hall was built near that spot, replacing an earlier structure that dated to 1534. The current building handles all government affairs and still admits a few diehard pilgrims each year.

Bhampton School
The most prestigious academy in St Hiddle-on-Botham, Bhampton maintains a strict British boarding school atmosphere despite being a local public institution. It has produced one-half of a Rhodes scholar (don’t ask) and a champion field Quiddich team. It has also stubbornly resisted attempts to change its motto from “Parcere Praedae Virga Puer.”

Heaton-on-Westom Weather Field Station
The moor of Heaton-on-Westom may owe its grand name to a long-destroyed manor on a long-silted creek, but its reputation for science stands undiminished. Researchers from the University of Camford and the University of Oxbridge routinely conduct experiments here, though many locals insist that they do not so much predict the weather as cause it.

The Meadery on Twettle Row
A place for strong liquor and stronger personalities, the Meadery serves drinks to numb the tongue and strip paint. Its food may be legendarily inedible, but no one has yet drunk the owner under the table with their own supply of backroom hooch.

Elle’s Chorels
The drinks as Elle’s may be as watered down as Botham Pond, but her food is a local staple. Hearty meat pies, aspics, and sponge cakes are her specialty, even if they are washed down with the weakest beer this side of Milwaukee.

Newtons St Pethen Library
Newtons St. Pethen was a local eccentric and bibliophile who left his large collection of esoteric tomes to the city upon his expiry. They reside here alongside s few newer volumes, and are a favorite of researchers into the normal, paranormal, and supernormal.

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Like many who settled on Hylewood, the Bashalde Hungarian-Slovak Romani were fleeing persecution on the mainland. They arrived in a small group, and have settled permanently though they do still enjoy taking their still-functional wagons along the island roads from time to time in honor of their itinerant ancestors. They make most of their income from tourists, selling handmade crafts and CDs of their unique music, but are also frequent performers in island festivals and at the Screaming Banshee.

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The Pixie Patch
The Lofgrens fled to Hylewood to escape anti-fairy persecution on the mainland and established themselves in this charming eclectic antique. The bricks are fired from locally sources enchanted clay, while the timbers were imported from the enchanted isle of Evermeet. Legend has it that the large turret doubles as an escape rocket should the anti-fairy hysteria ever return.

Olive Acres
Family patriarch Augusto Alivardo built this Victorian home with his own two hands, and some additional hands borrowed from hired laborers. Designed as the potioneer’s perfect perch, it is reinforced against explosions and features an elaborate hidden laboratory amidst the family graves, albeit shielded to protect against accidental resurrection.

Blue Barn
Lydia Wolfowicz makes this charming Cape Cod house her home away from the Screaming Banshee inn. It is curiously reinforced from the inside, with numerous safeguards and reinforced woods designed to keep…something…inside. It was originally known locally as the Red Barn before its relatively recent repainting.

Fisherman’s Paradise
This Victorian cottage was built during Hylewood’s boom times but had fallen into disrepair when it was purchased by local fisherman Andersen for his new “foreign” bride. Reflecting the couples’ tastes, the pink exterior and nautically minimalist interior combine to form a unique and attractive package. Just don’t ask about the subterranean tunnel to the sea rumored to exist beneath it…

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“I’d say a flightless rail, probably endemic. Very interesting plumage! I wonder how it might have evolved to better suit the Southern Rata forests here on the island.” Rahman was examining the footage with evident pleasure.

“With no predators able to scale the bluffs, I’m not surprised,” Gupta said. “Maybe you can name it after your wife since the ICUN rejected the last one.”

“Hey,” Brooks said. “Ramirez and his team. Has anyone seen them since they left?”

Negatives all around. Rahman looked at his watch. “That was almost six hours ago. Surely they’ve found what they’re looking for by now.”

“I didn’t hear any gunshots,” Gupta said quietly. “If they’d run into any trouble-”

“It’s not our job to worry about that,” Rahman said. “We’re the cover story, nothing more. Let them worry about that signal.”

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