Seawolf Slug: A meditation on ice

Seawolf Slug

Well, this is a slippery start to a new semester. At the time of writing, my host’s neighborhood has been absolutely frozen over. His morning runs are now impossible.

This is, of course, the first Slug piece of the semester, so I should get the obligatory introduction out of the way. I am Klax Zlubzecon, space-faring brain slug parasite who crash-landed on Earth and found itself a fine nerd of a host here at The Northern Light. The editors took the situation surprisingly well, and so I’ve been using my host to write columns here and spread the word of the greatest empire to grace the galaxy, the Slug Empire.

I’ll concede that even the greatest of empires can be brought down by incredibly simple means, though. While Alaska isn’t representative of the entire planet when it comes to environmental biology and meteorology, it does represent several areas in which our Empire has fallen flat in the past.

Case in point: icy conditions.

Typically, icy planets have little worth to the Empire. If a planet is cold enough to be frozen for its entire solar cycle, there’s probably not enough life to justify an invasion. Before you comment that rebels could seek refuge from our reach on an icy, barren wasteland, that’s not how it works in real life. Of all the icy planets in the galaxy — and there are a lot of them — most lifeforms would perish either from the cold, or from the lack of necessary elements to survive. Hoth is pretty much a balming paradise compared to 99.9% of cases throughout the galaxy.

Some Earth-like planets do have cold winter months, like Earth, and that usually makes invasions a bit of a hassle for the same reason that winter has plagued many other invasions in Earth’s history. While the temperature issue is solved with heated mech-suits, that doesn’t solve the whole “traction” issue.

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In all of our history, we’ve had only one lost battle due to weather: the Battle for Gelidus VI. This planet’s soil was inherently flat and cold, and constant rain-storms made for slippery conditions that were a real problem for all but the indigenous Hover People.

congratulations from UPD to UAA graduates

Hilariously, there are no Hover People here in Anchorage. The dominant species of Earth never evolved to tread on flat and slippery surfaces, which are especially abundant as I type this. These may be an unfortunate consequence of climate change trends. With temperatures fluctuating from 10 to 50 seemingly on a whim, the weather and surfaces combine to create conditions similar to the aforementioned Gelidus VI, and as we know, the people here do not hover.

My host, George, lives at the bottom of a hill, making trips to the University a frustrating — and hilarious, for me — endeavor. A typical human solution for walking on these surfaces is to wear treaded footwear, but occasionally, even that may be futile.

This can present a serious problem if the weather gets really bad. George sneers at his independently-driving brethren when the weather goes haywire – he rides the bus – but if campus gets closed mid-day and the bus services halts along with it, he gets stranded. It’s an odd position for him compared to most other students, who either live here on campus or commune here with their own vehicle. He should really learn not to throw the metaphorical stone.

I doubt these conditions will plague the campus for the first few weeks, since they’ve already plagued them over the break and it’s unlikely that the conditions will continue for long. It’s still useful to keep an open mind, though. Wear proper footwear, be it treads, hover boots, or something else. If you drive, drive safe; braking won’t be nearly as useful as it is during the other seasons, so use it with care. Shifting gears down is safer on the ice than braking. Seek paths around campus or town that aren’t so slick. Basically, utilize common sense, and slipping should be at a minimum. Think before you step or drive.

Above all, study well! You’re at a university. Focus on being safe, but focus on doing well academically as well. What’s the point of venturing into danger if you’re just going to get bad grades anyway? Get lots of sleep, get to classes early, blah blah blah. For a good student, all this should be standard procedure anyway.

The Empire could use good people, so keep them safe!