We can handle 40-below wind chills, and 75 inches of snow, and potholes the size of Dodge Neons. It's all part of the secret-handshake agreement one makes when one opts to live in this frozen metropolitan paradise. Ain't nothin' you can do about Mother Nature, after all. But you'd think some benevolent municipal soul (or is that an oxymoron?) would come up with a less painful system for plowing around parked cars. As it stands, your chances of finding a parking spot during a snow emergency are about as good as locating a tulip in full bloom sprouting from the cracks of your ice-covered sidewalk. In Minneapolis the parking nightmare is compounded by rules so Byzantine that you need a calculator, a protractor, and a working knowledge of quantum physics to determine that from 8:00 p.m. until 8:00 a.m. on the third Wednesday in February it is permissible to park on the odd side of one-way streets starting with the letter L. (In St. Paul it's possible to surmise where it would be legal to park if there were any open spots.) That I-94 commute's looking better all the time.


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