Do the Darwin Awards have an entry form?

People walking across the Charles River

Greg Hum looked out his window this afternoon to see two people walking across the Charles.



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    You can't see their wetsuits?

    Or have you seen a weather report? Or read the constitution?

    The water is frozen and safe, the people are obviously taking the right precautions, and this is America, they have the right to walk out there!!

    Our Exceptionalism..

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    ..even carries over to the exceptional burning stupid.

    No one does stupid like we do.

    Let's see... River ice is known to be exceptionally treacherous.

    And in the exceptionally frigid water, a humanzee would last about what 20 minutes at best.

    And to properly manage all the exceptions, a dry suit is wanted as those who dive in cold water for a job, such as emergency responders, readily know.

    20 minutes is pushing it.

    Maybe you'd live 20 minutes, but after about 5 you wouldn't have much useful strength. No amount of willpower or baddassery can overcome the fact that, below a certain temperature, the chemical reactions that normally make your muscles do what you ask them to do, pretty much just don't happen.

    >> River ice is known to be

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    >> River ice is known to be exceptionally treacherous.

    Not sure what science you're pulling that from.
    Besides, the Charles is not tidal. It's barely salt. It's a dammed estuary.

    The river keeps flowing and

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    The river keeps flowing and it's not that deep.

    Granted there's probably enough thickness to hold a person, but any weird currents could've resulted in cracks in the ice that wouldn't hold a person. Basically - it's just hard to know whether it's safe or not.


    Four minutes. You break through river ice, you go downstream. Unless there's a clear zone, you drown looking up at the ice. You can't bust through it, even if it's an inch.

    Your point?

    Oh, sorry. Your point is that they didn't have your permission or hire a detail, right?

    You do realize there were other pictures of that previous group if you clicked the links. There was also a late comment about it being the MIT NROTC winter sailing drill.

    But please, don't let facts in evidence cloud your personal assumptions of being in charge like Al Haig.

    Not sure I'm allowed to respond.

    Am I even allowed to comment Swirly? I see you threw in the "you only care a detail" issue again. That is your way of telling me that I'm not worthy of an opinion since I only care about money, and I'm not smart enough to comment on anything else. I get it. Your better, smarter, and more worthy than me. (and I saw the other pictures, you still could not see those two people and what they were wearing,)

    And I've never been in charge here. You clearly show everyone who is in charge.

    Oh by the way, the president doesn't land at Logan because they are worried about traffic. Maybe you should check with the Secret Service instead of Rand McNally next time.

    The point

    The point is that is these bozos fall through the ice, your tax dollars would have to be spent rescuing people because they chose to do something stupid. And should they not survive such a plunge, the state will be sued, and your tax dollars will have to pay to defend that, and then pay some kind of settlement because the frivolous lawsuit would never be thrown out.

    Geez Pete

    The folks in the other picture to which you were referring had a group of at least 10 people, at least 3 boats, and were about 20 yards from the dock. The people in this picture are in a group of two and are very far from the nearest source of help.

    But, other than that, carry on.

    I'll say it

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    Have people seen the number of consecutive hours the temperature has been below freezing in recent weeks?

    I'm not saying that I'd do it. I've done that walk in the past. Walking on rivers isn't the safest thing, with weather like this, it's not the least safe thing out there.


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    The * there is very important.

    River Ice and intertidal sea ice is a very different beast.


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    The very slight exchange of cold seawater takes place at the bottom of the river where denser salt water may creep in past the dam and locks. But, yes, one can check ice and I've crossed the river many times, only after checking and after a prolonged freeze and at spots where it freezes first.

    The DCR has ice-fishing locations zones in Waltham, BTW. Do they want fish-catchers to die?

    By the way, don't drive. It's dangerous.

    The personal injury lawyers have won...

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    They've convinced us that we should live our lives in a cocoon of safety and question anyone who dares to do something that could be risky. We should protect those people from themselves by fining and/or arresting them.

    Give me a break. It's been frigid lately, there's no snow cover to insulate the ice, it's the widest part of the river, and they can probably see with their own eyes that the ice is plenty thick. Kudos to them for doing something adventurous while the office workers gasp in horror.

    Edge conditions

    The middle of the river is probably fine, given that the average temperature over the last three months is below freezing (29F average since December 6, according to weather underground).

    The problem is the edge of the river on the Cambridge side ... there are ladders, but the river isn't always frozen at that wall or shore due to runoff from Memorial Drive (unless they stopped routing that runoff into the river).

    But, yeah, it would suck to one of those people whose first reaction to anything different or novel be fear.

    It's also just...

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    sun induced melting.

    When I ride over the Longfellow on the dread line this season I can see how the effect of sun on those darker wall stones is making a thaw zone gradually expand.

    It is the first bit of river to get morning sun. The power plant may be water cooled with some thermal exchange going on in that vicinity.

    MIT has some water cooled physical plant stuff that draws 'coolant' from the river.

    And ice is rarely uniformly thick over a body of water. Strange expansion cracks form at times to make it even more interesting.

    But we mustn't mess with Glibertarian bellowing about nanny state anxiety encroachments on urban adventurousness as it spoils a key meme point.

    Also, too, common sense.

    That aside, the spectacle of a scrambled water rescue crew fishing dumbos out of the drink will put some oomph in what might otherwise be a slow news day.

    This isn't Longfellow Land

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    It's barely MIT Land. This is BU Land, over by the Hyatt.

    I'm not calling these people geniuses, but they are not quite Darwin worthy, either. First, they are using the buddy system. Second, it is a more narrow part of the Charles. Third, it is a populated place. Fourth, and most importantly, it has been below the freezing point for water for over a week, along with weeks of subfreezing temps briefly broken all winter long. I'm not encouraging the practice, and a week from now I might call it idiotic, but they are not taking the risks some people think.

    Now, I did do this once. A few years back, from the Esplanade, and by myself. It was during a wicked cold January, and when I started to hear cracking, I calmly retreated. I also skated Walden Pond that season (early February), which could be a lot more dangerous due to the depth of the pond, but the rule is that when there are ice fishermen, you are safe.

    Unfortunately, I don't see there being ice fishermen on that stretch of the Charles for the foreseeable future.

    Wait for it...

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    I for one am looking forward to your squawks of alarm at the cost of dispatching EMS and a rescue team to drag these idiots out of the semifrozen water when they walk too close to the thin patch of ice on the Cambridge side. God bless the conservative ethos.

    It's probably pretty okay

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    This part of the river is basically a lake, so the ice should be pretty solid. It's been forming now for a couple of cold weeks, without much insulating snow on top. If I had an auger and a safety device (inner tube, perhaps?) I'd venture out and take a core. I'd bet there's at least 4" of ice out there, and maybe more like 6 or 7. Wouldn't head east of the Harvard Bridge, though. And it's probably better out between Allston and Cambridgeport.