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A 1973 spring snowstorm forced the Brewers to delay the home opener.
A 1973 spring snowstorm forced the Brewers to delay the home opener.

Surprise, it's still winter

You thought it was over, didn't you?

Winter, I mean.

Last week's mild temperatures and major snow-melt put many in a spring state of mind. If you were one of those people, I'm sorry to report that it's still winter.

Heck, even when winter is over, it usually isn't over. While the calendar shows that winter ends and spring begins the third week of March, we all know that snow and cold can easily linger into April.

Milwaukee averages a total of 10 inches of snow in March and April. That's a depressing thought for those who already have visions of green grass and budding flowers in their minds.

You may remember that in 2008, we were clobbered by snow during March. Between 10 and 20 inches fell across Southeast Wisconsin. In contrast, last March was uneventful with only an inch or so.

The most memorable late-season snowfall may be the 3.2 inches that fell on Milwaukee on May 10, 1990.

You (or your parents) may remember the April 9, 1973 snowstorm. A heavy, wet 11.9 inches nearly paralyzed the city. The storm also produced thunder, lightning and wind gusts over 50 miles per hour. It also delayed the Brewers season opener for four days.

On the plus side, when it does snow in March or April, it doesn't stick around very long. That's because the average temperature warms quickly during those months. We go from an average high in the mid to upper-30s at the start of March to the upper 40s by the end of the month. The warming continues in April with the average high increasing to 60 by the end of the month.

While there's no telling whether snow in April or May is in the cards for 2011, it does appear that it will feel very much like winter for at least the next two weeks. Temperatures are expected to average below normal through at least the first week of March. Readings like that mean that if anything falls from the sky, it's a good bet it will be snow.

Even the rules of grammar change over time.
Even the rules of grammar change over time.

What comes after your period?

I first learned about periods in elementary school.

When I got a little older, I learned what comes after periods.

At some point between then and now, somebody changed what comes after periods.

And no one told me about it.

At some point between Mrs. Berg's typing class at Pewaukee High School in 1981 and today, somebody changed the rule about how many times you hit the space bar after typing a period.

Mrs. Berg taught us to double-space after a period. So, for the last 30 years, I have been following that rule.

An online column I read last week indicated you are supposed to single-space.


When did this happen?

I was shocked not only about the fact that the double-space rule had been overturned, but even more so about the fact that I had never heard about it.

How did I miss this?

Was I sick the day this was announced?

Was I gone on vacation?

I have worked in communications my entire career. Granted, much of that was in the verbal communication arena. Still, I have done plenty of writing. I've worked side-by-side with people who write for a living. How did this never come up even once in conversation?

I had to find out when and how this happened, so I did some research. I discovered that every typographer, the people who study and design the typewritten word, agrees on the single-space rule.

I learned that the whole double-space thing got going with manual typewriters. They used monospaced type, which means each character occupied an equal amount of horizontal space. Monospaced type, or fonts, left quite a bit of space between certain characters, so in many cases it was difficult for the eye to quickly identify where one sentence ended and the next began. The double-space rule was born to make this easier.

Monospaced fonts were then eliminated with the invention of the electric typewriter, and later, the computer. Since then, we have had proportional fonts. That is, letters that take up only the space they need. Because of this, double-spacing a…