Snow Removal 2016 According to George and Jim

I just read Dr. George Dawson’s blog post about shoveling snow and getting older. I can relate.  Unlike George, I was never exactly what you’d call a “snow shoveling machine” in my younger days. But I’m steady if not fast.

I don’t have a snow blower–yet. My wife, Sena looks at me with some concern and says she’ll go buy it herself if I won’t. She keeps an eye on me while I’m out shoveling–just in case I collapse. It doesn’t seem to matter when I tell her that I walk an average of a little over 2 to 3 miles a day and climb around 20 floors when I’m running the psychiatry consult service.

Besides that, I’m not mechanically inclined at all and that’s why I have neither a snow blower nor a power lawn mower.

I’m also not a math guy. George mentioned that graph theory might improve our efficiency at clearing snow from our driveways. I was skeptical but googled it and actually found someone who addressed the issue in the form of a graph homework project! It was a pdf file entitled Math 1030Q, Graph Theory Project. The directions spelled it out:

“Work carefully, and SHOW ALL STEPS in order to receive full credit. An answer without supporting work will not receive credit.” It’s about using something called Prim’s Algorithm to figure out which paths grounds crews should shovel to ensure students can reach any building on a campus on which a snowstorm had unleashed its fury.


Go figure…literally. However, I’m a big fan of trial and error, which explains why I’m a consulting psychiatrist in a general hospital, I guess. I have one of those fancy angle-handle shovels too, the ones which it looks like the Incredible Hulk got mad at and twisted.

I use Jim’s Algorithm to figure out which method works best to clear snow from my driveway. It’s in the video below. Remember to take a break every now and then.


Author: Jim Amos

Dr. James J. Amos is Clinical Professor of Psychiatry in the UI Carver College of Medicine at The University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa. Dr. Amos received a B. S. degree in Distributed Studies (Zoology, Chemistry, and Microbiology) in 1985 from Iowa State University and an M.D. from The University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa in 1992. He completed his psychiatry residency, including a year as Chief Resident, in 1996 at the Department of Psychiatry at The University of Iowa. He has co-edited a practical book about consultation psychiatry with Dr. Robert G. Robinson entitled Psychosomatic Medicine: An Introduction to Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry. As a clinician educator, among Dr. Amos’s most treasured achievements is the Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award.