Last week Portland got hit by what the locals fearfully called a "snowpocalypse" and which was in fact eight inches of snow and a day of freezing sleet. In solidarity with places plagued by real winter or surprising bouts of icy climate change, I present an excellent solution to your outdoor woes: DIY crampons.
Crampons, for those of you too urbane to scale mountains in your free time, are the pronged device strapped to your feet to provide traction over ice or difficult ground. It's what you wish you had every time you accidentally skate down the sidewalk while your life flashes before your eyes. They've been used in some form since ye old Roman days, and really picked up steam in the 18th century when the idea of climbing dangerous ice covered peaks caught on as an enjoyable hobby for bored aristocrats.
Over the 20th century commonly used designs leapt forward in ease of use and comfort, and increased options for types of attachment and amount of toothy grip. Though it may seem trivial to the amateur, advancing from 10-point crampons to 12-point drastically changed the process of ice climbing by providing front facing spikes in addition to the standard sole spikes. One account of the first climbing of Eiger Nordward in 1938 holds that two Germans using 12-point crampons totally trounced two Austrians who were creeping up the mountain in 10-point crampons and hobnailed boots. "I looked back, down our endless ladder of steps. Up it, I saw the New Era coming at express speed; there were two men running, I mean running, not climbing, up." Sounds like progress to me.
With all the summiting successes and outdoor industry growth, crampons have matured a lot (ok, a little) since the beartrap-looking things of yesteryear, yet their function remains largely the same. Don't want to fall on your ass and die of embarrassment or exposure, or both? Apply biting, gripping technology to your feet and clomp your way to safety.
These emergency crampons, neatly designed and explained by Instructables user Hyperfocused72, are in the same family as today's flashy superlight climbing gear, but only in a distantly shared DNA way. Think of them as a harkening back to a simpler time when people just wanted to safely cross the ice to get to work, or kill a stag. You might not be quite that majestic in yours, but at least this is one crafternoon project you'll actually use. Just make sure to wear your best plaid.
In addition to your boots of choice, you'll need basic hardware store supplies like paracord, chain, pliers and carabiners. If you don't already have paracord, split ring pliers and bulk chain in your apartment and it's a slick dangerscape outside, I don't know why you're even trying to DIY. Just call in sick, lord knows that all of Portland did.