Thursday, January 31, 2013

It's Cold.

It is cold. It is. 7 degrees, according to my phone.
To be honest, I don't have to go outdoors today.
I know it's easy enough to sit inside and talk about how
it's not so bad outside. A little snow? So what?
A little bit of wind? So what.
 I know, I know.
It's not so bad ...from the inside looking out.
In a room where the heat is cranked.
And the chocolate is hot.
And I'm under a blanket.
With a fat cat snuggled up to keep my belly warm.
Really, now. This weather isn't so bad.
If, however, anyone in the neighborhood is in the mood to whine,
take a wander around and see what it's like elsewhere.
Denali National Park in Alaska  7F degrees
  Winnipeg Manitoba  -17F degrees
Yakutsk Sibera  -24F degrees
Ulaanbaatar Mongolia  -15F degrees
Nuuk Greenland  23F (Balmy!!!)
Reykjavik Iceland  30F (!!??)
It's colder here than Greenland? Than Iceland?
Ok, neighbors. Go ahead and whine.
Pull up those socks, wrap a scarf around your neck,
coax an unsuspecting cat onto your lap and snuggle in.
If you live in Florida or Maui or Grand Cayman and
you want to momentarily share our winter magic, stuff your shirt full of
ice cubes and stare at this for a bit:
 (Do you feel like sledding yet?)
Speaking of Siberia (were we???) for which I have a lingering fascination and curiosity, this morning I came across a great article published in The Independent (UK) a few years back.
Here is an excerpt from a nice piece written by the young author's mini-vacation in Siberia. It's great! See the link following this exceprt for the full text of his experience.
Very interesting, well worth a few minutes read.
 by Shaun Walker, Moscow Correspondent for +The Independent (UK)
So, before venturing outdoors in Yakutsk for the first time, I have decided to don a suitcase's worth of clothes to protect me against the cold. Starting from the feet and working up, I'm wearing: a pair of cotton socks, with a pair of thermal socks over them; a pair of ankle-high Gore-Tex boots; a set of thermal long-johns; a pair of jeans; a thermal undershirt (a present from a worried family member); a long-sleeved T-shirt; a tight-fitting cashmere jumper; a fleece; a padded winter coat with hood; a thin pair of woollen gloves (so that when I take the outer pair off to take photographs I won't expose naked flesh); a pair of gloves made of wool and Thinsulate; a wool scarf; and a woolly football hat.

Lumbering from my hotel room like the Michelin Man, and already breaking into a sweat due to the hotel's industrial heating system, I decide that I'm ready to face everything Yakutsk has to throw at me. I stride purposefully out of the hotel door and... well... it really isn't that bad. The small oblong of my face that is naked to the elements definitely registers the cold air, but on the whole, it feels fine; pleasant, even. As long as you're dressed right, I think, this isn't too bad.

Within a few minutes, however, the icy weather begins to assert itself forcefully. The first place to suffer is the exposed skin on my face, which begins to sting, and then experience shooting pains, before going numb, which is apparently dangerous, because it means blood flow to the skin has stopped. Then the cold penetrates the double layer of gloves and sets to work on chilling my fingers.

The woolly hat and padded hood are no match for minus 43C (-45F) either, and my ears begin to sting. Next to succumb are the legs. Finally, I find myself with severe pain all across my body and have to return indoors. I look at my watch. I have been outside for 13 minutes.
Time for another cup of hot chocolate.
And perhaps another pair of socks.

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